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AC in the winter?

2832 Views 54 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  patrickwebb
For those of you who live in regions of the world where it actually snows in the winter...


I'm wondering about heating/AC requirements for a HT in the basement. From what I've been reading, people are often concerned about heat build-up in the HT due to it being a sealed room with equipment and people. So cooling is important. How important is cooling during the winter months? Do you find you still need to run the AC, or is heater control good enough?


I have a forced hot air system, and I'm currently planning on adding a third zone for the basement (for HT). I'm trying to determine whether simply adding a zone is sufficient, or whether I need a stand-alone system for the HT (so I can run AC while other zones are calling for heat in the winter).
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If there are any small windows in the room, open those up and you will be fine. Have you thought about making a closet behind the theater to hold everything out of sight? I know that my room get VERY hot when I have my projector and 360 running. I just throw open my window and keep going.
This is regarding a dedicated HT room, which will not have any windows. It will have a separate equipment room, but the face of the equipment rack will be exposed in the HT (like what most people do here).


So you find your basement room gets hot in the winter with just the projector (and xbox) on? I assume the heat isn't on as well?
My room got really hot the first time I used my theater. I now turn the Fan on the thermostat to keep constant air ciruclation in the room when watching a movie. This past weekend (warmer than it should have been this time of year), it was cold in the theater when before the movie. I was comfortable but everyone else kept blankets wrapped around them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sonicboom
For those of you who live in regions of the world where it actually snows in the winter...


I'm wondering about heating/AC requirements for a HT in the basement. From what I've been reading, people are often concerned about heat build-up in the HT due to it being a sealed room with equipment and people. So cooling is important. How important is cooling during the winter months? Do you find you still need to run the AC, or is heater control good enough?


I have a forced hot air system, and I'm currently planning on adding a third zone for the basement (for HT). I'm trying to determine whether simply adding a zone is sufficient, or whether I need a stand-alone system for the HT (so I can run AC while other zones are calling for heat in the winter).
Depending on the cubic volume of the room (ours is 17'x20'x10') and how many people you want in the room, you will need some sort of ventilation. Our room with equipment on and eight people in the room produces about 9000btu's/hour! Air conditioning in circumstances mentioned above is a must!


With that said, there are two ways you can properly cool a room. One is to install a separate zone into your existing HVAC system. This is probably the most economical way of doing things. There are two disadvantages with this system. If cooling is required for one zone, i.e, theater, then heating will cease in the other area's of the home and vise versa. You cannot have both simulteneously. Another caution is cold starting an air conditioning compresser below outside air temperatures of 40 degree's will greatly reduce the life of the compressor.


The second way is install a seperate HVAC system for the theater. This way, you can heat your house(winter months) and cool the theater at the same time. This is an expensive way to go, but makes the most sense. In addition, a special compressor with oil heater and ambient kit installed on the compressor will increase the life of the unit.


We installed a seperate HVAC system for the theater. If I am in the theater byself, I do not turn the system on. However, with a full boat and a long movie playing, it will get stuffy very quick!
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The room size will be 15'x24'x7'. Typically there will be 1-3 people, but it will seat 6 comfortably, with a max capacity of 10.


So what I'm hearing is... cooling is an issue in the winter.


I'd like to avoid a separate system if I can. I agree it makes the most sense, but it's also the most expensive solution. Plus it would require more utility space, which may be possible, but not desirable.


That being said, I don't know if starving the upper living spaces of heat while enjoying a movie will fly either.


It seems the middle ground is what Tony suggested... turn on the fan and keep the basement air circulating (there will be two other rooms in the basement). Perhaps if I could get fresh air tied into that as well, then maybe I'd have a reasonable solution?
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The problem with turning on the fan on a separate zone is - when the heat comes on for the other zones - you will get heat in the theater too.


I have the exact same situation and am fretting over it too. I don't live in a terribly cold climate - but I think that makes the problem worse. Its more likely that I will need to heat the basement but cool the theater. I've always had completely separate systems (past two rooms) but my builder spec'd a zoned system this time and I'm worried about it.


I'm meeting with the HVAC contractor tomorrow to go over the issue.
ebr, after you meet with the HVAC contractor, let me know what you've learned.


I had an HVAC guy in today, and that's when I realized that I didn't know if I really needed cooling during the winter months. From talking with you folks today, it seems I will, so now I need to learn what my options are. The most obvious is a separate system, but I'm hoping for something less extreme/expensive.


The other rooms in the basement will be: a kids playroom, a small lobby for the HT, and a hallway. I'm willing to sacrifice the temp in the other basement spaces to satisfy the HT when in use.
A separate system would also have noise isolation advantages; no shared duct.
Freefire makes an excellent point. I have shared ducts that carry sound quite well to other parts of the house :( The idea of turning your heating system's fan to "on" instead of auto works well for me. The warm air actually gets spread to other parts of the house and gets pulled out of the HT. Amazing how warm it can get in the basement in the middle of Feb in Chicago!
Quote:
Originally Posted by sonicboom
ebr, after you meet with the HVAC contractor, let me know what you've learned.


I had an HVAC guy in today, and that's when I realized that I didn't know if I really needed cooling during the winter months. From talking with you folks today, it seems I will, so now I need to learn what my options are. The most obvious is a separate system, but I'm hoping for something less extreme/expensive.


