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Space Heating Systems

Heating systems provide space heating, water heating (domestic, swimming pool, etc.), sterilization, and other process heating needs. These systems are often combined with space cooling systems. Heating can be accomplished using electric and fossil fuel sources.

There are three basic heating system designs:

electric resistance, fuel fired, and heat pump systems.

  • Electric resistance systems convert electricity to heat directly, with almost 100 percent efficiency.
  • Fuel-fired systems burn fuels in a boiler or heater under careful air/fuel control. The heat of combustion is recovered in some form of integral heat exchange to heat water, steam, or air.
  • Heat pumps recover and reuse energy by raising the temperature of the waste heat (i.e. water, outdoor or exhaust air, etc.) so that it can be reused. This heat is recovered in some form of integral heat exchange to heat water or air.
  • Electric resistance heating is generally the least expensive to install, simplest to install and operate, and safer than fuel-fired systems. But heat pumps are much more efficient and cost-effective alternative to electric resistance systems.

This page provides summarized descriptions of numerous space heating methods. Click one of the following to jump to a particular method:

Advantages of Electric Heat

Lower equipment and maintenance costs, safety and cleanliness are among the advantages of electric heat.

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Unitary Heat Pumps

Year-round temperature control with the added feature of zone control.

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Ground Water Source (Open Loop) Heat Pump Systems

A low-energy and maintenance cost system that can use either a surface or underground water source as the heat source and sink.

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Ground-Coupled (Closed Loop) Systems

These reliable and cost-effective systems utilize the temperature of the earth near the surface, but differ from closed-loop systems because no water is taken from the ground or disposed of.

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Ground Source (Refrigerant Loop) Heat Pump Systems

A similar system to ground coupled units, using a refrigerant rather than water to circulate to the individual heat pumps. These systems are potentially more efficient than water loop systems.

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Electric Infrared Space Heating

Infrared (IR) space heating utilizes electromagnetic radiation to heat objects in the space, which, in turn, heats the space.

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Hot Water & Steam Boiler Systems

Used in many commercial buildings, the primary function of a boiler is the efficient transfer of heat from a hot combustion gas to water or steam.

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Electric Boilers

Generally compact in size, electric boilers are clean-firing compared to fossil-fired boilers. Best utilized for installations requiring steam or hot water relatively few hours each year, or where a supply of gas or oil is not readily available.

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Heat Pumps

Manufactured in a variety of types, a heat pump is a device that extracts heat from a source and transfers it at a higher temperature, typically for HVAC or water heating systems.

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Electrical Resistance Space Heating Equipment

Various types of space heating equipment can be used for zone controlled heating. Also an efficient method for heating spaces only occasionally used.

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Heat Pump Desiccant

A business case detailing how seasonal humidity interfered with production at a Swift Lumber company plant until they installed an electric-desiccant system.

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