In the most basic of terms, hydronic heating utilises hot water (instead of forced warm air) to heat the home. A boiler heats the water before it is circulated around the building to various outlets via a network of pipes. Once the heated water has passed through the system, it is returned to the boiler where it can be reheated (the water is constantly recycled, making this an eco friendly option).
Boilers come with a range of outputs; the size you require will be calculated based on the home’s requirements (such as the number of rooms and how many people live there). Most of the models in use today are modulating, which means that they will only use the amount of power required to provide the heat and/or water required by the system (making them an efficient option).
What types of boiler are available?
- Heat Only
If you live in a home with a high water demand (if you have 2 or more bathrooms), then you should generally opt for a heat only boiler and combine it with a separate hot water heater. These models will only look after the needs of your hydronic heating system.
These models have been popular in Europe for decades now and are the best selling type in the UK, as they provide heat for your hydronic system as well as meet your home’s hot water requirements – there is no need for a separate instantaneous hot water heater.
- High Efficiency Condensing
The principle behind these models is the recovery and re-use of wasted heat that is normally expelled into the atmosphere through the flue. They are designed with a larger or, in some cases, dual heat exchanger that extracts the normally wasted heat.
What power sources are available?
- Natural Gas
If you live in a suburban or urban area, it is likely that your home has been connected to natural gas. Many homeowners prefer to use gas because it is more economical than other power sources. Simply hook your boiler up and you’re good to go.
If you live in more of a rural area, your home might use LPG instead. This means that your gas comes from bottles are opposed to from the ground. The bottles often last for years before needing to be replaced, but this is still quite a costly solution.
If you are looking for a more eco friendly power source, electricity is your best match. Although it is more environmentally friendly than using gas, it does come with a higher price tag. If your home has been fitted with solar panels, however, some of this cost can be offset.
To increase the longevity of your boiler, there are a number of things you can do to protect it from harm. These include power flushing existing systems (which sees a pump connected to the system and the use of cleaning agents to remove any dirt and debris in the pipework prior to the installation of a new boiler), installing a magna clean in-line filter and using a liquid inhibitor.