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Get a Power Smart Express incentive for 'smart' circulators

Image of a technician repairing a hot water system
High-efficiency, variable speed "smart" circulators, which have been widely adopted in Europe (and are available to companies in B.C. through the Power Smart Express program), can reduce a single circulator's electricity use by more than 50 per cent.

Save by only pumping the water that you need

On-demand domestic hot water recirculation is a service that many of us take for granted in commercial and multi-family buildings. If we want our warm tap water to be instantaneous or more easily temperature-controlled, we typically adjust the water temperature, not realizing another device is affecting the result.

The same goes for our central heating and cooling systems. When the weather changes outside, we can easily adjust our thermostat to give us the thermal comfort we crave without fully understanding how the system gives it to us.

Put simply, we expect our hot water heaters, boilers, and air conditioning systems to work right away. As long as heat is transferred, chilled air comes when it's called, and hot water flows freely from the tap, we aren't too fussed about how quickly water is being pumped through our pipes.

But we should be, says Power Smart engineering team lead Greg Morandini.

"Oversized, constant-speed circulators, which pump far more water than necessary, are a big problem with water circulation in space heating and cooling systems today," confirms Morandini. "If your system uses an oversized, constant-speed circulator, chances are water is being pumped through your pipes too quickly and possibly, when it's not needed."

Pumping water uses a lot of electricity

Traditionally, when it comes to space heating, cooling and hot water recirculation, people tend to pay attention to the efficiency of the fuel source used to heat the water, not with the amount of electricity consumed by the circulator itself. Until now.

High-efficiency, variable speed "smart" circulators, which have been widely adopted in Europe (and are available to companies in B.C. through the Power Smart Express program), can reduce a single circulator's electricity use by more than 50 per cent, says Morandini. The effectiveness of these "smart" circulators is drawing much-needed attention to the cost and inefficiency of over pumping.

'Smart' circulators pump water strategically, optimize flow rate and use 50 per cent less electricity

Morandini notes that the Power Smart Express program offers circulators with a number of notable benefits:

  • Improved efficiency. "Smart" circulators only pump what you need, when you need it. The circulators carefully regulate hot/chilled water flow by changing circulator speed to match the demand. This means that the temperature of the water in the system is better matched to the load, which improves the entire system's efficiency.
  • Reduced electricity use. "Smart" circulators reduce electricity use up to 50 per cent or more, because changing system requirements do not always need a "full speed" circulation rate, when a slower speed will do. Also, their permanently charged electronically commutated motors (ECMs) draw much less electricity compared to standard motors.
  • Optimized water flow. "Smart" circulators aren't oversized and don't over pump. Integrated variable-frequency drives (VFDs) allow the circulators to analyze their own rotational speed and draw, optimizing the speed at which the pump pumps.
  • System design flexibility. "Smart" circulators are more easily matched to other energy efficient products and open up many more system design opportunities that single-speed circulators just can't match.
  • A longer lifespan and less noise. Because water only moves at the pace needed, "smart" circulators improve the lifespan of the pump and other system components. This creates much less impact on your central heating, cooling and domestic hot water circulation systems, creating less noise and less erosion over time.
  • Auto adapt. Grundfos circulators include a unique AutoAdapt feature that automatically and continuously adjusts circulator performance to meet the changing needs of your central heating and cooling system. It studies your system's operating patterns, and optimizes its performance accordingly.

'Smart' circulators are available through the Power Smart Express program

High-efficiency, variable-speed circulators are not a new technology, says Morandini. In fact, "smart" circulators have been a part of the Power Smart Express program for years.

Morandini believes that companies have simply been unaware of the product and its cost-saving benefits; the reason for the low adoption rates in B.C. "All we need is a little limelight on the product," notes Morandini.

To learn more about high-efficiency, variable-speed circulators, contact your Power Smart Alliance contractor/distributor or call the Power Smart Business Help Desk at 1 866 522 4713.