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A circulator pump is a specific type of pump used to circulate gases, liquids, or slurries in a closed circuit. They are commonly found circulating water in a hydronic heating or cooling system. Because they only circulate liquid within a closed circuit, they only need to overcome the friction of a piping system (as opposed to lifting a fluid from a point of lower potential energy to a point of higher potential energy).
Additional recommended knowledge
Circulator pumps as used in hydronic systems are usually electrically powered centrifugal pumps. As used in homes, they are often small, sealed, and rated at a fraction of a horsepower, but in commercial applications they range in size up to many horsepower and the electric motor is usually separated from the pump body by some form of mechanical coupling. The sealed units used in home applications often have the motor rotor, pump impeller, and support bearings combined and sealed within the water circuit. This avoids one of the principal challenges faced by the larger, two-part pumps: maintaining a water-tight seal at the point where the pump drive shaft enters the pump body.
Small- to medium-sized circulator pumps are usually supported entirely by the pipe flanges that join them to the rest of the hydronic plumbing. Large pumps are usually pad-mounted.
Pumps that are used solely for closed hydronic systems can be made with cast iron components as the water in the loop will either become de-oxygenated or be treated with chemicals to inhibit corrosion. But pumps that have a steady stream of oxygenated, potable water flowing through them must be made of more expensive materials such as bronze.
Use with domestic hot water
Bronze pumps are often used to circulate domestic hot water so that a faucet will provide hot water instantly upon demand. In regions where water conservation issues are rising in importance with a rapidly expanding population, and a record economic expansion that has consumers looking for comfort, so-called Energy-saving Hot Water Recirculation (HWR) pumps can aid in water conservation at a relatively small expense in added energy use. In typical one-way plumbing without a circulation pump, water is simply piped from the water heater through the pipes to the tap. Once the tap is shut off, the water remaining in the pipes cools producing the familiar wait for hot water the next time the tap is opened. By adding a circulator pump and constantly circulating a small amount of hot water through the pipes from the heater to the furthest fixture and back to the heater, the water in the pipes is always hot, and no water is wasted during the wait. The tradeoff is the energy wasted in operating the pump and the heat lost from the constantly-hot pipes. While the majority of these pumps mount nearest to the hot water heater and have no adjustable temperature capabilities, a significant reduction in energy can be achieved by utilizing a temperature adjustable thermostatically controlled circulation pump mounted just after the last fixture on the loop. Thermostatically controlled circulation pumps allow owners to choose the desired temperature of hot water to be maintained within the hot water pipes since most homes do not require 120F degree water instantly out of their taps. Thermostatically controlled circulation pumps cycle on and off to maintain a users chosen temperature and consume less energy then a continuously operating pump. By installing a thermostatically controlled pump just after the farthest fixture on the loop, cyclic pumping maintains ready hot water up to the last fixture on the loop instead of wasting energy heating the piping from the last fixture to the water heater. Thermal insulation applied to the pipes helps mitigate this second loss and minimize the amount of water that must be pumped to keep hot water constantly available.
The traditional hot water recirculation system uses a dedicated return line from the point of use located farthest from the hot water tank back to the hot water tank. In homes where this return line was not installed the cold water line is used as a return line. The first of two system types has a pump mounted at the hot water heater while a "normally-open" thermostatic control valve gets installed at the furthest fixture from the water heater and closes once hot water contacts the valve to control crossover flow between the hot and cold lines. A second type of system utilizes a thermostatically controlled pump which gets installed at the furthest fixture from the water heater. These thermostatically control pumps have a built-in "normally closed" check-valve which permits crossover of water from the hot line into the cold line during active pumping. Compared to a dedicated return line, using the cold water line as a return has the disadvantage of heating the cold water pipe (and the contained water). Technological advancements within the industry allowed for incorporating timers to limit the operations during specific hours of the day to reduce energy waste by only operating when occupants where likely to use hot water. Additional advancements in technology include pumps which cycle on and off to maintain hot water temperature versus a continuously operating pump which consumes more electrical energy. Utilizing "normally closed" crossover valves have been shown to further reduce energy consumption by preventing undesired siphoning of non-hot water out of hot water lines during cold water usage which lowers the cold water lines water pressure allowing the higher pressured water in the hot water lines to pass through a "normally open" crossover valve increasing the energy demand on the water heater.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Circulator_pump". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|