When it comes to amenities, nothing compares to radiant floor heating. Stepping onto a toasty warm floor during chilly winter mornings is an instant mood booster. Not only does a radiant system warm your soul, it also efficiently heats your home. Because
WHAT IS IT?
Simply put, radiant floor heating is an under-floor heating system that conducts heat through the floor surface. It is quite different from conventional forced-air systems that conduct heat (often ineffectively) through the air. With radiant heat, waves of infrared radiation rise up from the floor, heating up the entire room and everything in it. There are no visible radiators or ducts, which is an added bonus, and radiant heating promotes clean air.
Electric system (dry)
There are two main types of radiant floor heating systems: electric and hydronic. Electric is easier and more affordable to install, but will cost you more to operate. This type of system may be better suited for smaller spaces, such as bedrooms or bathrooms. Electric systems are powered by electric cables or mats that are built into the floor. If you have a cabin with conventional forced air, this type of radiant heating may be a great supplement.
Hydronic (via hot water tubes)
Incredibly efficient, hydronic systems cost less to operate, and they are ideal for larger spaces. Nevertheless, they cost more to install, are more complicated, and require hot water from a heater or boiler. The system consists of looped tubes that pump heated water beneath the finished floor. The water can be heated by gas, wood, oil boilers, solar heaters or any combination of sources. Hydronic systems are known for keeping a house at a consistent, comfortable temperature. They may not be ideal for small-scale remodeling projects, but hydronic systems provide incredible energy savings.
Floor Materials That Work Best
Ceramic tile is a perfect candidate for radiant floor heating as a great conductor of heat that can withstand high temperatures. But what about other flooring materials? The good news is that nearly any type of flooring can be used, thanks to advances in technology. Although stone will work best in terms of heat conduction, linoleum, engineered wood, carpet and even solid wood can be used, as long as you follow the manufacturer’s specifications carefully. Carpet may slow down the transfer of heat. Wood can be spared from warping and shrinking by using a system with lower water temperatures and humidity that is specifically designed for wood floors.
There are several different installation methods for radiant floor heating. “Wet” installation entails embedding tubing or cables into a concrete slab, or in cement, gypsum or another material on top of a subfloor. This is more common on a ground floor. For suspended floors and retrofits, a “sandwich” method of placing the tubing between two layers of plywood may work best. Another option is to simply attach the tubing beneath a finished floor or subfloor. There is also a newer option on the market today: a plywood subfloor with pre-cut tubing grooves and built-in heat diffuser plates.
The installation method you choose will depend on the system that you select. Be sure to get expert advice before you begin. If you are hiring an installer, choose someone with plenty of experience with radiant floor heating.