Ever since I got into hydronic heating, I have had a dream — to have a system that would incorporate every reasonably available method of heating as it pertains to heat sources and heat emitters. I have always wanted to incorporate some state-of-the-art systems, as well as some not so state-of-the-art, think outside-of-the-box systems, as a matter of demonstrating feasibility and viability of the potential technology.

This project, Hydronicahh, is the brainchild of 35 years worth of application, research and development on my part. I have had the opportunity to install a variation of all of the components listed, and I have always said that the ultimate system would incorporate most or all of these technologies. Obviously, this is not your typical “off-shelf” system, and it will require some sweat equity in trade for inexpensive energy.

The system will eventually incorporate the following heat sources: a reactor style of wood gasifier, a solar thermal system, a solar PV system, a wood gasifier powered internal combustion electrical generator, a vertical axis wind turbine, a variable speed ground source heat pump, a modulating/condensing boiler and, eventually, a hydrogen fuel cell.

The distribution systems will consist of low voltage radiant windows, hydronic radiant ceilings, hydronic radiant walls, low voltage radiant floors, hydronic radiant cooling from the ceilings and evaporative cooling. There will also be a section of hydronic snowmelt, so I always have someplace to displace extra Btus or fire up any piece of equipment for demonstration purposes without overheating the living spaces.

Hydronicahh's comfort system will be a demonstration site for current, state-of-the art technologies along with futuristic systems that don't currently have a place in the mainstream of off-shelf heating systems. My goal is to prove that some of these futuristic systems are technologically feasible today. I also want to show how these systems can be mechanically interfaced and controlled in such a manner that the energy use is prioritized based on cost and carbon footprinting. It would allow the end user to choose their energy source based on either cost or carbon footprint generated, whichever need meets their goal.

During the next few months, I will address each and everyone of the heat generating and heat emitting components, how they interface with each other, and the perceived benefits and potential pitfalls associated with their applications. Until then, happy near net-zero energy consuming!

Mark Eatherton is a Denver-based hydronics contractor. He can be reached via e-mail at markeatherton@comcast.net or by phone at 303/778-7772.