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Mastering Hydronic System Design


Instructor: John Siegenthaler

Subjects: Renewable HVAC: Hydronic Heating, Renewable HVAC: HVAC Design

Length: 10 modules

Student Rating

9.2 out of 10 (view ratings)
284 students have taken this course


This is a rare opportunity to take an advanced hydronic design course with John Siegenthaler. The course provides a detailed discussion of the design elements underlying modern hydronic heating systems. It presents both design concepts and design tools for optimizing hydronic heating systems in a variety of contemporary applications. It is not meant as an introduction course. Rather, it is structured to combine a student’s existing knowledge, with new approaches and analytical methods that are specifically focused on the cutting-edge of hydronic heating. The goal is to equip students to design state-of-the-art systems for residential and light commercial buildings that deliver unsurpassed comfort, efficiency, and reliability.

Learn how to design state-of-the-art systems for residential and light commercial buildings that deliver unsurpassed comfort, efficiency and reliability.

Textbook - "Modern Hydronic Heating" (Not Included)

You'll need access to a copy of John's "Modern Hydronic Heating" textbook for this course, any version of this book is okay and there are many copies available on Amazon at low cost.

Learning Objectives

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Check out a free preview of the course by clicking the button below. This is a live assignment from the course and will give you a good sense for what the course will be like.

Free Preview - Why I think this class is important
Your Instructor Wrote the Book On Hydronic Systems (Literally)

John Siegenthaler is one of the most respected hydronics experts in the world. He has decades of experience with hydronic system design and wrote "Modern Hydronic Heating," the book that accompanies this course.

This Is Hands On Learning for Designers

This course is challenging and hands-on. We're going to get into more detail than is possible in a seminar or at a conference. If you put in the time, you'll learn a staggering amount in 10 weeks and leave with the concrete skills you need to design world-class hydronic systems.

Software Hydronic Design Studio

You'll use a downloadable version of John's Hydronic Design Studio software for this course. The software runs natively on PCs or can be run on Macs using a virtualization program like VirtualBox. (Although the software is handy, you may also take the course without using it.)

Flexible Online Training for Industry Professionals

This online course is self-paced. You can begin instantly upon enrollment.

Access Information and Build Your Training Library

After enrolling, the course materials will remain in your account and be accessible 12 months (1 year) after enrollment. Access can be extended beyond 1 year with a monthly membership. Rewatch videos and review assignments as many times as you want. View updates the instructor makes to the course as the industry advances. Return to your course anytime with online access from anywhere in the world.

Earn A Certificate of Completion

When you complete this course you are eligible for a certificate of completion from HeatSpring. You can download your certificate as soon as you have completed all of the course requirements. Students can easily share their verified certificates on their LinkedIn profiles using our LinkedIn integration.

This class was fantastic. It was extremely challenging. I've got to say, I did not realize this whole course would challenge me as much as it did nor did I think it would take up as much of my time. I'm walking away with A LOT of ammo for all my future designs.

- Adam Mailhot, Shelton Winnelson

This was a great class and money well spent. I have learned a lot, and I would highly recommend this class to anyone in the hydronic industry.

- Keith Ouimette, Cardinal Heating & Air Conditioning

This was one of the best courses I have ever taken. It covered everything from soup to nuts, from the basic component level all the way through theory and formulas, leaving nothing out. The future of hydronic heating is coming and I am well prepared for it.

- Dan Miller, New York Office of General Services

I am so glad I was able to take this course! I was excited to take MHSD, but apprehensive of the format as I've not taken online education before. I'm happy to report that I've not learned more in 10 weeks of my life. It is quite something to now be able to "see" inside of a hydronic system that you've been installing for years. This has been a real eye opener to what "designing" a hydronic system should be. I am so very thankful to John and to all of those at HeatSpring for presenting this excellent course.

- Dave Turbovsky, Turbo Construction

I found this course very comprehensive. I have been involved with designing and troubleshooting hydronic systems for nearly 15 years and I learned a great deal from the course. I was hoping it would go into some of the finer details of hydronic systems and it certainly did.

- Mark Armstrong, Armco Solutions

Siggy's course exceeded my expectations. It was hugely enjoyable and informative, incorporating the latest best practices and technology. It has given me the tools and confidence to move our business to the next level, completing the picture with provision of heating and cooling distribution.

- John Managh, Hellbent Geothermal

I liked the layout of this course. The lecture, coupled with discussions on real life issues, rules of thumb, practical drawings and images, all worked in unison. The questions at the end were important for a good re-cap of what we learned in 10 weeks. It has been a wonderful course and every minute spent on it has been valuable.

