Gareth Ash, Marketing and Technical Support Manager at heating products manufacturer, Danfoss, looks at the importance of hydronic balancing to ensure domestic heating systems operate at optimum energy efficiency for maximum consumer comfort at minimal operating cost.
System balancing is a relatively simple and yet sometimes neglected process during the installation and commissioning of domestic hydronic heating systems. Whilst balancing is not currently mandatory under Part L (Boiler Plus) it is considered best practice. However, industry reports suggest that uptake of this process amongst domestic installers is low and from the feedback received this seems to be mainly down to a lack of expertise or confidence to balance a system. In the continuing drive to reduce domestic energy consumption the UK government looks likely to enforce this practice in future. At Danfoss we believe the industry should support the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in making this change. We also believe it is important to provide installers with any advice and training they may need to embrace this installation best practice. In fact, in anticipation of a regulatory change, balancing will be the primary focus of a new upcoming programme of Danfoss training seminars for installers.
Understanding pressure drop
Correct balancing is widely recognised within the industry as one of the keys to ensuring a heating system works as per the design specification. As every professional heating engineer knows hydronic balancing is the process of optimising the flow of water in a hydronic heating (or cooling) system by balancing the system pressure. Pressure drop in a central heating system occurs because of the way water behaves when flowing through any pipework system. Balancing ensures that water flows equally to individual radiators and prevents cold or hot spots emerging, or the property not heating at all. As well as the discomfort factor this can cause, the efficiency of an unbalanced system is significantly reduced, increasing energy consumption and fuel bills for consumers.
At a recent industry forum of heating manufacturers and related industry bodies it was noted that boilers are often oversized to meet today’s high DHW demands and this can mask unbalanced systems. Many attendees also commented that as we move towards low temperature systems it will be even more important for balancing to become common practice. Whilst we understand that there is a strong industry consensus to enforce system balancing it raises the question of how easy it would be to enforce this regulation out in the field, and also how consumers could ensure their system had been balanced correctly – all important questions that will need answering if balancing does become mandatory.
In summary, given the many benefits, including improved energy efficiency and end-user comfort, system balancing is clearly an installation best practice that all domestic installers should already be following. And given that it could soon become a mandatory requirement for all domestic installations, our advice to all heating engineers is be prepared and get your balancing act together now.
For more information visit www.danfoss.com