Awesome on all fronts - thank you all for all of the information. I feel
confident that I now know what to do regarding both the thermostat AND bleeding
the radiators... and how to do it!
Again, I appreciate all of the information, this has been exactly what I needed.
The thing about hot water heat, unlike forced air...
with forced air you turn up the thermostat and instantly hot air blows .......
with hot water heating you turn up the thermostat, the boiler comes on and heat slowly moves thru the system....
given the slow cool down and slow heat up a setback thermostat may not save you much energy....
but if you turn it down much you may spend hours shivering.......
its your choice
Bob Haller is correct; there are advantages and disadvantages in every
kind of heating system out there.
If you can afford it, the heating system that I believe is the best
available for a house is a "hybrid" system. That's where the run all
the ducting the same way they would for a forced air system, but,
instead of having a furnace with a heat exchanger, you have an "air
handler", which is basically just a powerful blower that blows air
through that ducting into the house. And, upstream of that air handler
you have both a coil for heating and a coil for air conditioning. Hot
water from a boiler flows through the heating coil during the winter and
freon from the central air conditioner flows through the cooling coil
during the summer. 1 hybrid system combines the climate
"controllability" of a forced air system with the 100+ year lifespan of
a cast iron boiler.
The advantage of hot water heating systems is that they lend themselves
well to "zoning", such as you would need in an apartment block, office
building or shopping center. You can direct hot water with zone valves
to go where you want, including reducing the heat to apartments or store
fronts or floors of a building that are temporarily unoccupied while
still having normal heat to those areas which are occupied. But, you
can't add air conditioning to a hot water heating system like you can to
a forced air system.
HOWEVER, for every heating system, the best way you save the MOST money
is to turn down whatever kind of thermostat you have and put on a pair
of long underwear and a sweater. Out great grandparents came from
Europe and were given free land to occupy the plains states and
provinces, and they had to endure winters with nothing more than a wood
stove that tripled as a clothes dryer and residential heating system.
And, they survived no less for wear by dressing for the cold. In my
case, I once had a tenant come to me in the winter wearing nothing more
than a pair of shorts and a pair of sandals, and telling me that he's
cold in his apartment. I nearly killed the guy with a baseball bat.
bob haller;3104204 Wrote:
> some hot water systems can have have a thermostat control each radiator
> for easy zone control.......
I think you're talking about Danfoss radiator valves.
You can use them on a radiator train, but you can't really use them for
individual room control because they work by restricting the flow of hot
water through the radiator. So, if you turn down the heat on an
upstream Danfoss radiator valve, every radiator downstream of that one
will be restricted to that temperature or less.
That is, how can you get a flow of 2 gallons per minute through a
downstream radiator when a valve upstream of it is limiting the flow to
1 gallon per minute?
I've had experience with both Danfoss valves that don't require any
power and Honeywell 24 VAC zone valves, and the Honeywell is definitely
the way to go... more expensive, but well worth it in the long run.
On Thursday, August 8, 2013 11:52:05 PM UTC-4, nestork wrote:
That's an interesting issue that I've never heard discussed before.
I even recall seeing Richard Trethway on This Old House putting one
in for a customer. But there was no discussion of what happens to the
downstream radiators. These are widely used in Europe. What do they
do? It would be easy to have a two port valve, where if the temp set
is reached, the water goes out the second port that bypasses the
radiator and sends it on it's way down the rest of the loop. But
the ones I've seen, I don't recall it being anything other than a
simple valve that blocks the flow of water. So, as you say, once
it shuts off the water, all radiators further downs stream are screwed.
So, how does this actually work?
I don't know anything about steam heat.
Cast iron baseboard radiators that carry hot water will be connected in
series within each apartment. They have to be because that apartment's
thermostat controls the zone valve that allows hot water flow through
the radiator train in that suite.
The radiator trains in every apartment are connected in parallel. They
have to be so that each apartment can recieve heat independant of all
the other apartments.
How would it be if the radiators in an apartment block were all
connected in series so that all of the output from the primary pump
would go through suite 1, then Suite 2, then Suite 3, and so on until
you got to Suite 22. Suite 1 would get hot and so they'd turn their
thermostat down and that would stop the flow through the entire
It's series connections within each apartment radiator train, and all
the apartment radiator trains are all connected in parallel.
In a house, _one_would_expect_ that the radiators in each loop would be
connected in series, and all the loops would be connected in parallel as
Bud says cuz it only makes sense to do it that way.
However, it's only recently that zone valves became commonplace in
houses. Until about 20 years ago, most houses simply had a gate valve
on on all but the longest radiator loop. They used gate valves instead
of globe valves because they offered less resistance to flow AND there
were no internal parts (like washers and screws) that could come out and
screw up the heating system. Those residential gate valves were called
"balancing valves", and the whole idea was to close the gate valve on
the shorter loops, thereby forcing more water flow through the longer
radiator loops. The idea was to have the same amount of water flow
through each radiator loop to provide for uniform heating throughout the
PROPER balancing valves will have pressure taps on both the
upstream and downstram ends of the valve. They sell pressure gauges
that allow you to connect a pressure gauge across the balancing valve to
measure the pressure drop across it. You then open or close each
balancing valve until you have the same pressure drop across all
balancing valves, and that means there's the same hot water flow through
each balancing valve for uniform heat distribution in a house. But, as
I say, years ago the plumbing contractor would just use $4.99 gate
valves and guestimate when the flow through each loop was about the
same, and then put the new homeowner in charge of doing the fine tuning.
On 8/9/2013 10:37 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
The radiators in my house are connected in parallel. From what I have
seen of the exposed piping in other houses, those houses were in
parallel. Most (all?) radiators I have seen have balancing valves on
them - multiple valves don't work so well if they are in series.
