Just one word: Aretha!

If the Queen of Soul says “think,” we should probably listen.

Which is why I drop my Popsicles whenever I hear hydronics salespeople say things like the following:

“It’s a ‘Smart’ pump. It does the thinking for you!”

It does the thinking for you?

“It takes the thinking out of it – and takes the guesswork out of it”

Takes the “thinking” out of it?


Is this what we, as an industry, want?  To not have to think?

Sorry, but it’s the ability to think about systems – to understand them, to know what they do and, most importantly, why they do them, and to have the ability to think about why we’re using the specific products we’re using and making sure we apply them properly – is what separates the competent from the incompetent.

It’s what separates the “hack” from the “jack.”

It is, friends, what separates the pro from the amateur.

Takes the guesswork out?  Really?

Sorry again, but there are NO products out there made by any hydronics manufacturer in Europe or the US that “do the thinking for you.”

And there’s really only one sure-fire way to take the “guesswork” out hydronics.

It’s called “doing the math.”

Variable speed pumps are very nice and useful things, and can do some pretty cool stuff.  But “thinking for you” ain’t one of ‘em. As a professional, you have to know what you’re holding in your hands, what it does and and what it doesn’t do, and – most importantly – why you’re using it.

There’s no such thing as a “smart” pump, regardless of whether it’s Delta-T or Delta-P.  Of the two, Delta-T variable speed circs (such as the Taco BumbleBee), will at the very least automatically adapt to the changing needs of the system and get you close to the right flow.  That’s because by watching the system Delta-T, it has a pretty good idea of how many BTU’s are being taken out of the system at any given point in time, and can speed up or slow down accordingly.

Delta-P, however, “adapts” only to predetermined algorithms and will still work on a fixed pump curve, which means the system is going to do what the pump says (For a Delta-T/Delta-P comparisons, click here, here, here and here).

Both are very good pumps, and work great in the right applications.  But neither is what you’d call “smart.”

The real smarts come from you.

I get that guys working  in the trenches are busy.  You wear lots of hats — lead mechanic and installer, troubleshooter, dispatcher, scheduler, bookkeeper, payroll officer and human resources manager. Oh, and you probably want to have a life in there somewhere, too.

Anything that saves time is a good thing.

And sometimes doing the math sounds like it takes too much time.  It’s sure sounds easier to just “push a button and let the pump do the thinking for you.”

But two things…

#1: Thinking is what separates you from the DIY’er, handyman or moonlighter.  Your value isn’t in just “pressing a button.” Your value is in knowing what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and being able to select the right product for the right job. Your value is in knowing the difference between a “system” and a “bunch of parts.”

It doesn’t take a particularly impressive skill set to slap together a bunch of parts – no matter how fancy – that’ll keep someone from freezing to death and call it good. It does, however, require a professional to put together a system that provides comfort, efficiency and long-term performance.

And that requires thought.

And then there’s #2: Pardon me if this is repetitive but (ahem)…

Smart pumps can’t do the thinking for you.  They’re NOT THAT SMART!!!  And they’re certainly not smarter than you are!

And if you really want to take the guesswork out of it all, well, there’s only one way to really do that.

Do the math!

And rock steady…

Oh Aretha, you magnificent diva!


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