Technical Magazine

idronics™ is an educational journal series intended for hydronic and plumbing professionals to aid them in system design, component application and selection.  This publication is written by engineers and oriented towards innovative design techniques with a commitment to continuous education of North American hydronic professionals. Caleffi first began the educational publications in Europe.  Since then, the publications have met with much success and the collection is frequently referenced by contractors and designers alike.

Each issue will provide detailed technical discussion of the “best practices” available for deploying hydronic technology in the 21st century.

Interested in receiving your own copy of our popular idronics journal? Register today.

We hope you enjoy the issues and encourage you to send us any feedback about idronics by emailing us.

Our idronics collection follows.

©1961-2017 Caleffi S.p.a.. All Rights Reserved. Caleffi retains ownership of all right, title and interest in all idronics™ journal copyright including text and images.

idronics™ Collection
  • Safe and Sanitary Hot Water Delivery Systems (Issue #22)+

    We could have titled this idronics issue "Safe Domestic Hot Water Delivery Systems".  But with growing incidences of water contamination and related problems such as Legionnaires' disease, we thought to include "Sanitary" to add emphasis on factors other than the one most commonly associated with safe domestic water -- burn protection.

    This issue of idronics focuses on methods and hardware for controlling temperature in domestic hot water delivery systems.  It describes temperature-based disinfection for minimizing the potential for biological contamination.  It also discusses ways to ensure that the water supplied from fixtures will not cause burns.

    We hope you enjoy this 21st issue of idronics and encourage you to send us feedback by emailing us.
     

    Safe and Sanitary Hot Water Delivery Systems
  • Recirculating Domestic Hot Water Systems (Issue #21)+

    How often do you turn on faucets, bathubs or whoers, and then wait for warm water to arrive?  This is common in many homes and commercial buildings.  It results in wasted water, waster energy and annoyed occupants.  Most people would be surprised to learn that several thousand gallons of heated water is wasted in a typical household, over a year, waiting for water at the desired temperature to arrive at fixtures.

    In this issue of idronics, we show how to avoid this waste and annoyance using recirculating domestic hot water systems (DHW).  They range from simple, "single loop" systems in small buildings, to complex multi-branch systems in larger buildings.  Moderm methods and hardware can provide the exact thermal and safety requirements of simple and complex recirculating DHW systems.  We also describe how to size, detail and adjust these state-of-the-art systems.

    We hope you enjoy this 21st issue of idronics and encourage you to send us feedback by emailing us.

    Recirculating Domestic Hot Water Systems (Issue #21)
    RECIRCULATING DOMESTIC HOT WATER SYSTEMS (ISSUE #21)
  • Documenting Hydronic Systems (Issue #20)+

    Hydronic heating and cooling systems, especially those that are custom designed, can create challenging maintenance situations for those not familiar with the equipment or how it was assembled into a system.   Without proper documentation, thousands of dollars' worth of hardware can be put in a precarious situation where no one feels competent to repair the system when something doesn't operate as expected.

    To avoid such a situation, it's important to document all hydronic systems.  In this issue of idronics™ we discuss how to do this.  Specific emphasis is placed on piping schematics, electrical schematics and descriptions of operation.  Need help designing a schematic?  Take a look at this new software tool to assist you in your efforts.

    We hope you enjoy this 20th issue of idronics and encourage you to send us feedback by emailing us.

    Documenting Hydronic Systems
    Documenting Hydronic Systems (Issue #20)
  • Proven Hydronic Distribution Systems (Issue #19)+

    Caleffi North America offers an on-the-road class entitled:  Near Boiler Piping.  This popular presentation discusses components located close to the boiler, how they should be arranged and why they are vital to good system performance.

    This issue of idronics extends this discussion to complete hydronic distribution systems.  It explores the interactions of components within properly designed systems.  It presents several proven distribution system layouts, along with their strengths and limitations.  It explains interactions between the distribution system, the heat source and the heat emitters.  It helps readers decide which type of distribution system is best for a given application.  

    After presenting proven distribution system layouts, the focus turns to what not to do.  Section 7 identifies common errors related to distribution system design, explains what's wrong and presents at least one alternative that eliminates the problem.  

