Three Tips for Making Smart Heating Decisions
by Michael Kovalycsik, National Sales & Marketing Director, Delta T Solutions
Heating is one of the most important components of a greenhouse operation, and when it comes time to update your system, it’s important to do it right. Talking to experts and others in the industry before you invest can be extremely beneficial in helping you make the right greenhouse heating decisions.
AVOID COMMON HEATING MISTAKES
One of the biggest mistakes growers can make is to design and supply their heating systems themselves, which can result in errors in sizing and in equipment choices. For example, a grower might buy a high-efficiency condensing boiler when he’s running a high-temperature system. Because a condensing boiler only runs high efficiency at low temperatures, the grower has wasted money on high-efficiency equipment he won’t actually benefit from.
Another mistake to avoid is turning to a local HVAC contractor or plumber that doesn’t deal specifically with greenhouse heating. The better decision is to contact greenhouse-specific companies and ask for bids and ideas. They likely will have a much better understanding of your needs.
MAKING HEATING DECISIONS
When it comes to making the right heating decisions, you’ll want to consider a number of factors, including upfront investment and long-term efficiency. Growers looking for a highly efficient heating system will want to consider in-floor or under-bench radiant systems. These systems work by circulating heated water through tubes installed in the floor or under benches. This results in accelerated rooting and energy savings, because plants are heated at the soil level, where they need it most.
While this type of heating is highly effective and efficient, most growers – especially those in colder climates – likely will need to supplement with unit heaters during the colder months. If you’re growing on benches, however, consider choosing aluminum piping, such as Delta T's TF1 or TF2 material, for bench heating. This will add more heat to the air than rubber tubing will, while also providing heat at the soil level.
To get the most out of your heating system, you’ll want to be sure you’re choosing the right boiler for your needs. Natural gas boilers are a good choice now because of the relatively low cost of gas, but fuel type is just the first piece of the puzzle. Different types of boilers offer varying efficiencies – it’s a matter of determining if you’re willing to pay a little more upfront for a more efficient unit or would rather pay less at the start for a boiler that’s not quite as efficient.
There is a wide range of boiler options to fit any grower’s needs and price point. The Futera Fusion, for example, can reach 99% efficiency at full output. It is ideal for systems with low operating, return or make-up water temperatures. Delta T’s atmospheric boilers are able to modulate temperatures from 110° F to 230° F with no thermal shock to the heat exchanger and can meet the heating system’s demand even when firing at full rate under heavy loads, or staging down for lighter loads. The Futera III/XLF Modulations are well suited for growers who don’t want their boiler to take up too much space. The compact unit still operates at 88%-plus efficiency and matches heating demand to save energy. It’s always helpful to talk with industry experts or fellow growers who have recently implemented new heating systems to analyze your needs and determine what’s best for your operation.
Delta T Solutions has designed and manufactured customized heating solutions for greenhouse growers using hydronic (hot water radiant) heat for more than 20 years. To learn more about cost-effective in-ground bench and perimeter heating systems; high-efficiency boiler systems; and other systems that improve crop health, contact Delta T at 800-552-5058 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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