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A circulator pump circulates liquids in a closed circuit. In a hydronic heating or cooling system, they circulate water. Because they only circulate liquid within a closed circuit, they only need to overcome friction from a piping system (rather than lifting a fluid from a point of low potential energy to a point of high potential energy).
Typically, circulator pumps for hydronic systems are centrifugal pumps powered by electricity. For homes, they are usually small and sealed, with a power rating of only a fraction of a horsepower, but for commercial applications they can be much larger, with a large motor which is usually separated from the pump by some sort of mechanical coupling. In home applications, the motor, pump, and support bearings are often all combined and sealed within the water circuit. In this way, the larger, two-part pumps avoid one of their greatest challenges: maintaining a water-tight seal at the point where the shaft enters the body.
A common use case is your hot water system.
A circulator pump (at a low rating) will circulate hot water in your pipework so that when you turn your hot water on - you get instant hot water, rather than the short delay it typically takes - which wastes water while you wait for hot water.