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New AC/Heating System

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Joined: Aug 31 2003

has anyone installed a new HVAC system recently, looking to convert radient heat to forced air...comments anyone on how the vents can be integrated in the design of our Eichler here in NY! :)

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Joined: Mar 16 2005

So you own a rare Eichler outside of California.

Well, I think the basic issue is that you have a flat roof.

Assuming you want or need to discommission your radiant heat, your choices are limited.

(1) A low profile duct system, high velocity, over-the-roof, combination heat and cooling system like Unico. Because it requires a new (foam or insulating) roof, the cost is about $30K. No one on this site has admitted to installing one although there are postings about it, and I wonder about the capacity of those systems to deal with NY conditions which are hotter or colder than CA in every season.

(2) Keep the radiant boiler but use baseboard radiators - - this is the typical choice to replace radiant heating.

No one on this site has tried to retro-fit standard forced-air duct work because structurally the hardware would have to be outside the house and that would detract from the architecture.

I don't know of any other heating replacements, and that's the problem with Eichlers . . . they're like Italian cars . . good to look at but true maintenance headaches.

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Joined: Apr 19 2007

we recently had a unico/roof priced and the combination was $60K... the unico necessitates lots of extra roof work insofar as blocking with foam. it was out of our league...

we installed an LG-mini-split system with "heads" in 3 rooms. this type of system would not be good for whole-house heating in an environment where it gets really cold, but makes a great aux. heater for quick-warm-ups. while it certainly has the capacity, for a true heat system, you'd need a head in every room which isn't practical with this type of system due to their size and expense.

there's always typical ducting, but on an eichler... not so nice.

depending on your flooring -- if you only want heat -- you might look at the newer electric radiant systems.

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Joined: Aug 31 2003

Thanks for the response! We had a rep from Unico come out to our Eichler here in New York and give us suggestions. He recommended to replace boiler with Systems2000!
And go with wall mounted AC units! Great plan, does not disrupt the archictecure, and is energy efficient! This company provides great service. Any experiences with them welcome!

Getting ready for another winter....! :)

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Joined: Apr 19 2007

a new boiler is certainly a good plan for an ailing system. what sort of roof do you have? while expensive, a foam roof will help to hold in the heat/cold a bit. our norcal eichler is really breezy with the open post/beam construction... i can only guess you've looked into sealing the house a bit. what sort of wall mounted AC units? a mini-split system? as mentioned in a few previous posts, we had the LG art-cool models installed for 1/3 of the cost of the unico system (which, although nice, was simply too expensive for our home)... and they give both heat and AC. so far, we're happy with them. the design isn't as visually intrusive as some of the other brands (they look like a square plasma TV with the screen made of brushed stainless). if you're looking into "wall mounted" units, find some that are true heat pumps (give heat and cold) as they will make a nice aux. heater on days when you just want a burst of warm air in the mornings... once winter sets in in NY, though, you'll be running your radiant pretty constantly to maintain a baseline temp and can then use the wall-mounted to warm it up a bit in the mornings and evenings. one of the nice features of the LG unit is that one compressor can run 3 heads for a total of 36Kbtus of cooling/heating. our house is rated at a need of 48K, so this puts a big dent in the needs and we can expand the system by adding another compressor/head or use portables or window/wall units. good luck and take pictures along the way -- there's not a lot of in-process AC/heat install pix out there.

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Joined: Mar 16 2005

Dual heat/cool mini-split won't work in NY. The units are rated to work in the heat mode above something like 35 degees; whether you're in down- or up-state NY, you have enough 32 and below nights that mini-split won't heat (in heat mode, the process is reversed where "warm" outside heats up the refrigerant and while circulating throught the inside air handler, indoor air is blown through the refrigerant coils heating up the indoor air). At 32 and below, there's not much heat to transfer.

The guy from Unico gave you the obvious answer: get a more efficient boiler and get separate cooling. To Red's point, what A/C are they recommending?? through-the-wall room airconditioners or mini-split? A new efficient boiler is about $5K installed (someone claimed $2.5K), and a 2 handler mini-split is another $5K (Silicon Valley pricing) so room A/C is to way to go if you can stand the bad esthetics and wall piercings.

A foam room is a great insulator, providing about a 10 degree differential in the summer, but you'll also need to do something about the large expanses of single pane glass & windows typical of original Eichlers. If your Eichler is not insulated, I assume you're used to $300 monthly gas bills in the Winter. The 1973 oil crisis ($50 a barrel!!) caused every NE municipality to require new building codes in insulation. However, replacing a roof when you don't have to is a money killer.

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Joined: Aug 31 2003

Thanks all for your input,,,being in New York does require extra research.
Our first task will be to replace our boiler and test for leaks in our system.
Will let you know of my progress.

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