Comfort-Air & Ventilation

Radiant In floor heating - how it is right for you!

Radiant In Floor Heating


What are Radiant Floor Heating Advantages?

Advantages of Radiant Floor Heating


Radiant floor heating is the best source of heating you can get to heat the home. The distribution part is supplying the heating itself; and heating the water in a pipe. Additionally It can be heated by any source such as oil, propane, electric geothermal even solar heat can be used for the water medium to transmit the heat.

Forced air is all right, but water is the best, and that’s why it's been around 100 years. You can put water in a pipe and it’s still heated on the other end.  You can get it from point A to point B very quickly and efficiently. 


It is the best medium for transmitting heat where forced air is probably second in North America, unlike Europe. In Europe they use hot water rads -radiant hydronic. Rads are typically the way you would deliver the heat. Radiant floor being at the floor and stays at the floor.


When you're standing in a room the air at chest height in a room could be 70°; that's where the thermostat at in the furnace reads 70°. If you've ever had to change a light bulb or something, when the furnaces is on, and you step up on a ladder, hot air rises. It does not feel like 70° at the ceiling like it does at the floor. It's more like 75°, as the cold air drops and hot air rises. Heat comes into the room and wants to go up to the ceiling, not down at the floor. And that's why if you're sitting, you have to turn up the heat even more to get that air moving around with forced air heating. Or you feel cold – like 65° at the floor.


Radiant floor heating is the exact opposite. Because it’s in the floor, you don't have to keep the heat temperature like you do in rads at 140° to 160°. Like some of those old rads, if you touch them you burn your hand. They have to be so hot to radiate heat. With radiant floor heating the pipes are in the floor in the basement and embedded in the concrete or a sub floor or even under a tile typically.


Typically in floor heating pipes are in some sort of thermal mass like a concrete pad or under the tile. In the mud there is a special flurry you can mix into any completed floor, and you can put some sort of covering on top of the tile linoleum or whatever in that the floor. Because it's in the floor it only needs to be 90°; one big advantage are the savings on your energy costs. So it's at a lower temperature. Also, it feels warmer because it's at the floor and it’s in the pipe at 90°. When it comes out of the floor it feels like 75°, where as at your chest it feels like 70°.  The same as for forced air, and it would feel like 65° at the ceiling. It's in reverse to traditional or forced air heating. So it is down at the floor, where you want it.


Often you see kids on the carpet over a radiant floor, since it's not cold on the carpet. When the radiant floor is installed. Children enjoy lying on the floor and playing on the floor since it is so warm. Where as forced air is usually cool on the floor. A lot of times we put it in the bathroom or the kitchen, where there's tile that is normally cold. If you had radiant floor heating in the room and in the floor; it’s the best heating system.


Of course it has the most expensive initial start up costs, because you have to embed pipes and have to plan ahead and get it in the planning stage; obviously in the basement for example before you put in the pads. You've got to always have the place laid out before installing radiant floor heating.


You see more and more radiant floor all over the place. North America is a little slower at installing radient heating, because we’re used to a forced air furnace. It has its limitations where you can't do air conditioning combined with radiant heat hardware systems – unlike split air conditioners (which can cool and heat a house). It's only heat.


Another option with radiant floor is to put it in the basement in the pad, and you still have to put the furnace and forced air for the main floor. With this method, you've got the best of both worlds. You've got radiant floor warming in the basement, yet still have the furnace coming on with air conditioning. With duct work, you can heat, air conditioning and even ac split and humidify. You can have air conditioning coming out of the duct work and you can also filter air making indoor clean air a cleaner air quality home. You can do a lot more with good duct work.  The best way to heat is radiant energy wise and comfort wise. The best of both worlds would to be to put both systems – forced air and radiant floor heating in a home. Even have a freestanding gas fireplace to compliment the entire heating system.


You can't beat radiant; you can have a combination of rads, where you have any core room. Sometimes it’s good to install the forced air system in the rooms where there's a tile, and we will do an extra loop up and you can get a rad - low profile against the wall. Like towel warmers, it’s heating the room, but it's also keeping the towels warm and drying them off. You can do many combinations of radiant heat.

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