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Hydronic Heating

Hydronics is the use of water as the heat-transfer medium in heating and cooling systems. Some of the oldest and most common examples are steam and hot-water radiators. Historically, in large-scale commercial buildings such as high-rise and campus facilities, a hydronic system may include both a chilled and a heated water loop, to provide for both heating and air conditioning. Chillers and cooling towers are used separately or together as means to provide water cooling, while boilers heat water. A recent innovation is the chiller boiler system, which provides an efficient form of HVAC for homes and smaller commercial spaces.

Types of hydronic system Basic types

Hydronic systems are of two basic types:

  • Steam or hot water
  • Chilled water

Classification

Hydronic systems are classified in five ways:

  • Flow generation (forced flow or gravity flow)

  • Temperature (low, medium, and high)
  • Pressurization (low, medium, and high)
  • Piping arrangement
  • Pumping arrangement

Piping arrangements

Hydronic systems may be divided into several general piping arrangement categories:

  • Single or one-pipe
  • Two pipe steam (direct return or reverse return)
  • Three pipe
  • Four pipe
  • Series loop