May 18, 2024

Five Reasons to Choose Hydronic HVAC Systems

Designing HVAC systems for institutional applications, like health care facilities, poses many challenges. Not only must the equipment run 24/7, but it must also maintain accurate temperature and humidity control to keep patients comfortable and vital medical equipment functioning properly.

Hydronics provides solutions to address all of these factors, from meeting the demand for comfort and energy efficiency to improving IAQ and environmental impact. Based on tried-and-true principles with more than a century of success, hydronics is a demonstrated heating and cooling solution.

And with rising energy prices and new legislation escalating demand for more efficient buildings, modern hydronics presents a viable solution to reduce HVAC systems’ negative impact on the environment and promote renewable energy sources.

There are substantial benefits of hydronic HVAC systems, from lower energy usage and cost to longer system life expectancy, that make them more attractive over other heating and cooling methods. Consider these five major advantages:

Energy Efficiency and Sustainability — Using water as a temperature-regulation method is a natural choice. There is no carbon footprint involved in the creation of water, and there is no inherent danger in exposure to water in the event of a system failure.

Additionally, water needs less energy to heat since it absorbs heat better and retains heat longer.

Hydronic systems can draw on the natural thermal storage capabilities of water — a practice that can help reduce operating costs by producing and storing energy during periods of low energy supply cost (off-peak/night time) and utilizing the stored energy during periods of high energy supply cost (peak/day time).

Lower Overall Cost — Hydronic systems have long been regarded as more expensive to install, but that’s no longer true. Today’s advanced hydronic systems include application of technologies, like integrated and single pipe systems, that dramatically reduce piping along with the use of variable-speed pumps and fans. As a result, commercial building owners can expect significantly lower life cycle costs.

Versatility — Hydronic systems provide an adaptable, efficient delivery of heating and cooling, regardless of the source, and are compatible with a variety of refrigerant-based, thermal, and electric heating and cooling sources. A single system can supply space heating, domestic hot water, and specialty loads, such as pool heating.

Designed with universal components, hydronic systems can be installed and serviced by any HVAC technician. Component manufacturers can be changed and new technologies can be installed without impacting the other system components.

Hydronic systems also are generally easier to maintain. Their piping runs don’t require brazing or special soldering, and there’s no oil or refrigerant to deal with. Additionally, hydronic systems offer a much wider range of flexibility for components, operation, and maintenance, both in terms of parts and service.

Comfort and Safety — Hydronic systems distribute heat evenly for greater comfort throughout a building. Equipping hydronic HVAC systems with a range of comfort control products, like thermostatic valves and thermostatic operators for individual rooms, allow for even more accurate control, further enhancing occupant comfort. Hydronic heating systems don’t push dust, mold, or other allergens around the building.

State-of-the-art commercial hydronics systems also have the ability to control heating and cooling systems remotely via mobile devices with a far smaller footprint than previously possible.

Future-Proof Flexibility — Future-proofing buildings, or specific systems within them, breaks down to extending their life cycles and usefulness. Longer-lasting equipment that continues to meet the changing needs of occupants reduces costs and improves ROI. Future-proofing focuses on flexibility to handle changing standards and occupant needs, scalability for expansion, and the ability to maintain equipment efficiency.

With the HVAC market moving toward heating and cooling using renewable-sourced electricity, gas-fired boilers could be phased out within the next 15 years. Water-sourced heat pump systems can be a complete opportunity to offer an all-electric comfort system. Water-sourced heat pumps can be directly swapped with conventional gas boilers, which means there is no need for costly retrofitting beyond the heat pump installation.

Meeting Evolving HVAC Demands — When it came time to select a heating and cooling system, Texas Health Hospital Mansfield, a 38-acre health care campus with a 59-bed acute care hospital, opted for a hydronic solution that ensures occupant comfort and enhances the building’s IAQ. The HVAC installation includes a primary and secondary heating water system, chilled water system, condenser system, domestic water, and domestic hot water return pumps.

Oslin Nation provided HVAC and plumbing equipment for the project, including Bell & Gossett pumps, tanks, and ancillary equipment for the hospital’s HVAC, domestic plumbing, and wastewater systems. This equipment ensures the facility, which opened in December 2020, will be able to run efficiently and effectively into the foreseeable future. Hydronic equipment that promises reliability for years to come is essential for health care facilities, like Texas Health Hospital Mansfield, which are often designed to accommodate future expansion.

Ultimately, hydronic systems open the door for engineers, architects, and building owners to easily adapt to changing demands and the desire to participate in the global movement toward renewable energy. Modern hydronics provide an adaptable, efficient delivery of heating and cooling regardless of the source and are already compatible with a wide variety of current and future energy sources, including refrigerant-based, thermal, and electric heating and cooling sources.

HOSPITAL HYDRONICS:Energy Efficiency and Sustainability —Lower Overall Cost —Versatility —Comfort and Safety —Future-Proof Flexibility —Meeting Evolving HVAC Demands —