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Heating & Hot Water – a solution?

Category: Barn Conversion Journal March 28th, 2008 by mbc

From the start of this project, I’ve been through numerous options regarding the method by which we’ll heat the barn and generate hot water for domestic purposes. It’s been a long and twisty road but I think I’ve arrived at a solution that I’m comfortable with (at least for the time being).

Let’s start off with the one aspect that has always been in the plan – underfloor heating (UFH). With the healthy house ethos driving many of our design decisions, we’ve always intended to use underfloor heating and that has remained a constant. Actually, that’s only half true – I originally intended to have UFH on both the ground and first floor, but the idea of the weight of a screed on the first floor just seemed wrong to me (as does the idea of having no screed and therefore minimal thermal store). But I digress…

I started off with the intention of implementing what I thought to be a green solution of a ground source heat pump backed up by an electric water heater (pretty much to the disgust of my green friends). On advice this turned to an air source heat pump (to even more disgust from the green lobby). What eventually put me off these solutions (at least for the time being) is the apparent complexity of the technology involved, the need to consume an often difficult to estimate amount of electricity and a general feeling that I was over complicating the solution to my particular challenges.

I’ll also add that certain aspects of the heat pump installation industry seem to resemble uPVC window or second hand car salesmen. But again I digress…

After considering pellet and gasification boilers and again developing the creeping suspicion of over design I got to my current favoured solution…

Wait for it…

Solar Water Heating with a multi-fuel burner as the ‘primary’ heat source (& a backup electrical heating coil in the tank)…

We’d always planned for a multi-fuel burner in the barn, being the son of a coal merchant and living in the area from which the world’s finest anthracite comes, I have few qualms about burning coal. So the burner has been promoted to the primary heat source and coupled with a ‘foundation’ of solar water heating I feel I’ve a simple yet hopefully effective solution. We’ll specify a tank that can take additional feeds if we feel the need to beef things up with for example a pellet stove in future and plumb ready for that eventuality. As hopefully we’ll be able to move into the barn during the Summer we’ll start off with minimal requirements which will build as the year draws on. Will it all pull together and work? I’ll keep you informed…

Comments / Questions?

If you enjoyed that post, then read these…

Building Progress ~ January 2008, week 1, 2 and 3
Progress has really slowed as my builder is away on holiday and left his boys finishing off another job at the start of the month.

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Solar Water Heating
Solar water heating systems use energy from the sun to heat water for use in the home.

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The Hearth
MyBarnConversion.com is not the natural place for philosophical discourse but the building of the hearth in the barn has changed the way I view the building. It seems that the…

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Posted in Barn Conversion Journal | 3 Comments » « Leave Yours
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3 Responses

  1. Steve & Debs Says:

    Like your blog; we went through exactly the same thought processes and eventually went for the heat pump to do UFH and DHW fo our new build house. With the house nearly complete and the system up and running for 6 weeks now, so far so good and no regrets. The house is specified to AECB’s Silver standard and the UFH ystem was designed around the heat pump to give a high COP.
    Your idea for heating the barn also sounds good, and is pretty well along our train of thought for our next project, the conversion of two old buildings on our farm to holiday lets, to be heated with UFH driven by a large thermal store with inputs from solar and a log boiler.
    Good luck!

  2. Building Progress ~ March 2008, week 3 & 4 | my barn conversion Says:

    […] Heating & Hot Water – a solution? by mbc on March 28th, 2008 […]

  3. The case for coal | my barn conversion Says:

    […] burner as the ‘primary’ heat source (& a backup electrical heating coil in the tank)… [Read the background to that] (I’m still not sure if this intended stripped down heating system is a brave or foolish […]

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