- Majid Shafiq, Xylem

This course is very challenging and will test your limits. Stay focused and give it your all as you will not be disappointed. John does a great job of presenting the material and supporting you through the course as do the folks at HeatSpring. I would strongly recommend this course to anyone involved with hydronic heating system design.

- Jim Martini, JMartini Design

If you want to learn and interact with the expert "who wrote the book" on hydronic heating, this is a convenient way to do it!

- Harry Voorhees, Stellar Science

Mastering Hydronic System Design presents both engineering concepts and installation details in a way that both engineers and installers will appreciate.

- Robert Morrison, October Engineering

+ Read more student ratings and reviews for this course


John Siegenthaler

P.E., Appropriate Designs

John Siegenthaler, P.E., is a mechanical engineer and graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a licensed professional engineer, and Professor Emeritus of Engineering Technology at Mohawk Valley Community College. “Siggy” has over 32 years of experience in designing modern hydronic heating systems. He is a hall-of-fame member of the Radiant Professionals Alliance...[more]

Free Preview - Why I think this class is important

Course Outline

Welcome - Orientation Materials

This course is self-paced, so you don’t need to be logged in at any specific time. You can get started immediately after you enroll and the course materials will remain in your account with minimum guaranteed access for 12 months (1 year) after enrollment.

  • Introduction to HeatSpring (Video - 01:25 minutes) Preview
  • Download the Software: Hydronics Design Studio 2.0 (Trial Version) (Resource)
  • Textbook Options (Download .pdf)
  • Set up email notifications and your student profile (Text)
  • Introduce yourself on the discussion board (Text)
Module 1 - Welcome & Fundamentals

This week we'll provide a course overview and review the benefits of hydronic heating, including: superior comfort, ability to zone, low distribution energy use, minimally invasive installation. I'll discuss why we might opt for water versus air, and where the most common mistakes are made by hydronic designers.

  • Welcome to Class & Introduction (Video - 25:08 minutes)
  • What you're going to learn + my philosophy of radiant design (Video - 26:01 minutes)
  • The benefits of hydronic systems (Video - 28:08 minutes)
  • Why I think this class is important (Video - 15:38 minutes) Preview
  • Read Chapter 1 in the textbook (Text)
  • OPTIONAL: Visit www.pmmag.com to view archives and related content (Resource)
  • WEEK 1 HOMEWORK: Chapter 1 Exercises 1-10 (.DOC) (Download .doc)
  • Solutions for Week 1 Homework (Download .pdf)
Module 2 - Hydronic Heat Sources

In this module we'll lay a foundation and explore the characteristics of various heating sources. Topics include: Conventional boilers (efficiency and boiler protection), Mod/con boilers, Electric boilers (when are they applicable?), Hydronic heat pump characteristics, Capacity & COP versus operating temperatures, Solar thermal collectors (design considerations, practical combisystems), and General heat source design considerations (head loss, buffering, protection against temperature extremes, and safety).

  • Introduction to Hydronic Heat Sources (Video - 41:26 minutes)
  • Modulating / Condensing Boilers (Video - 27:58 minutes)
  • Heat Pumps (Video - 30:27 minutes)
  • Solar Thermal Collectors (Video - 36:38 minutes)
  • Wood-fired & Pellet-fired Boilers (Video - 32:19 minutes)
  • Read Chapter 3 in the textbook (Text)
  • RESOURCE: Download and read issues 9 & 10 of Caleffi's 'Idronics' (Resource)
  • WEEK 2 HOMEWORK: Chapter 3 Exercises 5-15 (.DOC) (Download .doc)
  • Solutions for Week 2 Homework (don't cheat yourself by looking at this before you do the assignment) (Download .pdf)
  • Extra Homework (Text)
Module 3 - Pipes, Fittings, and Valves

Good designers need to know the resources available to them. In the context of hydronics, there are thousands of available options for piping, fittings, and valves. This module discusses specific types of pipe and fittings that are appropriate for hydronic systems. It also covers both standard and specialized valves use in hydronic systems. Design tips are provided that help you avoid selection and placement errors. The knowledge this module provides on the "building blocks" will be used to assemble complete systems in later modules.

