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Hydronic heating panel location?

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  1. #1
    Stu
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    Default Hydronic heating panel location?

    I seem to have developed a difference in logic from most of the "experts" I have spoken to about hydronic radiator panel locations and I'm hoping that someone can set me straight!

    We have picked ourselves up off the floor after the quotes came in for hydronic heating for our house in Melbourne and resigned ourselves to paying >$11,000 for the system (fully installed).

    Both the architect and the suppliers that I have spoken to have recommended placing the panels underneath the windows - particularly in bedrooms. From a convenience perspective I get it because it is rare that you want to put furniture in front of the window, however from and energy efficiency perspective it seems flawed! Given that I am filling the external wall cavity with R2.5 batts (my eski theory for house insulation) why would you place the heater such that the convective heat passes in front of the part of the room that has the least insulation (R0.5 at best)? Add to that, we will probably add full length curtains that, when closed will quite nicely trap the heat between the window and the curtain!

    Am I mad or should I rather locate the panels ideally against an internal wall away from the window so that the convective heat distrbutes through the room and the radiated heat does not get lost through an external wall?

    Stuart

  2. #2
    Diamond Member Barry_White's Avatar
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    Stuart

    I spent several years installing ducted heating systems and we always tried to install the registers under the windows or in front of the fixed panel of sliding doors.

    Now this wasn't for any of the reasons that you have stated but because cold air comes off windows and glass doors and with the register or the heating element or in your case the hydronic panels and the heat mixes with the cold air and as heat rises it takes the cold air with it so as you don't have cold drafts coming of the windows and doors and i agree with both your architech and heating supplier.

    What I don't understand is why they haven't explained this to you.

    I had had people sitting in a room with all the windows and doors closed and complained about having draughts making the cold around the legs.

    In fact the best senario in a cold climate with windows is to have curtains with a pelmet at the top and have the curtains touching the floor and this will cut off the drafts.
    Regards Bazza

    Skype Username: bazzabushy

    "Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards."
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    The views expressed by the poster are general in nature and any advice should be taken in this vein. The poster accepts no responsibility if this advice is used. When undertaking any work personal professional advice should be sought from suitably qualified persons in the field of work being undertaken.


  3. #3
    bfx
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    Stuart,

    I've just taken delivery of a wood fired hydronics system for my new house. (Cost me $10,000 for the boiler, flues, radiators etc but not including installation and copper pipes - that's another $3-4,000.)

    The manufacturer provided plans for the placement of the radiators. None of them are below windows. As it happens, all the windows are almost full wall height so it would not have been possible to put radiators below them, but I don't think the supplier knew that when he decided placement.

    I don't know who is correct but if you ask me this time next year I will have a more considered view.

    Bill

  4. #4
    Diamond Member Barry_White's Avatar
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    Just on another comment:

    Placement of panels will also depend on access for the pipes.
    Regards Bazza

    Skype Username: bazzabushy

    "Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards."
    -Vernon Sanders Law

    The views expressed by the poster are general in nature and any advice should be taken in this vein. The poster accepts no responsibility if this advice is used. When undertaking any work personal professional advice should be sought from suitably qualified persons in the field of work being undertaken.


  5. #5
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    Take this from someone who's lived in Europe for 30 years with hydronic heating: the panels go on the external wall, ideally under a window.
    I am having hydronic put into our new house, the panels have just been installed.

    A word of caution: if you think you wouldn't be happy with 21 degrees max in your living area when it's really really cold outside (depends on the city, for Melbourne that's 4.5 degrees), make sure you mention this to your installer, as panel size calculations are done this way.

  6. #6
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    Default Condensing Combination Boiler

    Hi,
    Sorry for hijackign this forum. There appear to be a few members who have recently gone into hydronic heating. I have been researching on google for all the equipment I would need but am surprised that in Australia, from the enquiries so far, have not found any manufacturer or importer of Condensing Combination Boiler or PEX pipe/tube or pex-al-pex tubing. I also want to use the backup gas hot water system and complement the entire system with solar if it works out to be cost effective in the long run.

    Energy Savings Trust in the UK has a database of most efficent boiler manufacturers with their A & B rated products. I would be prepared to start fresh dismantling the existing hot water system, source panel radiators, etc. etc.

