Radiant heating systems supply heat directly to panels attached to the floor, ceiling or walls of the heating space. The system gets its name from the principle of radiant heat transfer: or infrared heat waves, which is the delivery of heat directly via the radiation of heat waves directly from the hot surface of an objectect such as the heating panels.
Radiant Hydronic Heating
A popular, super efficient, and super comfortable heating system installed in the most luxurious homes today is the radiant floor heating systems, which are heating panels located in the floor and is commonly called radiant floor heating or sometimes, simply floor heating.
Radiant heating is the ultimate in super efficient, luxuriously comfortable heating. A properly installed under floor radiant heat system is usually more efficient than forced-air heating because no energy is lost through air ducts. The lack of needing air flow ducts, also means less maintenance since the air ducts do not need to be cleaned, and less problems with dust and allergens collecting in the air from dirty forced air ducts
Hydronic (water or other liquid heat transfer) systems use are extremely efficient because they only use a small amount of electricity to run the circulating pumps that circulate the water, and this can be a huge benefit to homes of the power grid or relying on solar electric power. Additionally, Hydronic systems can also be heated with a wide variety of energy sources, including standard gas or oil fired boilers, wood fired boilers, solar water heaters, or some combination of these heat sources.
Radiant floor heating systems also rely on the principle of convection, which is the the natural circulation of heat within a room, caused by heat rising from the floor. Because of this, radiant floor heating systems rely on different mechanisms and principles than the radiant panels used in walls and ceilings.
Radiant Floor Heat
There are three basic classes of radiant floor heat:
1) air radiant floors;
2) electric radiant floors;
3) hydronic radiant floors,
which use heated water to transfer the heat to the air space through radiationad convection through the water heated floor panels.
In my opinion, Hydronic radiant floor heating is the creme de la creme of heating systems, and simply can;t be beat for both efficiency and comfort, and this is the class of radiant floor heating that we will deal with in this article.
Radiant Hydronic Heating Hydronic Radiant Floors
Hydronic systems are easily the most popular and economic radiant heating systems for cooler climates. Hydronic radiant floor systems pump heated water through tubes or pipes that loop form the boiler to the heated space and back. These heating loops are called ‘zones’ and are individually controlled using thermostats wired to circulation pumps and electronically controlled valves. The heat circulating pipes of a radiant hydronic heating system loop from a boiler through tubing laid in a pattern underneath the floor, often laid in metallic panels or concrete to help with the heat transfer.
The cost of installing these systems can be fairly costly, but the efficiency and comfort is unbeatable. I personally installed many hydronic radiant heat systems when I was a plumber in the Hamptons of Long Island, New York and I was convinced in their proven efficiency during this time. Of course, these were muti-million dollar homes and money was no object for the builders of these luxurious homes, so despite the ultra efficiency anf benefits, radiant hydronic heat may not be the best heating system for every home.
Floor Coverings of Radiant Heat System
Ceramic tile is the most common and effective floor covering for radiant floor heating, as ceramic is perfect for the conduction of heat well from the floor. Also the mass of the ceramic, concrete and adhesive is great for holding a high capacity of heat storage from the radiant loops. Other floor coverings can be used, but any flooring material that insulates will decrease the efficiency of the system.