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What is Radiant Floor Heating?

Cost-Effective Radiant Floor Heating Keeps You Warmer

Radiant floor heating systems supply heat directly to the floor of a building. The heat emanates from the floor, warming the air in the room. Think of the way the sun warms a sidewalk: You can feel the heat rising off the concrete. This is radiant heating.

Cost-Effective Radiant Floor Heating Keeps You Warmer

Radiant heat systems are especially useful in homes with high ceilings and large rooms, since the heat from traditional forced-air systems rises and leaves the lower portion of the room chilly. Radiant heat, by contrast, rises from the floor and warms any solid object it comes into contact with, from furniture to people. There are three types of radiant heating systems for floors: Hydronic, electric and air.

Air-Heated Radiant Systems Air-heated radiant floor systems pump hot air through ducts beneath the floor, warming the floor as it passes. Since air doesn't hold much heat, air-heated radiant floor systems are not generally used in residential buildings.

Electric Radiant Systems Electric radiant floor systems use electric heating cables or conductive plastic mats built into the floor. They are best used with floors that have a large thermal mass, such as concrete, due to the potential high cost of the electricity required to heat floors with smaller thermal masses. However, for those who live in an area where time-of-use rates are offered by the electric company, electric systems are fairly cost-effective. The user can "charge" the floor during off-peak hours and turn the system off during the peak hours.

Hydronic Radiant Systems Hydronic radiant systems pump boiler-heated water through tubes lying just below the surface of the floor. The most cost-effective of the three types of systems, hydronic radiant floor heaters can be installed in zones and controlled by a thermostat, allowing the homeowner to control the heat room by room.

Installation of Radiant Floor Heating The two types of installation for radiant floor systems are wet installation and dry installation. Wet installation involves embedding the cables, mats or tubing into a thick concrete slab or a thin concrete subfloor. For dry installation, the cables, mats or tubing are installed in the pocket of air under the floor. While dry installation is less expensive than wet installation, the system needs to be run at a higher temperature in order to effectively heat the air surrounding the conduit.

Floor Coverings Virtually any type of floor can be installed over a radiant floor heating system. Ceramic tile is the best option for optimal heat due to its excellent heat conducting capabilities. Carpet is the least desirable covering because it insulates the floor from the room and requires more energy to heat. Thin carpets are more effective with this kind of system than thick ones; the padding should be as dense as possible. Wood floors conduct the heat fairly well, but laminate wood flooring is preferable over solid wood, which can dry out from the heat and shrink or crack.

Benefits of Radiant Floor Heat -Radiant floors are ideal for those with allergies or asthma. Since there's no air blowing allergens from the ducts into the room, the air quality is better with radiant heating. -Energy costs are lower with radiant heat. Because the heat is concentrated in the lower half of the room, you can set the thermostat up to 4 degrees lower, saving 10 to 30 percent on your heating bill. -Radiant floor heaters keep you warmer. The cold spots found with forced-air furnaces are virtually nonexistent with radiant heating.

What is Radiant Floor Heating  

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