IMPORTANT: this note was added after the post was published but seemed important enough to be inserted at the beginning of the post. I am just now realizing that my perception of heating requirements are based on experience of poorly insulated homes. This is why I expect stoves to be lit numerous times a day. But, in a properly insulated home the need for heating should eb drastically reduced. If this is true – then all our elaborate plans to use stove-heating may be irrelevant – since the stoves may not be lit long enough to generate hot water. Having a super-energy-efficient home may lead to us to simpler, existing ready-made solutions. We don’t know, and we don’t know yet someone who knows … so for the time being it’s all up in the air.
Some weeks ago we described an imaginary-heating system and since then we’ve come across numerous resources and refined our understanding a bit.
I think there are two core ideas that shape and guide our understanding and wishes of a heating system:
- Most of the time we can shower when hot water is available – though it’s comfortable we don’t really need hot water to be available on demand.
- Enough direct heat is generated by our wood-stoves to indirectly supply most if not all of our heating needs.
So what we can say about our envisioned heating system?
- It will be an integrated water-based system – the same systems is used to generated running hot water and water for a radiant heat system.
- The system relies as little as possible on electricity – we would like to have a warm house and hot water even during a complete power-out (though it may run better when powered with electricity).
- The system will include an indoor cold-water container that will bring the water to room temperature.
- The system will include a central hot-water tank (not a boiler!) that supplies both the radiant heat water and flowing hot water to facuets and showers.
- The primary source of heat will be classic Romanian-village-style terracotta wood stoves. We expect to have one or two primary stoves in the living-space and kitchen. We both work from home a lot and cook a lot so these stoves will already be working.
- We would like to design and build the wood stoves to include an efficient coiled water pipe that is connected to the radiant heat water circuit and feeds back into the central hot-water tank.
- We would like to install a on-demand gas water heater on the running water hot-water circuit as a backup in case the water in the hot-water tank is not yet hot enough.
Following are someuseful web-resources:
- Some basic explanations about boiler-stoves
- Design Constraints for Water Central Heating Systems
- Sample (Do-It-Yourself) Central Heating Design
- Collection of posts on radiant heating at RadiantDesignInstitute
- Romanian forum thread with images on a self-made heating circuit