Radiant Product Trends: New technology and evergreen favorites crank up the comfort
Modern radiant hydronics is no newcomer to the plumbing industry anymore. We’re all walking around with at the very least a basic understanding of how the systems work and the difference between radiant heat and forced air. And we all should be walking around with at the very least an understanding that radiant hydronics can be a cash cow for skilled and enterprising contractors.
As the technology has advanced so have the products, so there’s almost always something new available. But, as the segment becomes more mature, evergreen choices contractors recognize as items that work are coming to the fore as well.
Here is a representative sampling of each. Check out your old favorites and maybe get put wise to something new that’s just the thing to fix that issue that’s been vexing you.
Starting outside the house, several companies offer components and systems that can be used to keep snow and slush off outside areas like driveways and sidewalks. Employed by many hotels in cities like Chicago, snowmelt systems like those fromWatts Water Technologies companies offer compatible components like tekmar’s 680 snowmelt control, and Boiler Control 284 and other controls; backflows; mixing valves, including the IntelliStation; a OneFlow anti-scale system; and Dormont gas connectors.
The market for the radiant hydronic system controls is crowded. Uponor, for example, recently released the Heat-Only Thermostat with Touchscreen (A3100101). Designed for residential applications, the units operate the hydronic system based on the air- or floor temperatures or a combination of both for precise control. Also on the residential front is Grundfos’ recent UPCZ series of zone controls. Capable of handling up to six heating zones, the non-networked devices can be coupled in various configurations for pinpoint control of many applications. Warmup has launched the 4iE Smart WiFi Thermostat, which the company said has self-learning and SmartGeo features to make it a no-touch control for for electric, hydronic in-floor and baseboard radiant heat systems. The companion piece is the MyHeating app, which allows control of the whole thing from Wi-Fi-enabled devices on your network.
Of course one of the most important parts of a radiant hydronic system is the boiler. Boilers of varying types are such a large subject we run multiple boiler-related articles each year. [Check out Off the Floor and its sidebars starting on pg. 31 of this issue, and The Big Guns, our feature about floor-mounted commercial boilers in the September issue.—Ed.]
Often overlooked is that piping that’s near the boiler. You know, the near-boiler piping. Well, Webstone’s got you covered with its recently expanded Hydro-Core Boiler Compatibility Matrix. There are Hydrocore near-boiler piping kits available for about 300 specific boilers from 25 different manufacturers. Using the Compatibility Matrix, online at http://bit.ly/2fd7dO5, installers can save up to four hours on their next installation by finding the precise kit to fit the specific boiler being installed.
As boilers become ever more efficient it’s sort of ironic the way they work is also killing them by creating gobs of iron oxide sludge inside the system. That’s where Adey’s new MagnaClean Professional2. The company said the MagnaClean Professional2 uses magnetic and non-magnetic filtration to captures and removes virtually all of the suspended iron oxide that can collect in residential hydronic systems.
Earlier we mentioned “zoning,” that is, creating several radiant heating zones, each capable of being individually controlled and maintaining separate temperatures in different areas of the building. To do that you’re going to need to break up your under-floor flow and send it to those different areas. Suiting that purpose is a manifold, something like Legend’s new M8330 Stainless Steel Manifold Series. There are three models in the series and all of them are made out of .304” stainless steel and the 1” return headers allow for accurate tweaking of the circuit flow rates.
One of the most popular things for hydronic fluid to flow through is cross linked polyethylene, or PEX, tubing. Viega’s expanded Viega PEX systems take it to a larger level with new PEX test plugs in 1 ¼” and 1 ½” sizes. By the time you read this, 2” size may be available. They’re meant to be used with the Viega PEX Press system, which uses plastic fittings made from a high-performance polymer. That same polymer is used in the company’s new 45-degree PEX Press Elbows, available in 1 ½” x 1 ½” and 2” x 2” sizes, among other additions to the extensive line.
Lastly but not least, not all radiant heating involves warm floors or wall panels. Fujitsu’s new five-zone heat pump, the AOU45RLXFZ, allows connection of between two and five indoor units to one outdoor condensing unit. Select a combination of wall mounted, slim duct, compact cassette or floor mount type indoor units in a variety of BTU/h sizes. Best yet – no branch boxes or separation tube assemblies are required.