Hot Water (Radiator) Heating System

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by redhawk, Jun 21, 2011.

  1. redhawk

    redhawk Monkey++

    In the process of planning what kind of preps I need to have for my climate, I realized that I didn't know the answer to a fundamental question....My current home has an old hot water/radiator heating system which uses a natural gas powered boiler. Obviously the boiler would shut down if the gas was turned off, but what about the electricity? I've been fortunate in that I haven't had a power outage in the winter (yet), so I've never experienced this situation. Does anybody know if my kind of heating system would continue to run without electricity?

  2. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Probably not, I can't imagine that the firing circuits would operate without power. Moreover, the circulator can't run without power to push hot water into the radiators.
  3. redhawk

    redhawk Monkey++

    Thanks for the info...great point. So the circulator pump wouldn't run, and I guess the thermostat wouldn't run either. I guess my next question is, how do I power this system using a generator? Or do I just buy a handful of space heaters?
  4. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

  5. thebastidge

    thebastidge Monkey+

    You need to find out whether the circuit for your boiler is 110 or 220. If it is gas fired, it is probably 110, just for the thermostat and the pilot and any pumps. A generator should run that just fine. Typically a generator needs to have some non-essential circuits turned off in your house anyway, as your typical small generator doesn't have enough capacity.
  6. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    You will need to research just how your boiler works, and is powered. Should you get yourself a Liquid Cooled Generator for backup Power, you could use the Cooling System BTUs to supply the energy to run your Heating System. There are significant BTUs that can be taken from the Exhaust system as well. This would require some Heat Exchangers, but these can be had fairly cheaply on the Used Market. The concept is called CoGeneration, and can significantly improve the efficiency of your Fuel BTU usage.

    My brother (the engineer) is in the process of installing a 15Kw NG/Propane Genset, Primarily fueled by his NG Gas Line, with a 1000USG Propane Tank, buried in the backyard, for Secondary Fuel. The Cooling System is connected to both the Domestic Hot Water System, and Hydronic Floor Heating System, that Primarily are NG Fired with On Demand Boilers. This design gives him complete redundant Backup for Electricity, Heat, and Domestic Hot Water, should the NG System Fail. As part of the Electrical System he has twin OutBack Power 3.6Kw Inverters on a 1200 AmpHour 48Vdc Battery Bank, with 1200 Watts of Solar up on his roof, on an OutBack MX80 Charge Controller. There are LOTS of possibilities to consider in your design, so you just need to dig in, and learn what is available. Many times you can educate yourself, and do most of the work yourself, as well. ..... YMMV....
    arleigh likes this.
  7. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    If your 110 ac and your only running the pumps for your heat system and the thermostat, you can probably get by with a single 120 watt 12 v. solar panel, two Trojen T-105 batteries, a small c-40 xantrax charge controller and a small inverter. Wouldn't run much else, but should be pretty ok for just your heaters. If you need more power, you need more panels and batteries. But 12v system lets you add as you need without spending major money........
    arleigh likes this.
  8. thebastidge

    thebastidge Monkey+

    USing the coolant system from the genset is a good idea. I've been researching a methane digester system for plumbing into a natural gas generator. Keeping the temps a little higher in the wintertime would make the digester a good bit more productive, so I've been looking into that. I hadn't really considered it for radiant floor scenarios- I love, love, love radiant floors ever since my apartment in Korea. But having the generator that close to the house has a serious drawback in the form of noise, no matter how well you muffle it.
  9. redhawk

    redhawk Monkey++

    Thanks for all the great advice so far guys, you've really give me some food for though.[beer]
  10. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    As you said old; does your furnace have a pump? There are old systems that make steam which expands to fill the radiators without a pump.
  11. beast

    beast backwoodsman

    if his system is that old, the thermostat doesnt require juice
    it makes its own from temp variations to activate a solenoid
    the solenoid does run on outside juice tho, same as the pump
    you could look into convection flow for hot water circulation
    its slow but only stops when theres no heat
    and a wood fired boiler works great
  12. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    If his system is that old it doesn't have a thermostat. ;)

    Old steam boilers are extremely simple. They heat water until it is a gas which rises into radiators with various noises to announce it's arrival. ;) As the water returns to being a liquid it returns to the boiler.
    beast likes this.
  13. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    If I had a water cooled generator that's what I be doing. along with solar which I already do.
    On wintery days your not getting much solar, so the back up generator can be maintaining the battery bank as well.
    Done correctly ,to fit your needs of course , it would only need to run during the day, and rely on the battery bank at night.
    In you building ,it is my experience to make room for more than you plan, because what's on paper is one thing reality is a whole other thing. In the solar game numbers are not solid ,they very with manufacturing and the exposure to the sun .
    By the way I added a small 600 watt wind mill to my system , a real asset.
  14. Tempstar

    Tempstar Old and crochety

    "My brother (the engineer) is in the process of installing a 15Kw NG/Propane Genset, Primarily fueled by his NG Gas Line, with a 1000USG Propane Tank, buried in the backyard, for Secondary Fuel."

    I would like some info on how he is doing this. I keep running into jetting issues and poor performance when set up to run on NG and switching to LP.
  15. Tempstar

    Tempstar Old and crochety

    Most residential boilers on NG use 115v controls with 24v zone valves and thermostats, and 115v pump(s). Most also have a domestic loop for hot water. If your system is similar, it would not take a lot of power to run it. Typical small systems run on a 15 amp breaker and draw 5-7 amps. Oiled fired systems add another 5 amps for the burner and ignition transformer.
  16. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    My guess is its kind of like my natural gas and propane dual fuel heater.
    One fuel input is setup for natural gas, the other is setup for propane.
    Just make sure both fuel valves are not on at the same time.
    Last edited: May 11, 2017
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