The other rooms in the basement will be: a kids playroom, a small lobby for the HT, and a hallway. I'm willing to sacrifice the temp in the other basement spaces to satisfy the HT when in use.
sonicboom, I'm located north of the border (Ottawa) and recently finished a

basement general purpose home theater room. It's 13'(w)x32'(l)x7'5"(h) and

also fretted for weeks while I was in the stage of adding HVAC for the room.

Instead of adding a zone, I gambled and chose to extend the existing single

zone into the basement.


I added strategically located sources and returns (2 of each) and

also added a dedicated exhaust for the room. (powered by a quiet Panasonic

bathroom fan). The thermostat is located upstairs in the main living area and

our furnace fan runs continuosly (new mid eff lennox), so air is always moving

throughout the house, including the basement. Generally the HT/basement

runs about 1-2 degrees lower than the main living space (with the thermostat).


After loading up the room with people, electronics and watching a movie for a

few hours, the temp in the basement usually rises to about 1 or 2 degree's

higher than the main living space. Fortunately, the basement is quite comfortable

so I haven't had to run the dedicated exhaust fan in the basement at all. It's been

cold the last few days (-10 to -15 C) and I'm pleasantly surprised (relieved) that

in my case the gamble seems to be paying off. I'm hoping for the same behaviour

in the summer months with the AC. This last summer, the basement followed the

same 1-2 degree deviation trend from the main living space with AC.


In the end, I found the HVAC was the most stressful part of a 7 month project

since you don't really know what your dealing with until after the drywall and

carpet are down on the floor.
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Thanks for the feedback!


I decided on going with a separate system for the HT. The HVAC guy expressed concerns with adding a 3rd zone to my existing forced hot air system. While my furnace and AC can handle it, he's concerned with disturbing the static pressure... if all 3 zones are a'callin there wont be enough pressure to move the air (which would be infrequent, but possible).


Plus, you all made good points. What if the HT needs cooling, while the main house needs heat. Only a separate systems can handle that.


For the HT, I'm leaning towards a heat pump system. This seems like the ideal soultion for my basement. It will provide heating/cooling over ducts, as well as ventilation throughout the basement.


It also doesn't use fossil fuels, which gives me new placement options. Heat is extracted from the air, and it essentially free. Electric stips are used in the ducts to provide heat when the outside temp is below 10 degrees (which isn't frequent in the Boston area).


Other than that, I don't know much about these systems. More research is needed. For example, I don't know how noisey these systems are.


If anyone has any experience with heat pump systems, please chime in.


Thanks!
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After talking with my HVAC guy, I'm also going to have a dedicated system again. Mine will also be a heat pump. Hopefully, it won't need to heat very much because I'm sure it won't be nearly as efficient as a gas furnace. I had one in my first room and the heat used electricity like crazy.
ebr, was your first room in the basement?


My understanding is that heat pump systems are more efficient than oil/gas systems when operating with outdoor temps higher than 10 degrees (not having to kicking in the electric strips). In addition, a basement HT (well insolated) shouldn't have to call for heat all that often.


I can't imagine this being a big deal in MA, let alone NC.


I'm surprised to hear that it taxed your electricity so much.
It was in Houston and over the garage (2nd floor). I think it was probably a really cheap, inefficient unit...I'm hoping anyway.
A heat pump in winter is just an air conditioner running "backwards" -- that is, taking heat from the outside air and moving it into the house rather than from the house to the outside. The hourly cost will be the same to run in winter as in summer. Before the recent hike in natural gas, a furnace was much cheaper to run than a HP. Now, I can't say. Note also that HP has a hard time pulling heat out of air that is below 40 deg F. which may result in either longer run times to heat the house or turning on the aux elec strip heaters.


One more thing, the air coming out of the room vent is significantly cooler with a HP than with a gas furnace.
I am in the same situation as Sonicboom. New house, 2 zone oil-fired forced air system. I made sure the furnace and compressor were big enough to add a 3rd zone for the basement during construction with the HT in mind.


I have become concerned about the heat load of the HT during winter reading these forums, eg running the compressor during the cold weather.


My solution (I am not a HVAC guy by any strecth of the imagination) is to setup the 3rd zone for the basement and have a seperate duct and fan bringing in outside air when outside temp is >50 degrees. I can then control the 3rd zone with a tstat in the basement outside the theater and supplement the HT with a tstat then will control the fan to bring in outside air to provide additional cooling without messing up the other zones.


The only issue with this setup that I can see is how to provide additional cooling during the warmer weather. Maybe wire the HT tstat with the basement tstat through an A/B switch that can be switched manually based on outside temp or automatically through the stargate I will also be installing.


What do you guys think?


Skipp
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My Basement Theatre is 14x20x8 and my Lobby is 12x15x8.


Above that room is my game room and that has a furnace a/c system which was supposed to heat/cool both areas.


It does'nt/did'nt. I had to buy a mini-split to cool my theater in spring/summer and a small floor heater to heat in winter.
I use a zoned sysyem for my theater....I only need the cooling (AC) in the winter if outside temps are warmer than 40 degrees or so (or if a lot of people are in the room).. This set up has worked nicely for me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by thebland
I use a zoned sysyem for my theater....I only need the cooling (AC) in the winter if outside temps are warmer than 40 degrees or so (or if a lot of people are in the room).. This set up has worked nicely for me.
What kind of zoned system? I assume forced hot air? If so, how can you cool the room when the other zones are calling for heat?
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