Last edited 03 Apr 2018

Types of domestic heating system

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Contents

[edit] Introduction

Heating in buildings may be necessary to:

  • Create comfortable conditions for occupants.
  • To prevent condensation.
  • For activities such as drying and cooking.
  • For industrial processes.

In commercial buildings, heating for comfort might be provided alongside other building services in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

In dwellings, heating is typically provided by central heating systems, in which heat is distributed from a central source, however, localised heating systems are also still in common use.

[edit] Gas heating systems

Gas is a highly efficient fuel, with modern condensing boilers achieving efficiencies of 90% or more. However, gas is a fossil fuel and it produces carbon dioxide when burned.

The term 'mains gas' refers to natural gas that is distributed through a pipeline infrastructure. In the UK, mains gas is supplied to more than 21 million homes and is the most popular fuel for heating and cooking. If mains gas is not available, liquid petroleum gas (LPG) can be used. This must be stored in a tank on-site.

[edit] Wet systems

In a ‘wet system’, water is heated by a gas-fired boiler and then circulated through a system of pipes connected to radiators which deliver heat through convection. Hot water can also be provided for bathing and washing, either generated instantaneously when there is a demand, or stored in a hot water cylinder/tank.

[edit] Warm air systems

Warm air systems consist of a gas boiler which heats air that is then distributed around a building via ductwork. The warm air then enters rooms through floor or wall vents.

This system is commonly used in dwellings in the USA, but was generally phased out in the UK after the 1960s and 70s. It is still used in commercial buildings.

[edit] Oil systems

Liquid oil can also be used to fire a boiler and heat water. Like gas, oil is a highly efficient fuel, although it is also a fossil fuel and prices are subject to large fluctuations. Oil is generally delivered by lorry and then stored in a tank on site.

[edit] Renewable heating systems

There are a number of ways that heat energy can be generated using renewable technologies:

[edit] Electric heating systems

Electricity is generally easier to distribute than oil or gas, but electric heating tends to be more expensive.

[edit] Storage heaters

The most common type of electric heating system is a storage heater. This involves individual electric heaters that heat up internal ceramic bricks overnight using off-peak electricity and store it for use during the day. The same system can be used to heat a hot water tank.

[edit] Immersion heaters

Immersion heaters are electric water heaters that heat water in hot-water cylinders in a similar way to a kettle. They can provide a building’s how water and can also be used as a back-up for combi boilers.

[edit] Local heaters

Local electric heaters can be used to as stand-alone systems, or to supplement central heating during cold periods. These may be; fan heaters, thermostatic tubular heaters, skirting heaters, infra-red heaters (radiant heaters), frost protection heaters and so on.

[edit] Solid fuel systems

Solid fuel systems are most commonly fueled by coal or wood. These can either be central heating systems, such as coal or wood-chip fueled boilers, or local systems such as open fires, wood-burning stoves and so on.

Some solid fuel systems, such as wood-burning stoves may be considered 'sustainable' as the fuel is carbon neutral, however, their emissions can be polluting, and there are increasing restrictions on their use, particularly in cities.

[edit] Micro CHP

Micro-CHP or micro combined heat and power is the small-scale generation of heat and electricity from a single energy source. Micro-CHP is becoming more common in domestic buildings, where it can be installed as direct replacement for gas-fired boilers.

For more information see: Micro CHP.

[edit] District energy systems

District energy (or district heating) is the process of heating and / or cooling a group of buildings from a central thermal energy generation plant via a network of fluid distribution pipes.

For more information see: District energy.

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