Maximizing Efficiency With Hydronic Boilers

Hydronic boilers enable a facility to better control the delivery of heat when and where it is needed.

Before condensing boiler technology was introduced, boilers operated at 80% to 85% efficiency.  Today, condensing hydronic boilers can operate at efficiencies in the mid to high 90's.  Hydronic boilers can be used for either building heat or process hot water applications.

A condensing boiler extracts latent heat in addition to sensible heat from combustion exhaust, and the results can be dramatic.  Some facilities experience an energy savings of up to 50% in systems that make proper use of outdoor reset schedules, aggressive night/weekend setbacks schemes and larger system temperature differentials.

Non-modulating (on-off) boilers operates at full fire all the time.  Whereas older design units are typically most efficient at higher firing rates, the same does not hold true for today's modular boilers.  These new designs tend to be more efficient at lower fire compared to high (or max) fire.  The modulation helps achieve the lower firing rate.  The longer a modular boiler can run at lower fire, the more efficient it is.  Also, each time a boiler cycles off and on, it loses efficiency.  Modulating boilers can also run longer at lower temperatures, which minimize excessive cycling.

It is often advantageous to use multiple boilers in condensing applications.  Multiple boilers with turndown capabilities facilitate better overall system load matching.  By installing smaller and multiple condensing boilers, a facility manager can stage the boilers depending upon the heating load, which helps saves fuel compared to one larger boiler.

Cost Benefits of a Hydronic System

The payback on a new hydronic system is typically two to four years;  however it can be less depending on how inefficient the existing boiler system is.  A facility that adopts a condensing boiler system typically see between 25% and 30% energy savings.  Increases in efficiency directly correlate to the run time of the condensing boiler.

It is important to note that if a facility puts in condensing boilers and operates them at a supply water temperature of 180 degrees out of 160 degrees back all the time, the boiler never kicks in to condensing mode where you gain benefits with increased efficiency.  This scenario is all too common.  Programming the boiler system correctly is important, and it requires a paradigm shift.  For more information and design assistance please contact our offices at 905.265.1527 

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