The Do’s and Don’ts of Hydronic Piping Design

The Do’s and Don’ts of Hydronic Piping Design

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There’s no definitive guide when it comes to designing hydronic piping systems. Every project has its own unique variables, from size to complexity, that determine which layout — and subsequent technologies — are the best fit.

But even with these distinct differences, successful hydronic piping designs have many things in common. Here is a list of industry best practices that will steer any hydronic piping design in the right direction.

The Do’s of Hydronic Piping Design

Get a heat loss calculation
Whether it’s high ceilings, large windows or materials used, every element factors into what it takes to heat or cool a space. But without heat loss calculations, it becomes difficult to understand the type of thermal control a hydronic system needs. Performing these calculations before the hydronic piping design phase enhances the operational efficiencies of systems.

Leverage closed-loop systems
With a section of the system open to the environment, open-looped systems are more likely to encounter corrosion in the network. Meanwhile, closed-loop systems encounter little water or air over the course of operation, making corrosion less likely. In addition, closed-loop configurations are also quieter, making their use less noticeable to occupants.

Compare temperature data for different kinds of systems
Some hydronic piping designs offer more control than others. Whether it’s zoning valves that divide sections of a space or thermostats that regulate room temperatures, it’s important to understand the implications of each element. Assessing temperature data from various system types paints a clearer picture of their ability to enhance thermal comfort and reduce energy use.

The Don’ts of Hydronic Piping Design

Don’t rely on a single thermostat in divided spaces
Whereas some buildings remain relatively open, others are highly compartmentalized, with doors to specific rooms remaining closed the majority of the time. Because of the variations this layout produces in heat loss and gains, it’s best to utilize multiple thermostats in these cases. This makes it possible to control temperature by individual rooms and maintain an even temperature distribution.

Don’t skimp on insulation
Insulation is one of the most important variables in the performance of a hydronic piping system. Yet, it remains one of the most overlooked areas. Properly placed and installed insulation eliminates air gaps that inhibit the efficiency of a hydronic system, and it saves money by allowing for lower temperatures.

Don’t overcomplicate the design of systems
Leveraging more complex algorithms in hydronic piping design is not necessarily better. In fact, adding unnecessary components can actually penalize the system’s efficiency, as well as complicate installation. Working with a manufacturer that offers radiant design services helps ensure optimal results with no unnecessary components.  

About the Author

Brett Austin is supervisor of heating and cooling design at Viega, which offers radiant design services that ensure specifications are correct. Read about examples of these services and Viega technology in action by browsing the company’s project profiles.


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