hydronic heating

Why Choose Hydronic Heating?

Hydronic heating systems heat water in a boiler and distribute it through pipes to radiators located throughout the house.

The pipes and radiators of hydronic heating systems emit the heat stored in the hot water to warm the air in the room. It’s an easy and safe way to heat homes.

There are various ways of heating the water and the most common fuel used is natural gas. But the basic principle is always the same – hot water in pipes and radiators.

How Does Hydronic Heating Work?

Hydronic heating may sound complex, but it’s actually a straightforward and efficient way to warm your home. Let’s break down how it works.

At its core, hydronic heating relies on water as the medium for transferring heat. Here’s a simplified step-by-step explanation:

  1. Boiler or water heater: The process begins with a boiler or water heater. This appliance heats water to a desired temperature.
  2. Distribution system: The hot water is then pumped through a network of pipes or tubes that run throughout your home. These pipes can be installed beneath the floor, in baseboard heaters, panel radiators, or even in walls or ceilings.
  3. Heat emission: The hot water in the pipes emits natural radiant heat through a few different mechanisms, depending on the system type. For radiant floor heating, it warms the floor, which in turn radiates heat upward. Baseboard heaters release heat into the room by heating the air near the floor. Radiators work by heating the surrounding air as well.
  4. Return and reheating: After releasing heat, the cooler water returns to the boiler to be reheated, and the cycle continues. This closed-loop system ensures a consistent and efficient heating process.

One of the main advantages of hydronic systems is the ability to provide even, comfortable warmth throughout your home. It has become one of the most popular central heating systems on the planet.

It’s energy-efficient because water can retain heat for longer periods compared to air, reducing the need for constant reheating. Plus, it’s customisable, allowing you to control different zones independently for personalised comfort.

In summary, hydronic heating is a simple and effective way to keep your home cosy and efficient, using water as the heat transfer medium. It can heat as effectively as ducted heating, but without having to move the air. Radiant heating works much more efficiently.

Is Hydronic Heating Efficient?

The short answer is yes. Water holds heat much better than air, and the amount of fuel you use to achieve a comfortable room temperature is considerably less than conventional heating.  Using less fuel means spending less.

The way that a radiator full of hot water steadily releases warmth into the air is a more efficient way of raising the air temperature in a room than blasting out a lot of constant high heat.  You also don’t overheat a space as easily and so you don’t waste as much energy.

How Long Does Hydronic Heating Take to Heat Up?

While you can’t turn on hydronic heating like a gas fire and stand in front of it for instant warmth, you might be surprised to find that it only takes 30 minutes for a room to be comfortably warm from the time the hydronic heating system starts working.

Compare that to a wood fire that requires you to go out in the rain to collect the wood from the woodshed, stumble back, make the fire up with kindling and newspaper and then get it going.

At least all the exercise keeps you warm. And with modern hydronic heating having timers, all you have to do is set the time you need it to start and forget about it.  You can come home to a warm house thanks to radiant heat. That’s immediate warm air and home comfort.

How Much Does Hydronic Heating Cost?

It depends. There are many factors that have to be considered like the size of your house, the way it is built and the type of hydronic heating that you are after.

A geothermal system is going to cost more than a standard gas-powered boiler or electric system, but it won’t cost anything to run.

Similarly, a standard hydronic system costs more to put in than conventional heating but uses a good deal less energy and costs less to run.  Hydronic heating is a long-term heating solution rather than a short-term fix.

Types of Hydronic Heating

Hydronic heating has become a popular choice in home heating. But did you know that there are different types of hydronic heating systems to choose from?

Let’s explore them to help you make an informed decision.

  • Radiant floor heating: An underfloor heating system involves installing a network of pipes or heating cables beneath your flooring. The warm water flowing through these pipes heats the floor, which then radiates heat upward into the room. Underfloor heating systems are a luxurious and even heating option that are great for the coldest winters.
  • Hydronic baseboard heaters: Baseboard heaters are another option. These units are installed along the baseboards of your walls. They work by heating the air near the floor, which then rises and circulates throughout the room. They’re discreet and work well in spaces where floor heating isn’t practical.
  • Radiator panels: Traditional radiator panels are a familiar sight in older homes. They’re still used today and are highly effective. Water is heated in a central boiler and then circulated through the radiators, which release warmth into the room. Modern versions are more compact and efficient than their older counterparts.
  • Hydronic towel warmers: Heated towel rails are a unique application of hydronic heating. They are usually found in bathrooms and serve the dual purpose of warming your towels and heating the room.
  • Hydronic fan coils: Fan coil units are compact and versatile. They can be mounted on walls or concealed in ceilings and are often used in commercial buildings.

Each type of hydronic heating offers certain advantages and they are all suited to different situations. Understanding these options can help you choose the one that best fits your home’s needs and your personal preferences before you install hydronic heating.

The Benefits of Hydronic Heating

There are many benefits to using hydronic heating, here are some of the key advantages:

  • Environmentally friendly: There are hydronic systems that are greener than others, but any heating system that uses less energy is a positive for the environment.  Most hydronic heating systems use gas to heat the water. That’s not perfect, but it’s a great deal better than heating directly with gas.  Perhaps not completely eco-friendly, but definitely friendlier.
  • Low maintenance: Because hydronic heating is such a straightforward and robust system, it requires very little maintenance. That makes a hydronic system a reliable form of heating that you pay very little attention to.
  • Clean and healthy: Gas heaters and wood fires have to be ventilated to the outside air through flues and chimneys because they produce noxious fumes. Burning gas creates carbon monoxide, which is deadly at high concentrations. The amount of dust and ash distributed inside by a wood fire is astonishing. If you need clean air and a warm house, hydronic heating is your best choice because it releases no fumes and doesn’t even disturb the dust like reverse cycle air conditioners can. There’s zero pollution with radiant heat.
  • Safe: Small children are attracted to fireplaces and no matter how careful and attentive you are, accidents happen and kids get burns. This doesn’t happen with hydronic heating radiators, which are not hot enough to cause injury.
  • Flexible: Apart from having temperature control, zone control and timers, hydronic heating allows you to do things like add towel warmers to your bathroom or use pipes for underfloor heating.

Silent and Not Deadly

Last but not least is the fact that hydronic heating is gloriously silent. There are no whirring fans or the roar and whoosh of an air conditioner. No irritating rattles either. Just silent, steady heat without fumes.

Get in touch with Metropolitan Heating and Cooling to find out more about hydronic heating installation or repairing a hydronic heating system.

Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See our Terms & Conditions here.

Published: 22 April 2020