Hydronic systems are the next most common type of heating system, using a boiler to heat water. The water is then circulated through radiators and baseboards to heat the house before returning to the boiler to be reheated. The use of water as the heat transfer medium is known as hydronics. The water can be heated by any fuel depending on the equipment you choose for your home heating system. The water is in an enclosed system and circulated throughout by means of a motorized pump. Most new systems are fitted with condensing boilers for greater energy efficiency. These boilers are referred to as condensing boilers because they condense the water vapor in the flue gases to capture the latent heat of vaporization of the water produced during combustion.The three main components of such a system are: 1. a boiler to heat the water; 2. heating equipment — generally baseboard heaters, registers or radiators — in most rooms, often installed against an outside wall; and 3. a pump to circulate water from the boiler to the radiators and ensure that it flows back through the pipes.
Advantages of Hydronic Heating (Boilers):
- system can be easily zoned, allowing for selected temperatures in different areas of the home
- consistent, even temperature in the home (no sudden bursts of heat as with forced air system)
- allows for the option of providing domestic hot water on demand from the boiler or the option to incorporate an energy efficient, environmentally friendly indirect-fired water heater
- They tend to not dry out the interior air as much as forced air systems (typically)
- They do not introduce any dust, allergens, mold, or (in the case of a faulty heat exchanger) combustion byproducts
Apart from your conventional heating systems that use registers and radiators, you can also choose built-in radiant systems. There are generally two types: hot water pipes in floors, ceilings and walls and electrical cables in floors (which may also be installed in ceilings). In-floor radiant heatinghas become increasingly popular, and can be used independently or in combination with hydronic baseboard heating. While an in-floor radiant system may be slightly more costly to install, they offer plenty of savings and comfort. High-tech flexible tubing or electrical cable installed beneath your floor circulates warm water, warming your floor and radiating heat directly to your body, just like the sun does. In-floor radiant heating puts heat right where you want it with no drafts or cold spots. Radiant in-floor heating requires lower water temperatures than baseboard and radiators to operate, so your energy costs are reduced. Optimized temperature distribution means you can actually lower average room temperatures by up to 3º Celsius and still enjoy greater comfort. In-floor radiant heating can be installed throughout your home, just on one level in combination with hydronic baseboard on other levels, or just in one, special area of your home. (Imagine stepping out of the shower onto warm heated tiles!) There are so many applications; you can even treat yourself by installing it under your paved driveway, to keep it free of ice and snow build-up!