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Old 10-10-2010, 04:43 PM   #1
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How to: DIY Finned Tube Baseboard Heater???


Hi, I'm trying to build myself few baseboard heaters with copper finned tubes.

Before you ask why don't I just buy some, I'd like to clarify that I'm building my house in Europe and this type of heaters are not popular, thus very hard to find here.

My main problem is how to attach the copper fins to the 1/2" or 3/4 tube? Soldering them seems like a time consuming option.

I've heard ideas about freezing the tube, tight fitting the fins and then letting the tube expand, but I'm not sure how tight the fit will be in that case?

I've also heard about pressure expansion of the pipe but I'm not sure how that's done, what pressure etc.
Is there another reason, aside from lower cost, why the currently offered baseboard heaters are with aluminum or steel fins? Since copper is a much better heat conductor, I believe copper fins will be more effective.

Also any info on how thick and how far apart the fins should be will be much appreciated.

I apologize for the lengthy post but this is one project I've put my mind to and will have to complete no matter what. Thank you in advance for all useful advice, references, links or ideas. I'll be attaching photos of my progress as I go along, if someone is interested of course.

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Old 10-10-2010, 05:08 PM   #2
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How to: DIY Finned Tube Baseboard Heater???


Soldering is your best option,It's not hard to learn---I suggest that you give it a try.

The fins are spaced about 1/4 inch apart--aluminum---copper would be a fine choice of fin material if you are making your own.

There are a couple of hydronic heating experts here that will be able to help more than me.

I've only installed four systems so my knowledge is limited.

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Old 10-11-2010, 04:42 AM   #3
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How to: DIY Finned Tube Baseboard Heater???


Thanks for the reply. I really wanted to explore all other options before getting into soldering. My reserves about soldering are that the tin might minimize the heat transfer between the copper tube and the copper fins. That's why I prefer tight physical contact and wanted to find out what the best DYI options are. Thanks again for all ideas.
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Old 10-11-2010, 06:52 AM   #4
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How to: DIY Finned Tube Baseboard Heater???


Have them shipped from USA. Special machinery and pressures are used in the manufacture of coils.. you'll never get a proper fit or transfer.
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Old 10-11-2010, 04:22 PM   #5
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How to: DIY Finned Tube Baseboard Heater???


I can order them for sure but if I was to buy something, I can always get some of the floor convectors being offered here, about them same price and efficiency. However, I have an itch to do them myself and would like to do as fine a job as possible. I'm sure many of you are here for that same reason. Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts.

P.S. For example, by doing them myself I can have them custom made to run along my staircase which is heavily windowed and could use the extra heat.
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Old 10-11-2010, 07:28 PM   #6
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How to: DIY Finned Tube Baseboard Heater???


If you used a circular punch to cut the hole (slightly smaller than the copper tube) I think the metal will stretch and give you a snug fit.

Make your own punch by grinding a sharp edge on a short piece of steel tube--Mike--

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Old 10-11-2010, 07:56 PM   #7
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How to: DIY Finned Tube Baseboard Heater???


Typically each fin is stamped so the inner hole has a 1/8" to 3/16" flange that fits snugly over the pipe and improves the metal to metal contact and also keeps all the fins straight. When you make your own, you probably made a clean cut for the inner hole with no such flange.

The fins are also typically aluminum which does not solder well.

If you do need to solder the fins on to get enough metal to metal contact, remember that you have a lot of work to do, almost 200 fins 1/4" apart for a 4 foot baseboard unit.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 10-11-2010 at 08:04 PM.
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Old 10-11-2010, 07:57 PM   #8
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How to: DIY Finned Tube Baseboard Heater???


I suspect that fabricating one's own baseboard would probably cost around 5 times as much as buying it would, would take months to cut out hundreds of copper plates ( or aluminum ) would take a few more months to get them all attached and properly spaced on the pipe and in the end would not work half as well as buying baseboard.
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Old 10-13-2010, 02:49 AM   #9
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How to: DIY Finned Tube Baseboard Heater???


Thank you all for your input. I'll probably end up buying my baseboards from the US but will build myself at least one smaller unit to be used in the garage (to be on the safe side)

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