Help me design a new HVAC system. 1950's Cape Cod

Brandon_BAugust 14, 2012

I'm renovating a cape cod style home in South Eastern PA that currently has hot water baseboard heat (oil), small closets and window unit AC. I wanted to keep the baseboard for heat, and just put in AC, but the more I get into this renovation, the more baseboard I have to repair, and some will just be lost due to cabinetry and other appliances. I'm starting to think along the lines of pulling out the baseboards and going to a heat pump. What should I do?

1550 sq ft - 650 up and 900 down. The second floor has knee walls and is akin to a finished attic. The space above is very small, but perhaps not to small for an air handler.

I don't have Natural Gas available, and if I ditch the baseboards I don't know if having the oil tank in the basement would make much sense. I could go with propane (good excuse to get a propane stove).

Some things I have come up with after having a few HVAC guys come out (all are with just electric aux. strips):

1. Small single stage unit both in the attic and basement. 13ish seer range. Medium Cost. Average efficiency and comfort.

2. Larger 2 stage units both in the attic and basement. High Cost. Better efficiency and comfort.

3. Large single stage unit 15ish seer in basement. Low Cost. Average efficiency but comfort may be sacrificed on second floor since there really aren't any good routes for the ductwork.

Also, some efficiency and comfort may be lost with option 1 since they don't seem to make 1.5 ton units with decent seer ratings.

Thoughts, suggestions...Am I even going down the right path or should I be looking at propane to supplement the heat pump and help with comfort?

The baseboards are just soooo nice and warm, but too darn expensive. I want an economical replacement.

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tigerdunes

Leave the baseboards for backup and extra cold days.

Then install high eff heat pump with backup heat strip.

What is your electric rate?

Electric breaker box will need to be checked to see what capacity you have. Condenser, air handler, and strip heat should be on dedicated separate circuits. May require upgrade.

IMO

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 8:48AM
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Brandon_B

Well that's not quite the answer I was looking for, but you're probably right. I was just hoping there was a better solution than spending a bunch of money putting the baseboard heat back together AND buying a heat pump.

I think the electric rate is about $0.14, and I'm upgrading the service to 200amps and rewiring the whole house, so I think that I should be okay.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 8:19AM
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tigerdunes

Other than the fuel cost, baseboard hot water heat is great. This gives you a choice. How old is your boiler? Any operating problems?

I just think the redundancy is good. Use the HP down to freezing/mid 20s.

I ran some fuel cost comparisons and you would see some solid savings with a HP.

Here is my personal checklist.

Obviously correct sizing is important. If you are unsure, then request a load calculation or even perform it yourself for a nominal fee online.

there are three equally important components-quality HVAC, the install by dealer, and probably the most overlooked and disregarded is the ductwork system.

these are my minimum specs for a new HP system. both outside and inside units should be replaced to have a properly matched system.

15 SEER, 12.5+ EER, 9 HSPF
best matching VS air handler
full BTUs in both cooling and heating for your rated size
R-410a refrigerant(same as Puron)
scroll compressor preferred
electronic demand defrost preferred
thermostat with "dehumidify on demand" feature
staged backup heat strips
new and correctly sized refrigerant line set

you want a thorough inspection of your ductwork system. size, overall condition, supply and return lines, insulation qualities, leak test, etc.

any hot/cold spot issues in your home should be addressed.

I would only use authorized dealers for the various brands that provide quotes.
see mfg websites.

I would look at Trane/AmStd,Rheem/Rudd,Carrier/Bryant.

Depending on your location, I would not purchase a new HP system that did not have electronic demand defrost.

IMO
Good Luck!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 8:38AM
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Brandon_B

The boiler is in decent shape, but it's 35 years old, and the basement has been vacant and very damp for about 2 years, so it could go at any time.

I will get load calcs, but if I use two systems, 1.5 tons each is already oversizing. That why I'm on the fence about stepping up to a 2 ton two stage. 2 tons each will really be over kill (4 tons in a 2.5 ton house), but 2 stage may keep me closer to 1 ton in the first stage. Maybe?

