What is a Radiant Heating System?
When it comes to HVAC, and heating specifically, there are many methods homeowners have to choose from. Forced air systems that use ductwork to transport hot air throughout the entire house, or radiators, electric radiant heat/radiant heating systems, and more. There are cost-effective, energy efficient options for home heating, and most homeowners are happy with their heat source, so long as their heating works!
As it pertains to consistent performance with the most evenly spread heat transfer per square foot, a radiant floor heating system in the subfloor or concrete slab is tough to beat.
Radiant Heat Explained
So, what is radiant heat exactly? In nature, we find it everywhere. The sun makes you feel warm thanks to radiant heat, as does a campfire, a cup of coffee, and the hot asphalt after stepping on it from a cold spot.
Now, this isn’t to be confused with forced-air systems like furnaces and heat pumps. These forced-air heating systems use air as the medium for heat transfer from the heating element and force this air via ductwork to the rest of the house via vents in the ceiling, floor or baseboards. Insulation around the ductwork can help reduce heat loss during this process. While this is an effective means of heating in its own right, it’s quite a different feeling than the radiant heat supplied by boilers. Many homeowners have said for decades that, when it comes to comfort, forced-air heating doesn’t even compare.
Boilers, which have great energy efficiency, will have a couple of different methods for supplying radiant heat:
The most common application for radiant heating is found in radiators, the big metal heat exchangers that hang out on the sides of the room. We have a picture of one listed above in today’s blog image.
The boiler creates heated water (in concept like a standard water heater), which then flows through all of the boilers in the home. The heated radiator or radiant panel, is then able to radiate enough heat through the air to warm the inhabitants of the room.
Gradually, the heated water will cool down and need to be heated again to start the cycle over from the beginning.
One of the downsides of radiators is that they take up space (plus, they can be hot to the touch). That’s why many homeowners are now opting for in-floor heating systems, or radiant floor heat. Although they use the same principles as a radiator, radiant floor heating systems construction is a bit different.
In-floor heating consists of tubing that is laid out beneath the floor or behind your walls. The tubing is laid out in close enough proximity and in the right pattern so that the entire room can be heated evenly. This tubing is then filled with hot water and will gradually radiate warm air into the home.
The drawback is simply that it might not be convenient to install it. Unless you’re making renovations at the same time, installation or the retrofit of the radiant heat system could be a bigger hassle than you’re anticipating. Hydronic radiant heating is installed in the subfloor or concrete floor, and is normally done during new construction.
Electric radiant floor heating is a DIY option for homeowners who are not able to dive so deep into this realm. Electric systems can offer many of the same benefits as other types of radiant floor heating, and can have different floor coverings. Heated floors are a wonderful thing.
Why Choose Radiant Heating?
Even with that in mind, the benefits of a radiant heating system might be enough to win you over. Some of those benefits include:
- Less moving parts: These systems experience less heater repair issues due to having less moving parts, making potential maintenance cost-effective.
- More even heating: Unlike other heaters, radiant heating systems are much better at distributing heat through the entire room, and use less energy, making them energy efficient.
- No air quality issues: Forced-air heaters can aggravate allergy and asthma symptoms by inadvertently unsettling dust and dirt and spreading allergens throughout the home.
Need help deciding your next heating system? Contact Climate Control Heating & Cooling today. Comfort and Care from the Team With the Bear.