oil boiler zoning - ballpark cost to go from 1 zone to 4?

myfordfocusFebruary 25, 2013

Just a couple weeks into a new home in NH and I'm thinking of how I want to improve some things around the house.

First of course is energy. The house is a 4 BR / 2 3/4 bath ranch with a finished family room downstairs(very cold). On a single zone off a fairly new boiler. Hot water to the bath(s) also off the boiler.

I'd like to zone it off and had a guy over for an estimate, and we discussed 4 zones total(3 unused BRs, LR/DR/Kit, Master BR, downstairs FR). I thought it was kind of on the high side, nearly $5500. Breaks down at $1800 parts, $2500 labor, and another $1200 for the electrician.

Sound high to anyone else?


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It does sound high, especially the cost for the electrician. What is the electrician doing other than installing 3 thermostats and low voltage wiring?

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 4:10PM
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What would be the projected savings per year at today's energy rates with this investment? What source of energy are you presently heating with? What efficiency rating is your present boiler? What are the other energy source options? What type of radiators are you using? What temperature hot water must your boiler produce? Does your system have an 'outdoor reset'? Is there any mention of variable speed circulator pump(s) in this proposal? How are your radiator plumbed, in series?

Let's start with that.


This post was edited by fsq4cw on Mon, Feb 25, 13 at 16:39

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 4:35PM
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In retrofit so much depends on accessibility. I assume that the rad pipes run through the basement and then up through the floors to the main floor rooms. Now they probably loop to the basement between rooms. Has finishing part of the basement ruined access to most of this stuff?

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 4:56PM
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thanks for the replies everyone.

mike. on the electrician. honestly, I'm not 100% sure on the details. whatever they usually do :) but yeah, $1200 is to much.

ionized. yes, a lot of blocked access to the pipes and looping. he did mention that would impact the labor.

fsq. projected saving, good question, not sure how I would calculate that. energy source is oil. efficiency rating, dunno. other source options, house has two fireplaces, one in the finished FR in the basement area which after I zone it off will get a pellet stove installed. the other fireplace in the living room will stay as a fireplace and burn wood. radiators are baseboard. temp of hot water, dunno. outdoor reset, no. variable speed circ pumps, don't recall. radiators plumbed, in series, yes I think that's correct.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 8:48AM
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Is natural gas available in your area? If it is, you can go from about 65% efficiency to about 96% efficiency. Outdoor reset control is a must have. This will lower the water temperature from the boiler on warmer days when higher temperature is not needed, saving you money and energy. IâÂÂm surprised this was not proposed, itâÂÂs a big energy saver and relatively inexpensive to install. Boiler should have temperature and pressure gauges.

Are your baseboards aluminum fin or cast iron? How do you heat your domestic hot water?

Even with a series plumbed system it is possible today to modify the radiators to close and bypass the flow when a set point has been reached in that room thus setting up automatic zoning, saving energy, and ensuring higher temperature water further out from the boiler. This would be when a variable speed circulator may be of use and adding efficiency. Automatic air elimination devices should also be added to prevent air lock and associated problems. This would also reduce maintenance and nuisance service calls. The expansion tank should be checked and properly calibrated, assuming there is one.

The bottom line is thereâÂÂs a lot that can be done with your system. As the technology has advance by quantum leaps over the past couple of decades you need someone who is passionate about radiant, follows the latest improvements, goes to tradeshows and attends technical seminars.

The new radiant technologies are HOT - I LOVE them!


    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:48AM
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no natural gas available.

boiler does have temp and pressure gauges. just had another guy here and I asked about the outdoor reset control and he said my boiler is not really setup for that.

baseboard is the alum fins. hot water is off the boiler, no storage tank. he recommends one to save on heating the hot water.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 11:59AM
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2nd quote came in at $1800, but for only 2 new zones. Decided not to zone off the master br/bath due to complications around exposing the existing copper.

When I asked the 1st guy how much less his quote would be if I only went from 1 zone to 3, leaving the MBR/BA on the L/D/K zone, he estimate a $1000 savings.

Pretty big difference from $4500 vs. $1800. Me thinks someone thought they had a sucker!

Thanks all!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 10:32AM
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There is no significant difference in materials or plan?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 12:12PM
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