Floor Heating Options
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Floor Heating Options

Radiant heating systems produce heat directly to the floor and in wall or ceiling panels of a house. The systems depend largely on radiant heat transfer, this works like infrared radiation by heating people and objects in the room. Radiant heating has a number of advantages. It is more efficient than baseboard and forced-air heating because it eliminates duct losses. People who suffer from allergies would prefer radiant heat because it does not distribute allergens like forced air systems. Hydronic or liquid-based systems use little electricity, this is a plus for homes off the power grid or in areas with high energy prices. Hydronic systems can use different ways to heat the liquid, including gas and boilers, wood-fired boilers, solar water heaters, or a combination of these sources.

Radiant floor heating depends heavily on convection, the natural circulation of heat within a room as air warmed by the floor rises. Radiant floor systems are vastly different from the radiant panels used in walls and ceilings. For this reason, the following sections discuss radiant floor heat and radiant panels separately.

RADIANT FLOOR HEAT

There are three types of radiant floor heat -- radiant air floors , electric radiant floors, and hot water (hydronic) radiant floors.

Air heated radiant floors Air doesn't hold heat, so radiant air floors are not efficient in residential homes, and are rarely installed. Regular forced air heat would be a better fit over radiant air systems.

Electric radiant floors Electric radiant floors consist of electric coated wires and cables built into the floor. Some systems use mats of electrically conductive plastic placed below a floor covering such as tile of floating hardwood.

Because electricity is expensive, electric radiant floors are only cost-effective if they are included a large thermal mass such as a thick concrete floor. If the floor's thermal mass is large enough, the heat stored in it will keep the house comfortable for eight to ten hours without any use of electricity. Heat the floor overnight, and let it radiate throughout the day when energy rates are higher.

Hydronic radiant floors Hydronic systems are the most popular and cost-effective heating systems for most climates. Hydronic radiant floor systems pump heated water from a boiler through tubing laid in a pattern under the floor. Most systems are zoned by room or area. Thermostats control the pumping of hot water through each tubing loop by using zoning valves or pumps regulating room temperatures. The cost of installing a hydronic radiant floor varies by location and depends on the size of the home, the type of installation, the floor covering, remoteness of the site, and the cost of labor.

I WILL COVER TYPES OF FLOOR INSTALLATIONS IN MY NEXT ARTICLE( wet installation, dry installation, and sandwich installation)

Wall- and ceiling-mounted radiant panels are usually made of aluminum and can be heated with electricity. Hot water tubing creates concerns about leakage behind the wall or in the ceiling. Therefore most commercially available radiant panels for homes are electrically heated.

Because the panels can be individually controlled for each room they respond quickly and can result in cost and energy savings compared with other systems. When entering a room, the occupant can increase the temperature setting and be comfortable within minutes.


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