• Tag Archives Superstor
  • “PROGRAM” YOUR INDIRECT WATER HEATER (IWH) FOR SYSTEM EFFICIENCY

    An Indirect Water Heater (IWH) driven by an efficient hydronic boiler is the acknowledged cost-effective method for domestic hot water (DHW) generation. However, installing an IWH as a stand-alone (dumb) heating accessory can limit its potential and in fact reduce your overall annual heating system efficiency (AFUE) in practice. Let’s examine the elements comprising a complete hydronic system and their effects.

    The Indirect Water Heater (IWH) has experienced a renaissance with the availability and effectiveness of modern materials and manufacturing. Specifically Stainless Steel, Super-Insulation and Automated Manufacture provide a superb product-performance package, eclipsing its predecessors and current competition. Even so they are not “cheap” in a monetary sense, yet provide an outstanding service life while maintaining efficiency!

    Referring to our website www.BoilersOnDemand.com you will note that we integrate an IWH into our “Packaged Delta-T Hydronic FHW Heating Appliance” as standard equipment for overall performance. The HTP Superstor Ultra has been our exclusive IWH offering for over twenty years with stellar performance! There are many IWH Products available, even within HTP, but the SSU Series still exceeds.

    Referring to our “Packaged Delta-T Hydronic FHW Heating Appliance” image provided you will note four (4) basic system components:

    1. A “High-Mass” Weil-McLain Ultra Series UO Boiler.
    2. A “Green” Taco Delta-T ECM Circulator immediately above the boiler.
    3. Several Taco “Zone Sentry” Valves near circulator (for IWH) and @ top, center for heating zones.
    4. A HTP “Superstor” IWH, close-coupled to the right.

    As a standard feature on all systems utilizing an IWH as pictured, we provide a SPST (ON/OFF) Switch mounted on and in series with the IHW Aquastat. This allows selective engagement during system set-up, quick start-up, operation and diagnostics. It is visibly evident between the boiler and the IWH, placed for convenience.

    Our “System User’s Guide” refers to the IWH Selector Switch as a means of customer-inhibited operation with a two-fold purpose:

    1. Cycling only preparatory to demand DHW usage such as a dishwasher or shower(s), then “tailing” hot water via additional tasks to efficiently utilize remaining storage.
    2. Turn off DHW during protracted absences such as vacations, etc. while preserving primary area heating without risk or penalty.

    In either sequence boiler temperature is significantly reduced, ultimately approaching area ambient, reducing fuel consumption in the process.

    Using our SPST (ON/OFF) Switch as a junction box we also offer to our clients extension via another switch in series to a more convenient operating location. This is particularly helpful when considering site physicals and customer physical impairments or limitations.

    Carrying this to the next logical level is using at minimum a 1-Day or preferably a 7-Day Programmer, as may be applicable to your lifestyle. Keep in mind though that an IWH Zone uses a “dry” switch, i.e. no power applied, or you will “fry” something (your system aquastat!). Program your IWH Service to compliment your usage pattern for energy savings.

    Then you can proceed into the “wireless”, intelligent world via Wi-Fi Thermostats, Home Automation and the like. Like our “techie” customer on a work assignment in Hawaii who called us to advise he had a heating problem in his seasonal home up here in New Hampshire, the world is changing and beneficial technology is available to us all.

    By becoming “smart”, we can save ourselves a bit of trouble and a little money in the process.

    Author’s Note: Updated 01/10/2018


  • THE HYDRONIC REVOLUTION – The Intelligent Delta-T ECM Circulator FHW System

    We have witnessed many technological breakthroughs in the past fifty (50) years or so. My engineering career began manufacturing the first transistors, through integrated circuits, personal computers, parallel-processing supercomputers and their logical applications. Now witness the plethora of personal, mind-bending “high-tech” devices available to almost everyone. Similarly there are advances in energy, transportation, communications, etc. that will derive our future.

    OK. So what’s this Hydronic Revolution? Hydronics is the use of water as a medium in heating (or cooling) systems. Thus a Forced Hot Water (FHW) System is more correctly a hydronic system. As simple as they seem, Hydronic Systems need to be carefully designed to maximize their performance, both heating-wise AND electrically! Unfortunately most applications are incorrect hydronically and virtually all electrically, nor can they be using dated components and methods in particular.

    Heated water generated by a boiler must be pumped through “radiation” (baseboard, radiators, heaters, etc.) at an idealized rate to suit the heating demand. Pump it too slow and you have a wide temperature variation and “lazy” performance. Pump it too fast and you waste power and can create hydronic circulation noise. In both cases you waste energy, particularly electrical. The pump (circulator) either runs too long, or too hard.

    Enter the Variable Speed “Delta-T” Circulator some years ago. It measures the input and output temperatures of radiation piping and adjusts its pumping rate (speed) to maintain a “Delta-T” (temperature differential), usually set to 15-20°F with further adjustment to suit varying applications. It was a great advance from Taco® Comfort Systems, the premium American Hydronics Manufacturer with variants produced by others (U.S. & Foreign). It has never really “taken off” though, finding a niche in process control, radiant heating and other problem solving but little else to date ….. until now.

