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Pacific Sheet Metal Blog

Pros and Cons of Radiant Floor Heating

Posted by Joey Haack on Apr 30, 2021 11:15:00 AM | Updated on 04/30/21 1:15 PM

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Have you ever considered a heated floor system? Radiant floor heating is typically installed during the building process but can also be installed after a home is built. You can install radiant heat throughout your entire house to replace your conventional forced-air HVAC system or in specific areas to give your space a luxurious feel.

 

How Radiant Floor Heating Works

Instead of heating the air around you like a traditional heating system, radiant floors transfer heat directly to you from the ground up. You can easily control the temperature of your in-floor heating using a thermostat.

 

Where to Consider Installing Heated Floors

Many homeowners enjoy radiant heat in their bathrooms to keep their tile or stone warm to the touch. In the winters and early mornings, warm tile flooring can feel luxurious and enhance comfort. Entryways and mudrooms are other popular places to add these systems. They make taking your shoes off at the door more comfortable, and the heat can help floors dry faster.

While you can pair heated flooring with carpet, it may not be the best option. Carpeting acts as an insulator, making it difficult for heat to pass through the floor into the room. It can take more energy to pump heat into your space, causing your energy bills to increase. If you install radiant heat throughout your main living space where you have wood floors or tile, minimize your use of area rugs to allow the heat to flow freely.

Bear in mind that to install an in-floor heating system in an existing home, you must remove the current flooring and replace it after installation. If you love your current flooring, you may want to reconsider ripping it apart to make way for your new radiant system. The best time to install is during a home renovation or while a new home is being built.

After installing the new system, your flooring may be elevated, depending on how the system is installed and whether you install hydronic or electric heating. A hydronic system can increase the floor height significantly more than an electric system.

 

Types of Heated Floor Systems

Electric Radiant Floors

An electric radiant floor system comprises electric cables built into the floor and enclosed by electrically conductive plastic mats. Electric heat systems work similarly to electric blankets; electricity runs through the cables to heat the floor’s surface and anything touching it. Electric systems are easy to install with the help of an experienced electrician and can be used with nearly any type of flooring material. You can even install them in rolls with the heating cable already attached.

Electric radiant flooring can be expensive if you plan to use it to heat your entire home. Consider installing electric radiant flooring in smaller areas instead, like the bathroom. Even small upgrades like this can help keep your energy bills under control. You may also consider adding electric radiant heat to a home addition.

 

Water Baseboard/Hydronic Radiant Floors

A hydronic (liquid) radiant floor system consists of flexible tubes installed in a zigzag pattern encased in concrete underneath your floors. Typically, hydronic radiant floors are installed as your home is being built, but a system can also be installed in an existing home. In this situation, your installer can attach the tubes to flooring in crawl spaces throughout your home and cover them with insulation.

Hydronic systems pump hot water from your boiler through tubes that circulate throughout your house to keep you warm. Hydronic flooring is the most cost-effective radiant heating system available for climates that require more heating than cooling throughout the year.

Unlike electric floor heating, hydronic flooring is challenging to install. We don’t recommend attempting the project yourself. Leave the job to a trained professional. If you don’t already have a boiler, you may have some hefty up-front costs when installing the new system.

 

Benefits of Floor Heating Systems

Energy Efficiency

Radiant floor systems heat a room from the floor up. Radiant heat runs efficiently at a much lower temperature than radiators do and can heat a space more evenly. Radiant heat is at least 25% more energy efficient than a conventional HVAC system, and because it doesn’t rely on ductwork, you won’t have to worry about losing energy through air leaks. Installing a radiant system with highly conductive panels, which transfer heat more easily, can increase efficiency by an additional ten to twenty percent.

 

No Maintenance

Many in-floor heating systems come with extended warranties and require little or no maintenance. You can easily set and adjust the temperature with a programmable thermostat.

 

Flexibility

With radiant flooring, you have complete design freedom. It will work with wood, laminate, ceramic tile, vinyl, and other popular flooring materials. Without the need for radiators, you’ll have space and freedom to decorate your home exactly how you want it.

 

Safety

Unlike some other heating systems (like radiators), in-floor heating is safely hidden away where kids and pets can’t burn themselves. There’s no open flame like there is in a gas furnace. And unlike other heating systems that can circulate allergens and mold, radiant heat doesn’t push polluted air around your home.

 

Comfort

Radiant floor heating keeps your floor uniformly warm and toasty during the cold months. You can evenly heat your entire floor surface, avoiding cold patches or large fluctuations in temperature that you may experience with a conventional HVAC system. Floor heat also allows you to feel comfortable at lower ambient temperatures.

 

Quiet

Do you tend to notice when your furnace kicks on and off during the winter? Radiant flooring operates silently, so the only thing you’ll notice is comfort.

To learn more about various heating and cooling systems and tips for keeping your home and business energy efficient all year long, subscribe to our blog!

Topics: heating and cooling, plumbing, electrical