Many consider hydronic heating as the most efficient (in terms of energy and cost), comfortable, flexible and innovative style of heating available. Hydronic heating has been one of the main heating systems of choice throughout Europe for over 1000 years.
Hydronic heating systems basically use hot water to produce primarily radiated and convected heating. The hot water is heated by either; solar, heat pump, gas, electricity, solid fuel, geo-thermal or oil.
The heat is collected via hydronic tubes or panels on your roof, or boilers on the ground and then transferred inside your home via tubing and panels.
HYDRONIC HEATING as demonstrated and explained by SUPREME HEATING
Advantages of Hydronic Heating
There are many advantages to hydronic forms of heating and they include:
Hydronic heating is draught free.
Hydronic heating does not burn the air by heating it to temperatures in excess of 300 degrees centigrade like ducted heating does.
Hydronic heating is therefore very suitable, and recommended for, asthmatics and allergy sufferers as it minimises allergy reactions.
Hydronic heating is extremely quiet and efficient.
Hydronic heating has lower running costs than other high energy traditional heating systems.
Hydronic heating has a higher comfort level overall and no exposed hot parts to cause injury.
Hydronic heating does not circulate dust in any zone.
Hydronic heating requires no expensive duct cleaning.
Hydronic heating can use any type of fuel (the greener and more efficient the better!).
Hydronic heating using gas can be extremely efficient and produce around 20% or more, less CO2 than an equivalent ducted system (and around 50% less CO2 than electric systems).
Hydronic heating using solar power can reduce the costs even further.
Hydronic Water Loops
While older systems used steam for heat transfer, modern hydronic systems nearly always use heated water only. This also allows the system to have the potential to also use chilled water to provide hydronic air conditioning.
In your home the water loop may just be a single pipe that loops the heat flow through each radiator in a 'zone'. In such a system, flow to the individual radiators cannot be modulated as all of the water is flowing through every radiator in the zone.
More complicated variations of the system use a main-pipe that flows freely around the 'zone', in these systems, individual radiators can be modulated. Another way is to have a number of loops with several radiators where the flow in each loop or 'zone' is controlled by a zone valve connected to a thermostat.
In most hydronic systems, the water is circulated by one or more circulator pumps.
A system may be broken up into individual heating zones using either multiple circulator pumps or a single pump and electrically operated zone valves.
Hydronics Step by Step
Usually hydronic heating systems require balancing which involves measuring and setting the flow to achieve an optimal distribution of heat throughout the system.
Hydronic Water Treatment
Home systems may use regular tap water, however some commercial hydronic systems may have added various chemical treatments to the systems water.
These may added be for the purpose of:
To prevent or inhibit corrosion through out the system
To prevent the freezing of the water in the system
To artificially increase the boiling point of the water in the system
To prevent or inhibit the growth of mould and bacteria throughout the system
To allow easier leak detection throughout the system
All hydronic heating systems must have a way to eliminate any accumulated air from the system. A Hydronic heating system that is properly designed and installed should continue to perform optimally for many years.
Air can cause unwanted system noise, as well as effecting optimal heat transfer to and from the circulating water. Also, any oxygen dissolved in the water can cause corrosion. Corrosion can cause rust and scale to build up on the system piping. These particles can become loose and traverse the pipes, reducing and even blocking the water flow as well as potentially damaging pump seals and other system parts.
What is the Cost of Hydronic Heating?
Solar Hydronics had the following to say about costing hydronic panel radiator heating:
Hydronic Panel Radiator heating is the most efficient and pleasant form of central heating. It operates by re-circulating hot water through a sealed pipe system to radiators placed throughout the home. The hot water is heated by a super efficient gas fired boiler. It's as simple as that. No other heating system can deliver the quiet, hygienic warmth of hydronics.
What Does It Cost?
Hydronic Panel Radiator Heating systems can be installed to new homes or retro fitted to existing. The hi-efficiency gas fired boilers can support a system of up to 12 - 15 radiators. A system typically consists of 7- 8 panels in an average home.
An average 3 bedroom existing home with approx 7 - 8 radiators installed with good underfloor access would cost approx. $7,500 - $10,500 inclusive.
A new home usually has easier access and would cost slightly less.
Solar Hydronics had the following to say about costing underfloor slab heating:
Underfloor Slab Heating - A high efficiency boiler heats water and circulates through a network of the highest quality multitherm PE -RT polyethylene pipe, laid in the floor slab. This is a low temperature system which keeps running costs to a minimum. Effectively, this system transforms your floor slab into a slow release heat radiator, heating every room equally with clean radiant heat.
Solar Hydronic Integration - Hydronic sub-floor heating has been designed to run in conjunction with solar. Solar Energy can be harnessed as a pre-heater to the hydronic heating system, further cutting running costs and gas consumption.As the required temperature for underfloor heating is quite low (approx 30c) this makes Hydronic slab heating ideal for integration with the gentle heat of a Solar Energy source.
Rooftop solar panel collectors used in conjunction with a gas boosted boiler makes the system incredibly energy efficient with almost the entire energy requirement being supplied by the solar component with very little boosting required. This is particularly viable in the Australian climate. The start up costs are higher, but as the system operates more efficiently the pay back period (3-5yrs) is significantly shorter than other solar power systems.
Low Maintenance - Little to no maintenance is required as the temperature is set at installation and then left. There are no moving parts within the slab structure hence the system is sealed. Product lifespan is indefinite with warranty for 20 or 30 years.
What Does It Cost?
Radiant Hydronic heat used for slab heating is an efficient and comfortable form of central heating. It has a lower required operating temperature than a panel radiator system hence is ideal for integration with a Solar power source.
The cost of slab heating is usually around $60.00 per square metre all inclusive . There are additional costs for insulation around slab perimeters to minimise heat loss from edges of the building.
This gives you a good idea of what it costs to run hydronic heating in your home. While it can be a larger start-up cost the pay back period is shorter than traditional forms of heating. Also take note that there are several options involved in hydronic heating and these will ultimately effect the overall cost of implementing this system. The product has a very healthy lifespan with no moving parts and could therefore be a very wise investment for now and the future.
Solar Hydronic Heating
Solar hydronic heating transfers and uses energy from the sun to power and or heat the water. Using the suns energy makes the water heating system more sustainable using no fossil fuels for operation. This means less CO2 produced and a more environmentally friendly way of heating your home.
Hydronic Under Foor Heating
Hydronic Heating Installation
There are numerous companies that can install hydronic heating in Australia.
Things I would consider:
You should get more than one quote if possible on the system costing.
You should make sure that you system you buy will suit your needs now and into the future.
You should make sure that the installers meets the regulatory requirements of your state ie. licensed plumbers etc.
You should seek testimonials of past clients where possible.
Some hydronic heating systems also have the ability to provide hydronic cooling using chilled water. Some hydronic cooling systems use hydronic fan coils to achieve this.
Hydronic Cooling Options
Hydronic Systems Summary
So as you can see, hydronic heating and cooling systems have many advantages over the more common or tradition forms of heating and cooling. If the benefits of this type of system suit you, your home and your family then perhaps you should seek a quote from some licensed installers in your state. It may just prove to be one of the best investments you could make, financially, health-wise and for the environment.