Thermostatic valves: Temperature controller in detail

Thermostatic valves: Temperature controller in detail: thermostatic

Save energy with "smart" radiator valves

Thermostatic valves for radiators are a useful thing: they keep the room temperature constant in a purely mechanical way and ensure a comfortable living environment. However, if you have a lot of radiators, you have to turn many valves to heat your apartment or house optimally. Electronic and even radio-controlled thermostatic valves can help here.

This article presents thermostatic valves, explains their characteristics and describes the energetically sensible conversion to electronic and networked valves.

Working principle of a mechanical radiator thermostatic valve

Mechanical radiator thermostatic valves have been used to control room temperature for many decades. Especially in apartments that are connected to a central heating system in the house, they are often the only way to regulate the room temperature in heating mode.

A thermostatic radiator valve is not a simple shut-off valve: As shown in the following drawing, it can mechanically hold the room temperature. The middle position of the thermostat is usually the setting for about 20° C. If you like it cooler, stay under it easily, who likes it warmer turns the valve on.

The prerequisite for the correct functioning of a thermostatic valve, however, is the correct radiator output calculation. If the heating power is too small, the valve must be turned on more or less as far as the stop. If the radiators are too large, a smaller level is sufficient. Security about keeping constant the selected temperature is a wall thermometer, which is available for small money in hardware stores.

Thermostatic valves: Temperature controller in detail: thermostatic

Thermostatic valve function open and closed

The regulation of the room temperature is carried out in the mechanical radiator thermostatic valve by contraction from expansion of the so-called "expansion element" (highlighted in blue in the drawing). This component reacts to heat with expansion and to cold with contraction. Now, when the radiator is adjusted, the expansion element controls via a spring mechanism, the flow of warm heating water to the radiator. When fully opened or in closed position, the thermocouple will not become active.

Advantages and disadvantages of a mechanical thermostatic valve

The disadvantage of a mechanical thermostatic valve is obvious: Each individual heating valve in the apartment must be individually controlled by hand. In addition, the temperature is measured directly next to the radiator: in large or winding rooms, the thermostat regulates too low. Apart from these problems, mechanical thermostatic valves can age: after 20 or more years they may not work reliably anymore, the heating stays cold or gets overly hot.

Thermostatic valves: Temperature controller in detail: valves

Very old thermostatic valve

In any case, the function of a radiator thermostatic valve by a second thermometer be controlled on the wall opposite the radiator. With the help of this second thermometer can then regulate the radiator valve accordingly.

at Central heating with a wall mounted, electronic thermostat the radiator valves are hardly effective anyway: Here, in the so-called guide room, the room in which the electronic thermostat is located, the radiator valves must be fully turned on. In the other rooms is then mechanically readjusted. In a large number of rooms, this can be quite expensive and provide for cold feet in temperature drops.

Electronic thermostatic valves: energy-saving regulator

Electronic thermostat regulators are not cheap to buy, but pay off in the long term. The large saving effect of at least 10 percent is achieved by the daytime-dependent control and the good temperature accuracy of the radiator valve control. Simple models can be programmed with multiple timers, advanced models are even networked together and can be controlled centrally.

Thermostatic valves: Temperature controller in detail: temperature

Programmable radiator thermostat

The existing mechanical valves can be relatively easily converted to electronic thermostatic valves. When it comes to equipping the electronic control valves, there are virtually no limits - except for the costs incurred. Not every accessory really pays off, but many technical "gimmicks" of the valve control systems are at least comfort-enhancing.

Additional functions of electronic thermostatic valves (selection):

  • Calculation of the flow temperature based on the values ​​measured by the system
  • Integration of window contacts for temperature reduction with open windows
  • Central absence circuit at the apartment door
  • Coordination of several radiators in a large room
  • Separate attachment of the measuring sensors in the optimum location
  • Remote control of the system via telephone, internet or smartphone
  • Alarm if the temperature is too low or too high
  • Valve calcification protection by weekly full opening
  • Integration of alarms for smoke detectors and pipe rupture sensors

Control and maintenance of radiator thermostats

Once a year, preferably to switch on the heating after the heating-free summer period or the maintenance of the heating system, the valves should be checked for ease of operation and function. The room temperature is then checked with an external thermometer. If necessary, the radiator valves must then be replaced.

For electronic radiator valves, the functional test is quite simple. If the indicator does not light, replace the batteries or check the power supply. In general, the electronic controller in case of malfunction of the actual radiator valve indicate an error message, either separately on each controller or via the central controller. Here, too, must intervene, either electronically or mechanically.

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Video Board: ANSWERED: How Does a Thermostatic Radiator Valve Work?