    Section 8 wraps up with several complete system examples.

    The information presented in this issue is based on decades of experience and covers both "traditional" and contemporary approaches.  References to previous issues of idronics are provided so readers can find additional details on specific topics.

    We hope you enjoy this 19th issue of idronics and encourage you to send us feedback by emailing us.

    Proven Hydronic Distribution Systems
    Proven Hydronic Distribution Systems (Issue #19)
  • Water Quality in Hydronic Systems (Issue #18)+

    Water is the essential fluid in all hydronic systems. Its quality affects the system’s efficiency, reliability, life expectancy, and the effectiveness of any chemical additives.  There is a “physical” aspect to water quality, and a “chemical” aspect.

    The physical aspect involves procedures for ridding systems of gasses and solid impurities. The devices involved include dirt separators, air vents and magnetic separators.  These have been discussed in previous issues of idronics, and most recently in idronics #15.  To complement that information, the focus of this issue of idronics is on the chemical aspects of water quality.

    The need for water treatment in today’s hydronic systems appears to be widely recognized. A 2014 poll of Coffee with Caleffi™ webinar attendees (contractors and designers) gave the following responses to the questions:

    When do you choose to treat the initial fill water? 
         On most installations                 64%
         On some installations                28%
         Never                                          8%

    When you treat initial fill water, what method do you prefer? 
         Add chemicals                             50% 
         Demineralize                               22%
         Soften                                          22%
         Combination or different method   6%

    There were also many “write-in” questions submitted during this poll.  These responses and questions revealed that while most hydronic heating professionals understand the need for water treatment, many do not know which approaches are required or preferred.

    This issue of idronics was developed to address these concerns.  It discusses problems that can develop within hydronic systems when water quality is ignored.  It lays out procedures for converting raw water into high quality water. Emphasis is placed on demineralization for preparing water for use in hydronic systems. It concludes with procedures for testing, flushing, washing, demineralizing, and final adjustment of water quality.  The objective is to ensure that the water within the system can provide optimal performance over many years of operation.

    We hope you enjoy this 18th issue of idronics and encourage you to send us feedback by emailing us.

    idronics: Water Quality in Hydronic Systems (Issue #18)
  • Thermal Storage in Hydronic Systems (Issue #17)+

    The extraordinary ability of water to store heat makes it an ideal “mediator” for situations where the rate of heat production is different from the rate at which heat is needed by a thermal load.  In hydronic systems, the rate and timing of heat demand can be very different from the rate of heat production. The extent of this difference, along with the operating characteristics of the heat source and balance of the system, determine if the resulting operation of the heat source is acceptable.

    A common undesirable effect that results from a mismatch between heat production and heat demand is “short cycling” of the heat source.  Short cycling reduces the thermal efficiency of most heat sources. It also increases emissions, increases maintenance and shortens equipment life.

    The most common way to avoid short cycling is to provide adequate thermal mass within the heating system.  Because of its excellent heat storage characteristics, adding water to the system is the best way to increase its thermal mass.  Thermal storage can provide several benefits when properly applied in hydronic systems, the topic of discussion in this edition of idronics™.

    We hope you enjoy this 17th issue of idronics and encourage you to send us feedback by emailing us.

    idronics 17: Thermal Storage in Hydronic Systems
  • Circulation in Hydronic Systems (Issue #16)+

    An understanding of how circulators operate, as well as how they are sized and selected, is crucial to good hydronic system design.  The 16th edition of idronics™ – Circulation in Hydronic Systems – focuses on determining proper flow rates in different portions of a hydronic system.  Once determined, piping and circulator selection is explored to ensure that the flow rates occur when the system is built and commissioned.  The journal discusses circulators and how they interact with other system components.  In conclusion, a discussion of the distribution efficiency of the system and how to achieve systems that convey unsurpassed comfort using the least amount of electrical energy is examined.

