Innovative, amazing, groundbreaking is how I sum up this product line from Hydro Smart. As a mechanical contractor working on High Performance homes: Energy Star, Net Zero and Passive House, I see lots of innovative energy efficient products and technologies, some good some not so good. This product really excites me, and I want to tell you why. There’s nothing else on the market like it, not even close.
What is a hydronic panel?
Hydro Smart Hydronic Panels offer pre-configured piping configurations with all the necessary components for hydronic heating systems. For those of you with history in the boiler trades we all remember spending hours sometimes days building hydronic systems in mechanical rooms or on basement walls. The Hydro Smart Hydronic panel comes in dozens of configurations from low temp to high temp: multi zone pump, zone valves, primary and secondary pipe configurations, air bleeders, pumps, expansion tanks etc. You select your application and configuration, hang it on the wall, pipe it and plug it in. Hydro Smart will even work with you to build a custom configuration.
Energy Efficient Pumps
Hydro Smart also took a big leap in the last few years and has been installing Energy Efficient Pumps on their panels. In addition to standard models, most Hydro Smart panels are also available with electronically commutated motor (ECM) pumps for even greater energy efficiency. We really like this addition as it pushes the boundaries of efficiency, comfort and minimum wall space. The ECM pump-equipped panels will reduce energy consumption by a minimum of 50%. If set to their automatic mode, they will automatically analyze the heating system, find the optimum pump setting, and continuously adjust operation to changes in demand. This will reduce power consumption by up to 85%, ensuring the lowest possible energy consumption without sacrificing comfort.
About Hydro Smart
Fortunately for us, Hydro Smart is located here in MN, in Elk River. Each panel comes with a model and serial number along with the name of the tech who assembled it. Hydro Smart does also produce several other products, including electric and gas boilers of both natural gas and propane. In addition, they offer a “Pro line” of hydronic panels directed towards contractors under the label Radiant Pro.
Real life Applications
Size matters. I want to share with you where this product excels and why it needs to be on your next project. First and foremost, the size. Imagine trying to pipe a primary, secondary loop configuration including the following: two pumps with isolation valve flanges, expansion tank, Zone boiler/pump relay, Air separator, multiple temperature and pressure gauges, flush and fill service ports all within a 26 x 24-inch space. We have been able to squeeze an entire hydronic installation including gas boiler and 4 circuit manifold with zone valves in a 5 square foot area under a stairway landing. For this purpose alone, we have performed installs other contractors have walked away from due to size limitations.
Hydro Smart panels will work with any residential boilers and heat output emitters. Remember all those sweat fittings or endless Propress connections? Image them already assembled for you with a no leak guarantee? We have effectively been able to create a fire wall on our installations with only four field connections: 2 from the boiler to the panel and 2 from the panel to our manifold. A typical new construction or retrofit install with boiler can be completed in a day with heat running.
In conclusion, the hydro Smart panels come with a price tag between $1600 – $2500 depending on design and options. However, with a one day install considering all your components parts/fittings are already connected, your labor cost are only a few hours on the job.
Dustin Denison is Principal of Applied Energy Innovations (AEI) and 25-year veteran in the HVAC mechanical trades Commercial/Industrial/Residential. AEI provides services from Solar, Insulation, Construction and HVAC. Dustin holds 4 Masters: Warm air/Ventilation, Refrigeration, Boiler/Hydronics and Gas with over 30 professional licenses and certifications. With a specialty niche in high performance homes/buildings, Dustin has designed and installed systems with demanding performance expectations by utilizing cutting edge technologies, products and services in the HVAC field.