Concrete Slab Radiant Heat
Use an Electric or Hydronic System
Why should you use concrete slab radiant heat? Simply put, radiant floor heating in concrete is the optimum system to warm your home.
Radiant floor heating is today becoming to be one very popular method of warming a home, indoors and out. More and more house owners are discovering that while the radiant floor heating system may initially be a bit more expensive than the traditional forced-air HVAC systems, the savings in energy bills and maintenance costs in the long run offsets this downside.
How Concrete Slab Radiant Heat Works
Basically, a radiant floor heating system works by heating the floor so the floor can radiate warmth into the room’s space. Heating the floor is done through circulating hot (more often just warm) water in tubes, or laying electrical wiring elements, within or underneath the floor material, concrete, tiles, gypsum or wood. Of all materials, concrete the most popular choice for radiant floor heating systems, electrical or hydronic.
Radiant floor heating in concrete systems
There are two types of concrete slab radiant heat systems: the slab-on-grade, and the slab-on-subfloor. In the first type, the radiant floor heating wires or PEX water tubes are laid down first on the grade tied to matting or any other material that will keep them in place while concrete is being poured. Thus the heating elements are embedded within the concrete up to two inches below the surface, according to the engineering specifications.
Insulation sheets are laid under the concrete to reduce heat loss to the ground while reflecting heat upwards to the concrete. It improves heat transfer from the element or tube to the concrete itself.
In the second system, the radiant floor heating elements are tacked onto the wood subfloor before a thin coating of concrete is poured over it. A slip sheet is placed between the subfloor and the concrete so the concrete will not bind to the wooden subfloor, as well as to reflect heat. This method of radiant floor heating in concrete requires a rigid and sturdy subfloor construction so the concrete floor will not crack from bending.
A third radiant floor heating in concrete system uses tiles preformed with grooves for the tubing or wires. This method installs faster although some find it deficient in surface stability, or not as stable as the other two. This option is used when the concrete is already there and there isn’t any radiant heat embedded within. You can’t put PEX radiant tubing into a concrete floor if it is already set.
Considering hydronic and electric concrete slab radiant heat
If you need to choose between an electric or hydronic (water-based) radiant floor heating in concrete system, you may want to consider the comparative pros and cons of each.
Electric radiant floor heating in concrete systems are quicker to install, costs less initially, extremely quiet, but is inutile when cooling is desired in the warmer months. Furthermore, electricity prices may be high in some areas. A ten square feet area may require the energy of a 100-watt bulb. Or computing it another way: one square foot of floor area may need eight- to 12 watts to warm optimally.
On the other hand, hydronic radiant floor heating in concrete systems may require higher initial investments, needs space for the boiler and its cooling attachments, may produce some ambient background noise once in a while. It is more versatile in fuel usage --natural gas, propane, wood, oil, and electricity can all be used to heat the water that circulates through the PEX tubing. For cooling purposes, that boiler may be cooled to radiate coolness where required.
The final choice between the hydronic and electric radiant floor heating in concrete systems depends on your location, area size to warm, power costs, area usage by humans, installation service costs, and availability of materials. Radiant floor heating concrete system professionals can design the optimum system for your specific needs. Make sure you do look for a radiant heat specialist, because it is a fairly complex installation. Electricians would be most qualified for an electrical radiant system. Plumbers are usually the best choice for installing a hydronic radiant system.
The Benefits of Concrete Slab Radiant Heat
Among the many benefits radiant floor heating in concrete systems offer are:
Comfortable. It's like standing on a piece of floor where the sun was just shining.
Quiet. They make no or very little noise, whether hydronic or electric.
Durable. Either system usually lasts for many years with very low maintenance needs compared to conventional heating systems.
Efficient use of power. Concrete is a very large thermal mass that warms and cools slowly. This means less energy is needed maintain its warmth. Also, this system can use solar power for an electric system, or solar heat to produce warm water, further reducing energy requirements. Hydronic systems can also use Geothermal Energy to even further reduce heating costs.
Effective warming system. A radiant floor heating in concrete system warms objects first, so the temperature in the home is even and stable.
Aesthetic. The system is unobtrusive and out of sight. It does not detract from the interior design of the room or house. The concrete slab radiant heat is not visible. No vents on the walls or on the floor.
In short, therefore, a radiant floor heating in concrete system is a very desirable way to keep a home’s temperature warm, especially in the depths of winter. Electric or hydronic, either is efficient enough to provide you with long-lasting, quiet and unobtrusive, less expensive way to live through cold weather comfortably warm. Yes. You save money and you’re more comfortable with concrete slab radiant heat. Now, isn’t that great?
All Things Concrete Instructions, tips, and ideas for enhancing your home's concrete surfaces, including concrete staining, epoxy paints, stamped concrete, and sealers.
- Concrete Floor Radiant Heating
- Radiant Floor Heat Insulation For Concrete
- Radiant Water Heat
- PEX Radiant Floor
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