Water based Hydronic systems are an excellent choice for commercial heating and cooling projects. They provide a complete and comfortable environment, as well as significant energy savings over traditional methods of heating & cooling, along with a range of environmental benefits. There are many good reasons why commercial projects are increasingly including water based Hydronic systems for climate control.
Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions when it comes to the basics of hydronic heating and cooling solutions, along with specifics for commercial projects.
This article provides answers to:
- Hydronic Heating- back to basics
- What is hydronic heating?
- How does hydronic heating work?
- What are the components in a hydronic heating system?
- Frequently Asked Questions in relation to:
- Health and wellbeing
- Energy Efficiency
- Running Costs
- Energy Sources
- Design Benefits
- Hydronic Heating in Commercial Settings
HydronicHeating – Back to Basics
What Is Hydronic Heating?
Hydronic heating uses heated water to heat living spaces of all sizes and is one of the most efficient and versatile forms of heating available. hydronic heating system circulates heated water through sealed pipes to terminal products, these are typically: underfloor heating systems, trench convectors, panel radiators, and heated towel rails.
Thermostats can be used to zone systems within buildings and may be programmed to switch on and off at certain times of the day. Hydronic heating is believed to be one of the most comfortable forms of heating because it uses a combination of convective heat and radiant to comfortably heat air spaces and the occupants within. This results in an even and consistent distribution of non-drying heat, with no cold spots or fluctuations in temperature.
How Does Hydronic Heating Work?
Hydronic heating works by circulating heated water through a sealed pipe network to terminal products like; underfloor heating system, trench convectors, panel radiators and heated towel rails. These terminal products then heat up and in turn heat air spaces and occupants within. Unlike other heating systems that use fans, ducts and vents to blow warm air around the room, Hydronic Heating relies on convection and radiant heat, which results in an even distribution of comfortable heat.
How Is The Water Heated In A Hydronic Heating System?
A Hydronic Heating system is powered by a heat source, typically a boiler or heat pump. Different heat sources will have different running and installation costs, depending on the fuel they require and their level of efficiency. The heat source selection or a commercial heating system will depend on a number of factors, including whether the project site has access to natural gas, its layout, and available budget. At Hunt Commercial, we offer design consultation and advice to help you determine the best heat source and equipment you’ll need for your project.
How Is The Heat ‘Transferred’?
Water is an excellent conductor of heat, which is why Hydronic Heating is so efficient. A Hydronic Heating system typically uses a combination convection and radiant heat to heat internal spaces.
Radiant heat is the transfer of heat through the air in the form of electromagnetic radiation waves. Terminal products used in Hydronic Heating, such as wall-mounted panel radiators, underfloor heating systems and heated towel rails emit radiant heat to warm the room, but also provide convective heat whilst importantly not relying on fans to move air around.
Similarly, trench convectors, are a special panel installed inside the trench box.. As cold air from the room falls it drops and tracks into the trench box, where it is heated by the trench convector, then rises back into the room through the trench’s grilles. As with the other typical Hydronic Heating terminal products, no hot air is blown around – it simply relies on hot air rising from the heated trench convector.
What Are The Components Of A Hydronic Heating System?
A hydronic heating system generally consists of five components:
- Heat Source: The boiler or heat pump heats water to a thermostatically controlled temperature. Boilers can use a range of fuels, including natural gas, LPG, off-peak electricity, diesel, or wood pellets. Whereas heat pumps run on electricity but draw energy from the surrounding environment into the system to heat or cool water.
- Piping: The piping is usually made of copper or plastic, or a multilayered composite. A piping system carries heated water from the heat source to the terminal products i.e. radiators, convectors or underfloor heating system, and back to the heat source for reheating.
- Pump: Pumps circulate the water through the piping system and around terminal products.
- Radiators, Convectors or Underfloor Heating System: Depending on your project, you may have one or more of these product ranges to transfer the heat into the rooms themselves. Several types of radiators and convectors are available and the types you install will depend on the layout of your development and your budget.
- Thermostat: Programmable thermostats controls the heat levels or room temperature to optimise comfort throughout the property. Thermostats can also provide zone control, meaning you can heat just the rooms you’re using and can set different temperatures across different zones.
Here’s further insights on these components and more: What Are Expansion Tanks in Hydronic Heating?
Playing a vital role in any sealed water-based heating and cooling solution, expansion tanks are designed to support the changes in water pressure created by temperature changes throughout a systems day to day operation. You can find out more in our recent article on expansion tanks in hydronic heating systems.
What are heat pumps and how do they work?
A heat pump unit draws energy into the system from the external environment. This energy is extracted from sources such as water, the ground, or most commonly, the air. Energy is then transferred to the building’s heating or hot water system.
Our article with the top tips on heat pump installation will give you an overview of what to consider before installing heat pumps in your next commercial project.
What are condensing boilers and how do they work?
