There are various hydronic heating systems available in the market, though the use of hot water is common in all of them. In this system hot water is pumped to the radiators, heat exchangers and the under floor tubing. This is the basic process in which they provide warmth.
Main types of hydronic heating:
- Baseboard: This is also called as hot water baseboard. This consists of a painted steel housing which is on the baseboard unit and it has a water pipe that is surrounded by metal fins. This is all hidden in the baseboard unit.
- The hydronic radiant floor heating system makes the entire finished floor work as a giant radiator. In this method, the hot water is sent by force through tubing installed under the floor surface. Generally, this is installed beneath wooden floors or tiled floors. It can also be used embedded in poured concrete slabs. However, this is not suitable for wall to wall carpet areas as carpets are not good conductors of heat. The hydronic radiant floors are expensive to retrofit and these are difficult as well. In such cases the most affordable situation is when the tubing can be stapled to the sub floor underside. This can be done if the basement is unfinished.
- Hydro-air heating requires an air handler or more than one if need be as well as duct work. In this case, hot water is sent to the heat exchanger located in the air handler. Then the air is heated up before being sent to the house. This is less costly than hydronic radiant floor heating and as it is duct work, the same can be used for the air conditioning as well.
- There are also boilers that heat the water through propane, natural gas or fuel oil.
- In addition, there are solar thermal systems where the water or the antifreeze solution is heated through solar energy. This liquid is in the solar panel. When the liquid reaches certain temperature, this is then pumped to the hot water tank or it is pumped to a heat exchanger which is in the tank. In case there is no solar energy available, a backup source of heat is employed.
In all types of hydronic heating systems, there is always a pump that is used to move the water or pump it through. There is piping that moves water through the living space and the piping helps to transport the cooled water back to the source of heat. There are also radiators that both absorb and radiate the heat. Finally, there is a thermostat which ensures that the place is maintained at a constant comfortable temperature. Choosing the right kind of thermostat is important in order to regulate the temperature well.
Among the hydronic heaters, the open direct systems are usually preferred as they are affordable, easy to work on, easy to install, easy to maintain, contain fewer parts and to the spares are very easy to procure. These systems are also more reliable, long lasting and these are also energy efficient in nature. These are environmentally friendly and are compatible with solar power. These systems are safe and are code compliant. It is for this purpose that most of the hydronic heaters used in homes are the open direct systems. This is cost effective and provides value for money. If you are planning to get hydronic heating system installed in your house, it is important to take out time and research about the available options in your area and then make the final decision in this regard.