    Taco® has again “upped the ante”, and really upped it this time! Their newest offering, the Taco® VT2218 00e Series Delta-T ECM (Electronically Commutated Motor) Circulator is a marvel of Applications Engineering. An “Intelligent Circulator” is now an apt, if not a modest description. Kudos to our fellow engineers!

    Referring to the Taco® VT2218 00e Series Circulator Specification Sheet you can appreciate the sophistication of this device, and its flexibility to suit varied applications. It can do so much in fact that we must limit our discussion to its application as a simple Delta-T system circulator, its predominant application and the objective of this blog.

    Of equal or greater importance is what is not explicitly referenced in the Taco® specifications, how it attains its intelligence. Simply stated, the circulator logic “learns” its application pattern over a period of time, placing it in memory and executing it in the successive period. While executing, it continuously “observes” the pattern variations and adjusts its memory accordingly. Thus your programmable thermostat(s) cycles and heating load variations can be patterned and thenceforth satisfied efficiently.

    Similarly, observing pattern changes such as the length of a heating demand allows the Taco® VT2218 to empirically determine the relative outside temperature, emulating an Outdoor Temperature Sensor Option function. Being a passive measure, it would lag the correction time of an outdoor sensor, but to what overall effect?

    Utilizing a single system and/or distribution circulator such as the VT2218 Delta-T ECM vs. multiple fixed-speed circulators does require controlling individual thermostat demands via Zone Valves. Here again Taco has met the challenge. Again a little background is helpful.

    Taco® is the undisputed giant of the residential hydronic zone valve market. Their “Heat Motor” Zone Valve has dominated for decades and is available in most hardware and “box” stores as is their Model 007 Circulator. The combination of these power and control most residential hydronic systems, however poorly executed they may be. Referencing our Blog Library on this site (and on the internet in general) will evidence how much print is given to addressing hydronic distribution issues!

    The new Taco® Zone Sentry® Series Zone Valves are the “next generation” product to replace the old “Heat Motor” (energy hog) valves and be the ultimate companion to the VT2218 Delta-T ECM Circulator. They are both energy-efficient and intelligent by design as well. Whereas the old “Heat Motor” and “007” dominated and created their renowned application difficulties, the new Taco® Duo of Zone Sentry and VT2218 are their long awaited and performing successors (pictured).

    VT2218+ZV

    We among many other heating bloggers have derided simple “Zone Valves+Circulator Systems” as being an arguably cost-effective alternative to individual circulator zoned systems, and with justification. We in fact chide that zone valves+circulator systems “do nothing well”. True for the old, but not for the new generation!

    Thus, the titled “Intelligent Delta-T Circulator FHW System” consists of a Taco® VT2218 Circulator and Taco Zone Sentry® Valves coupled to a high-efficiency hydronic boiler for maximum performance. We have now and for over a generation specified and used Weil-McLain® Boilers in our applications with absolutely no regrets. Weil-McLain® is recognized as the premium All-American Manufacturer, with a growing market share. Their Warranties are fabled.

    So, to quote the old adage, “How do we get there from here?” From our perspective it’s all about education, particularly within the residential and light commercial market sector. You, the now hopefully more informed consumer, DIY (Do-It-Yourself-er), contractor, “week-end warrior”, tradesman, property manager or developer must drive this point forward in your interest.

    System specification is now relatively simple:

    1. Your total heating demand as determined by a heat loss calculation.
    2. A boiler selection by size and fuel type to suit.
    3. An intelligent Delta-T ECM Circulator(s) sized to your total heating demand.
    4. Energy-efficient Ball Zone Valves for your systems distribution controls.

    Notes:

    1. If your boiler selection has a “system loop circulator” you will employ the Delta-T System in series with it, per the manufacturer’s specification. (High-mass boilers typically don’t require a system loop.)
    2. If you wish to generate DHW (Domestic Hot Water) with your system, an Indirect Water Heater will be required. We exclusively specify and install the HTP® SuperStor Ultra Max, all-stainless and Lifetime Warranted.
    3. The new generation Zone Valves typically have built-in diagnostics and indicator lamp(s). Therefore you don’t need a Zone Valve Controller, as long as you can see the individual lamps. Significant redundant cost avoidance.

    Quoting Cesar Chavez 1927-1993 (American Activist and Labor Organizer): “We have seen the future, and the future is ours!”

    Mercier Engineering has seen its future as well. We have and are developing a series of “Intelligent Delta-T Circulator FHW Systems” PRODUCTS built upon Weil-McLain® Boilers, Taco® VT2218 Circulator and Taco® Zone Sentry® Valves that will provide the user with a very significant cost-performance advantage to built-on-site alternatives. They are a pre-built, assembled hydronic boiler package, ready for expedient on-site installation, with proven performance.

    Our dedicated website www.BoilersOnDemand.com is currently under complete re-construction to incorporate the latest technological innovations. It will be a significant resource to this end. Meanwhile please excuse us while we work by also taking advantage of our site’s extensive Heating Blog Library.

    Hopefully we have made you aware of hydronic FHW Heating progress and how it will definitely affect our immediate futures.

    Author’s Note: This Blog updated 12/23/2020 to reflect the HTP MSSU SuperStor Ultra Max, replacing all prior.