Home Owners Guide

Hydronics Explained

Hydronics simply means the use of fluid to transfer heat. The fluid usually used now is food-safe glycol. A boiler is used to heat it, then pumps and valves control, moderate, and move the hot/warm fluid to where it is needed; then the cooled fluid is circulated back for re-heating.

The big benefits to hydronics are: the simplicity and efficiency of one central heat source, the comfort and flexibility this type of system gives you, and its quiet, unobtrusive operation. It is very easy to move heat precisely where you want it and to “zone” areas separately for different uses or comfort levels. Hydronics operates very quietly: unlike conventional furnaces which may hum and vibrate, you will rarely even know a quality hydronic heating is running (except by how cozy you feel!).

For room heating, the fluid is pumped through pipes in the floors at a moderate temperature; large areas at warm temperatures make this type of heating incredibly stable and comfortable, without any cold-spots.  If supplemental heat is needed, a “fan coil” replaces the conventional furnace. Instead of burners, a fan coil uses a radiator to heat the air. A fan coil will last almost indefinitely and is 100% efficient. Baseboard heaters and/or radiators using the hot fluid may also supplement this arrangement. Everything is tied into the one boiler, no electric baseboards or other secondary heat sources are needed.

For domestic hot water (DWH), the conventional hot water tank is replaced by one without a burner; instead a heating coil inside the tank transfers boiler heat to the domestic water. These tanks have fast recovery times, and they keep their efficiency much longer because minerals do not burn onto the heat exchanger, outliving regular burner tanks by up to 4 times.

Other options for hydronic type heating include:

Heating separate buildings from a single source via underground lines.

Thaw lines along sewers and water pipes.

Hot tubs (take hundreds of dollars off your yearly electric bill).

Snow and ice melting for safety on important or problematic walkways and drives.

Simple integration of Solar or Geothermal collection when using Boyd Hydronics Systems.

Considering Hydronics

If you are thinking about hydronics, weigh out the following and consider what is most important to you.

Positives Negatives
The most comfortable heating

The quietest

Most efficient

Most design flexibility

Lowest long-term operating cost

Longest-lived heating system

 Higher initial installed price

It is true that hydronics is the best type of heating system, but it is more involved to install and requires more materials, so it costs more up front than other systems. However, its long-term value and comfort are unparalleled.

If your comfort is important to you and you have not experienced hydronic heating we recommend visiting a home or office that is heated hydronically, preferably in the most miserable weather possible. It is remarkable how different it is.

The simplest and best advice we can give you is: do not cheap out on a hydronic system! Time and time again we see many problems with cheap setups. Unfortunately the money saved initially gets spent soon enough on increased repairs and maintenance. You will likely have to replace an economy boiler in less than 5 years, and at that point you have just paid as much as for the best (problem is you still don’t have the best). Spending twice as much on a reliable boiler that lasts 6 times longer is much wiser use of money, as well as peace of mind. (Heating systems don’t fail in good weather!)

Budget systems will require service calls more often because of reliability issues and shorter component life, and they are often “quirky” and don’t always perform well.

Please do not consider any hydronic system that uses a hot water tank as a heat source. Hot water tanks are designed to make hot water which is 10 to 20% of a home’s heat load, they are not designed for the long duty cycles of home heating, nor are they capable of the heat recovery required. We have seen them work in a garage or shed where heating loads are small enough, but that is where they should stay.

We all have budgets while building and that is OK; no matter what that budget is, spend it wisely. If you have a budget that allows for a good hydronic system, hydronics is the best choice; it will be money well spent and enjoyed for decades to come. We see how pleased people are with them. However, if your budget is such that you need to economize, it is better to install high efficiency forced air, which will be more reliable and easier to own than a budget hydronic system.

Price a quality hydronic system and the alternatives and see what is right for you.

 

A different way of thinking

We approached the way we build our systems from the customer’s point of view. We took a serious look at the products out there and saw that though they were wonderfully engineered, the customers and installers were only getting good results out of them when they put in a large amount of additional time and learning. We took a hard look at the way technology was being used and said, “Whatever we do, technology and engineering must be the means to make a good product, not an end in themselves.”

Through consultation with many people who live with hydronic heating and the people that install these systems, we have developed these core values and priorities which build into our systems and controls:

1)   User friendly

2)   Easy to install

3)   Superior performance without any user training or programming

4)   High quality with long life and better value for the customer

5)   Use considerably less electricity than other systems

6)   Attractive (as it is possible to make a heating system!)

Both in our controls and our Plug and Play systems, we make technology work for you; you don’t need  to learn how to “dial in” your heating system.  We pre-program our controls, so you have no frustration, no figuring things out, no wading through 85-page manuals. We have addressed the problems in communication between trades and simplified the installation, thereby cutting many hours of wasted time out of the final bill, and removing many of the mistakes that happen when there is misunderstanding. We also give you a higher quality product at a lower installed cost than can be achieved by building the system on site.

hydronic-board

Boyd Hydronics A clean professional installation

This concept of Plug and Play is new to hydronics, and in fact some plumbers resist it at first. The principle is easy enough: we assemble the whole unit in a clean place with all parts at hand using a proven design and all the right skilled trades repeating their jobs over and over with high efficiency.

Rough-in the building to match the system, and it plugs right into the building. Using the same rough-in every time makes it easy for builders and installers.

We build a quality product, designed from the ground up, utilizing the best components for the price from many big name manufacturers like Caleffi, Grundfoss, Taco, Watts, Webstone and others. We do this because no one brand does everything the best; we choose the best from each.

How to Buy

slowplumber-2-preview

You may be reluctant too if you may get this

Traditionally your general contractor will sub out your heating system. Most builders don’t know about Boyd’s Plug & Play hydronics yet but really appreciate finding out, as it benefits them too, so feel free to tell them about us and direct them to this site for more information.

Some builders have had bad experiences with hydronics so we address those issues on the “Builders and Plumbers” page in the Members’ section. We make it easier to install better hydronics.

Remember, it is your house and you have the final say about what goes in it.

It is important: to note that  if your plumber tells you he can build a system cheaper,  yes he can, just look at the picture above. It will not contain the same quality of components, and likely not run well. The fact is, a plumber is not able to build a comparable quality product on site without sacrificing his profits, no more than a mechanic can build a car economically.

Buying through us

We are a complete service company, from planning stamped drawings, manuals, and installation. plus you are buying factory direct which saves time money and the middleman that is clueless when you ask a question.

Presently full systems are sold only to qualified trades for proper installation.

Enjoy our site and the comfort of hydronic heating.

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