    From time to time, we receive photos showing installations of Caleffi products.  We sincerely appreciate these submittals.  They help us show and explain the best way to apply and install specific products.  This issue includes several such photos.  We sincerely thank all those who have sent us these photos and encourage you to continue sharing them with us.

    idronics 16: Circulation in Hydronic Systems
  • Separation in Hydronic Systems (Issue #15)+

    Twelve years after Caleffi North America was established, air issues, dirt issues and hydraulic separation issues continue to be frequent topics in the technical support calls we receive.  Some of these calls are from contractors trying to correct problems in existing systems.  Others are from designers looking for the best way to apply our products in a new system.  Some callers simply ask, “Can you explain how that device works?”

    These calls confirm that an understanding of air and dirt separation, as well as hydraulic separation is critically important to those who design, install or maintain hydronic systems.  Those who comprehend these topics well are more capable of creating and maintaining the modern, energy-efficient systems today's marketplace demands.

    This 15th edition of idronics™ combines the topics discussed in our first and second issues printed in 2007 and updates those topics to reflect several new products now available from Caleffi.  Some of these new products combine the functions previously performed by single components.  Others expand the range of application from residential jobs through large commercial systems that provide heating and cooling.

    From time to time, we receive photos showing installations of Caleffi products.  We sincerely appreciate these submittals.  They help us show and explain the best way to apply and install specific products.  This issue includes several such photos.  We sincerely thank all those who have sent us these photos and encourage you to continue sharing them with us.

    idronics 15: Separation in Hydronic Systems
  • Controlling Hydronic Systems (Issue #14)+

    Many professionals in our trade are naturally curious. They ask questions such as:
       "What does the diaphragm do inside that tank?"
       "How does that mixing valve keep water temperature steady?"
       "Why does opening this valve cause a pressure drop over there?"
     
    Naturally, curious individuals seek answers that improve their ability to design, install and troubleshoot systems.
     
    In this issue of idronics we shift away from the hydraulic side of hydronic systems to the control-side of these systems.  We answer questions such as:
       What types of hydronic controls are available?
       How are they constructed?  
       How do they work?
       Where are they best applied?
       How do they interact with other devices to form a complete control system?

    If you have been curious about controls, this issue of idronics will enhance your understanding of basic concepts used in a wide variety of devices.  It will also show you how to apply them to smoothly regulate state-of-the-art hydronic heating and cooling systems.

    idronics 14: Controlling Hydronic Systems
  • Hydronic Cooling (Issue #13)+

    Cooling a living space using chilled water is not new.  Visit a high-rise hotel room in summer and notice how it is cooled.  Chances are that cool air enters from a vent located in the wall or ceiling.  Behind the vent is a heat exchanger with chilled water flowing into it.  The water absorbs the heat from room air and carries it back to a chiller that extracts the heat and rejects it outside the building.  After being re-cooled, the water returns back to the room - completing the cooling cycle.

    With advances in technology, hydronic cooling is no longer limited to high-rises and other large commercial buildings.  Improvements in chilled-water generators, distribution equipment and piping have made hydronic cooling practical for residential and lighter commercial buildings.  These systems offer advantages over traditional forms of cooling, including reduced electrical energy usage, simple zoning, thermal storage and less invasive installation.

    This issue of idronics explores several methods of hydronic cooling using currently available products and highlights the benefits and performance advantages of these systems.  We hope you enjoy it and encourage you to send us any feedback about idronics by e-mailing us.

    idronics 13: Hydronic Cooling
  • Hydronic Fundamentals (Issue #12)+

    Students returning to school after summer break can attest that it's good for the professor to start with a review of the basics.  Jumping into Thermodynamics 401 without a refresher can make grasping more advanced topics difficult.  It's in this spirit that we created the 12th edition of idronics™ entitled Hydronic Fundamentals.

    Feedback from our face-to-face training programs, as well as those offered online, frequently ask for explanation of basic design principles or why certain installation practices are followed.  So, like a professor giving a review at the start of a semester, this issue of idronics was created to review, refresh and reinvigorate your understanding of the fundamentals that every hydronic system relies on.  With a solid grasp of these fundamentals you'll be able to design efficient and reliable systems that deliver unsurpassed comfort.  You'll also be better prepared for the more specialized topics that will be coming in future editions of idronics

    This issue also makes frequent reference to past issues that have dealt with specific topics in more detail.  We encourage you to download these previous issues.

    idronics 12: Hydronic Fundamentals
  • Domestic Water Heating (Issue #11)+

    Almost every occupied building requires a source of safe domestic hot water. There are many ways to provide it. This issue of idronics™ begins with a brief history and overview of the most common methods and hardware for supplying domestic hot water.

