Hydronic heating is one of the safest, most flexible, and most energy efficient forms of home heating in existence and generally produces the highest comfort levels. Though actually quite an old technology devised in the late 19th century and put into domestic use in the early 20th century, it has had some difficulty in acceptance in some countries -the US in particular- because of high expense and low plumbing reliability. However, albeit still rare in the US, it is now largely standard in use in much of Europe and current technology affords highly modular systems with a variety of configuration options. Utilihab standardizes on this technology because of its modularity, flexibility, energy-efficiency., and ease of integration to solar thermal energy systems.
The Utilihab Modular Hydronic Heating System is designed to support two basic types of hydronic heating either exclusively or in combination; register based and in-floor based. It also supports possible hybrid systems where it may be combined with the Utilihab Mini-Duct Compact High Velocity HVAC system. Register based hydronic heating uses retrofit heating tube/coil units that typically take the forms of baseboard heaters, thin radiator panels mounted along walls, and special tubing structures sometimes used as towel warmers in bathrooms. Utilihab adds to this the unique panel-integral registers that are integrated into standard wall and floor panels.
In-floor hydronic heating employs coils of tubing that are installed under a floor. Though more elaborate, this approach produces the most energy-efficient approach to hydronic heating with a very high comfort level. Utilihab adds to this technology the use of its aluminum profile floor framing as integral floor tubing runs.
The Modular Hydronic heating System employs the same boiler/water heater units employed in the Mini-Duct HVAC system in electric and gas variations. It will also integrate solar thermal systems, geothermal systems, outdoor stand-alone bio-fueled furnace systems, and cogeneration from home fuel cell or microturbine generators in any hybrid combination.
We will discuss some system elements in more detail in separate sections but the basic elements of the Modular Hydronic Heating System are as follows;
Boilers/Water Heater Units: electric or gas powered, these units simply heat water supplied to the hydronic heating network. They are the same modular units employed with the Mini-Duct HVAC system.
Distribution Manifold Units: similar to the Primary Manifold Units of the Modular Water Supply system but with potentially multiple input ports integrating different heating sources.
Zonal Valves: electrically actuated valves, usually located with the Distribution Manifold Unit, that regulate rate of hot water flow through different parts of the heating network, managing temperature on a zonal basis to compensate for solar and other thermal variations.
Flow Pump Units: hydronic systems generally operate on a thermal siphon but in large systems with multiple floor levels active pumps may be needed.
Tubing System: essentially the same hot-water-rated polyethylene PEX tubing employed in the Modular Water Supply system.
Radiator Registers: baseboard, floor, and wall mounted radiator units in a large variety of forms and styles including those integrated into standard Utilihab panels.
Radiant Floor Arrays: radiant tubing arrays in the form of PEX tubing loops, floor frame integral tubes, or ganged in-panel tube coils that create a large area radiator under a floor. Occasionally used in outdoor environments for snow and ice removal.
HVAC Management Unit: essentially the same microcontroller unit as that of the Mini-Duct HVAC system with the same sensors and remote control displays but used to control the above active elements.