Custom Waterfront Home is Whole-House Radiant

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Rhode Island businessman Art Cannon completed his dream house last summer and it's totally radiant, at Art's direction. His electro-mechanical sales business sells to the HVAC market, and in particular to local hydronics manufacturer Taco, Inc., so Art knows a thing or two about achieving total indoor comfort with hydronics and zoned radiant heating. He wanted the best products available for the best comfort system money could buy.

For Art, comfort, efficiency and quality were the three cardinal rules for his comfort system, plus “no nuisance” in operation or maintenance, he adds. In addition to Wirsbo Uponor radiant heating throughout the two-story waterfront house, Cannon’s new home comes with a state-of-the-art heating and cooling system featuring a gas-fired boiler and indirect water heater from Heat Transfer Products, Carrier air conditioning units, White-Rogers thermostats, and a host of Taco products - everything from traditional 00 circulators to Taco's newest offerings like the Radiant Mixing block, Low Water Cutoff Valve for the boiler, and even a Water and Gas Safety (WAGS) valve for the water heater.

"It's as complete an advanced heating and cooling system as we’ve installed for anyone," says John Perry, Jr. of Advanced Comfort Systems, Inc., North Smithfield, RI, the mechanical contractor/installer on the project. It's not every day that you get to design a system like Art's, with both the homeowner and builder focused completely on whole-house radiant."

Perry should know, as he and his father, John Perry Sr., are radiant specialists. Their company focuses exclusively on radiant heat and snow melt, and Art Cannon sought them out for their reputation and expertise. In business as radiant specialists for a decade now, father and son are members of the Radiant Panel Association (RPA) and Wirsbo’s Home Comfort Team.

The Cannon house, on waterfront property by the Palmer River in Barrington, RI, was built by general contractor Andrew Tiplady of Barrington, from a design by architect Scott Weymouth of ARRIS Design, Providence. The house, says Andy Tiplady was "custom built to Art's needs." With an eastern exposure, the house receives abundant natural light. It contains nine rooms on two floors, including a first floor library and an art studio and a great room on the second floor. Describing the openness of the home's interior space, Art and his wife Joan were firm in their desire to have to negotiate "as few corners as possible after residing for 32 years in a four-bedroom colonial."

Cannon's 3,500 sq. feet of indoor space has 13 radiant heat zones, including the garage. In fact, according to Andy Tiplady the "whole house was built around radiant heat." Cannon's home was the first all-radiant home that Tiplady has encountered to date. But Tiplady agrees with Cannon when he says that "radiant is the wave of the future."

The Perrys, in designing the home's 13 zones, conducted a heat loss analysis to provide the optimal water temperature. The comfort system's water temperature is set at 90° when it is 0° outside. The water temperature running through the floor is dependent on the outside air temperature. Within the 13 zones, each room in the house has a different heat loss, with White-Rogers thermostats regulating each room. Each thermostat is used as a high limit control. A Taco Outdoor Reset control linked to the Radiant Mixing Block provides constant circulation throughout the floors of the house. Solar gains on sunny days turn individual thermostats off.

About 3,600 ft. of Wirsbo PEX tubing runs throughout both floors of the house, with about 300 ft. of 5/8" tubing running from the manifolds back to the Munchkin gas-fired boiler with its modulated output of 140,000 BTU. During construction in the winter of 2005, and before insulation had been installed, the radiant heat provided a comfortable atmosphere for the construction team without any use of supplementary heat, which according to John Perry, Jr., made for "fantastic working conditions above the warm concrete slab, even when the outside temperature dipped into the teens."

Prior to the radiant heat being operational, the use of gas-fired construction heaters used more than $1,000 worth of fuel. However, when the system was up and running the highly efficient Munchkin boiler and radiant heat working together, under the same un-insulated conditions, brought the cost of heating down to just over $200 for the same period of time. "It was amazing," remembers Andy Tiplady.

This past summer three Carrier Revolution air conditioning units handled the heat. The three Carrier units service the downstairs, the upstairs great room - which is a combination kitchen and living room - and the master bedroom and bathroom. Cannon also had a White-Rogers electrostatic air cleaner, UV lights and a dehumidifier for each unit installed.

The house's mechanical room, just off the garage, is a veritable sea of Taco green. Taco provided field support to the Perry's in appropriately sizing the Taco products selected for installation as well as their ratings. Several different types of Taco “00” circulators are part of the system along with a 4900 Series air separator and pressure reducing valves. Taco radiant products also include the Radiant Mixing Block. For the boiler and water heater, a Taco supplied WAGS valve and a Low Water Cutoff valve provide safety to those units, respectively, and to the system as a whole.

"Taco makes it easy to select the right products," says John Perry, Jr. "They're an A-1 company, and they really stand behind their products."