    Specific sections go on to discuss solar water heating subsystems, heat pump water heaters, indirect water heaters and greywater heat recovery.

    Safety issues associated with prevention of scalding and avoidance of Legionella are also covered.

    The issue concludes with a discussion of recirculating domestic hot water systems.

    Answers are provided to questions such as:

    • At what temperature will Legionella bacteria die?
    • Can 125°F water cause skin to burn?
    • How should a hot water recirulation system be piped to prevent temperature creep?
    idronics 11: Domestic Water Heating
  • Hydronics for Wood-Fired Heat Sources (Issue #10)+

    The term biomass is often heard these days. It broadly refers to any energy source derived from recently living organisms. Common examples include methane from landfill waste, animal residues, dried corn, biodiesel fuels and ethanol. Wood is also a biomass, and a focus of this publication. As a heat source, it is renewable, widely available (especially in non-urban areas), does not require a conversion process to produce and has physical properties compatible to both residential and commercial heating.

    Over the past 30 years, engineering advancements in wood-fired heating systems have led to improved energy efficiencies and dramatically reduced emissions.  As a result, wood systems have experienced renewed popularity in North America.  Coupled with increased public environmental awareness, wood-fired-boilers and furnaces have the potential for significant growth in the coming years.

    A key enabler for widespread adaption, however, is that wood systems must reliably deliver heat when and where it is needed within a facility.  Hydronics is the best technology available for accomplishing this.  In this issue, we explain how to leverage state-of-the-art hydronics technology with today's various wood-burning devices to provide maximum comfort, efficiency and convenience.

    idronics 10: Hydronics for Wood-Fired Heat Sources
  • Geo-Hydronic Systems (Issue #9)+

    Heat pumps have been around for decades. However, due to advances in product design, public interest in energy conservation and recently enacted government incentives, interest in heat pumps has risen rapidly.  Geothermal heat pump shipments, for example, have increased nearly four-fold in the U.S. since 2003.
     
    In this issue we explain the basics of heat pump operation and describe several types of heat pumps. The discussion then turns to use of modern hydronics to enhance the efficiency and comfort provided by these heat pumps.  System configurations ranging from simple single-zone/heating-only systems, to large multi-heat pump heating and cooling systems are shown.  Specific information on sizing components such as buffer tanks, expansion tanks and circulators is also provided. In short, this issue of idronics™ shows you how to "leverage" the advantages of hydronics for optimizing the heating and cooling performance of heat pump systems.

    idronics 9: Geo-Hydronic Systems
  • Hydronic Balancing (Issue #8)+

    A hydronic system can be installed with the latest heat sources, heat emitters and other hardware, but without proper balancing, it is unlikely to deliver optimal comfort and energy efficiency.
     
    In this edition of idronics™ we explore the purpose and benefits of balancing, as well as its underlying theory. We go on to review the different types of balancing devices available on the market and show how to select and apply them.

    idronics 8: Hydronic Balancing
  • Mixing in Hydronic Systems (Issue #7)+

    Mixing is a key element in many hydronic heating systems.  When properly performed it:

    • improves comfort and minimizes energy consumption
    • protects low-temperature heat emitters from high-temperature heat sources such as storage tanks heated by solar collectors or wood-fired boiler systems
    • prevents sustained production of corrosive flue gas condensation when a conventional boiler is used as a heat source to a low-temperature distribution system

    Over the past 20 years, mixing products have advanced into more intelligent and durable devices.  A solid understanding of how they function and how to apply them will enable maximum heating system performance.  This issue of idronics discusses a wide range of mixing options for use in both standard and specialized applications.

    idronics 7: Mixing in Hydronic Systems
  • Solar Thermal Combisystems (Issue #6)+

    The global recession has slowed nearly all industries over the past year.  However, despite decline in construction, solar water heater shipments in the U.S. increased 50% during 2008.
     
