Hydronic Heating Cooling


What is Hydronic Heating Cooling?

Hydronic heating cooling systems such as water source heat pumps (WSHP) share the same principle of heat transfer like all heat pumps, including ground source heat pumps (GSHP) thermal energy heating and air source heat pumps (ASHP) but they use water for hydronic heating and cooling, as opposed to ground or air. Heat pumps take heat from one place raise the temperature of that heat and deliver it to another place.


How Do They Work?

As previously mentioned on the thermal energy heating page the principle and process of all heat pumps is the same. With hydronic heating cooling systems like water source heat pumps, water is the heat provider, and this heat can be obtained from;

  • Wells
  • Streams/Creeks
  • Lakes/Ponds

Water source heat pumps can get heat by using:

  • Open Loop System
  • Closed Loop System

With an 'open loop' hydronic heating cooling system water is taken from a well or any water-bearing formation (Aquifer) and pumped through an evaporator (heat exchanger) where the heat in the water is extracted by the refrigerant within the system.

Once it's given up its heat, the water then continues on to be either returned to the supply well or to a stream/creek, lake, or storm drain. It can even be returned to an injection well if available.

A 'closed loop' system is a sealed system which doesn't extract any water from the lake or pond, rather it extracts the heat from the water via coils that are placed in the lake or pond.

The coils contain a water and anti-freeze mix. This water mix absorbs the heat from the water and is passed through the evaporator to begin the heat exchange process. These coils are fused (factory sealed) plastic with ultra-violet (UV) protection.

Once this heat has been extracted and augmented through the system's process, it is used for space heating and/or domestic hot water provision.


Which Heat Pump System is The Best?

 All heat pump systems, (air, ground and water) are more efficient in both running costs and sustainability than other traditional heating systems that have to generate their own heat from electricity, gas or oil. All heat pumps use renewable energy.

Air source heat pumps are the most common. However, hydronic heating cooling systems like ground and water source heat pumps are the more efficient at heating and cooling than the more commonly used air source heat pumps. This is because the temperature in the ground is steadier than water, and the temperature of water is more constant than the fluctuating air temperatures.

Some air heat pumps can change their compressor speed (dual-speed compressor) to meet the heating load due to the variation in outside air temperature, generally a electric heating coil comes into play if temperatures falls below 4.4°C .

This increased use of energy by the air source heat pump makes it less efficient than a water or ground source heat pump where the compressor speed does not need to be modulated because of temperature fluctuations.

Also, the hydronic heating cooing systems like water source and ground source heat pumps can be used in more extreme climatic (colder) conditions than air-source heat pumps.

Note: Hydronic heating cooling systems like water and ground source heat pumps do not require a 'Defrost Cycle' in the heating mode. The defrost cycle adds another load on the air source heat pumps system that reduces the performance and shortens the equipments life.

Water absorbs heat more readily than air. This is why most automobiles are water-cooled and not air-cooled. And similarly water (and ground) source heat pumps are more efficient than air source heat pumps.

Ground temperature is even more constant than water temperature, so ground source heat pumps are more efficient than water source heat pumps and this makes them the best in terms of efficiency.

Water and ground source heat pumps hydronic heating cooling systems can be powered by solar energy using photovoltaic thereby making it a totally green and renewable system.

See also:

Top - Hydronic Heating Cooling

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