Types of hot water heat exchanges

It may surprise you to know that the humble heat exchangers are more than likely always present in your everyday life, performing its functions behind the scenes of many appliances that you may take for granted. Many types of heat exchangers can be found in air conditioning units, power plants, or where they process natural gas. One of the most common examples though of a heat exchanger at work happens to be your common car radiator where the heat is transferred from a water medium to a hot air medium that flows into the car.

This essentially sums up the function of the heat exchanger, i.e. to transfer heat from one fluid to another, or to a different state across a solid surface. This transfer is possible because there is solid wall that separates the two elements or fluids so they never mix. Any boiler, furnace or refrigerator will have a heat exchanger inside that is operating on this principle.

Even though the hot water heat exchangers can be found behind the scenes in many forms there are basically two ways in which you can classify them according to the flow arrangements.

  • “Parallel flow” heat exchangers – where 2 fluids go into the heat exchanger at the same end and travel side by side to other side.
  • “Counter flow” heat exchangers – where the fluids enter in the exchanger from opposite sides. This counter flow type of heat exchangers is the most efficient as more heat can be transferred at the same amount of time.

There are also a number of different types of heat exchangers that you can get depending on what you are looking for.

One of the most common types is the brazed plate heat exchangers which is an advanced form of compact plate heat exchangers designed for various types of applications in both process and hydronic heating and cooling. You will find the brazed plate heat exchangers in all kinds of refrigeration units, evaporators, condensers and coolers. The construction of the brazed plate heat exchanger is unique in that the plates are vacuum brazed together resulting in no gaskets and therefore, reduced possibility of leakage. They are compact in design, are lightweight and don't have a high deposit build up due to high turbulent flow. They are ideal if you are looking for a heat exchanger for radiant floor heating, snow melting, domestic hot water heating, wort chilling and other liquid to liquid heat exchange applications.

Another common type of heat exchangers is the Shell and Tube heat exchangers which are made up of tube bundle inside a stainless steel shell. They have what is referred to as a coil and bundle arrangement that makes the most of their heat transfer performance. This type type of heat exchangers is perfect when the conditions are corrosive or abrasive and is very common for swimming pool heating applications, where chlorinated water is present.


If you are finding that space is limiting factor in your choice of heat exchange you might want to consider looking at the shell and coil heat exchangers where you have circular layers of corrugated tubes inside a light compact shell. This type of exchangers really suits a vertical installation situation and will provide you with flexibility and low maintenance.

Whatever type of hot water heat exchangers that you are looking for at the moment, be sure to do some research on what your application calls for and then seek the best advice that you can find before finally choosing the product.