    As more and more HVAC professionals become familiar with solar water heating, many recognize opportunities to extend solar thermal technology for combined domestic hot water and space heating applications.  This is a trend our parent Caleffi SpA identified several years ago in Europe, and is now a topic of growing interest here in North America.  For this reason, solar "combisystems" was selected as the topic for this edition of idronics™.
     
    Caleffi is pleased to provide the information in this edition to assist those designing solar combisystems.  We also stand ready with state-of-the-art hardware to support installation of such systems.

    idronics 6: Solar Thermal Combisystems
  • Zoning Hydronic Systems (Issue #5)+

    Welcome to the 5th edition of idronics™, Caleffi's semi-annual design journal for hydronic professionals.
     
    Zoned heating systems have been used for centuries.  Even before hydronic heating was available, buildings were often divided into two or more areas in which comfort could be independently controlled - often through the use of individual heat sources such as fireplaces or stoves.
     
    Today, zoning is a preeminent benefit of hydronic heating and cooling.  When properly applied, it provides unsurpassed comfort control, flexibility and energy conservation.
     
    To take full advantage of these benefits, designers must understand several principles that let zoned systems quickly adapt to constantly changing interior and exterior conditions.  As has been the custom with idronics, these principles are discussed at a level appropriate for hydronic design professionals.  They are then demonstrated in a  wide variety of application drawings based on the latest hardware and design techniques.  The goal is to facilitate zoned hydronic systems that are flexible, reliable, simple to build and highly energy efficient.
     
    We trust you will find this issue a useful educational tool and a handy reference for your future system designs.

    idronics 5: Zoning Hydronic Systems
  • Manifold Distribution Systems (Issue #4)+

    Most hydronic professionals are familiar with how the availability of PEX and PEX-Al-PEX tubing rejuvenated the radiant heating market here in North America.  When combined with the numerous energy saving and health benefits associated with radiant heating, these products helped the market grow over twenty fold since 1990.
     
    However, many designers and contractors still think of PEX and PEX-Al-PEX tubing as only for use in radiant panel applications, and are not familiar with the advantages of using this tubing along with manifolds for panel radiators, baseboards, fan coils or other types of hydronic heat emitters.
     
    This edition of idronics™ addresses state-of-the-art design techniques for applying manifold technology in a wide variety of hydronic heating (and cooling) applications.  It explains why these approaches deliver both superior performance and cost effectiveness.
     

    idronics 4: Hydronic Distribution Systems
  • What's New Under the Sun? (Issue #3)+

    The “green” state of mind is rapidly spreading across North America. Soaring fossil fuel costs, environmental issues and national security concerns are all raising interest in alternative energy technologies. An especially popular topic is solar heating, the subject of this edition of idronics.

    Caleffi has developed and marketed solar heating products in Europe and other parts of the world for many years. In most of these regions, the high cost of fossil fuel and heightened sense of environmental responsibility has made solar heating a well-accepted standard rather than rarely used alternative.

    We see a similar trend quickly developing in North America. At our North American headquarters in Milwaukee, each week brings numerous inquiries from plumbing and heating professionals on how to design and install solar heating systems. These inquiries demonstrate a need to take the “mystery” out of solar heating, and give these professionals the know-how and confidence to pursue this growing opportunity.

    That’s the goal for this issue of idronics. It begins with a primer on solar heating fundamentals, then presents a wide spectrum of design concepts and hardware options for solar water heating and space heating. For the seasoned solar professional, it provides innovative design solutions to consider for future applications.

    So whether you're a plumber who wants to install solar water heating systems, or a veteran designer of commercial solar space heating systems, we trust this issue of idronics will be a useful handy reference for you.

    idronics 3: What's New Under the Sun?
  • Air & Dirt Elimination in Hydronic Systems (Issue #2)+

    Please refer to Separation in Hydronic Systems (Issue #15), for the most up-to-date information on air and dirt elimination in hydronic systems.

  • Hydraulic Separation (Issue #1)+

    Please refer to Separation in Hydronic Systems (Issue #15), for the most up-to-date information on hydraulic separation in hydronic systems.