    Any tips, advice and helpful links would be much appreciated.

    pennyless

  7. #7
    Duck Fat - 2K club member SilentButDeadly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pennyless View Post
    ...am surprised that in Australia, from the enquiries so far, have not found any manufacturer or importer of Condensing Combination Boiler or PEX pipe/tube or pex-al-pex tubing.
    What you call PEX tubing is actually available in Oz www.auspex.com.au and I recently noticed another brand in the plumbing section in Bunnings - there are a few others

    And a quick Google showed up these dudes from Queensland who distribute Henco pipe from Belgium http://www.ezepipe.com/Templates/pipeinfo.html

    As for the boilers........try www.rotex.com.au or http://www.maassproducts.com.au/html...c_heating.html or .....
    People don't ever seem to realise that doing what's right is no guarantee against misfortune

  8. #8
    gasfixeruperer
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    The price of hydronic heating in Aus is scandalous. A grundfos pump that costs 50 pounds in the UK (including 17.5% gst) gets sold to the customer here for $360. Even the simple Fernox anti corrosion is sold for about 5 times the price it is in Britain. I sympathise with you. The Hydronic Heating company I worked for in Melbourne had a simple quote system. 7 radiator panels = $7000, 8 = $8000 etc. And that was 5 years ago.

  9. #9
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    F.X.Larkin are selling pex-al-pex. They are near Wollongong and sell hydronics as well as solar panels, pumps, tanks.....Ph is 024271 4044

  10. #10
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    We are building a new house in the Damdenongs (cold) and are intending to use hydronic heating. My research to date has revealed that the practice of installing heaters under windows is a combination of space utilisation and that it has the effect of heating the cold air that sinks down under the curtains from the window: a much bigger problem in Europe, but perhaps a good approach if the house doesnt have double glazed windows or laminated glass.
    Now in terms of the tubing, there is a company in Rowville that sells a compsite tubing that uses cross linked PE tube, a layer of Al and (I think) a layer of normal PE. You may like to ask them (Hurlcon).
    As for the cost (of all varieties): well it's outrageous!
    I also tried to talk to solar water heater suppliers about using a solar heater to supplement the heating. The response: it wouldn't work because its winter! Second question, does this mean that solar hot water heaters dont work in winter? Of course not! which bit dont I understand? (or are they losing a big opportuntity?

  11. #11
    Gone Feral - 1K Club Member
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    Interesting about the solar.

    I'd expect that if you sized the solar collectors appropriately, it would work even in winter. The problem is most likely cost of doing that.

    The thing about solar HWS is that most of them have a booster of some sort, and in the middle of winter, they are not performing so well, and the booster is used to top up the heat. Another thing is that people tend to take longer showers when it's cold, and more heat is lost from the pipes and storage than in warmer times. So you do have to be careful to get it right.

    Bottom line is, a solar unit with electric storage booster may land up being pretty inefficient in real world use. solar with a gas instantaneous might be ok... Same issues for solar boosted hydronic. Did you find solarlord in your research? http://www.solarlord.com.au/index.ph...d=13&Itemid=29

    woodbe.

  12. #12
    Old Chippy - 4K Club Member
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    Principles of heater outlet location are the same whether hydronic or ducted heating - on or below outside walls and centred or equidistant from the sides if there are two outlets. (Of course in some installations that have heating and cooling the vents are in the ceiling and optimised for the cooling - centred in the room)

    The reason is to allow convection circulation to occur from the cooler outside of the building into the centre and back past the intake (or past the radiator unit in hydronic).

    In cold climates it is always assumed that the window will be well insulated by double or triple glazing and have pelmets and heavy curtains that will be closed at night (at least - most times in winter and when there is no insolation possible). It goes without saying that the walls and ceilings too should be well-insulated.

    Like all construction the recommended optimum layouts and placements are varied to suit other site specific issues such as access for piping and ductwork or even things such as potential furniture placement, doorways or other design and use issues.

    The building technical manual (new 4th Edition) provides great general advice and guidance on much of this stuff and can be seen at:

    http://www.yourhome.gov.au/technical/index.html

  13. #13
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    Default Hydronic Installer - Melbourne

    Having bought all the equipment for a complete hydronic system, I am now looking for an competent installer. Had the equipment for more than a year now. Panels, boiler, pex pipe, etc. Would want to avoid large corporate installer. Would someone recommend a good installer around Melbourne. I am sure there are several members in the forums who would have installed hydronic panel heating in their homes recently?

    Any suggestions and recommendations highly sought after.

    Pennyless

  14. #14
    Eli
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    Hey guys.
    I put an open direct hydronic system into a house in California before we moved. No window under the radiator issue, it was a slab. You can retrofit PEX zones under a joist floor.

    Radiantec Heating, Energy Efficient + Green has a lot of really good, understandable, accessible information free on their website.

    I ordered a kit from them and did most of the install myself.
    Do nothing, stay ahead

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodbe View Post
    Interesting about the solar.

    I'd expect that if you sized the solar collectors appropriately, it would work even in winter. The problem is most likely cost of doing that.
    The basic problem is that you need maximum output at the very same time the panels are producing at their minimum.

    Common electric space heaters are 6 kW. Gas heaters tend to be 5 to 7 kW. And neither of those are sufficient to heat all of an average house.

    The old oil heters put out about 8.5 kW into the room. Combined with a 2kW heat bank in the hallway, it was fairly common (back when these heaters were popular) to heat the whole house this way.

