Radiant heat, or heat emanating from walls, radiators and floors, is more efficient than other types of heat and dramatically reduces dust and allergens. What’s more, people who live in homes with radiant heat often report feeling warmer and more comfortable. You can save money and feel more comfortable? You bet! Radiant heat is a win-win!
Electric Vs. Hydronic Radiant Heat
There are two main types of radiant heat systems: electric and hydronic. A few systems use air; however, they are not efficient and are rarely used. As you may have guessed, radiant heating systems are classified by the conduit that delivers heat to a space. Electric systems use a series of electric wires to heat floors. Hydronic systems force heated water through a network of tubing laid under the floor.
Of the two, hydronic systems are the most cost-effective, being about 30% more effective, which means they’re also the most popular. Hydronic systems rely on a boiler to heat the water that is circulated throughout the home.
Methods of Radiant Heater Installation
Radiant heat systems can be installed in numerous ways. In new construction, wires or tubing is inlaid in concrete floors as they are poured. This is referred to as “wet” installation. In some cases, the wires and tubes are placed in a dry pocket of air space beneath the floor, which is referred to as “dry” installation.
In homes with existing flooring, heating systems can be sandwiched between two layers of subfloor. For example, you can lay radiant heat wires down on your subfloor before laying tile. Some plywood subfloors are made with built-in grooves for this purpose. Additionally, you can purchase wall and ceiling panels that produce radiant heat.
How to Upgrade to Radiant Heat
With so many radiant heat options to choose from, you may be wondering how you can upgrade your home to radiant heat. The answer depends primarily on your budget and what you have to work with. If you don’t have a boiler, it may not be feasible to install one and lay pipes in every floor of your home. However, you may be able to install an electric system in your bathroom when you remodel it.
If you don’t have any home-improvement projects planned for the future, and if you don’t need new flooring, you may want to consider installing a panel or stand-alone system. These are great for small spaces.
When planning a large construction project, keep in mind the efficiency of radiant heat and work to incorporate a system into your project. Each step that you take toward upgrading your home to radiant heat is one that will pay off for years to come.