I know it pbbly doesn't meet the budget requirments, and maybe I'm
just gloating a bit here, but I just built my dream shop and it's all
in-floor radiant heating. It cannot be beat - please don't argue with
me on that<G>. I heat a 600 sqft shop, a 720sq ft garage and the
basement under the 600 sqft shop with a 40 gallon water heater running
No blower, no smell, no noise, no dust blowing around and unless I'm
handling heavy stuff, I can kick off my shoes, even last week when it
We installed all the hoses ourselves and spent 3 evenings hooking up
the brains of the system with the help of a friend. Most all parts
came from the local home-improvement shop.
You should give serious consideration to covering up any cement floor.
I don't care if you use the cheapest (which will actually be the
costliest in the long run) heater. You'll just be draining the heat
thru the cement floor and the wear on your legs and knees will be much
reduced. I had a big shop with cement floor and big wood furnace and I
just wouldn't spend evening time during the week out there because it
took too long to heat up. With all the heavy steel in the equipment
and the big cement slab, it was hard to get really warm out there. Now
I spend 3 hours minimum every night in my shop.
Anyway - this pbbly doesn't help but thought I'd share my ideas.
Radiant is the way to go. I installed it in my upstairs bathroom about 12
years ago and the cats have really enjoyed it. The shop is next, I have to
run a natural gas feed out to the garage, we're getting really hosed in this
area on propane prices (one of the guys I work with just paid $4 per gallon
for his propane)
That will continue to be an issue (propane costs). I'm already
planning to add an outside wood boiler to the loop. I plan to run it
into my shop and maintain an insulated reservoir and then add a loop
into the house. In the house I have forced air so I'll add a coil in
I'm adding a room on to the house that I'll add some in-floor radiant.
I sure wish this was more mainstream technology. The Euros have been
doing it forever I guess. On a recent trip to Norway, every hotel I
stayed in had warm floors.
I'll probably stick with electric hot water for the foreseeable future, but as
soon as I get back to Virginia and get settled, we'll be adding a woodstove in
the basement. The gas furnace/heat pump deal is just too damned costly if we
use any propane at all.
Taking the old oil furnace out of the basement left a standing chimney that
appears to be in good shape. If not, it will be repaired or relined. A small
wood stove, and a grate cut through the floor in the tiny hall, will provide
probably 80% of the heat for the house with little effort. And wood is, and
likely will remain, easy to come by in that area. Oak slabs are easy to find at
a sawmill less than 3 miles up the road.
"A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other
way." Mark Twain
Good grief! The bad thing is he probably didn't know it was going to cost
$4 when he bought it either. I assume it's the same everywhere. Guy comes
around, fills the tank, hangs the bill on the door.
Yeowch. I'd just about have to call them and tell them to come pump it back
out. Then again, propane isn't my only source of heat.
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < firstname.lastname@example.org>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
Natural gas prices will probably follow propane. I'd like to
suggest a secondary solar heat source - not to replace existing
primary system; but to lower its "duty cycle" and reduce fuel
I installed a 6'x12' shop-built passive solar heating panel this
fall on the south wall of my (50'x50'x16') shop. By itself, it
has kept the temperature above freezing all winter. Before next
winter I plan to install two additional panels to bring the
daytime temperature up to a more or less consistant 70+ degree
level. The gloat here is that once built and installed, the
operating cost is zero.
I'm strongly considering adding a natural gas unit heater to make
up the difference on dark/overcast days. I don't expect to run it
much; but I want the comfort it'd provide.
I think I could come up with something. There are a lot of good
diagrams if you search the net. The trouble is always taking those
nice little color diagrams and then making that pile of copper pipe
and fittings look the same.
My system is very simple and straight forward, even though there are 3
zones. Basically you lay the pipe. I have 2 zones where the pipe is in
concrete (upstairs garage and basement garage). Both slabs are
insulated on 5 sides by 2-inches of blue-dow.
One zone has the pipes tacked to the bottom of a sturdi-floor. That's
insulated by a 1/2" tuff-r (foil side up) friction fit between the
floor-joists and then fiberglass under that.
There is one pump on the cold-water return side so the pump is
basically pumping into the hot water heater (hwh). All return tubes
come into a diaphram. Each zone has it's own diaphram. These 3
diaphrams are then attached to a "zone valve". A zone valve is just a
valve that opens when hit with 12v. Each zone valve has an output
which turns on when the valve is opened. This is attached to a little
Coming out of the hwh the pipe goes first past a small expansion tank
(3 gallons??) then splits into diaphrams that split out to the floor
tubes. Each tube can be shut off independantly but the zones are not
The wiring is basically:
You have a 12v power supply which branches out to the thermostats.
When the thermo "makes", it signals out to valve which then opens.
