I live in an 82-year-old six-unit apartment building, and the heat comes
from a single furnace through steam radiators. Needless to say this creates
a problem of reaching an optimum temperature. Not only are there wide
variations in heat between apartments, but some like it hot, some like it
It seems to me our best solution would be to establish a very low
temperature level for the main furnace -- like 60 degrees -- and then have
each unit provide their own supplementary heat to bring the it up to the
I've been looking at these "mini-split" systems which provide both air
conditioning and heat.
Does that sound like a good solution?
I welcome any experience.
While I am sure an HVAC expert can offer some advice as to the possibility of
zoning the present steam system, I can at least offer some experience with the
mini split. I just installed a 12,000 btu unit in my home and am quite happy
with it. They install fairly easily as long as they can be mounted on an
exterior wall with a place to mount the outdoor unit nearby. The longest line
set I found offered on the units on eBay was 24', although the units themselves
will operate with a line length up to 50' or so. And bear in mind that most
mini splits have a single indoor unit, so it needs to be placed where the air
flow can reach the whole area.
We solved a problem like that in one of 25 units in a 5 story co-op with
a single thermostat in Brooklyn by adding a Danfoss mechanical thermostat
and a humidistat and a solenoid valve and a needle valve off a T that went
to a 1-pipe steam radiator vent. When the RH dropped, the valve hissed
live steam into the room, scaring the cats.
A lot of the residents wore T-shirts and shorts and left the windows open
all winter. The apartment air was extremely dry. There was no insulation on
3 steam risers in the unit we fixed up, and too many radiators. We took one
out, insulated the risers and added the thermostat after the humidity T, and
now there are only 24 units with the windows open all winter :-)
Yes. That way you get AC too, and you can turn off the split systems to get
energy savings with a setback at night and whenever units are unoccupied.
It is not hard to balance a steam system within 2-3f with air vents
such as Gorton, they have maybe 5 different ventings avalaible, it takes
time, going in each apt, monitoring temps, and changing out vents
keeping a log, but the payoff is in reduced heating costs , even temps.
Nicks boiler provided humidity adding idea is the dumbest thing you
can do, it decreases boiler efficiency dramaticaly. The last thing you
want is to constanty add cold winter water to a hot boiler. Lanlords
that know boilers spend alot of time fixing leaks and evicting idiot
tennants that want free humidity at the lanlords expense. I have evicted
a few that removed vents for humidity. Again nick your idea hurts the
lanlord, wastes gas, its not a green idea, its greed and dumb.
Add an electrical heat source, when for my area electricity is still
50% more per BTU doesn`t make any sence, it will cost you time and and
money to balance your boiler, but less than 1 split system, it is
something a lanlord must learn.
I don't think that will work.. If all the units are running
their own "supplemental" heat, then no room is below the 60d
temp for the main furnace, and so nobody will call for heat,
and the main furnace won't run at all.
It seems to *ME* that the best solution would be
steam radiators that are adequate to provide the highest
reasonable temperature, but which can be throttled back
by the end-user somehow for people who want lower temps.
Maybe louvered radiator covers and electric fans?
Is this a one-pipe or a 2-pipe steam system?
With little or no insulation between units,
a person who likes it cold sandwiched between
people who like it hot is still going to have to
open a window, though.
Well, if you're going to re-do the whole system,
Burnham's duo-rad system looks good to me.
Centrally supplied hot(cold)-water, and fan-driven radiators
at point-of-use. If you're willing to use 4 pipes and
equip the end-user with a some valves
(does anyone make DPDT valves?) then one apartment
could be running the AC while the one next door
is running heat.
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