Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating - Embed into Concrete or Add to a Subfloor
There is a misconception about hydronic radiant floor heating. Many people believe the only way to incorporate this system is by embedding it into a concrete floor. This is not the case. It can be added to a subfloor in a variety of ways. Your whole home can be heated with hydronic radiant heat, and it can be up to 40% more efficient than a traditional heated forced air system.
The reason it is used most often in concrete is because it doesn't add a lot of additional cost to the homeowner to embed. With a subfloor, the radiant water tubing is harder to incorporate. The best way to do it would be when you are building the structure, and then use a system like Warmboard where the radiant tubing is as close to the finish flooring as possible.
You can retrofit a home with hydronic radiant floor heat, but you have to attach the tubing directly underneath the subfloor. This will involve carving holes in the joists and snaking PEX tubing through this system. It is quite a labor intensive job, which ends up costing a homeowner a great deal of money. You can recoup these expenses gradually as you get your lower heating bill every month.
Some homes harness the power of the sun to heat up their water, even in colder weather environments. You can look here to see more information on a solar energy home.
Hydronic versus Electric
When choosing to buy a small radiant heating system, most people go for the electric variety. Electric promises to be less complicated and can fit into smaller areas. You simply lay down an electric mat and cover this mat with thinset mortar. Tile, laminate, engineered wood and even carpet will be installed over this. The system is wired into the homes electrical grid, and with a push of a button on your electric thermostat, the floor gets warm.
The downfall of an electric system, especially on a larger scale is the cost to operate it. It is cheaper to install, but more expensive to run. Electric obviously has to use electricity to generate heat. A hydronic system can use a variety of heating sources like natural gas, oil, and can incorporate solar and geothermal power.
Hydronic radiant floor heating systems are much better for heating an entire home or a very large area. It costs less to operate and can be customized so you only heat the areas of the home that you are using. This concept is called Zone heating. Isolating the rooms you are using to heat can make it even more efficient.
Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating Benefits
Radiant heating system have their disadvantages and advantages just like any other heating system, but statistics have shown that radiant heaters work out to be less expensive to maintain which means they offer excellent value for money.
Radiators used for hydronic heating systems are durable and might even outlast the floor boards or the concrete slab they are embedded in.
Hydronic radiant floor heating system is very much like a space heater in that it contains a fluid, whose heat radiates into the air to heat the surrounding area. Unlike a space heater, Hydronic radiant floor heating system is only for installation under floors. It lies buried and will not be seen or have anyone tripping over unsightly wires or accidentally tipping over. The liquid in the unit is only pushed and kept flowing by specially made manifolds, pumps and boilers.
Hydronic radiant heating can be used under any hard floor, ideally cemented and hardwood lined floors are ideal. It is also excellent for high ceilinged areas with lots of windows. Hydronic radiant heating systems heat large rooms in no time. The floor and the room being heated up will retain heat for some time because of the constant flow of hot water underneath the floor. The heat is not trapped in pockets but distributed evenly throughout the floor and the room.
There are no vents for air to circulate with radiant floor heat. You can put your furniture anywhere and won't have to worry about blocking a vent. Another benefit is you won't have to look at vents on the floor or on your walls. Radiant floor heating is excellent for homes with children where heaters pose a certain degree of danger. There is no danger of being accidentally burnt or knocking over a stand-alone heater.
Radiant heating systems are economical and work without requiring much maintenance. Floor radiant heating systems do not include any moving parts which adds to their not needing maintenance because there are no air filters and other parts that need to be constantly repaired. You can control the temperature by using a thermostat.
Most of the household energy bill is taken up by heating in colder regions. You can do a lot in reducing the amount of energy and inversely, the energy your family consumes by installing a radiant floor heating system. Not only will your living standards be improved but you will be contributing to the greater campaign of going green that encourages people to use less energy to save the environment. This technology also has the advantage of keeping your family’s environment hygienically warm and clean from mold and dust. People all around the world use floor radiant heating system for a comfortable and healthy indoor living.
Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating Negatives
Hydronic heating has its own set of complex and installation requirements. You will need a professional to install even if you are a seasoned DIY homeowner. Plumbers are usually most familiar with these systems, but there are some companies that specialize in installing hydronic radiant heat.
You need a professional to help you lay out pipes that will run radiant water heat under your floor. The floor has to be prepared or completely overhauled. How this system is that pipes or a pipe is laid out on a concrete bed just before the surface gets covered. The other option is attaching this system to the bottom of a subfloor, or including it into the actual subfloor. It is often better to install a system right at the building phase before the floors are set.
Some of the things that are included in a hydronic system are the PEX tubing circuits that have to be laid out to evenly heat your home. The PEX tubes connect to a manifold that regulates how fast water is circulating through each zone. A boiler or water heater needs to be attached to this manifold to heat the water. Finally this has to be connected to the electrical for the different thermostats you will include for each zone of heating. As you can see, it is a complex system.
Is Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating Right for You?
If you are planning new construction, yes! It is best to install this system as you build. You can install the tubing into the concrete on the ground floor. Floors above grade can have the radiant water heat installed into the subfloor. The whole home will be much more efficient and comfortable than a forced air home.
This system will cost more than a heated forced air system, but because of the increase in efficiency, you can recoup that loss as you pay lower heating bills. The main selling point for a radiant floor heat is comfort. People who have lived with it almost never move into a home without it. See if you can find a home or business that has radiant floor heat and feel the difference for yourself. You might be sold on it with one touch!
Return from Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating to the Radiant Floor Heat homepage.