Plumbing schematic for interface with existing propane boiler.

10 Posts
Nov 14, 2010 10:44 am
Plumbing schematic for interface with existing propane boiler.

I am looking for a plumbing schematic that will interface my existing Trianco Heatmaker HP M2-100 and Amtrol Storage Tank with the Heliodyne 120 gal tank and Sonnenkraft Heat Exchanger.  I would like to use the Heliodyne Solar system as a primary heat source for both my domestic hot water and about 1000 sq-ft. of radiant floor space and use the propane boiler as a backup.  I don't necessarily need this system to be fully automated and am willing to switch from solar to propane manually using valves.  My plumber has experience installing solar systems, but is a bit overwhelmed on how to accomplish this.
462 Posts
Nov 14, 2010 02:06 pm
Re: Plumbing schematic for interface with existing propane boiler.

Charles, it's amazing your plumber cannot figure this out, it's only 3 to 4 valves. Basically use two cold water feeds, one to the solar tank and one to the propane tank, each with their own shut off and vacuum relief.  (valves 1 & 2 respectively) Pipe the HW outlet from the solar tank into a tee after the cold water inlet shut off(valve 2) to the propane tank and to a tee on the hot water outlet side of the propane tank going to the house. Install a valve on the HW outlet of the solar tank, on the branch of the tee going to the HW line out to the house. (valve 3). Then install an optional valve on the HW outlet of the propane tank, before the tee from the SHW going to the house. (valve 4)

This gives you the option of;
SHW preheating the propane tank.
Open valve 1, and 4, close 2 and 3.
SHW only.
open valve 1 and 3, close 2 and 4.
Propane only.
open valve 2 and 4, close 1 and 3

Sorry no drawing, if you can't figure it out I will try to insert one for you...

As far as the radiant heat goes, I usually hook up the heating portion directly to the loop returning to the panels instead of using up a tank of hot water. The volume of hot water stored in the tank is usually not sufficient to use for heating. If you hook it up as I suggest, basically install a bypass on the return line back to the collectors forcing the collector fluid through the radiant zone. This will heat the tank first and use any residual heat to pass through the radiant before returning to the collectors. An aquastat can be used instead of a bypass to turn on a secondary pump to the radiant when a certain temperature is reached in the solar return loop making sure that domestic hot water is made first.
  If you haven't installed the radiant yet, use a double loop. One for solar and one for conventional heating, for times when solar is not available.
« Last Edit: Nov 14, 2010 02:19 pm by Tom Mayrand »
10 Posts
Nov 14, 2010 08:45 pm
Re: Plumbing schematic for interface with existing propane boiler.

Thanks Tom for the info., I will relay it to my plumber.  Unfortunately the radiant floor loop has been installed many years ago.
10 Posts
Nov 16, 2010 07:18 pm
Re: Plumbing schematic for interface with existing propane boiler.

Should I plumb my radiant floor loop into the Helio-Pak heat exchanger?
462 Posts
Nov 17, 2010 10:32 am
Re: Plumbing schematic for interface with existing propane boiler.

All comes down on how you are using the radiant. Is this a room that needs heat all the time or a space that is not really used?
How big is the space? Are there other solar options for that space, eg, are there any sunny windows or outside, south facing walls, roofs? 1st flr, 2nd fl, 3rd fl, basement? Where are you located? Are you using glycol for an exchange fluid? How many HW panels do you have and how big? How much average direct exposure do you get? etc, etc,
 Just some basic thoughts when thinking about using your tank or solar as a supply for the radiant zone. Mixing of fluids between different parts of the system should be avoided for obvious reasons.
 If you had/have a number of panels from which you can connect and disconnect, you can dedicate some to heating water and some for direct heating and then reconnect for more HW heating the rest of the year.
  Did your plumber understand the valve setup?
« Last Edit: Nov 17, 2010 10:37 am by Tom Mayrand »
10 Posts
Nov 18, 2010 07:51 pm
Re: Plumbing schematic for interface with existing propane boiler.

The 1000 sq-ft of space is basically a great room that includes kitchen, dining area and small living space.  We live in southern New Mexico and get lots of sunshine.  Our house is basically oriented slightly west of due south, so we do get some direct solar heating.  On an average winter day when the ambient temp gets up into the 50's our house will heat up into the low 70's by the time we get home from work around 5:00 pm.  We have two 4X10 Gobi collectors and in fact the whole system was puchased thru the AltE store and sold as a combination space heating/water heating system.  It is a closed loop system that does use glycol.
My plumber was fine with the valve setup for the domestic hot water, but we are kind of having trouble with interfacing the solar into the propane boiler setup.  We want to be able to take advantage of the heat generated by the collectors during the day to further increase the inside temp. in the great room.  As mentioned previously on a sunny day the room warms into the low 70's, but by about 3:00 am the inside temp. on cold nights will drop into the low 60's.  This is fine for me, but my wife who gets up at around 5:00 am and suffers from Reynauds disease finds this to be way too cold.  So, my thought was if I can increase the inside temp. during the day to say the high seventies, then the temp. at 3:00 am may only drop into the high 60's which is acceptable to my wife.
10 Posts
Nov 18, 2010 08:24 pm
Re: Plumbing schematic for interface with existing propane boiler.

After reviewing AltE website it seems that they no longer sell my particular system, however, a description of my system can be found at Heliodyne's website.
462 Posts
Nov 19, 2010 05:59 pm
Re: Plumbing schematic for interface with existing propane boiler.

Sounds like the easiest thing to do is keep your radiant hooked up to your propane boiler, and install some baseboard heaters, or some old cast iron radiators. Pipe them to the solar return line going back to the panels. As I mentioned before, just install a bypass, basically install a ball valve on the solar return line and tee off before it with another valve going to the heaters. Then pipe the outlet of the heaters back the the return solar line after the valve going back to the panels.
 Or do as the original residents there did years ago, heat up a mass. Build an adobe or rock structure inside a sun space or directly in the house itself with radiant tubing within.
« Last Edit: Nov 20, 2010 11:19 am by Tom Mayrand »

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