  • Introduction to Pipes, Fittings, Valves (Video - 40:59 minutes)
  • Fittings (Video - 10:38 minutes)
  • Pipe Expansion (Video - 12:03 minutes)
  • Valves (Video - 14:57 minutes)
  • Specialty Valves used in Hydronic Systems (Video - 12:21 minutes) Preview
  • More Specialty Valves, including Zone Valves (Video - 39:49 minutes)
  • Valve and fitting information from Nibco (Resource)
  • Valve and fitting information from RWV (Resource)
  • Read Chapter 5 in the textbook (Text)
  • WEEK 3 HOMEWORK: Chapter 5 Exercises 1-10 (.DOC) (Download .doc)
  • Solutions for Week 3 Homework (don't cheat yourself by looking at this before you do the assignment) (Download .pdf)
Module 4 - Fluid Flow Through Piping

This week has a lot of content about the nature of fluid flow through piping. These are the building blocks of the calculations we'll be funning in subsequent modules.

  • Properties of water (Video - 43:29 minutes)
  • Read Chapter 4 in the textbook (Text)
  • Introduction to fluid flow through piping (Video - 16:54 minutes)
  • Static pressure in hydronic systems (Video - 15:50 minutes)
  • Calculating head loss (Video - 33:04 minutes)
  • Hydraulic resistance (Video - 21:24 minutes)
  • Operating cost of a hydronic circuit (Video - 11:23 minutes)
  • Read Chapter 6 in the textbook (Text)
  • Software demo - so you can start getting comfortable using it (Video - 24:41 minutes)
  • WEEK 4 HOMEWORK: Chapter 6 Exercises 1-5, 15, 16 (Download .doc)
  • Solutions for Week 4 Homework (don't cheat yourself by looking at this before you do the assignment) (Download .pdf)
Module 5 - Circulators

In this module you'll learn: Common types of circulators (PSC, ECM), Review of circulation performance (pump curve), Design techniques to avoid circulation cavitation, Hydraulic separation, Applying variable speed circulators (constant and proportional delta P control), and Circulator selection.

  • Wet rotor circulators (Video - 23:46 minutes)
  • 'Head' within the context of circulators (Video - 28:21 minutes)
  • ECM Circulators (Video - 14:32 minutes)
  • How programming of ECM circulators allows for valve-based zoning (Video - 24:11 minutes)
  • Circulator efficiency (Video - 12:05 minutes)
  • Cavitation (Video - 18:22 minutes)
  • Hydraulic Separation (Video - 56:23 minutes)
  • Note (Text)
  • WATCH: Caleffi animated video (Resource)
  • Read (Text)
  • WEEK 5 HOMEWORK: Chapter 7 Exercises 1-9 (Download .doc)
  • WEEK 5 HOMEWORK: Chapter 7 Exercises 1-9 (PDF) (Download .pdf)
  • Solutions for Week 5 Homework (don't cheat yourself by looking at this before you do the assignment) (Download .pdf)
Module 6 - Expansion Tanks & Air Elimination

Heat emitters and the distribution systems that feed them are at the heart of hydronic design. In this module you'll learn to master low temperature heat emitter options: Panel radiators, Radiant floors, Radiant ceilings and walls, Homerun distribution systems, 2-pipe distribution systems.

  • Expansion of Water (Video - 17:48 minutes)
  • Sizing diaphragm type expansion tanks (Video - 25:16 minutes)
  • Placement of expansion tanks within the system (Video - 12:45 minutes)
  • Air removal devices (Video - 28:44 minutes)
  • Dirt separating devices (Video - 28:07 minutes)
  • Read (Text)
  • WEEK 6 HOMEWORK: Chapter 12 Exercises 3-10 (Download .doc)
  • Solutions for Week 6 homework (don't cheat yourself my looking at this before you do the assignment) (Download .pdf)
Module 7 - Heat Emitters

Heat emitters and the distribution systems that feed them are at the heart of hydronic design. In this module you'll learn to master low temperature heat emitter options: Panel radiators, Radiant floors, Radiant ceilings and walls, Homerun distribution systems, 2-pipe distribution systems.

  • Baseboard (Video - 52:32 minutes)
  • Panel Radiators (Video - 19:12 minutes)
  • Fan-coils (Video - 23:58 minutes)
  • Slab-on-grade floor heating (Video - 51:21 minutes)
  • Thin-slab floor heating (Video - 18:25 minutes)
  • Above floor tube & plate system (Video - 22:23 minutes)
  • Is radiant floor heating always the answer? (Video - 13:40 minutes)
  • Site built radiant ceilings (Video - 27:32 minutes)
  • Thermal equilibrium (Video - 18:02 minutes)
  • Read Chapter 8 in the textbook (Text)
  • WEEK 7 HOMEWORK: Chapter 8 Exercises 1-5 (Download .doc)
  • Solutions for Week 7 homework (Download .pdf)
Module 8 - Control Concepts and Hardware

Controls are critical to overall system efficiency. This week we'll discuss: Control terminology, Temperature setpoint control, Differential temperature control, Outdoor reset control, Mixing strategies (3-way and 4-way motorized valves, and injection mixing), and Using relays and switches to create logic.

