Natural Convection

The simplest all-water system is a system of hy-dronic (hot-water) convectors. In this system hot water from a boiler or steam-operated hot water converter is circulated through a finned tube, usually mounted horizontally behind a simple metal cover which provides an air inlet opening below the tube and an outlet above. Room air is drawn through the convector by natural convection where it is warmed in passing over the finned tube.

A variation on the horizontal finned-tube hydronic convector is the cabinet convector, which occupies less perimeter space. A cabinet convector would have several finned tubes in order to transfer additional heat to the air passing through it. When this is still insufficient a small electric fan can be added, converting the convector to a unit heater. Although an electric resistance element can be used in place of the finned tube, the inefficiency of electric resistance heating should eliminate this option.

Hydronic convectors are among the least expensive heating systems to operate as well as to install. Their use is limited, however, to heating only and they do not provide ventilation, air filtration, nor humidity control.

Hydronic convectors and unit heaters may be used alone in buildings where cooling and mechanical ventilation is not required or to provide heating of perimeter spaces in combination with an all-air cooling system. They are the most suitable type of system for providing heat to control condensation on large expanses of glass on exterior wall systems.

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