ACHRNEWS

Radiant Made Simple for HVAC Technicians

October 16, 2006
Each Hydronex panel is completely pre-wired, and tested prior to shipment, eliminating any jobsite assembly.

One look at the circuitry, piping, and components that comprise a radiant heating system can send even the most experienced installers into a state of frenzy, especially those trained in installing conventional HVAC systems. But frenzy doesn't need to exist if and when a customer wants a radiant system, and the installers do not have years of experience in the hydronic heating field.

A new product in the radiant heating industry is making installing a little easier these days. Hydronex® modular control panels from Watts Radiant, Springfield, Mo., is the name of the product. These controls integrate pre-wired circulators and controls, and are combined with pre-wired power connections for floor warming, heating, or snowmelt projects.

"Hydronex panels are like power tools," said Watts Radiant's Mike Chiles. "They let skilled contractors multiply the efficiency of their skilled labor force. One skilled technician can complete a boiler room installation in a day, or less."

That's important because according to Chiles, there is a presumed big learning curve that holds back skilled technicians from the radiant heating field. "The biggest factor holding contractors back from entering the radiant field is anxiety about installing unfamiliar equipment," he said.

"The highly customized and complex radiant projects receive a lot of attention in the press, but on a day-to-day basis, most hydronic radiant systems are not that complicated. Heat loss calculations are the same and sales programs need to be tweaked to sell the benefits of warm floors, but basically you're using pipes to deliver heat instead of ducts."

According to Chiles, using standardized Hydronex panels to complete a hydronic system is little different than installing factory-assembled furnaces or heat pumps. Free advice is available to help select and install the correct panels for any project, and Watts Radiant offers free contractor training at its Warm U radiant seminars. Warm U seminars are scheduled at Watts Radiant's headquarters and at many other locations around the country.

Shown is a primary boiler panel with three baseboard zones. Each panel is rail mounted, joined with unions, and supplied with protective covers.

The Hydronex panels go a long way to simplifying radiant heating projects by using simple unions for quick connections between panels, a panel itself that is designed for easy installation and alignment, and unlimited panel configurations for any project.

Other features include:

  • Easily removable cover providing component protection, allowing for proper ventilation, and presenting a professional finish.

  • Three circulator offerings including Bell and Gossett, Taco, and Grundfos.

  • Tekmar controls.

  • Correct number of required zones.

    This hybrid panel adjusts the zone water temperature according to the weather, while allowing the contractor to send high-temp water to a baseboard or indirect water heater.

    Chiles said the ease of working with the Hydronex panel in system design and installation is one way to combat the skilled workforce drain in the HVAC and hydronic heating trades.

    "There is a nationwide shortage of skilled hydronic technicians, people with both pipe fitting and control skills," he said. "This labor shortage, more than anything else, is inhibiting the profitable growth of the hydronic industry, especially in the residential and light commercial side of the business.

    "Driven by extensive coverage by home improvement shows, more and more homeowners want to experience warm radiant floors. Offering a radiant heating option will be in the sales program of many HVAC contractors. They already have the sales and technical skills to design and install radiant systems. Hydronex panels simplify and dramatically reduce the skilled piping skills required to complete a project."

    For more information, visit www.wattsradiant.com.

    Publication date: 10/16/2006