Custom Heating System

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wdkits1

New User
Mike
Hi Everyone
Many years ago when I was a teenager growing up in Maine, a buddy needed some work done on his car so we went to Bob's garage. Bob had a pretty good sized shop( about 2000 sq. ft). No Insulation, high ceilings and being in Maine in the middle of January( and about 20 degrees) I figured would be pretty cold.
We went into the garage and there was Bob under a car. He slid out to greet us and was wearing a t-shirt. I commented on how warm it was in the shop and he pointed to his home-made heating system in the corner. Basically what he had was an old 50 gallon electric water heater piped into a car radiator mounted on the top with a squirrel cage fan blowing air through the radiator. A small electric pump circulated the water through the system.
I have kept this memory in the back of my mind through the years figuring that some day I would like to build one for my own shop as it seemed to work pretty good. So after working in my shop for 10+ years with no real heat and not taking on as much work as I'd like because of the cold, I bit the bullet and put the heating system together.
I built the back addition to the shop a few years ago but had to build the steps and door .
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The electrical panel is right next to the addition so getting the power for the heating system is no problem.
I piped in a circuit for the light and a general use outlet .For the heating system I needed a 30 amp 220v circuit for the water heater, a 20 amp 220v circuit for the air handler and a 20 amp 110v circuit for the pump so I ran a 3/4" conduit from the panel to where the system would be located.
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I kept the air handler from when we had to get a new system for the house but did not need the a/c coil or the heat strips so I stripped them from the unit only leaving the squirrel cage fan and the electrical controls.
In order to make my heating system work I had to rewire the old control circuit so when the thermostat calls for heat, the fan and the circulating pump come on to circulate antifreeze through the radiator. I used the auxiliary heat relay to turn on the outlet that the pump is plugged into. I bought a radiator, a pump and the water heater plus all associated copper piping, fittings and sheet metal for the duct work and put it all together.
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The little red valve on the top of the water heater was installed with a short piece of pipe to allow me to fill the water heater .
On the inside of the shop you can see the supply duct on the top and the return duct on the bottom. I know I will be changing and or cleaning the filter frequently so I made it easily accessible.
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I put the whole system on a pressure test and everything is good to go. I still have to add the 40 gallons of antifreeze and hopefully will have some heat so I can get some woodworking done.
Mike
 

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Raymond

Raymond
Staff member
Corporate Member
Mke, if you are not going to insulate that addition, put a thermal blanket around the water heater to help it retain more heat and thus reduce the amount of electricity you will use running it. The warmer you keep that area the less your hot water heater will have to work. Otherwise, it's looking like a viable heating system. Better than what I have (which is none).
 

wdkits1

New User
Mike
Hi Raymond
Yeah that is already in the plan along with filling in areas at the roof line and sealing the duct going through the walls into the shop.
Thanks
Mike
 

wdkits1

New User
Mike
Hi Mike
I will know more about the efficiency(air flow, water flow and temp recovery) once I get it fully operational.
Right now I can feel the air flow all the way across the shop (38ft) so alot will depend on how much heat transfer I get by setting the thermostats in the water heater at 140 degrees and at what speed I set the pump.
Time will tell!!! I do think a smaller self contained unit could be built that would work pretty well.
 

Raymond

Raymond
Staff member
Corporate Member
If you can get the temperature on the water heater set to 120-125, you will be surprised at how much heat will be pumped out - of course, that also depends on the size of the radiator in your blower unit.
 

wdkits1

New User
Mike
Hi Danny
The air handler was part of my old heat pump system and after stripping the heat strips the fan assembly still required 220 v.
If someone were to build a similar system I'm sure a 110v fan could be used.
 

kooshball

David
Corporate Member
I am interested on how it works out energy costs wise. My gas water heater costs about $7/month to operate and my electric water heater cost about $55/month to operate.
 

Michael Mathews

Michael
Corporate Member
Mike,
Note that you need to mix the antifreeze with water. antifreeze alone is not a good carrier of heat. Think just like what's in the cooling system of a car!

