The world of Hydronic heating is about to get more efficient for both contractors and consumers, thanks to the rise of new technology that makes it easier for hydronics technicians on the job. In this article, we dive into the newest tools and products on the market that are designed to make the hydronics industry more proficient.
High-efficiency boilers. Displays that translate error codes into plain English. Adapters that let technicians skip the flames and heavy welding equipment — and, in some cases, the extra burden of the fire department standing over their shoulders.
Hydronics manufacturers have been focused on making the world of hydronic heating more efficient for contractors and for end users alike.
Here’s a look at some of the newer products to hit the the market in the realm of hydronic heating.
When it comes to piping, Uponor’s newly launched ProPEX copper press adapters say “don’t sweat it” — pun intended.
“As PEX piping becomes more prevalent in commercial plumbing projects, design and installation professionals told us they needed a solution to quickly and confidently connect hybrid plumbing and hydronic piping systems,” said Doug Fulton, senior director, corporate strategy and segment marketing at Uponor.
Using Uponor ProPEX LF Brass Copper Press Adapters and the M18 ProPEX Expansion Tool from Milwaukee Tools, technicians can create a PEX-to-copper transition without the use of flame, glues, or solvents. The adapters connect ASTM F1960 PEX expansion connections to ½-inch to 3-inch copper press piping systems.
“Once you get into those 2½-inch and 3-inch sizes, pressing copper makes a lot more sense than sweating copper or brazing copper, like a lot of people used to do,” said Daniel Worm, manager, Commercial Marketing Segment, Uponor.
Also, there’s a big push toward getting flames and hot-work off of job sites, he said — especially on older wood-frame buildings where re-pipe work is required. Instead, a connection is created by putting a ProPEX ring on the outside of a PEX-A pipe, expanding the pipe, and fitting the two ends together. The pipe then contracts back down on the fitting, and it can be pressure tested shortly after it’s done.
Manufactured from lead-free brass to meet all local and national potable-plumbing codes, the press adapters reduce overall project timelines by an average of 71 percent compared to sweat, according to Uponor. The product also incorporates a patented design for securely fastening the pipe and fitting together, eliminating the need for a stainless steel ring.
Designed for Iron Pipe Size (IPS) stainless steel, Viega’s new line of MegaPress Stainless XL fittings allow for secure connections in 2½-inch, 3-inch, and 4-inch pipe.
“Since Viega introduced MegaPress Stainless fittings in 2017, customers have been asking for them in larger sizes,” said Dominic Küng, Viega product manager for Metals.
MegaPress fittings reduce installation time by up to 90 percent, compared to traditional pipe joining methods, he said.
“Within two minutes, you’ve done a whole 4-inch T, whereas a good welder would probably take somewhere in the neighborhood of two hours,” he said. “With the lack of skilled labor, this is a great way to be able to bring somebody in, let them help contribute to the business while learning to weld or braze or solder on the side.”
Not having to spark a torch also means no hot-work permits and no fire watches, which are required in some cities. In Boston, for example, contractors doing hot-work are required to have a firefighter personally oversee the work to make sure nothing catches fire.
MegaPress Stainless XL fittings are available in 304 and 316 stainless steel and are approved for use with Schedule 10 to Schedule 40 pipe. They are equipped with patented Viega Smart Connect technology, which allows installers to identify unpressed connections during pressure testing.
Weil-McLain’s most advanced commercial stainless steel boiler, the new Stainless Steel Vertical Firetube (SVF), features thermal efficiency up to 97.1 percent, serviceability features, and the Unity control system.
Available in 750 and 1100 models, the SVF line features a clover-shaped stainless steel fire tube heat exchanger for corrosion resistance, a new exterior look, and simple controls to make installation and operation easy. Its cost savings and energy efficiencies allow owners to qualify for local utility rebates, if available.
The unit meets all market-driven bid specifications, and is designed for heating needs including schools, public institutions, health care buildings, offices, hotels, multifamily units, and churches.
For ease of service, the SVF features a hinged cover plate, allowing quick access to the burner and fire tubes for simple heat exchanger wash-down with no need for additional disassembly, and an open back panel design with no side access required for service. The unit also has a removable and replaceable condensate base.
Time-saving installation features include heavy-duty roller casters for improved maneuverability in confined spaces, industrial-grade leveling legs, an end-shot burner design requiring only 18 inches overhead space, and the advanced Unity control setup wizard.
“The Unity controller is designed to reduce installation and set up time for contractors, simplify boiler system design for specifying engineers, and improve control interface commonality and communication across the entire Weil-McLain high-efficiency boiler line,” said John Miller, senior product manager.