Are you in the market for a new heating system for your commercial building? If you’re debating between hydronic vs. steam heating, our team has put together this helpful guide that explains the similarities, the differences, and how you can decide which one is the best choice for you.

Being a commercial property owner comes with an endless list of responsibilities, and ensuring you choose an efficient, reliable HVAC system is certainly one of them. Especially now as we’re in the midst of the cold winter months, your building needs a heating system that won’t let you down. 

You’ll mostly find steam heating systems in old buildings in cities like New York, Boston, and Chicago, while new and more modern buildings often have hydronic heating. But what do these two heating systems have in common, how are they different, and which one is right for your commercial space? 

What do hydronic and steam have in common?

Hydronic and steam both deliver heat via radiators. While more modern hydronic systems can deliver heat underfloor and via convectors, many buildings already have radiators that are compatible with hydronic heating systems. Additionally, both systems burn fuel to heat water that is then distributed throughout the space in order to heat it. 

Another thing hydronic and steam have in common is cost – one is not significantly more cost-effective than the other. Commercial buildings can vary drastically in terms of space and heating needs, so consult with your HVAC technician to decide which one is best for your space. 

And lastly, both of these heating systems require regular maintenance. Whatever type of HVAC systems you have in your commercial buildings, we strongly recommend scheduling routine maintenance inspections with your HVAC technician. The last thing you want is to experience an HVAC emergency that leaves you with expensive repair bills. 

How do hydronic heat and steam heat differ?

Safety and efficiency: Hydronic heating is traditionally considered to be a safer and more efficient option, especially for larger commercial spaces. Many advances have been made with HVAC technology, and whether you choose a steam heater or a hydronic heater, you’ll likely have a range of energy-efficient options to choose from. 

Heating points: In hydronic heating systems, the water never exceeds around 190 – 200 degrees F. A higher temperature is needed to turn water into steam, so steam boilers have a heating point around 210 degrees F. 

Maintenance to avoid scale build-up: In order to get rid of scale build-up that can cause problems, steam boilers must be treated on a regular basis. Hydronic systems don’t accumulate scale build-up in the same way, however they do require other types of regular maintenance to keep them clean and working as efficiently as possible.

Which heating option is right for my building?

As a general rule, some people prefer hydronic heating because it’s more efficient, which is important when you’re heating large commercial spaces. The heating bills can quickly pile up and get out of control, especially if you live in a cold climate and own a large commercial building. However, there may be some instances in which a steam heating system can work better for you. 

Speak with a trusted HVAC technician and explain your heating needs. They can visit your property, conduct an assessment, and give you their professional recommendation. 

If you’d like to know more about the various commercial heating systems on the market, or if you have any questions about choosing hydronic vs. steam heating, please contact our team at Tri-Tech Energy or visit our website today.