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Best heating and demostic hot water systems

988 Views 5 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  Bondo
I live in MA/NH and I need to replace my heating/water system late this summer. I currently have a tankless oil boiler with 3 zone hydronic baseboard heating system. I have a two story colonial with a walk out basement. There is unfortunately no natural gas in my neighborhood. My current boiler is 25 years old and in rough shape.

Some more information. I have a 2 story colonial with an attached garage. I have a chimney with 3 tiled flues. The first is used for a oil boiler, the second is used for a wood fireplace on the first floor and the third is used for a woodstove in the basement or on the first floor (right now only used on first floor). The woodstove doesn't produce even enough heat for the house. One side of our house will be 80-85 whiles the other is 60 and probably being heated by boiler. Also, propane in my area is cots about 20-25% more per BTU to operate.

I have thought about a few different configurations and any feedback or other ideas would be helpful. Of course cost of system, fuel source and return on investment is critical.

1) Keep the system the same - Replace oil boiler and add a zone for domestic hot water using a tank (cheapest ~7K)

2) Replace oil boiler add zone for hot water, add radiant heating on the first floor, my running pex under the subfloor in the basement. Unfortunately I cannot do this on the second floor. I'm hoping radiant heating will be more efficient than baseboards. (~7K for boiler, ~? for radiant heat - I would install myself)

3) Replace oil boiler + zone for hot water and add outdoor wood boiler so I could use the wood boiler main supply and I could use the oil boiler as a backup ( ~7K oil boiler + >8k for wood boiler) radiant heating would be an option here is as well.

4) Replace oil boiler add propane on demand for DHW. I would have to have propane tanks installed, but I could direct vent the DHW. (10+K)

5) Replace oil boiler with direct vent propane modulating boiler w/ on demand DHW. This would require that I have a porpane tank installed, but it would free up a flue that I could use for a wood stove, wood boiler, or pellet boiler add on. I could also remove the oil tank from my garage. (~7K)

I know this is very much a personal and geographic decision, but any other thoughts or ideas would be great.

Thanks in advance!
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Thanks bondo! Option 3 is really want I was leaning towards, but its the initial cost of the OWboiler that is concerning. Wood in my area is fairly cheap - $250 seasoned cut/split, $190 unseasoned cut/split, $1000 for grapple loads (~10 cords) uncut/unsplit, or free when I cut it from my backyard.

I was thinking if I had an outdoor wood boiler I could buy the grapple load and cut it to 2+ foot lengths and either split them in half or not. I thought it would be much less work than the wood stove.

Unforunately in my neck of the woods our state requires we have a specific EPA rating on our wood boilers. I am not sure if OWBoilers are looked down in my neighborhood as I am not aware of any. Although, we all have 4-10 wooded acre lots, so I would hope it isn't noticeable to the neighbors.

Could you give me some more details about your setup? What OWBoiler do you have? How often do you have to feed it? Did you install it yourself, if so how much effort?..Thanks
That's awesome Bondo. Awesome job. I don't have the welding skills or tools to build my own. Our state restrictions are pretty stern. They have strict zoning, out put pollutants, stack sizes...They even have to be EPA certified.

I like the basement boiler, but the issue is size/runtime, and flues. I won't have a spare flue for the wood boiler. I could remove the wood stove and use that one, but I really enjoy the wood stove. I would have to replace my oil boiler with propane to free up a stove.

There is also a combo unit in Maine, right up the road from my neck of the woods, that sells OIL & Wood combo boilers that is certified to use single flue.
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