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Hydronic system design

user-7660704 | Posted in General Questions on

I am a homeowner looking to switch my house from furnace/central air to hydronic panel radiators and (eventually) ductless mini splits. The switch is necessary for a variety of practical reasons that I won’t get into. 

Does anyone have recommendations on either (a) a third party HVAC design firm well-versed in hydronics, or (b) a good HVAC company in the Cleveland, OH area that is well-trained in hydronics and proper system design?


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  1. this_page_left_blank | | #1

    What is the purpose of the intermediate step of hydronic heating? Seems pointless.

    1. user-7660704 | | #3

      Sorry, I wasn’t clear. We’ll be keeping hydronic heat. We’ll add ductless minis down the road for cooling.

      1. this_page_left_blank | | #4

        The ductless minis are probably capable of covering the entire heat load of the house, so the hydronic heat system will be a rather expensive redundancy.

  2. Jon_R | | #2

    I suggest finding the best local person you can, having them fully document their proposed system (drawings, exact equipment choices, etc) and then having someone remote check it. Also post it here.

  3. rhl_ | | #5

    I dont know the answer to your question for a local contractor, but, i recommend you pick up the book "Modern Hydronic Heating" by John Seigenthaler, i found it very informative, and it helped me understand which plumbers were better than others.

    Also, you can purchase prefab "radiant" panels for the primary secondary pumping in a modern heat system. When we did an Oil to Gas conversion we paid a plumber a lot of $$ to build this piping. It is good, but far less compact and was far more expensive than it can be purchased for online.

    Overall, you just need to know the heating/cooling loads of each space you plan to heat and cool, but a radiator for that space, and run a pair of pipes from a manifold at your boiler per radiator.

    You can't go wrong with Caleffi Manifolds, ECM pumps, and a prefab primary secondary panel system that you buy online. Hook up a heat source, and basta.

    1. user-7660704 | | #6

      Thanks, Ryan. I picked up a copy of the book and will educate myself more fully before proceeding. Also, thanks for the advice on the prefab PSS panel systems–I didn't know those existed.

  4. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #7

    Nate Adams' EnergySmart Ohio ( company is based in the Cleveland, and would likely do a FAR better job at getting the room by room load (and radiation requirement) numbers than 99% of HVAC contractors out there.

    Read/watch some of his HVAC and comfort discussions here:

    Nate's shtick is all about optimizing comfort with a whole-house approach, not limiting it to JUST the HVAC, which often fails to deliver comfort if overlooking correctable deficiencies in the building envelope. Check out some of his more involve retrofit case studies:

    Nate seems to prefer right-sized heat pump systems rather than hydronic systems, and shies away from point-source heating/cooling with mini-splits (which are usually obscenely oversized- too oversized for either comfort or efficiency when the "ductless head in every room" approach is taken.) But the room by room heating & cooling loads are well within their wheelhouse, and it's not rocket science to size the room radiation from a Manual-J (or I=B=R) load calculation if going hydronic.

    1. user-7660704 | | #8

      Perfect. Thanks, Dana. I was not aware of Nate's company and will reach out to him.

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