The role of intelligent pumps in heating systems

The role of intelligent pumps in heating systems

In this module about the role of intelligent circulator pumps in balancing a commercial building’s heating system, you will learn how they help maximise the total efficiency of the system to meet the challenges typically faced by building owners and facility managers.

Welcome to this ECADEMY module about the role of intelligent circulator pumps in balancing a commercial building’s heating system.

When designing a heating system, it is important to look at the entire system to maximise the total efficiency and meet the challenges typically faced by building owners and facility managers.

This course will briefly discuss the challenges of high operating costs caused by system imbalance. We will then look at how this issue is resolved when using intelligent pumps to ensure a correctly commissioned heating system. Let’s get started.

The reason why so many systems are out of balance is because commissioning of heating systems is generally poorly done. The challenge then is to identify why this is so. It could be that the contractor responsible for commissioning:
- is not adequately trained or skilled to perform the task; or,
- does not have a sufficient amount of time or little to no data to do a proper commissioning.

The reason could also lie in the complexity of the heating system, if it consists of multiple and different stand-alone components that need individual commissioning; and where these components might influence each other, thereby increasing complexity dramatically.
This might lead to:
- The building’s actual energy consumption exceeds the designed energy consumption;
- Decreased Delta T and in worst case penalties from utility companies;
- Overflow or starvation between zones; and,
- Higher energy consumption, but lower end-user comfort.

Let us now look more closely at system imbalance due to poor commissioning, which is one of the most difficult aspects of HVAC systems, and yet very critical.

Imbalance means that too much water is flowing to some zones of the system, and too little to other zones. This may be caused by pump throttling valves that have not been adjusted correctly.

However, this problem may increase if the pump sitting next to the throttling valve does not have its own built-in flow limiting functionality, as is the case for most pumps.
This means the flow in the circuit or zone may suffer from starvation or overflow, because the pump is not able to monitor and hence limit the flow to only what is needed.
This will add to the energy consumption and also affect the indoor climate. Lack of balance will lead to uneven distribution of heat in the building and affect the comfort level.

With the FLOWLIMIT functionality built into the intelligent circulator pumps, the challenges outlined earlier are met, with the advantages of:
- Enabling more efficient installation and commissioning of pumps;
- Ensuring that pumps are commissioned properly;
- Save costs for pump throttling valves and saved operational cost, as the pump will not have to overcome pressure loss in the throttling valve; and
- Reduce risk of overflow and starvation between zones.  
Naturally, an intelligent Grundfos pump with FLOWLIMIT is compatible with all common BMS protocols.

In closing, let’s take a look at the potential that lies in carefully considering the design of a heating system.

We know that a well-balanced system is much more energy and cost-efficient, but it also pays to keep an eye on the energy loss. And we have seen how FLOWLIMIT may improve the overall efficiency in heating systems, because FLOWLIMIT enables the pump to control the flow very precisely. This eliminates the need for pump throttling valves, ensuring that design flows are not exceeded.

A poorly commissioned system with low Delta T and high return temperatures as a result is often the root cause of high operating costs. This is why investing in intelligent circulator pumps, ensuring correct flow commissioning as well as balancing and, ensuring this is done right from the beginning are essential steps to improve overall efficiency in your heating system, which in turn lets you increase your business potential due to the greater focus on pump and system efficiency.