  • Closed loop control systems and control concepts (Video - 56:44 minutes)
  • Controller output signals (Video - 22:12 minutes)
  • Regulating output of heat emitters (Video - 34:22 minutes)
  • Controlling heat output using flow rate (Video - 09:53 minutes)
  • Switches and relays (Video - 37:53 minutes)
  • Hydronic zoning controls (Video - 32:58 minutes)
  • Other common controllers (Video - 23:29 minutes)
  • A survey of mixing methods (Video - 44:09 minutes)
  • Read Chapter 9 in the textbook (Text)
  • WEEK 8 HOMEWORK: Chapter 9 Exercises (Download)
  • WEEK 8 HOMEWORK: Chapter 9 Exercises (.doc file) (Download .doc)
  • Solutions for Week 8 Homework (Download .pdf)
Module 9 - Distribution Systems

This week we will go through a complete system design for a basic residential system using panel radiators, indirect water heater, mod/con boiler, buffer tank. Schematics, calculations, layout, controls.

  • Series distribution systems (Video - 11:22 minutes)
  • Single circuit / mult-zone systems (Video - 27:59 minutes)
  • Parallel / direct return piping (Video - 11:07 minutes)
  • Homerun distribution systems (Video - 16:01 minutes)
  • Primary / secondary piping (Video - 17:20 minutes)
  • Hydraulic separation (Video - 12:13 minutes)
  • Read Chapter 11 in the textbook (Text)
  • WEEK 9 HOMEWORK: Chapter 11 Exercises 1-10 (Download)
  • Week 9 HOMEWORK: Chapter 11 Exercises 1-10 (.doc file) (Download .doc)
  • Solutions for Week 9 Homework (Download .pdf)
Module 10 - System Examples

This week we will look at a more advanced system from start to finish for a residential system with radiant ceilings supplied from a geothermal heat pump, inputs for solar thermal collectors, auxiliary boiler. Schematics, calculations, layout, controls. You will see how all the previous materials covered in the course come together to produce an efficient design.

  • Single thermal mass-combi systems (Video - 20:54 minutes)
  • Hydronic-based on-demand domestic water heating (Video - 51:01 minutes)
  • BTU metering (Video - 32:12 minutes)
  • Example System #1 (Video - 21:53 minutes)
  • Example System #2 (Video - 26:34 minutes)
  • Example System #3 (Video - 08:30 minutes)
  • Example System #4 (Video - 30:13 minutes)
  • PDF: Example System #4 (Download .pdf)
  • Read Chapter 14 in the textbook (Text)
  • WEEK 10 HOMEWORK: Chapter 14 Exercises 1-7 (Download)
  • WEEK 10 HOMEWORK: Chapter 14 Exercises 1-7 (.doc file) (Download .doc)
  • Solutions for Week 10 Homework (Download .pdf)
  • PDF: Details of Example Systems (Download .pdf)
  • Take the final quiz and earn a passing score (Quiz)
  • Answer Key, Formulas and Solutions - final quiz (don't cheat yourself) (Download .pdf)
Feedback and Additional Resources

This is our last module but you still have access to the all of course materials for 12 months (1 year), so keep working and you'll be able to complete the course at your own pace. After your year of access expires you can optionally extend access with a HeatSpring Membership. Enjoy the course and keep in touch!

  • LinkedIn: Mastering Hydronic System Design Alumni Group (Resource)
  • 1 Year of Access to Course Materials (Text)
  • Feedback: 2-minute Exit Survey (Survey)
  • Consider Joining as a HeatSpring Member (Resource)
  • Certificate of Completion: Request a Certificate (Certificate)
Free Preview - Why I think this class is important

Free Courses on Renewable HVAC, Hydronic Heating, HVAC Design

Low Temperature Heat Emitter Options in Hydronic Systems

According to John Siegenthaler, The future of hydronic heating is low water temperature-- necessary to optimize the performance of condensing boilers, heat pumps, and solar thermal collectors.

Achieving Hydraulic Separation in Hydronic Systems

This lecture will outline 4 different methods for providing hydraulic separation, some of which may reduce the installation and operating cost of a system.

Hydronics in 2020