Hydronic Heating Systems

Many higher-end RVs employ hydronic heating systems to provide hot water and heating rather than a propane or electric water heater and furnace.

A hydronic heating system heats the transfer fluid (boiler antifreeze) that it distributes through tubes and radiates the heat an RV and hot water. Hydronic heating systems provide radiant heating or radiator and fan heat delivery units. These systems come at a considerable cost but offer several advantages.

  • Zones: Heating can be divided into any number of individually controlled zones.

  • Humidity Levels: Radiant heat systems do not dry out the air like forced air systems, making for a more comfortable environment.

  • Warm Floors: Radiant flooring provides improved underfoot comfort.

  • Quiet: Hydronic heating systems are quiet and furnace noise is not distributed through heating ducts.

  • No Ducts: Hydronic systems don’t require air ducts and return air systems. They require less space in the floors, walls and ceiling and it eliminates dust collection in ducting.

  • Reduced Dust and Allergens: Because hydronic heaters don’t use ducts there is less heating airflow to stir up dust, pollen, pet dander, and allergens.

  • Energy Efficiency: Hydronic heating systems are more efficient than other heating methods and can utilize engine heat for interior heating while travelling.

Hydronic heating systems utilize a heat source transfer fluid, such as boiler antifreeze, to deliver it to where it's needed throughout the RV. The transfer fluid is piped through a copper coil to heat water and through piping to heat radiators and other radiant heating components around the RV.

They can employ several heat sources such as diesel in large diesel pusher motorhomes, gasoline, propane and electric heating elements. They are also able to transfer heat between the engine cooling system and the hydronic heating system. This delivers free heat while driving or the ability to use the hydronic system to pre-heat the engine in cold weather. Many hydronic systems utilize multiple heat sources such as diesel, engine coolant and electric heating elements.

The downside of hydronic heating is its cost, both its initial cost as well as ongoing maintenance and parts. They must be serviced annually.

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