I am warming to this radiators thing.

schoolhouse radiator

Radiators underneath the windows in the Manse? If this photo (not of the Manse, by the way; would that our walls looked quite that finished!) is anything to go by – and since it comes from a radiator distributor, I assume it is – then it looks like we might have a plan.

Hey people, thank you! For your encouraging and extremely helpful comments on my post from last night, about the possibility of installing radiators for heating the Manse. Since I know next to nothing about home renovations, it makes me feel quite chuffed to hear that my radiators idea is not only not dumb, but in fact could be quite a promising one for our old house. Mind you, as my cousin Bruce pointed out in his comment, installing radiators won’t solve the issue of insulation deficiency at the Manse. (What? You mean sawdust poured into the walls in 1888 won’t cut it?) But one problem at a time, I say.

Raymond has also encouraged me by pointing out that the one flaw I saw in the idea – that the radiators would take up space that we need for bookshelves to house our rather extensive book collection – isn’t actually a problem. Radiators, he informed me, are almost always installed underneath windows. And not necessarily because that’s where heat tends to escape; it’s because below-window space is space you can’t use for anything else – like hanging pictures, or (aha!) bookshelves.

space below windows

As you can see, there’s not a lot of space below the Manse’s windows. Enough for radiators? Very possibly!

But the Manse’s lovely big windows extend pretty far down the walls. Would there really be room for radiators in the space below them? Well, judging by some photos I have found on my friend the internet, I think the answer might well be yes. Have a look again at the image at the top of this post – of a traditional radiator style that seems to be called “schoolhouse.”

People, I think we are on to something!

10 thoughts on “I am warming to this radiators thing.

  1. Radiators were installed below window for two reasons. The first is that the rising warm air helped strip the moisture and condensation off of older, poorly insulated windows so that you could actually see out. The second is that those windows were usually drafty and the incoming cool air was tempered somewhat by the warm air rising from the rads.

    • Jenn, this is absolutely wonderful information – thank you so much! Cool to know that a Quebec company is leading the way in recycling old rads (otherwise destined for the scrap heap). And it is all so positive and encouraging – and green! We are feeling very good about this rads idea for the Manse.

  2. Yes, ideally under windows but in a retrofit you put them where you can. We only actually have one under a window and I know of other retrofits of similar aged buildings where the same thing was done. This is our third season and it works fine. You can get lower rads (18″ I believe) but they are more expensive and also more difficult to find (supply and demand). The other issue would be that you will need a longer and wider rad than you might with much taller rad.

    Drop me an email – we’d be happy to show you what we’ve done!

    • Will do, Brad – thank you so much, again! As I just said in reply to a comment from reader Jenn, I am by now feeling thoroughly positive about the idea of using radiators in the Manse. Now if only we had the insulation situation rectified – perhaps another thing I can pick your brain about!

  3. In rural areas, there are several methods for heating the central water supply for radiators. These include oil, propane, wood, electricity, solar panels [both PV & SWH] & geothermal.

    WRT to solar panels, one can install solar water heaters [SWH] which circulate fluid [ie, non-toxic propylene glycol] to & from external solar heaters. The fluid then goes through a heat exchanger inside the house to transfer heat to the radiator system. [cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_water_heating%5D To deal with the lack of sunlight at night, the heat exchanger can be supplemented with other forms of heat generation such as electric element, propane or oil burners, heat pumps. [cf. http://www.skylineenergy.com.au/tubes.php%5D This type of system can also be adapted to use an outdoor wood-burning furnace as the heat source.

    One can also use solar photovoltaic [PV] panels. The electrical output energizes a heating element such as those used in regular electric hot water heaters. A pair of 250 kWh panels will easily heat a 60-gallon hot water heater to 50°C. For a viable photovoltaic radiator system, the number of solar panels will depend upon the total water volume of the system [rads, piping, central reservoir]. Alas, I’m not aware of anyone selling a “turn-key” system but am considering devising something similar to heat my cistern with a rad system under the kitchen & bathroom [which have no basement underneath, just a crawl space & thus are chillier in the winter than the rest of the house].

  4. “… A pair of 250 kWh panels…”

    Oops, that should be “250 W” [not “kWh”] panels, each about 1.6 square metres in size.

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