Also known as condensing hot water heaters, condensing boilers are highly efficient, up to 108%. Whereas their inefficient counterparts, conventional boilers, are typically only 80% efficient or even less.
Condensing boilers are designed to extract as much energy as possible from the combustion process, where hot flue gases play a large part in the water heating cycle, by preheating the cooler, returning system water and therefore reducing flue gases to approximately 65deg C. Consider that the flue gases discharged from a conventional boiler can be greater than 200deg C, ultimately leading to a considerable waste in energy.
How do I get the best performance from my hydronic boiler?
If you’re considering installing a hydronic heating boiler into your latest development project, there are a few factors you’ll want to take into account to maximise its lifespan and efficiency. Ultimately, the keys to getting the highest level of functionality from your boiler are:
Prioritising protection and separation is a vital aspect of optimal performance of your boiler.
Is Hydronic Heating Safe?
With servicing of your Hydronic system as per manufacturer’s guidelines, Hydronic Heating is one of the safest options for climate control.
Surface areas on radiators and towel rails are always safe to touch and the sealed pipe construction of underfloor and trench products means no exposed electrical connections and therefore, zero fire risk.
This is particularly important for large commercial projects, especially those that are multi-level.
Health and wellbeing
Is Hydronic Heating Healthy?
Absolutely. The biggest health benefit of Hydronic Heating is that it doesn’t rely on fans, vents or ducts to transport warmth, unlike ducted heating and cooling systems, blow heaters and air conditioning units.
Dust mites, pollens, pet and people dander, fungal spores and other airborne pollutants can spur the growth of mould, which is a serious trigger for asthma sufferers and dirty air ducts and vents can cause allergy and respiratory issues for the general population. Dust also builds up inside air ducts and can be costly to properly clean, unlike with hydronic systems where you simply wipe over the unit with a damp cloth.
Another potential health risk with ducted heating systems is carbon monoxide poisoning. When ducted systems are not serviced regularly or are faulty or damaged in any way, there is the possibility of large volumes of carbon monoxide being produced and leaking into the property, which is not good news. The best thing to do is ensure you have it serviced regularly (as advised by the manufacturer).
Is Hydronic Heating More Efficient?
Hydronic Heating can have ‘thermal efficiency’ of up to 90%, compared to forced air options, which can be below 50%.
Extra energy efficiency is scored by using a condensing boiler, which extracts heat that would generally escape via water vapour. The heat is recycled to pre-heat the water before it makes its journey back to the boiler.
Is Hydronic Heating Good For The Environment?
Compared to other heating system options, hydronic heating is hands down the most eco-friendly, offering the lowest greenhouse emissions compared to other solutions.
On average, 40% of the energy we use is for heating and cooling – and this doesn’t include heating hot water. Your choice of heating system will have a large impact on your development’s carbon footprint.
Is Hydronic Heating Expensive To Run?
The initial installation cost for a Hydronic system will likely be a higher investment than for a ducted solution, but the ongoing running costs for Hydronic are lower (35 percent more cost effective to run than ducted). In either case, it pays to have quality insulation throughout the property.
There are a number of factors to take into account when costing the installation of a Hydronic system, including:
- Which Hydronic Heating products you want to use
- If you are considering underfloor heating, what kind of flooring (in existing properties)
- If it’s a new build, extension or retrofit
The best option is to get a free consultation and quote from experienced industry professionals.
Are there rebates available for hydronic installation?
Depending on your industry, location and project, there may be opportunities for you to apply for government rebates for Hydronic Heating installation, or specifically for elements of your climate control solution.
For instance, there might be benefits you can access for solar panel or heat pump installation.
The best bet is to check in with government agencies to see what is available for your circumstances. State government and local councils in your project region are also worth checking in with to see what is possible on the rebate front.
Can Hydronic Heating Run On Electricity?
For commercial use, projects are increasingly using heat pumps, but many opt for natural gas boilers, again depending upon what is available on site.
Generally speaking, most ducted heating is gas run, but also uses electricity for the fans. It also depends on the choice of heat source which can be gas powered or electricity powered.
Depending on the nature of your commercial project, design may or may not be a factor. However, in commercial office spaces, aged care facilities and schools – this is often something that needs to be taken into account. As well as the health and energy efficiency benefits of Hydronic Heating, there are also a range of design benefits as well.
Range of dimensions
When it comes to wall mounted radiators, there are a huge range of sizes and designs to choose from. This is important as it means you can install radiators along corridors, under windows and in areas that have narrow wall partitions.
Whether you opt for in floor trench heating, underfloor heating or wall mounted radiators, hydronic products enable a great deal of design flexibility as the floor space isn’t taken up by bulky products.
For properties with limited wall space, under floor and in-floor trench is the way to go.
Underfloor and trench heating and cooling is the most subtle way to get climate control integrated into any commercial space. There are no bulky products hanging off walls, ceilings or covering floors, which can take a visitors attention from more appealing aspects of a space.
