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what kind of heat to replace old wall heaters- cove? hydro-sil?

We just bought a house, in Wyoming (so yes, it's cold here often), the only heat is from two gas wall heaters; one is in the living room to heat the living room/kitchen/2 bedrooms and a small bathroom. The other is in the garage-converted master bedroom.

They actually do heat up the 1100 sq ft house pretty well, although we suppliment at night in the kids' bedrooms with little space heaters and turn the main unit down.

But.... they're inefficient... and the bigger, older one is questionably safe. It gets too hot to the touch for our small children, and the home inspector didn't give it a complete green flag.

We got a quote for staple-up hot water heat and it was way too expensive, plus there's no place for a boiler. We're looking to get quotes for forced air installed in the attic but we're afraid that would be pretty costly too, plus forced air from the ceiling isn't that efficient. I always feel cold with forced air systems anyway.

Any other ideas? What can everyone tell me about Cove heaters and Hydro-sil baseboards? Are they as expensive to run as the old-school electric baseboard heat I'm thinking of? Do they work?

What would you use for heat in a house like this (1100 sq ft, in Wyoming), using natural gas or electric. What would be the most economical month to month, what has good start-up/installation costs, and what keeps you cozy? Thanks for any tips!

Re: what kind of heat to replace old wall heaters- cove? hydro-sil?

I wouldn't put a high efficiency or 90+ furnace in an attic anyway. They're condensing furnaces and there could be problems with the condensate line freezing up and then you'd be making a no heat call. I don't know if you have room but they can be installed in a closet BY AN HVAC COMPANY that knows what there doing. Bad side of this is that you have to have ductwork installed so cost goes up but you won't have the Electric bill. I don't know much of Cove Heaters or Hydro-Sil Baseboard but you can google the same and get an idea, Hydro-Sil didn't get very good reviews. Good Luck!!! :)

Re: what kind of heat to replace old wall heaters- cove? hydro-sil?


I agree with the previous post in the sense that the heating contractors should be able to find adequate space for a gas-fired boiler SOMEWHERE in your house, partial basement, etc.

Boilers these days come in all different shapes & sizes---many of them believe it or not no bigger than a large suitcase---it's a great advantage that you have natural gas---there's no real need to get a quote for solely radiant, which is much more costly to install than say, forced hot water baseboard.

Once you have FHW installed, you can opt to have radiant installed at a later date, some years down the road, if desired.

With only 1100 sq.ft. to heat you only need approx. 44,000 btu/hr, which means a small boiler, or perhaps a "combo" boiler, like a Biasi b10 which includes hot tap water, as well as hot water for baseboard heat.

I suggest consulting the Yellow Pages under "Heating Contractors" to get several additional quotes---the more quotes you get, the less you will have to pay for the installation---there's a very wide variety of different equipment that can be used, as well as wide variations in quoted installation costs.

Re: what kind of heat to replace old wall heaters- cove? hydro-sil?

you're suggesting hot water baseboard? How come the guy we had out to give us an estimate for hot water staple up said 18k? he said the boiler itself would be 6k, and one that does hot tap water too would be an extra 1500. Would baseboard hot water be much much cheaper? We are NOT spending over 10k, preferrably closer to 6k or less. this house is not worth an 18k upgrade, or even half that.

My closets are precious to me and I don't want to give them up. However, I WOULD love to have a solution for the hot water heat too, the water heater is in plain sight in the entryway, you can see it from the kitchen while you're eating dinner, fun! it's noisy and too small for our family too, and not very efficient. I'd like to replace it but we're not sure yet with what, or where else to put it, we need to at least build a closet around it I suppose. There are maybe a few other odd nooks where we could build a closet for a heating system. But that would be more money to consider as well.

Re: what kind of heat to replace old wall heaters- cove? hydro-sil?


The guy you had out that quoted $18k was clearly the "wrong guy"---many heating contractors mistakenly assume that you can afford to pay whatever number they pull out of a hat.

There are several factors involved that can cause quotes that are too high---concentrating on one quote & not getting at least 4 to 6 quotes from different sources; the choice of equipment; your location, etc.---it's very important to tell the installer BEFORE HE GIVES YOU THE QUOTE that you are on a fixed income, everyone in the house is out of work, etc., & you simply can't afford a quote over a certain amount.

If you live in a rural part of Wyoming you may have limited choices in heating contractors, but consult the Yellow Pages under "Heating Contractors" for a list; also consult "fuel oil dealers" or "Oils-fuel"---oil burner techs are also licensed to install gas-fired equipment & often charge less; also check the YP under "Heating-Parts" to get the heating supply houses in your area---ask for the counterman who will recommend several hydronic installers.

If you live near any large cities you have a wider choice of heating supply houses (who sell boilers & everything else needed at wholesale & will often sell to homeowners), and installers who install them; some states allow the homeowner to install their own unit, although this will often void the boiler warranty & is not recommended unless you can find someone experienced; check around for the wholesale price of a gas-fired cast iron Slant/Fin, or a Dunkirk, Crown, Utica, Biasi.

Always tell every installer that you are on a fixed income & are looking for a rock bottom quote for a low cost hW system, that you simply can't afford anything over a certain amount.

Hint: Home Depot sells a highly rated gas-fired Slant/Fin Victory boiler for $1300 & the baseboard is only ~$4/foot (figure 80' needed) --there are a number of other components that have to be used & labor isn't free, but you should be able to get an install for your quote of $6k or under.

Radiant staple-up usually involves using a condensing variable output boiler that is often twice the cost of a standard cast-iron or 3-pass boiler---the staple-up of hundreds of feet of PEX tubing is labor-intensive.

It's difficult to state what a "reasonable quote" is for different parts of the country, but the more installers you have over to make an assessment & quote, the less you'll pay for the install--you can usually tell by the installer's attitude (hopefully positive & willing to help); if he/she will provide the best install for the lowest price.

After you've dealt with 5 or 6 installers over a period of weeks, you'll have developed the negotiating skills you need to get the best deal.

Re: what kind of heat to replace old wall heaters- cove? hydro-sil?

Thanks for the help. This guy who quoted us $18k clearly knew I wasn't going to pay that and that the house isn't even worth that. He knew he wasn't going to get the job, but he still said it would cost that much. I believe his words were "I'd love to have the work, but some houses are set up for hot water heat and some aren't. You could do it here but it would cost a lot." I know we need to get more than 1 quote, but his comment made me:confused:

Any tips on the cove heaters? we had an electrician tell us that people like them and they're easy to install. Baseboard anything would be an issue with finding a place for them--- most walls are covered by furniture because it's a small house.

Re: what kind of heat to replace old wall heaters- cove? hydro-sil?

I do agree with the above posters if you are still having heat in your house there is no need to rush and it is best to get as many quotes as possible no matter what kind of heat you have installed.
There is though an alternative to the kinds of heat that everyone has been talking about. I have heard that there is a ceiling fan heater from Ron Hazeltons House Calls when it was on in the area I checked http://www.Ronhazelton.com but couldn't find it then I used Google and saw the fan he was talking about. It is called the Reiker room conditioner,however I also noticed that Hunter has a fan just like that too. So at least there are different choices. Be prepared though to pay over three hundred dollars per fan as they are not cheap. I personally haven't ever used one of these fans but did consider buying one at one time for our addition. Nice thing about them that I remember is that they have a remote control and the heat can be turned off when not being used as a heater.
Ceiling fans are fairly easy to install yourself too,just make sure to check your ceiling brace and if it isn't strong you will need to replace it. I would buy that at an electric supply place as they usually have better quality fans than your average big box store does. Whatever you do good luck to you!:)

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