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Heating Systems Guide - Hydronic Heating Systems
By Andy Carrow - JD Supply Hydronic Heating System & OEM Parts Outlet
Hydronic Heating Systems
Hydronic Heating Systems move hot water or steam through pipes to transfer heat to different locations, and may be utilized for space heating of both indoor and outdoor areas. Hydronic Heaters are usually Radiant Heating units, although Convective Heating units are also available (and some convective heating also occurs from radiant heaters).
We have previously considered some of the Advantages Of Hydronic Heating Systems and Disadvantages Of Hydronic Heating Systems compared with other residential heating systems. Here we provide an overview of Hydronic Heating Heat Distribution Methods
Next we consider Hydronic Heating Systems Equipment.
Heat Distribution Methods for Hydronic Heating SystemsHydronic Heating Baseboard Convector Units
Hydronic Heating Cast Iron Baseboard Convector Units
Hydronic Heating Radiators
Hydronic Heating Hot Water/ Forced Air Fan and Coils
Hydronic Heating Kickspace Heaters
Hydronic Heating Radiant Floors
Hydronic Heating Radiant Ceilings
There are several methods of distributing heat from Hydronic Heating Systems, including:
Convective Hydronic Baseboard Heating Units - were introduced to the American market shortly after World War II when the materials necessary for their production (copper, aluminum and tin) became readily available.
Compared to the massive cast-iron radiators that were common at that time, Hot Water ’Hydronic’ Baseboard Units intruded only a few inches into a room and could easily be spread around its’ perimeter, typically under a window, where the coldest air could be sensed. Hot water from a boiler travels through pipes to the Convective Baseboard Units, which provide a curtain of warm, rising air between the room occupants and the colder window or exterior wall surface.
The convective baseboard units contain pipes equipped with copper or aluminum fins which greatly increase the surface area available for heat transfer. This warms the air inside the baseboard heater which then rises under natural convection to heat the room convectively. Some radiative heating (typically less than 10%) also occurs from the warm baseboard unit outer paneling.
Cast Iron Hydronic Baseboard Heating Units - Most circulating hot water baseboard systems are constructed with a thin, lightweight, metal cover. Although heat from the circulating hot water can be quickly and efficiently radiated into the room, the thin metal cannot store much heat, so it becomes cool to the touch quite quickly once the heat supply is ceased . Cast iron baseboard covers offer a large thermal mass that takes longer to provide heat to the room, but can retain the heat much longer.
Hydronic Radiator Heating Units - The radiator was invented in 1855 by Franz SanGalli. He was the first to produce a system of central heating and patented his invention in Germany and the US.
A conventional hot-water radiator consists of a sealed hollow metal container, usually flat in shape. Hot water from the boiler enters the top of the radiator either by pumping or by natural convection. As it loses heat to the surroundings, the hot water cools and sinks to the bottom of the radiator unit, and is forced out of a pipe at the other end.
The Radiator features a large surface area to increase its contact with surrounding air. The heated air near the radiator sets up a convection current in the room, drawing in cold air to heat.
If improperly set up or maintained, radiators (and their supply and return pipes) can make loud banging noises. This is due to either the pipes rubbing on surrounding surfaces while expanding and contracting during heat changes, or to sudden fluctuations of the supplied water pressure. Proper mounting of the radiators and supply pipes will reduce expansion noises, while upward-mounted stub ends with a trapped bubble of air (as in an un-bled radiator) will provide a cushion against pressure fluctuations.
Typical cast iron radiators are no longer common in new construction, replaced mostly by copper pipes which have aluminum fins to increase their surface area. Modern residential radiators tend to be of sheet steel construction, though copper/aluminium is often found in industrial Air Handling System heat exchangers.
Hot Water/ Forced Air Fan and Coils - Hot water from a boiler or hot water tank is conveyed through piping to the Hot Water Coil section. This is located in the Fan Coil Unit, where a fan blows air across the coils, thereby dispersing hot air throughout the building space.
Hydronic Kickspace Heaters - are a space-saving alternative to a hot water baseboard. Designed to fit inconspicuously under a cabinet, in the floor, on or in the wall, kickspace heaters are ideal for hard to heat areas such as foyers, kitchens, and bathrooms. Hot water from the home’s boiler is circulated through the kickspace unit and the fan gently blows heated air into the room. The homeowner simply selects the fan speed, then the unit turns on and off automatically according to heating demand.
Underfloor or In-Floor Radiant Heating Systems - are low-temperature systems. Their heating surface is much larger than with other systems, so a much lower temperature is required to achieve the same level of heat transfer. The maximum temperature of the heating surface can vary from 29-35°C (84-95°F) depending on the room type.
Hydronic underfloor radiant heating systems are the most popular form of radiant heat being installed in N America today. Forced air systems attempt to warm the air mass by injecting heated air into the space and returning cold air to the furnace for tempering. Radiant heating systems focus on directly heating the elements of a room such as carpet, furniture, walls etc. This system provides a more even heat, and does not introduce or stir up dust and particulate like forced air systems.
Depending on the fuel type used to heat the water in the system, in-floor radiant heating is often the most energy efficient heating system available. Radiant Floor Tubing can be installed in a staple up application, or mounted into or above a slab floor or tile floor using a variety of tubing materials. Options for in floor tubing systems include In floor Board systems as well as cementatious systems in which the tubing is embedded in a thin layer of concrete or similar material.
PEX (plastic) tubing is one of the most prevalent materials used in these applications. PEX is a cross-linked polyethylene tubing material that is more durable under temperature extremes, and in chemical environments. It is flexible, yet strong and resists creep deformation often seen in similar tubing due to expansion and contraction.
Hydronic Radiant Overhead Ceiling Panels - like under-foot hydronic radiant floors, over-head hydronic radiant ceilings use hydronic heating to cost effectively and efficiently heat room space using radiant energy.
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