Recently, one of our trusted installers was called by a distraught homeowner. The home owner stated her underfloor heating had not worked since the commissioned installer (unrelated to Liquid Transition) left the site and her electricity bill was over $5,000 for the quarter.

Never to jump to conclusions, our installer did a full thorough investigation and no engineer was required to see the problem.

The house had 400sqm of underfloor hydronic heating. This would be over 2km of 16mm heating pipework. To put that in perspective, at any given time there is over 250L of water in the underfloor heating system.

The customer said the floor heating has been turned on during the winter season for 24 hours as per normal for all underfloor heating systems. However, the system has failed on this poor customer, she has gladly allow us to publish this article to avoid other homeowners going through her grief.

There were a number of warning bells for this customer:

The previous commissioned installer had covered the roof with solar tubes and told the customer they need to rotate the tubes in winter – manually.

The customer was promised the solar system is sufficient to provide all the hot water needs for the underfloor heating.

There was a small 6kW electric booster within the 300L solar tank that was intended to provide the additional heat when the solar gain was low (i.e. during winter).

The underfloor heating which is the main service using the tank is used only during winter. Hence, the electric booster was on all over the winter period.

A pool heating or a hydronic heating system requires a signficant volume of water that needs to be heated as the temperature between supply to the home or pool and return to the heat source can be high. In simple terms, a lot of hot water goes out and a lot of cold water comes back to the storage tank. That cold water needs to be re-heated quickly. So, what happens? The electric coil turns on and starts to heat it quickly since the solar can’t provide hot water fast-enough.

Far too often, we’re called to fix malfunctioning hydronic systems in New South Wales. The common mistakes we see are tradesmen installing the hydronic system in combination with a solar thermal system with either no-backup heat source or the incorrect hydraulic setup.

The solar contribution for a hydronic heating system on the best possible yield per annum is typically 10-15%, a backup heat source is always necessary in all hydronic heating applications.

Don’t risk it, call Liquid Transition for obligation free advice, quotes and any information on the latest market trends.

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