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Warm Water Throughout - HVAC System Review

Happy Spring to everyone out there in web land!

It has been an interesting first quarter for me. I have had some form of mysterious chest aliment(s) since Dec 20 (tested repeatedly and not COVID), and it has kicked me in the butt as far as my available energy level (like I had a recordable level before this :-)). End result is that I have pretty much put everything aside for the last three months (caught up on a lot of Netflix series).

What I have managed to complete and get operation over 2021-Q4 and 2022-Q1 is the hydronic conditioning system. This system uses hydronic ceiling panels to add or extract heat from rooms via a radiant transfer of energy. I will have more details regarding the installation of these panels in future updates, but for a primer, review 1st Hydronic Circuit Complete.

At the heart of the system is the mechanical room and the ‘source’ of the conditioned water.  The planning of this system was a long and  convoluted journey for me, that started in earnest back on May 2019, but I was casually researching options as far back as Jan 2013 (Started build in May 2014).

My early difficulties were that I wanted an outdoor heat-pump option to produce space conditioning water, as well as domestic hot water. Once I gave up the requirement of the system to also create domestic hot water, see Hot Water, the rest of the system started to fall into place.

I had reached out to John Siegenthaler in October of 2018, originally hoping he would help design my system.  He had too many existing work commitments, but passed me onto Daniel Schlicher @ DS Design Consultants.  Daniel was instrumental in focusing my learning curve on the nuances of radiant heating and guiding my overall radiant panel designs. He was the one who turned me toward the amazing hydronic modeling software, LoopCAD, from Avenir Software. This software was very easy to use, and created a much better heat loss model (on room-by-room basis), than the one I spent over $3K for from a local ‘design company’ to create. As an added benefit, it also allows you to create the hydronic loops and provides needed flow rates to meet room loads (main purpose of software).

With the known heat loss/gain established for the dwelling, the next step was to determine what equipment to use for creating this conditioned water. We were looking at the Spacepak Solstice SE, Nordic ATW45, and the ThermAtlantic DX2W (recommended by John to Daniel at a conference).  The Spacepak unit was dropped early in the process, because at that time we were still trying to create hot water with the system, and the Spacepak engineer that Daniel spoke with, recommended against using there units to create DHW.

SO, I was down to the ATX45 and the DX2W – I reached out to both parties, and was immediately able to see that Benoit Maneckjee @ ThermAtlantic, was a person I was going to easily be able to work with. I think our first call was around 4 hours :-). We had similar interests, and I could tell that he was very excited about my plans for an extra sensor package, to allow performance testing of the system. What sealed the fate was a review of the Nordic ATW45 unit specification, which showed an operational decibel level of around ~55.5 dBA at 3ft.  This is the equivalent of a car driving past or percolating coffee maker.  As my system was going to me installed in an open area of the basement with communication to most of the house, this was going to be far too loud.

SO, I very fortunately chose ThermAtlantic and have never looked back.  The customer service from Benoit has been nothing short of phenomenal. We have exchanged, what I would estimate is, well over 250 emails since I first contacted him in May of 2019.  ThermAtlantic put together an equipment packaged that included their new prototype DX2W-EX1, the 105 Gal SS Buffer Tank, a GREE 36K Btu DC Inverter Heat Pump, a WILO Star S33 circulator for the buffer tank circuit from the DX2W, a WILO Maxo ECM Smart circulator (with ModBus support) for the main distribution circuit to the ceiling panels, 2 Ton Cased Chilled Water Coil,  3-Way mixing valve, and the full control and sensor package.

This package included the iStat programable thermostats, Baylan heat meter, helical flow sensors, temperature probes, iNet Modbus Master controller/server, Modbus 4-port hub, circulator relays, Outdoor Air Sensor, Buffer tank sensor, and the modbus capable humidity and temperature transmitters.

This package removed the need for me to buy numerous proprietary control and sensor components from other manufacturers, and helped lower my overall cost and complexity significantly.

While the actual supplied goods were the main reason I originally chose ThermAtlantic, the real value turned out to be the knowledge that Benoit has shared with me over the last 36 months via email, and numerous multi-hour phone calls (at no additional cost due to his very generous support of the theEnclosure). Benoit walked me through the mechanical room design (my first), and then later once the equipment was installed, gave me a great start in the inner workings of ControlCore Pro, the software package used to program and maintain the hydronic system controls.

When I selected ThermAtlantic, I had no idea on how progressive and flexible their control architecture would be.  How they could use the flexibility of the control package to monitor and adjust the workings of both the heat pump and the DX2W, to wring out every last bit of efficiency.   Now don’t worry, if you are not the type that wants to know the ‘how’, and just want it to work silently in the background (and the indoor portion of the system is almost silent), then ThermAtlantic have your back.

All of their systems, through ControlCore have remote monitoring functionality, so regardless of where you are in the world, they are able to access the system and ensure it is operating at peak efficiency.

For a visual review of the system and the inner workings of the DX2W and ControlCore, please see the following recently completed YouTube videos.

The next video will be released at 12 PM PST on April 12

As I do not have a strict publication schedule (Sorry), please subscribe to both this journal, as well as our YouTube channel so you will be notified when new content becomes available.

As always, thanks for visiting.

“Peace is its own reward.” — Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) Indian Political And Spiritual Leader

“Humility isn’t denying your strengths; it’s being honest about your weaknesses.” — Rick Warren (born 1954)

“When your ambition is greater than your fear, your life will get bigger than your dream.” — Farshad Asl Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Coach

2 Responses to “Warm Water Throughout – HVAC System Review”

  1. Benoit Maneckjee

    The pleasure’s been all mine Sean; you’ve been a great student and have already been pushing the envelope by improving upon my code :). Thanks for taking a chance by being the first to pair a cold climate EVI inverter with our DX2W-EX module and investing the time in testing it with me. Can’t wait to see how your radiant cooling panels, sensors and control logic work this summer; I think the hydronic community will benefit greatly from your shared experience.

    • Sean Wiens

      Thanks Benoit, I could not have made it through this process without your assistance. Thanks for giving me the courage to tackle hooking up the HP line-sets. Was satisfying to learn a new skill.

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