Thermostatic Radiator Valve Evaluation


​A large stock of multifamily buildings in the Northeast and Midwest are heated by steam distribution systems. Losses from these systems are typically high and a significant number of apartments are overheated much of the time. Thermostatically controlled radiator valves (TRVs) are one potential strategy to combat this problem, but have not been widely accepted by the residential retrofit market. This study includes a survey of industry professionals, a field experiment, and cost-benefit modeling analysis. For two similar apartment units in a building that underwent a one-pipe steam TRV retrofit, space temperature comparisons were made across the pre- and post-TRV installation heating periods and between rooms equipped with old or new TRVs in an attempt to show the effectiveness of each vintage of TRV in comparison to the other. The results of the field experiment and utility bill analysis gave inconclusive answers to the original study questions but provided valuable insight into common issues, including: steam distribution imbalance, resident behavior, and failure to optimize the boiler control setpoints as part of a TRV retrofit. Failed air vents and uneven steam main venting were found to be critical to address either in conjunction with or before TRV installation occurs. Monitoring existing space temperatures before choosing a retrofit strategy is recommended so that the building owner can better assess the potential benefits of a whole-building TRV retrofit, selective installation of TRVs in some units, or simply balancing the steam distribution venting.

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Last updated April 27, 2016
Created April 27, 2016
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