    Slow combustion wood heaters often put out around 12 kW on high, dropping to 3 - 4 kW at lowest output. These heaters are often used with all internal doors left open so as to warm the whole house.

    So as you can see, we're talking somewhere around 8kW or more output to actually warm the whole house, which is what any hydronic system will be designed to be able to do.

    Now consider your hot water. Typical daily use is a bit more than what your heating will use in just one hour when running flat out. And in Winter, solar HWS tend to not produce enough heat anyway (in a cooler climate) and need electric or gas boosting. So your solar HWS might, at best, produce enough heat in a day to heat your house for an hour...

    It's not impossible to be predominantly solar for heating. But if you're in an area that does get cold and are simply "bolting on" to an average house then you'd need an awful lot of solar hot water panels and a huge storage tank for it to work. Suppliers (quite rationally) assume that the huge cost of such an arrangement means few if any people would actually buy such a system.

    Each night in Winter I load 20kg of wood into the heater*, that's very low usage by "typical" standards here in Tassie. But that's still equivalent to the energy stored in 1200 litres of hot water. Heating that every day in the middle of Winter using solar is going to need a lot more than a typical domestic solar HWS.

    *I don't actually weigh the wood of course. I just weighed the usual amount once out of curiosity so I knew how much wood to buy for the following year.

  16. #16
    Jem
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    Hi all,

    I'm considering how to augment a hydronic system with solar and just stumbled upon this thread where similar questions are being asked. I would love any comments anyone can offer on what I have in mind.

    Firstly, I have a fair amount of room to maneuver: I am rebuilding the back half of my house and have a flexible understanding of what a home is, so am happy to experiment.

    So it seems to me that the difficulty with solar in hydronics is that during winter there are only a few hours of sunshine, at a time when it is least needed. My thinking has been that the object should be to get as much thermal mass inside the house, and to connect it to the sun as best possible. As far as I can see, the best way to do this is with sizable, uninsulated water reservoirs inside the living area (water one of the densest heat sinks, I believe) and to pump this water through solar panels with no storage of their own, and then optionally also through a booster of some sort. To do this, I am planning to design several hundred liter reservoirs (concrete or steel) into the house - as window seats, plinths, etc.; and to augment this with radiators, and a section of underfloor heating in the extension, which will be on a slab. The idea of the radiators is to give the option of a rapid response (like when you come home, and the house is freezing).

    As you can tell I am at a fairly early planning stage, but given what I have read, this seems like a viable solution. I haven't got around to calculating necessary volumes, etc. but at a conceptual level, would anyone care to comment?

    Thanks for your thoughts,
    Jem

  17. #17
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    Default Hydronic Heating costs

    I installed 5 panels (2 metres double) and a LPG Boiler Ferroli 30. It has used gas like it is going out of fashion. Used a cylinder a week with only 4-5 hours on. Thermostat set at 21.C. Turned off when went to bed. With the cost of LPG to rise from next week for a 80 kg. cylinder to over $140, (currently $122. 18 months ago $92. Now with Carbon Tax from Sunday). I have purchased a wood fired boiler. Living in the country I can cut my own firewood. City people with natural gas are lucky as it is around 2.5 times more cheaper.

  18. #18
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    Gee that is a blast from the past the first post is 5 yrs old and the last 2 yrs old.

    Hey Watson can't you archive posts older than 6 mths so that they are only for viewing?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Les Parsons View Post
    It has used gas like it is going out of fashion. Used a cylinder a week with only 4-5 hours on. Thermostat set at 21.C. Turned off when went to bed. With the cost of LPG to rise from next week for a 80 kg. cylinder to over $140, (currently $122. 18 months ago $92. Now with Carbon Tax from Sunday). I have purchased a wood fired boiler. Living in the country I can cut my own firewood. City people with natural gas are lucky as it is around 2.5 times more cheaper.
    The real shame is that nobody explained this before you bought the LPG boiler. Yes, you'll use a lot of gas and that will cost serious $.

    There's one positive however. If you're getting 80kg for $122 then that's a bargain compared to what some are paying. Here in Tasmania it's about that price for just a 45kg bottle and it has been much the same for a few years.

    My personal opinion is that if you want central heating, be it hydronic or ducted, then sensible fuel options (unless you are going solar) are natural gas, wood or electric heat pumps. Anything else will cost a fortune to run. Electric resistance heaters and any kind of liquid fuel (including LPG) are relatively expensive. OK if you just need a bit of heat and you're somewhere like Queensland where the heating won't be used too much but it will send you broke in no time in a cooler climate.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Pulpo's Avatar
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    Yep hydronic heating is expensive, no matter how you look at it.

    However something seems wrong to be consuming so much gas.

    Maybe set the boiler water temp lower.

    Standard around 70 to 80 Degrees.

    I have lowered to 60 and no problems.

    Check with automatic heating I think they sell them.

    Pulpo

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