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Hydronic Heating

Hydronic is the name for any system that uses a liquid as the heat-transfer medium for space conditioning. Although hydronic heating relies on radiation to convey heat, it should not be confused with infrared radiant heat, which warms via electromagnetic waves rather than hot liquid.

Large or multi-building complexes may be heated and cooled by a central boiler and chiller that sends hot or chilled water via a water loop throughout the building. These too are a type of hydronic system. One of the oldest forms of hydronic systems in modern times is the hot-water radiator.

In this section of the module we discuss two specific types of hydronic systems—Floor Heating and Baseboard Heating. These systems offer several advantages over forced air heating. Most notably, the heat source is located at floor level—either in the floor or close to it—so it provides more and warmer heat to the lower part of the body than the head, a more comfortable and natural warmth. Since heat does not circulate by air movement, dust and other airborne contaminants are less bothersome, especially for asthma sufferers. Air heated via a hydronic system is also less likely to require any or as much humidification as a forced air system. Additionally, large ducts running overhead in basements and through walls are eliminated.