Managing Radiant Heating Systems
As winter begins to roll around our thoughts begin to drift towards snow and ice. Many consumers, especially in the northern states, have found a solution for snow and ice in the form of radiant heating. Placing either electric heat coils or hot water filled hydronic pipes under a walkway, sidewalk or driveway ensures ice will not form and snow will not stick. These systems generally have sensors detecting both moisture levels and temperature. If the sensor thinks it is snowing or there is freezing rain it will activate the heat coils. These systems are being used for more than outdoors pursuits; residential users have installed radiant heating in their homes for not only the floors but also rooftops and even towel racks.
Unfortunately, every system that is used frequently will break down at some point. With an outdoor hydronic radiant heating system it may be almost impossible to tell if there are small leaks, since the pipes are concealed under cement or asphalt. In addition to leaks sensors can begin to function incorrectly which could easily result in a heated sidewalk in the middle of July. The very act of creating heat can be an expensive endeavor. You will either need to boil water and pump it through the system or heat the coils with electricity. With these two processes in mind it becomes extremely important to monitor your radiant systems. The biggest question becomes, how can you monitor something that is embedded under concrete or in floor boards?
Energy monitoring allows users to see exactly when their radiant system is kicking in. By monitoring the amount of electricity either used by the boilers or the coils themselves you will know exactly when the system is on. If you notice an increase in the amount of energy needed to heat your system there is either an efficiency issue or a leak in your system. Finding a leak as quickly as possible ensures that you are not wasting any energy and money. Once you know there is a leak call a professional. Many radiant systems will have warranties and because of this it helps to find the issue early before your warranty expires.
A more advanced monitoring system, such as the Continuous Energy Management and Optimization (CEMO) system, will allow you to monitor the flow of water itself. For cities with multiple walkways and sidewalks connected to hydronic radiant heating systems it makes sense to monitor and manage the amount of water and the amount of energy being used in order to eliminate waste. Whether you are at home, or a large corporation, monitoring your radiant heating system can save you a great deal of time, energy and money.