Higher efficiency, operational ease and comfort drive changes in circulator pumps
Technology trends in the circulator and pumps market today.
Demand for high-efficiency has spread throughout the industry, from small residential circulators to large commercial HVAC system pumps.
The ECM motor, which is now commonly available up to 30 hp, has changed the game in the pump market. Today’s ECM-based products consume up to 85% less electricity, but they can also enhance overall system efficiency and performance with the right controls attached.
“It’s these controls that are now evolving at an ever quickening pace and are having a bigger impact on system operation and efficiency,” says Mark Chaffee, vice president of governmental relations and sustainability at Taco Comfort Solutions. “You now have the ability to look inside the pipe and see what’s happening in the system, right from an app – after all our mobile phones aren’t just telephones anymore, are they?”
New tech on display
At this year’s AHR Expo, circulator and pump manufacturers proudly showed off their latest products. It’s clear there’s no shortage of advanced technology. This was evident at the Taco booth, where the company had a working display of a new high-efficiency, Bluetooth-enabled circulator. The circulator brings a new level of control to residential and light-commercial hydronic systems.
“Now a circulator’s performance curve, head and flow are visible in real-time,” Chaffee states. “And the ability to change any operating parameter has come to our phones.”
Although all this information is now available in the palm of your hand, installers and specifiers alike have also conveyed the need for simple efficiency – not efficiency that requires a lot of programming, charts or control specialists.
This is certainly true for new ECM-powered pumps.
“Understandably, energy savings with ECM technology are much greater when we talk about the breadth of new pump technology offered for commercial applications – bigger pumps equal more savings – whether for heating or cooling systems, or hot water recirculation,” Chaffee notes.
Energy ratings and labels
“Another exciting development coming in 2019 will be the introduction of the Hydraulic Institute (HI) Energy Rating labels for circulators, similar to those introduced last year for commercial and industrial pumps,” Chaffee explains. “This is a collective effort of all the major circulator manufacturers to implement a transparent labelling program in the wake of the U.S. Department of Energy’s lack of action to complete the circulator efficiency rulemaking.
“The current administration’s effort to reduce new regulations and to cut red tape may be a noble effort, but when it comes to energy savings and the implementation of new technology, the industry has stepped up to do the right thing. Like with the commercial label, it will more easily allow utility companies to offer incentives for the installation of these high-efficient ECM circulators. Their range of controls meets the desires of installers, and the efficiency, operational and comfort needs of the system.”