Flexible floor coverings
If your commercial space has polished concrete or tiles underfoot, these are the most effective for underfloor heating, however there are alternatives that can also work if you really want to incorporate carpets or timber flooring.
Some hydronic radiator products can act as design features in themselves. Depending on the design sensibility of your project, there are options to consider if you are seeking a multi-functional product.
Can Hydronic Heating Be Retrofitted?
Yes. There might be different installation techniques employed, particularly for underfloor heating, which can be installed on top of the existing floor, but ultimately all Hydronic Heating and Cooling systems can be retrofitted with minimal fuss.
How often should hydronic heating systems be serviced?
There are manufacturers guidelines that come with each aspect of a Hydronic system. It is strongly advised that you adhere to these guidelines in terms of frequency of servicing. This will ensure that any remaining warranty is valid, your system runs optimally and any potential issues are flagged before they become a more significant issue (which left unchecked could result in a pricey fix and extended downtime without service). Regular servicing also ensures that your product lifespan is protected and extended.
Hydronic Heating in Commercial Settings
What are the benefits of hydronic heating?
Compared to other heating and cooling systems on the market, Hydronic Heating wins points on the following over competitors:
- Healthier – no fans blowing air borne pollutants
- Safer – zero fire risk
- Lower running costs – 35% cheaper to run that ducted systems
- Better for the environment – lowest greenhouse emissions of any heating
- Quieter – no motor for fan blowing, you won’t hear a peep.
Can Hydronic Heating be used to cool?
Most commonly associated with heating, Hydronic systems can also provide efficient and effective cooling. Hydronic products including underfloor, trench systems and wall mounted fan coils offer both powerful heating and cooling in one product. A great example is the Galletti ART-U.
Types Of Hydronic Products
Project developers use one or more of the following Hydronic Heating products for climate control in their properties.
A great way to warm every area, underfloor heating can be installed into new properties on the ground floor within the foundation slab, or to existing floors with a range of installation options to choose from. There are considerations to keep in mind before installing heated floors to ensure you make the best choices for your property which our team can help you with
Wall Heating or Radiator Panels
Also known as radiators or radiator panels, products come in a wide range of sizes and configurations offering flexibility for installation locations. Hydronic wall heating offers a host of benefits, which explains the surging popularity of their installation in commercial office spaces, child care and aged care settings and health care environments in Australia, with specifically designed wall heating products for safety critical settings.
Perfect for spaces with floor to ceiling glass facades and limited wall space, trench heating is flush with the floor level and operates through a shallow trough that runs the perimeter of the space, covered with a grille. There are a range of design options available to suit the design of your space.
Commercial Heating and Cooling Projects
Hydronic Heating in Aged Care
Keeping residents safe and comfortable should be among the top priorities of any aged care facility. Climate control is a vital aspect of both of these priorities and in order to cater for a range of needs, it is paramount that the right heating system is selected.
Hydronic heating and cooling in aged care offers a wide range of benefits to residents, staff, visitors and facility operators.
Hydronic Heating in Offices, Retail and Hotels
Visitors, customers, employees and operators all benefit from the installation of hydronic systems for climate control across these sectors.
Check out existing projects that Hunt Commercial have consulted and supplied for nation wide.
Hydronic Heating in Ski Lodges
A popular choice for climate control in the snowy regions of Australia. Explore past clients that Hunt has supported in hydronic heating integration.
Hydronic Heating in Education
From early childhood education settings to high schools and universities, hydronic systems have been increasingly installed in a variety of education settings across Australia.
Hydronic Heating in Multi-Residential
Hunt Heating have created eco-friendly, sustainable heating and cooling solutions for apartment complex projects and are increasingly selected as the number one hydronic heating specialists in the southern hemisphere.
Hydronic Heating in Agriculture
Hunt have had the privilege of supporting the following projects in agriculture with their sustainable climate control solutions:
- Hugo Wines Vineyard
- Bannister Dairy Farm
- Nutri Green Australia
- Schruers Celery Plant
Hydronic Heating in Healthcare
The numerous health benefits of hydronic climate control make this system the obvious choice in healthcare settings. Hunt is proud to have supported hospitals and medical centres across the country integrating hydronic systems into their facilities.
Hydronic Heating in Government buildings and Public Spaces
Community hubs, council offices and quarantine centres are just some of the public facilities that Hunt have integrated hydronic systems into. Explore the projects they have worked on in this space.
Finding Smarter Ways To Heat Your Home Since 1982
With 40 year’s experience, Hunt Commercial have been providing hydronic heating solutions to a range of commercial heating and cooling projects of all shapes and sizes. As exclusive stockists of premium hydronic heating products, we ensure that all projects can enjoy the benefits of low carbon, energy-efficient systems.
Contact the team to discuss your home climate control needs.