Garage/Shop Natural Gas Heater ... uhhhh? - Router Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-02-2011, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
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Default Garage/Shop Natural Gas Heater ... uhhhh?

I am writing to share a short story and ask for feedback. I was really excited about purchasing a Modine HDS45 "Hot Dawg" heater; I had been researching separated combustion natural gas heaters for months and when I was finally pulling the trigger on a purchase, the dealer I spoke to actually talked me out of the Modine Hot Dawg! The text of our conversation basically went like this:
- The HDS is a "fine heater" but not worth the high price any more.
- There are better/comparable competitors with much better customer service.
- Modine's customer service was excellent until ~5 years ago.
-- Now, dealers can't contact Modine directly.
-- The home owner must contact the "area rep" who generally knows less about the product than those of us selling the units.
-- Then they need to wait for Modine to respond ... the process can take several days.
-- Worst of all, Modine has not been honoring their warranty like they used to.

So, after I spoke with the salesperson, I personally called Modine to see if I could get through ... and sure enough the automated "security sentry" system kept me out.
- (Option 1) I said I was a homeowner (not an authorized tech), it told me I needed an authorized tech to service my unit.
- (Option 2) I called back and said I was an authorized tech, and it asked me for my zip code so it could route me to the area rep.
- (Option 3) I called back and said I was a reseller, and it asked me for my zip code so it could route me to the area rep.
- I tried every phone option to bypass the automated system to actually speak with a Modine employee and NOTHING. Sad.

So, if Modine "was" the Cadillac of heaters, known for "whisper quiet, smooth/balanced and reliable operation as well as superb warranty support," and it isn't any more, then what is? I have a dedicated natural gas line run to the spot where I will install my heater ... I'm bent on natural gas and separated combustion. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks, Rich
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-02-2011, 06:28 PM
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Hi Rich,

I went to the local plumbing supply house and bought whatever small house gas furnace they carried in stock (I'll have to check the brand and report back). That was about ten years ago. I had to install a propane conversion kit, but that was no big deal. I bought the tins for the duct work and installed one long run off the plenum across the back of the shop. The supply house helped me with figuring the sizes, reducers etc.

The furnace is rated for a small house so warming up my 24x28 shop takes minutes. It is a sealed combustion furnace... draws air from outside and exhausts outside.

If I remember I'll snap a few pics for you tomorrow.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-02-2011, 07:11 PM
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I installed a radiant tube heater. Uses outside air for combustion, no moving air to help scatter dust and fairly cheap to operate. I would do the same again if I built another shop.

Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-02-2011, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
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2bigfeet, I like your solution, but that's a considerably more expensive solution than what I'm looking to pay. It doesn't help that I only have an 8' ceiling and running ducts would be a pain in the rear end. I'm trying to stay under $1,000, if possible (I've already run the gas line and dedicated power).

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I installed a radiant tube heater. Uses outside air for combustion, no moving air to help scatter dust and fairly cheap to operate.
Nice. I hadn't considered a radiant tube because I was concerned about the open flame / dusty environment. Given there's no fan system, I'd imagine there's a significant ceiling clearance consideration (???). I just checked Sterlinghvac.com for their radiant tube info ... "DO NOT INSTALL THIS UNIT IN RESIDENTIAL SPACES." Probably a problem given our bedroom is above the garage ... Out of curiousity, what brand did you go with? How far is your exhaust tube? Do you have a fresh-air intake duct too? Any more relevant info? Thanks!

Please keep this thread alive ... I'm sure many others will benefit from this discussion. Thanks all!

Sincerely,
Rich

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-02-2011, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by riffin-rich View Post
2bigfeet, I like your solution, but that's a considerably more expensive solution than what I'm looking to pay. It doesn't help that I only have an 8' ceiling and running ducts would be a pain in the rear end. I'm trying to stay under $1,000, if possible (I've already run the gas line and dedicated power).
Rich, if I remember at the time the furnace was six or eight hundred bucks... probably more like a grand now. The duct work (which I only installed last year) was a few hundred more. Before the ducts it blew right out from the plenum. Took me a while to finish the job, but the ducts helped a lot with preheating and throw out heat more evenly.

The ducts are only like ten inches tall and I think 12" deep. They hang under the ceiling joists (eight feet) with straps along the back wall... not in the way at all. You can see the duct a little bit in this pic...
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-02-2011, 08:37 PM Thread Starter
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I like your set-up, Kerry. After seeing your ducting, I'm already suffering from buyer's remorse and I haven't even made a decision yet. I'm curious about how much space the furnace itself consumes? Does it also have an A/C? I'm glad I posted my issue. Thanks in advance for all replies... - Rich
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-02-2011, 08:58 PM
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The shop I put the radiant tube in has about 9 1/2' ceiling. I was told that would be a little low, that it would bake my bald head if I was standing directly under while it is on. It is, it would be a little better with a taller ceiling but I solved the problem by mounting it about 4 feet away from a sidewall and mounted at an angle instead of down. I have a bench and some stationary tools just behind and under the tube and it is not too warm to stand there. There is nothing really close in front except for a table saw.
The tube is 30' with a burner box about 18" or so long. Combustion air and air for the forced draft come from the attic. It cost me $1000 about 20 years ago. I think the brand name was Sun (?). I keep it set on 2.5-5 Celsius when not in the shop just to keep finishes from freezing and tools from rusting. If I will be working in it for a while I turn it up to 10C/50F. If I need to glue or put finish on something I turn it up to 20C/68F.
In the radiant stream, it is actually quite warmer than that while it is on. While it is on, I often strip down to a tee shirt. The only drawback is that it stays on for quite a while and it stays off for quite a while. The thermostat came with it and it may be purposely set this way to avoid stressing the metal tube by shorter cycles.
The heat exchange is so efficient that I can hold my hand over the exhaust. It costs me about $500-600 a winter in a well insulated shop in south central BC. The heating season is from mid to late October to mid to late April. Shop size is about 28x35.

Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-02-2011, 09:06 PM
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The furnace is in the opposite back corner. Its probably about 16" wide, 24" deep and maybe 48" tall(?). Basically the plenum goes straight up and the duct is a straight shot into it. The intake, exhaust and supply go out the back wall.

When I go back out tomorrow I'll snap a couple pics with my phone.

P.S. - No A/C. If its that hot... I don't work. :-)
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-03-2011, 03:42 PM
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Here are a couple (sideways?) pics Rich. Good luck!
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-13-2011, 05:54 PM Thread Starter
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The verdict is in. As I was ordering a Sterling GG-45 heater (alternative to Modine I initially complained about), I requested to speak with their tech guy. This resulted in canceling my order. Apparently these units (and all similar style units of other brands) are notoriously noisy and given it would have hung from the garage ceiling (my master bedroom floor), I decided against it. He recommended that I purchase a wall-mounted, direct-vent heater instead and he specifically recommended the Empire DV-40E. It's quiet, and doesn't require a special vent-kit. Unfortunately, it's about $850 more expensive than the other type and it will consume some wall space, but, it's minimal. I'll let you know how it goes. -Rich
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