Heating Distribution Systems are Not All Alike
By John Seigenthaler | As printed in Plumbing and Mechanical Magazine
“One thing that doesn’t get focused on is distribution efficiency,” he says. Distribution systems use electrical power to move heat regardless of how that heat is produced, he says.
“Water holds huge advantages as far as reducing the electrical power required for heat distribution,” he says. Hydronic distribution systems are typically ten times more efficient than forced air systems. “With creative designs, it can be better than a ten to one ratio,” he says.
Circulators are far better than fans for efficient heat distribution
As good as it gets? Upon hearing some modern boilers can operate with thermal efficiencies upwards of 95%, many potential clients likely conclude the industry has just about reached the limit of what’s possible with regard to converting fuel into heat, and that little remains to be accomplished in terms of improving the efficiency of systems using such boilers. But, just as an oasis fades away when you’re almost to it, so does this illusion of nearly perfect efficiency.
True, the thermal efficiency of modern boilers, when properly applied, can be very high, but a hydronic system is more than a high-performance boiler. For the system to be considered high performance it should have a highly-efficient heat source as well as be able to move heat through a building using minimal amounts of electrical energy.