BTW, good to see you! I've completed one more of the kits I bought for a good friend. He and his wife celebrated their 5th anniversary, which happens to be the wood anniversary. He thought it would be a nice gift. I burned their names into the top with the date. It was well received.
 

wdkits1

New User
Mike
Hi Mike
I will be using a 50/50 mix antifreeze which is the most expensive component of the whole system.
Glad to hear you completed another Intarsia Kit. Which one was it? I haven't heard if anyone else has completed the kits.
Thanks
Mike
 

Michael Mathews

Michael
Corporate Member
Rob really liked the rose box so that's what he requested. I learned so much more on that box after not working on one in some time.

Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
 

woodworker2000

Christopher
Corporate Member
Interesting setup. Just a thought on the antifreeze...you might check with marine mechanics in your area. They use a lot of non-toxic antifreeze this time of year winterizing boats (my mechanic buys it in 55-gallon drums) and might offer you a deal on what they didn't use this year rather than store it until next year.
 

wdkits1

New User
Mike
Hi Chris
Thanks for the suggestion about the marine antifreeze.
I called a local dealer here in Richmond, explained what I was doing and he explained to me that marine antifreeze can only be used for a year because of the alcohol content. In marine use it is used seasonally to prevent freezing and then drained and replaced.
Mike
 

aplpickr

New User
Bill
Since a 4500 watt heating element will provide only 15.3K ( 3413 BTU/KW) BTUs and most building furnaces start at around 100K BTU I seriously question if you have enough heat in your system. Although the heater has two elements, they are wired to energize only one at a time.
 

Roy G

Roy
Senior User
This may add some complexity to your system, but have you considered adding a solar water heater panel on your roof? This would cut down on the electricity to heat the water and might work out economically.

Roy G
 

JackLeg

New User
Reggie
Like kooshball, I'll be interested to see what the operational cost is and how it compares to a "mini-split" that will provide AC as well as heat. Keep us posted!

:eusa_thin
 

wdkits1

New User
Mike
To Bill
I agree with the fact that the water heater produces only 4500 watts but using this to produce 40 gallons of 140 degree liquid in a closed loop system should be sufficient to do the job. The pump I chose has a variable gallons per minute feed so this may factor in how much heat will be extracted from the radiator.
I will update when the system is operational. (Hopefully this weekend) .
To Roy
I actually designed the shop with solar in mind and depending on how this system works may add the solar to it .
 

Skymaster

Jack
Senior User
you can also use hydronic ( hot water ) baseboard in that loop. also note that all hot water heat is designed off a base of 180 degree water, even your car has a stat normally of 180 to 195
 

Gotcha6

Dennis
Staff member
Corporate Member
Having had a hydronic system in my former home, I can only say that solar is not feasible unless you have a very tight collector and a differential thermostat to get a net gain. Most hydronic systems work above 120 degrees and most solar systems aren't efficient enough to produce that temperature, but are designed to produce usable heat above conditioned air temperature only.
My old system had an oil fired boiler with a domestic loop. I had dreams of connecting it to solar panels but that wasn't meant to be. The problem was that I had too much heat on warm days, so I ended up with an outside air compensator that automatically adjusted the water temp inversely with the air. This solved that problem, but I also had a convection loop going because the boiler was in the basement, so I had to add a flow control valve that only allowed water to circulate on a thermostat call. It all gave a good even heat, but I ended up putting in a heat pump. Even with the 10 SEER available at that time, it was an improvement in operating cost over the system I had.
Remember this; BTUs are BTUs. The water doesn't care what heats it, and a hot water heater is still resistance heating unless you have an air to water heat pump (tried that too). No doubt, the heat exchanger will have a long cool down time and will produce good heat, but you've got to move air by a heat source to extract any heat, and the less the differential in temperature, the more air you'll need to move, increasing your blower time.
Nonetheless, like everyone else here, I'm curious as to how it turns out.
JMTCW
 
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