View Full Version : Yet another shop heat question

Bill Grumbine
12-29-2006, 4:10 PM
Greetings all

Someone here might be surprised to see me asking this question, since I have been answering it for people for the past seven years. But a question has come up.

I have been heating my shop (for the past seven years!) with radiant propane. It is a very nice way to heat, quick, warm, and efficient. However, with the advent of our outdoor wood furnace, the opportunity to heat the shop with hot water from that furnace is now available to me. I have the underground piping in from the furnace to the shop, but I have not yet settled on how to distribute the warmth.

Today I acquired three cast iron radiators that heat via hot water (not steam) for the princely sum of $10.00 each. There are two more coming available tomorrow which I will pick up when I get the call. These things work great in the house, but I am wondering about how they would do in the shop. Wall space is at a premium, and I don't want to fork out a lot of money for installation and all the associated stuff if they are not going to work.

Has anyone here used old fashioned hot water radiators in their shop? All three are roughly the same size, 48" long and 22" high. The other two are pretty much the same size as well. I'm just wondering how I would incorporate them into the shop without losing a lot of wall space or a lot of heat because they are blocked by something sitting in front of them.

I will be keeping the radiant propane as a backup, plus as auxillary heating for the beginning and end of the heating season when the wood furnace will not be running.



Joe Pelonio
12-29-2006, 4:32 PM
Is it too late to install radiant under the floor? Maybe add an inch to the floor to allow for it? That method has become much easier these days with flexible plastic tubing (as seen on This Old House).

Here's one where you add panels on top of the existing floor:


Jim DeLaney
12-29-2006, 4:40 PM
The rads oughtta work just fine, but as I recall, you have hardly any wall space available, unless you do a lot of rearranging ot tools, benches, etc.

It might be better to wait until Spring, then move everything out - one time - and lay in the tubing for in-floor heat, and pour an additional inch or so of concrete.

The concrete will need to cure for a couple days before you can move the stuff back in, so you may need to sleep out with the tools (and a shotgun) for a couple nights... ;-)

Jim Becker
12-29-2006, 4:48 PM
Oh, my...that would give Bill a flat floor. Unacceptable... :D :D :D

Frank Chaffee
12-29-2006, 5:43 PM
How about arranging the radiators in a circular pattern on the ceiling, with a ceiling fan in the center blowing gently upwards? ‘Couldn’t be heavier than a waterbed.

A single stack of all five (height permitting, or stacks of two and three), on a wall or as a column in the shop center?

Beneath a workbench; again with a low volume fan?

Steve Clardy
12-29-2006, 7:04 PM
Yes. I was thinking of building a rack, and stacking 3-4 high maybe.
Less floor space taken up

Al Willits
12-29-2006, 8:44 PM
Might be better to use one or two of the modine style hanging units, they're take up less space and with the attached blowers they'll spread the heat around.
Plus they don't weight anywher near as much.
Maybe sell the radiators for scrap or to someone rehabing a house and needs to replace a few.


Bill Grumbine
12-29-2006, 8:53 PM
Thanks for the responses guys. I would dearly love a flat floor with heat in it, but I don't know if I will be able to afford that anytime soon. I had not though of racks with multiples. That is something to discuss with the guys who will be doing the installation. Blowers are not an option. I can't afford to have dust blowing all over the place, and as good as I can be with dust collection, lathes do not lend themselves to being clean without lots of work!


Joe Mioux
12-29-2006, 9:05 PM

I am confused. Do you have an outdoor wood furnace or boiler?

If you are going to try to heat water with a furnace and then pump it into your building and be distributed thru old cast iron radiators, you will have some interesting engineering tasks ahead of you.


Bill Grumbine
12-29-2006, 9:10 PM
Joe, it is called a furnace, it is called a boiler, it is called all sorts of things - outdoor wood stove is common. We have been heating the house since October of last year with it, and it is working very well. The wood stove is surrounded by 105 gallons of water in a jacket which is heated and then pumped through underground pipes to the house. It is capable of servicing up to three or four buildings for a total of 5000 sq ft. The house has a similar system, and not only that, it heats my domestic hot water too - and does a better job than the oil burner! It is efficient enough in its combustion of the wood that I have less than half a wheelbarrow of ash so far since starting it up in October.


Joe Mioux
12-30-2006, 2:45 AM
Now that sounds like a great heater.

How large of boiler is it?

Thanks Joe