I'm now starting to think about mini splits upstairs, and conventional on the first floor...

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 5:04PM
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cindywhitall

This may be out there and I am JUST a homeowner....but is it possible that since you are renovating and it is not a large house, maybe you could build some soffits for some new ductwork (don't know what else to call it)going to the upstairs? How many rooms would need vents and how many vents total? It's just an idea because if you could do it then couldn't you get away with just one unit in the basement? I suppose the hvac guys would have suggested that already though...

I like the idea of keeping the baseboard for backup, but have no idea of the comparative cost of actually using it.

Good luck with your reno.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 5:39PM
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energy_rater_la

it is called fur downs. ducts are run in
conditioned space and fur downs are bulit around
ducts.
this is what I did, putting R-8 ducts in my
hot attic was not even a consideration.
I also went with a heat pump and guess what...
last year my july bill was $148 ...this year
....$72 and that includes about $10 for security
light & misc.
my utility rate is .08

tigerdunes gives good specs & info.
evaluate duct/return system, mastic seal
everything & fix house air leakage.
blower door testing will show you things
you never imagined.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 6:22PM
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ionized_gw

I like my my mini splits, but I don't live where it is cold. The zoning works very well for me.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 11:26PM
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ionized_gw

I like my my mini splits, but I don't live where it is cold. The zoning works very well for me.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 11:27PM
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Brandon_B

Looks like keeping the baseboard is out. Found a run between floors that had a loose joint from all of my cutting and hacking with the sawsall. So now I wouldn't trust the pipes without ripping out the floors and inspecting all of the joints.

So...i had a Bryant dealer out and he gave me a quote on an extreme hp evolution system. It was the same price a goodman system from a different installer. We did find a good route for the ductwork to get to the second floor, so it will be one system in the basement. I'll post the model no. and whatnot when he puts together the final quote.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 10:57PM
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Brandon_B

Looks like keeping the baseboard is out. Found a run between floors that had a loose joint from all of my cutting and hacking with the sawsall. So now I wouldn't trust the pipes without ripping out the floors and inspecting all of the joints.

So...i had a Bryant dealer out and he gave me a quote on an extreme hp evolution system. It was the same price a goodman system from a different installer. We did find a good route for the ductwork to get to the second floor, so it will be one system in the basement. I'll post the model no. and whatnot when he puts together the final quote.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 11:19PM
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ionized_gw

There must be a way to pressure test the system.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 7:23PM
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Brandon_B

Yeah, I thought about some kind of pressure test, but from what I could tell, it would have taken some extensive repair work just to put the system back to a loop of some kind worthy of being tested. So, it's too late now anyway. The Base Board is gone. It really was a mess, and if I ever want to, I could always add some clean new radiators or base boards to the rooms that need it.

That being said, I have a decision to make:

Option #1 - Variable Speed Air Handler Model#FE4ANF003Twith a 3-Ton, 16 SEER 2 Stage Heat Pump with Air Conditioneing Unit Model#286BNA036.

Option #2 - Variable Speed Air Handler Model#FE4ANF005Twith a 3-Ton,20 SEER Inverter Heat Pump with Air Conditioneing Unit Model#280ANV036

Both Systems Equiped with Evolution Zone Controls for 2-Zone Heating and Cooling System. 15 KW Heat Strip ect. Option to add Humidifier and Media Filter +$1,000.

The installer did an operating cost analysis and it showed the Extreme System (20 SEER) being just a bit better in cooling, but $900/year less in heating.

Which to I pick?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 6:06PM
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Brandon_B

Well, an installer that I had forgotten about just sent me a REALLY good proposal. He was a local non-salesmen like guy which was a nice change and he was really easy to talk to. It's a Luxaire system. Here's the AHRI Cert: 3831747.

What do you guys think?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 10:15AM
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