Offering Hydronics Adds another Dimension to a Contracting Business

Hydronics is simply the use of water to transfer [heat] from one medium to another. For many contractors, offering these services has extended a worthy return on investment.


The big question for most contractors is whether hydronics will be a viable addition to their businesses, especially considering first-cost obstacles that may seem too steep to overcome. For many, location is key.

“I became involved with hydronics in 1995, when I went to work for my father’s company selling Infloor Heating Systems as a manufacturer’s representative,” said Michael Wilburn, president, Infloor Heating Systems, Buena Vista, Colorado. “I also worked for a wholesale supply company that was heavily involved with hydronic heating. I performed heat-loss calculations on radiant projects and designed the hydronic heating systems for both radiant applications and hydronic baseboard applications. There’s a large demand for hydronic products in our market. Since we’re based in Colorado, and many of the homes in Colorado do not require cooling due to their geographic location, it’s made for a very strong hydronic heating market,” said Michael.

While geographic region is important, Wilburn noted the hydronics market is turning heads nationwide. “I find that the demand for hydronics has increased in many parts of the country, even in climates that are not generally cold,” said Wilburn. “We provide many hydronic systems in Southern California, where cooling is not generally needed but you still need heating and floor warming.”



While transitioning from forced-air HVAC to water-based hydronics may seem daunting, those who’ve added these services to their portfolios admit it’s not as difficult as it sounds. “The transition to hydronic heating from HVAC is quite easy, in my opinion,” said Wilburn. “We are still performing heating and cooling calculations before a project starts. Whether you’re moving air or water, many of the same laws apply. We’ve found that many of our geothermal customers have become very good hydronics professionals. Many of our HVAC customers have made the transition to hydronics and continue to do both HVAC and hydronics in many parts of the country due to the need for cooling. A large amount of combined radiant heating and HVAC [forced-air] systems are being considered.”

According to Wilburn, getting over the first cost of a system is the biggest obstacle to hydronics becoming more popular. This is because the initial upfront cost can be higher than traditional systems. “However, this is offset with a much higher operating efficiency,” said Wilburn. “Many hydronics systems operate at a much lower cost than traditional forced-air systems. The hydronics systems typically require little maintenance and will normally last the lifetime of the structure. I’ve seen more demand for good hydronic systems as the evolution of radiant floor heating has progressed.”


A technician with Woburn, Massachusetts-based Central Cooling & Heating Inc. completes a hydronic installation at a custom home near Boston. The variable Delta-T pump provides circulation for a multi-zone hydronic system served by Zone Sentry zone valves.

“Over the last several years, hydronic heating has become more popular as more and more people become aware of radiant heating options,” said Wilburn. “Many customers are aware of the options of hydronic radiant heating today. I believe this has become more popular due to the amount of information on the Internet, though, many of the customers still have to be presented with the best hydronic option and be informed how this option could be beneficial to their project. Both geothermal and solar/thermal are additional hydronic options that are not often considered but can have a great efficiency benefit on a hydronic heating system.”


So, how do they get the chance to experience it and become hooked? What, exactly, is the first step contractors should consider when presenting hydronics to consumers?

Contractors must make customers aware of the potential advantages hydronics has to offer,” said Wilburn. “Water is a much better heat transfer medium than air, thus giving the customer a more efficient system. We have to educate the customer on all the different types of systems that can be provided using hydronics. Once the customer is aware of their options and the increase in efficiency these systems generally carry, they’ll generally choose to use a hydronic system.”


Written by Nick Kostora of The News

Read the original story HERE.



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