Radiant heating is one of the most efficient ways to heat up a room. It doesn’t suffer from duct losses common in the forced-air heating system and is excellent for people with allergies as it doesn’t introduce any allergens into the environment like forced air systems.
There are many kinds of radiant heaters with most popular installations going on the floor. This is so since radiant heating systems rely on the natural flow of air to heat a room.
The principle is simple. Hot air rises. The floor heats the air next to it and physics takes over in circulating the heat throughout the house at no extra costs.
There are three main types of radiant heat floors:
- Radiant air floors
- Electric radiant floors
- How water radiant floors (hydronic)
Radiant Air Floors
This is the cheapest yet least efficient radiant heating solution. Air doesn’t have the ability to hold large amounts of heat. You will have to keep running the heating medium for long to keep the floor hot.
The system circulates heated air below a floor hence raising its temperatures. This approach is not recommended as it isn’t the best way to implement radiant floor heating.
Electrical Radiant Floors
Electrical radiant heating uses heating elements embedded into the floor or installed below a floor covering. While relatively efficient, many people shy away since electricity is relatively expensive.
People living in regions where their utility providers offer good rates during off-peak hours can, however, take advantage of this. Having your electrical radiant floor padded with a material that has high thermal mass — concrete, for instance — will heat up the floor when electricity tariffs are at the lowest.
The stored heat will warm up your house for hours as you wait for the next off-peak hours. You could cut costs further by installing a solar energy system that sells electricity back to the grid earning you free units you can use for heating at night.
Hydronic Radiant Floors
This is the most popular and arguably most energy efficient of the heating systems. This approach pumps heated water through a pattern of tubes below the floor. The heated water could be from a conventional boiler, a solar heater or geothermal powered heaters.
Moreover, you can use zoning valves and thermostats for precise control over different room floors hence getting better modular heating than any other form of heating.
Even though it is slightly costly to install than other heating solutions, hydronic radiant heating is a great solution to homes that have long winters, or their average annual temperatures are below comfortable levels. They will considerably lower your air conditioning bills since you won’t incur the extra cost in repairs and maintenance for forced air systems.
Choosing the right heating solution for your home is the thin line between affordable comfort and expensive misery. While split systems are a good solutions for people with full four-season cycles, radiant floor heating is always a better investment for people who need to heat their homes heavily for over six months in a year.