When the valve opens, it signals out to the controller such that if
any one of the valves are open, the pump will run.
I'll try to take some pictures and make them available and maybe make
a slightly better tutorial.
The initial cost is not that high if you can assemble this yourself.
Paying a radiant guy is a lot of money. I was lucky, all I had to do
is let my neighbor tap into my dsl internet line. I think the pipe is
the most expensive part of the system, followed by the pump and valves
and then of course your power plant.
On Sat, 07 Feb 2004 18:18:08 GMT, The Guy
(Response to Tim's and Peter's request for more info)
I've put myself in a somewhat awkward position. I'm trying to eke
out a living by manufacturing and selling a design that I've been
developing (and spending on) since the early 70's. I'm reluctant
to give it all away; and at the same time I'd like to empower you
to achieve the considerable savings these things can provide by
building your own.
Let me try to answer your questions by talking about the bill of
materials for a smaller collector, say 4'x8'. You can scale this
to whatever size you want.
(4) 2" x 6" x 8' Construction grade pine/fir/spruce
(1) 1" x 4" x 4' #2 or better pine
(3) 4' x 8' x 1/4" plywood
(1) 4' x 8' x 6mm polycarbonate thermal glazing
(4) 2" x 8' x 1/4" tempered hardboard
(3) 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" x 1/8" x 8' aluminum angle
(1) 1-1/2" x 1/8" x 8' aluminum flat
approx 4" of 3/4" x 3/4" x 1/16" aluminum angle for heat
approx. 260' of 35mm x 0.1mm aluminum ribbon (formed) for the
oil based primer and paint for the box exterior
optical flat black paint for the heat exchanger
Screws and glue.
You should be able to buy all of the above at your local
lumberyard except for the aluminum ribbon. I couldn't get any
reps or manufacturers in the USA to even talk to me about this
stuff so I special-ordered about 8-1/2 miles (minimum order!) of
it from an off-shore manufacturer.
I'll be astonished if you spend more than $250 at your local
I'll post pictures of two panels (the 6x12 now heating my shop
plus a 2x6 in-the-wall prototype built with 1" pine) on
news:alt.binaries.pictures.woodworking as soon as I send this
off. You're also invited to explore my website at
http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto - where you can see what the collector
(what of it can be seen) looks like from the inside of the shop.
Final comment: Solar heating is /not/ rocket surgery! You can
build a fairly efficient solar heating panel at fairly low cost
using the ordinary tools found in almost every garage or basement
Same here. The most practical answer would seem to be a painted
plywood cover that fits over a pair of pins in the top of the box
and is secured at the bottom with a hasp and small padlock.
Actually, a vertically-oriented collector produces heat most
efficiently at winter solstice (and is /helped/ by snow on the
ground) and least efficiently at the summer solstice. Depending
on the glazing used (Google for "critical angle snell") and your
latitude, you may not need a cover. I'd go ahead and build the
collector, then add the cover if/when it seems appropriate - it's
a trivial retrofit.
My shop has a 12x45 door on the north side that mostly stays open
in the summer - when it's warm outside, it's warm inside.
I tried to go to your site, but the solar page is empty of pictures? Where
exactly can I see the collectors?
My problem is that here in Radburn, Fair Lawn NJ, there are severe
restrictions on what we can put up, and I fear that solar collectors
wouldn't be permitted on the roof or elsewhere.
Ah, yes, the Arbiters of Taste, also known as Architecture Review Boards and
We in the US have forgotten what energy gluttons we are. It's so unlike the
'70s and early '80s, after a couple of oil embargos, when the feds were
giving states money to subsdize retrofitting of solar collection systems on
houses. We did a couple hot water systems as pre-heaters for the domestic
hot water, and 75% or better was rebated to the homeowner.
Re: propane prices .... Here in the Philadelphia area there are two primary
sources for propane: the guys who cater to gas grills and the bulk tanks.
The gas grillers are paying ~$4/gallon, while the bulk deliveries can less
than half of that. Why? Because that's what the market will bear. So if
you're going to use propane for heating, get a bulk tank.
Having built both hot air and hot water solar collection systems, I will
second Morris' general comments about placement, summer use, and such. My
personal preference is to use a radiant h/w heating system with a
"conventional" boiler (gas, oil, coal, dual fuel, whatever) and then have a
stone tank (the solar "battery" if you will) in place on the return side of
the heat loop. The battery is charged by the collectors, and sends
pre-heated water to the boiler. If there's enough heat in the battery, the
boiler doesn't fire. Of course, it sounds so simple here in the newsgroup,
and the implementation of such a system requires some control system and
safety engineering and $$, so a passive hot air collection (which what I
think Morris is describing) is a good way to take the chill out of a space.
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