Radiators have a lot more thermal capacity than baseboards, and take far
longer to heat up. In a series connection, the last radiator would just
be starting to heat when the first one was hot.
Everything I'm talking about refers to hot water heating.
I know squat about steam heat.
In hot water heating, all radiator loops in a house or commercial
building will be connnected in parallel, and the radiators in each loop
will all be connected in series.
You achieve uniform heat distribution throughout the house when the flow
rate of hot water through each radiator loop is the same.
Since some radiator loops are shorter than others, it's common to
compensate for their lower resistant to flow by installing balancing
valves in those loops. The balancing valves can be partially closed to
pinch off flow through the shorter loops, thereby increasing flow
through the longer loops.
Balancing valves aren't needed when each radiator loop is controlled by
a zone valve, as in the case of an apartment block. Radiator loops with
zone valves maintain a comfortable temperature by having the zone valve
controlled by it's own thermostat. It's only when you have one
thermostat for multiple radiator loops that you need balancing valves to
ensure uniform heat distribution throughout the house or commercial
The above is true for HOT WATER heating systems. I don't know anything
about steam heating systems.
Not only that, but even when the heat was up for hours, if the
radiators were in series, it's not like Xmas tree lights. The first
radiator would emit a lot more heat than the 2nd which would emit more
heat than the 3rd. I don't know numbers ,but say the water temp was
160 going into the first radiator, and 140 coming out. Then 140
going into the 2nd and 120 going out. And 120 going into the 3rd
radiator. I wouldn't expect much heat from that one, or any beyond
In parallel, it would be 160 going into all of them and maybe 140
coming out. They could have a zone valve in the main pipe, before
the pipe to each radiator split off, so the zone valve controlled a
The house I lived in in college had probably 15 hot-water radiators
spread over 3 floors. My apartment in Brooklyn had steam, but it
still had at least 5 radiators (the dining room radiator had been
removed for some reason, but it got enough heat from the other rooms.)
That is, Xmas tree lights all glow at the same brightness, either
because they are in parallel (and each bulb is designed for 110v), or
because they are in series but each light has the same voltage drop,
the sum of all of which is 110-120 volts. (If there are 24 bulbs,
each is designed for about 5 volts.)
But hot water radiators in series are not like Xmas tree lights in
series (or parallel) . For one thing, the water flow is all in one
direction. There is no alternating water flow in a hot water furnace
system, like there is AC current in your home's electrical system.
So the hottest water gets to the first radiator in a series system. .
If two of these radiators were in the same room, it would be a little
warmer on one end of the room compared to the other. But more likely,
one radiator is in each room. The second room would not be as warm
as the first and the third would be cooler than either.
One more difference. When electrical devices like light bulbs are in
series, the same amount of electricity flows through each one, so if
that is enough to light one bulb, it will light every identical bulb
to the same degree. Because the flow of electricity is what does the
When hot water radiators are in series, the same amount of water flows
through each one, but it's not the flow of water that does the worlk
The water is there to transport heat, and even though the same amount
of water flows through the second and third radiator, the amount of
heat in that water is less and less, in each successive radiator.
It could be the flow of water that does the work. If a stream were
routed to 3 flour mills in series, and the water fell from 160 feet
above sea-level to 140 feet in the first one, from 140 to 120 feet in
the second one, and from 120 to 100 feet in the third one, and each
used the water wheel just as efficiiently, all three mills would get
the same amount of energy and work out of the water. Buy that's not
how hot water radiators work.
In practice, perhaps one can use hot water radiators in series. AIUI,
most people want the bedrooms a little cooler than the rest of the
house, for more comfortable sleeping. And if someone cooks a lot,
that makes heat in the kitchen. Of course they also have these
differences, and the sizes of the rooms, in mind when they put
different size radiators in different rooms.
That means they could make the 2nd radiator in series bigger than the
first, and the third bigger still. to make up for the water being less
hot. I don't know if that is done.
I've thought about this and I'm sure it's not done. And that or
keeping some rooms colder was the only way series radiators could
work. I don't think either method is used and I'm 99% sure no one
has series hot water radiators.
The hot water radiators are plumbed in series in every apartment in
every apartment building in every city in North America. They are
plumbed in series so that when that apartment's thermostat calls for
heat, it causes the zone valve in that apartment to open and hot water
to flow through each radiator in the apartment; one after the other.
And, it's true that the temperature does diminish as the water flows
through the radiator train, but it's not all that much. In my boiler
room I have temperature sensors for both supply and return, and the
difference between the water supply temperature and the return
temperature will typically be between 10 and 20 degrees F.
In an apartment block, normally all of the radiators in each apartment
as well as the zone valve are connected in SERIES. So, each apartment
represents one radiator "loop".
However, all of the radiator loops are connected in parallel. That way,
hot water will flow through all of the apartments whose zone valves are
open, but won't flow through any apartment whose zone valve is closed.
It's the same thing with houses. You have different radiator loops in
your house. All the radiators in each loop are connected in series, but
the loops are connected in parallel.
If you have a two story house, then typically, all of the radiators on
each floor are connected in series, but the two radiator loops are
connected in parallel.
If you don't have zone valves on each loop, then you have to have
"balancing valves" on all but the longest loop so that you can pinch off
flow through the shorter loops to force more flow through the longest
loop. Otherwise the lion's share of the hot water will always flow
through the shortest straightest loop because it offers the least
resistance to flow.
The downstream radiators in each radiator loop WILL be cooler than the
upstream radiators because of heat loss along the length of the radiator
Proper balancing valves will have ports on them where you can connect a
pressure gauge to measure the pressure drop across the balancing valve.
You open or close each balancing valve to get the same pressure drop,
and hence the same flow, through each balancing valve. You don't have
to bother with that if you have zone valves that are each controlled by
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