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Modern Hydronic Heating Systems
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A modern hydronic heating systems uses water (Or water based solutions) to move thermal energy from where it is produced to where it is needed. The water within the hydronic heating system is therefore only a transfer medium.

Thermal energy is absorbed by the water at a heat source, Conveyed by the water through the distribution piping, And finally released into a heated space by a heat emitter ( ie. finned tube baseboards, radiant inslab heating, fan coils, etc.). Ideally, the water should remain in the system year after year to alleviate possible air problems.

Water has many characteristics that make it ideal for such and application. It is readily available, nontoxic, nonflammable, and has one of the highest specific heat (storage ability) of any substance known to man. All three states of water (solid, liquid, and vapour) are used for various building heating and cooling applications. The practical temperature range for water in residential and light commercial buildings is from about 10 degrees to 120 degrees Celcius. At the upper end water is maintained in a liquid state by system pressurization. The lower end of the range can be extended well below 0 degrees by the addition of antifreeze. Such a solution is called a brine. It would be used in special application where the water could be subject to below freezing conditions such as snow and ice melting or solar collectors where piping is run outdoors.

Todays modern hydronic heating system has emerged from early steam heating. Hydronic heating in its infancy relied on the buoyancy of hot water to circulate between the boiler and the heat emitters, meaning a boiler was located in the basement and because of the low density of hot water naturally it rose through the piping up to the heat emitters. After it released its heat and it became heavier (more dense) it flowed back down to the boiler via gravity. Hence the name "gravity systems".

As the industry progressed along came the emergence of electrically powered circulators which made it possible for the components of a modern hydronic heating systems to be relocated and move a greater flow of water allowing for much more elaborate systems. Modern hydronic heating systems allow heat to be delivered exactly when and where it is needed satisfying endless possible system configurations from a simple hot water tank connected to some flexible plastic piping running into a concrete slab used to heat a kitchen floor, to multiple boilers supplying heat to a wide variety of heat emitters. Or perhaps that same boiler(s) also supplies domestic hot water, or heats a swimming pool, or melts falling snow off of a driveway? What ever the use modern hydronic heating systems are here to stay, and a well designed system can offer its owner years of trouble free operation with unsurpassed comfort and efficiency.

If you are interested in the article you have just read and want to learn more about modern hydronic heating systems check out my site.


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