Hydronic Heating Systems consist of some form of water heating apparatus combined with some form of radiation to deliver climate controlled conditions within a certain pre defined area. This area usually is a room but can also be a group of rooms or even an entire building.
The total area being kept at a set temperature with one thermostat is referred to as one zone. Some systems are made up of only one zone. This is known as a single zone hot water, or single zone hydronic heating system. One single thermostat runs the heating equipment and when the area falls below what the thermostat is set on, the boiler fires and heated water is pumped through the radiation in that area.
This radiation, be it baseboard heat or radiators or even radiant tubing in the floor, passes the heat to the room through the natural convection process. As the water is circulated through the piping system, the heat dissipates into the room and the cooled water is sent back to the boiler and it's reheated and goes back out.
This continues uninterrupted until the temperature in the room comes up to where the thermostat is set. Then the circuit breaks and the system will stop running and go into stand by mode waiting for the thermostat to call again.
A completely automated operation makes the hot water heating system one of the most popular and widely used type of heating system in most places that experience extreme conditions during winter months. Also being known as one of the most efficient types of heating available. It provides a steady warmth throughout an area and when installed correctly will provide a nice even heat with no hot or cold spots.
Multiple thermostats can be set up to serve different areas within a house. This allows different temperatures in different areas. Some like it hot and some like it cold so this can add comfort when not every one in the house has the same temperature desires.
Each zone or area has a feed line from the boiler to the radiation and a return line to the boiler. Some systems will have a single zone as previously mentioned and some will have many zones to do each room. A multi zone system simply repeats the pipe out and pipe back in over and over until each zone is piped up. They may look a lot more complicated with more zones but the simplicity remains, just in multiples.
Circulator pumps are used to move the water and an electrical relay that is called by the thermostat calls the boiler and the respective pump for that zone. One other variable will be whether a multi zone system uses a pump for each zone, or one large pump can run all zones and each feed is controlled by an electric zone valve which opens on a call from that thermostat.
Zone valves are cheaper to install then pumps. The initial outlay for equipment can be quite substantial if you have a ten zone system. This is why some will opt for one large pump pulling all zones.
Wiring will be the same for each zone. Thermostats call and equipment starts. Each zone has a relay that calls whatever that zone needs to operate. Hydronic heating systems are really very simple systems and learning about them reading, is easily accomplished.
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