This is how a heating system works

The energy carried to the house is converted into a form that can be used in heating in the heat generator. In some cases, the heat is stored to even out cost savings or heating efficiency requirements. The heat energy is moved and released to the desired targets of use with a heat distribution system.

Adjustment and control devices help to ensure that heat is always produced in the right amount and that the thermal conditions stay in the desired state. They also allow for timing energy use to the most economical hours.

Heat generators

The energy needed to heat the house is generated in the heat generator, which converts the heat energy source carried to the house into heat that can be used in a detached building. Heat sources include wood, domestic heating oil, district heat or thermal energy stored into the ground. Heat generators include wood and oil-fired boilers, for example, as well as district heat exchangers and ground source heat pumps. In electric heating systems, the electricity is converted into heat energy in the heating equipment’s electrical resistance.

The storage of heat

Heat is stored either due to cost-related reasons or because the efficiency of heat production and the required efficiency vary. Heat is most often stored in hot water in a storage heater or in the structures of the house, usually a concrete floor. Cost savings are sought when, for instance, a concrete slab is heated with underfloor heater cables during cheaper night-time electricity or when the storage heater’s water is heated during the night.

A storage heater installed next to a wood-fired boiler or a heat pump, for example, prolongs the boiler’s operating time and thereby improves the combustion efficiency. The storage heater also improves heat used with the help of solar collectors.

Heat distribution system

The heat distribution system is tasked with transferring the heat energy to where it is needed in the house and releasing it there (domestic hot water or room air). The heat vector is either the water or air circulating in the heat distribution network. The heat distribution system includes transfer pipes and channels as well as the heating equipment of rooms and supply air.

The release of the heat is also an essential part of the heat distribution system. Heat distribution systems include radiator networks in which water circulates, electric heaters, underfloor heating pipes or cables and air ducts.

Adjustment and control equipment

A house’s heating need varies according to outdoor temperatures, for example, and the house’s thermal stress. The purpose of adjustment and control equipment is to keep the indoor temperature at the desired level. Adjustment and control equipment include thermostats, an adjuster which adjusts the temperature of water entering the heating network according to outdoor air temperature and home automation systems, which also allow for other building services adjustments than just the control of heating.


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Page last updated 15.6.2017