anytime plumbing
08 Jul

What is a Radiant Heating System and Radiant Floor Heating?

Heating systems that warm a house by supplying heat to its floors or wall panels are more commonly known as “radiant heating” systems.  These systems depend on the transfer of radiant heat meaning heat delivered directly from its source via infrared radiation to the individuals and the other objects in the room with them.  It’s the same principle as feeling the warmth that radiates from a warm stovetop.  Anytime Plumbing specializes in the care and maintenance of radiant heating systems.

How do radiant heating systems work?

A standard furnace generates heat energy by combusting fuel, namely natural gas of propane.  The heat is then air-blown through vents in order to heat your home.  There’s only one problem with that.  Air doesn’t conduct heat energy very well which gives the energy an opportunity to be lost or dissipate before reaching the different rooms in your home.

Consequently, it isn’t very energy-efficient and doesn’t help you manage your utility bills in colder weather.  On the other hand, metal and water make significantly better heat energy carriers.  So, when heat gets transferred through either one of them, much less energy gets lost on the way to the different living areas of your home. Thus, if you are looking for options, we’ll be able to do a quick evaluation of your custom requirements and advice you accordingly, considering your budget. 

What are the different types of radiant heating systems?

Yes, there are actually three different types of radiant floor heating systems – those that are air-heated, electrically heated, or water-heated (hydronic).  Systems can also be installed in the walls of your home as heat-emitting panels.  On an interesting side note, this is not a new concept and dates back to the time of the ancient Romans. Furthermore, this type of system is ideal because you don’t even know it’s there.  You just benefit from how well it works.  There are 3 types of radiant floor heat:

  • Air-heated floors – because air is incapable of holding large quantities of heat, air-heated floors in residential applications are not energy-efficient and therefore not very cost-effective.  The specialists at Anytime Plumbing of Santa Cruz have seen these systems combined with solar energy heated systems.  However, these only generate heat during the day when heating demands are usually lower.
  • Electric radiant heated floors – there are two versions of this type of radiant heating system.  One features electric cables that have been built into the floor while the other features electrically conductive plastic matting that has been mounted below the floor on the subfloor.  These systems are not very cost-effective either.
  • Hydronic or water-heated floors – in areas that experience longer winters, these heating systems are clearly the most cost-effective and the most popular.  Heated water is pumped from a boiler through tubing that has been installed in a pattern beneath the floor.  With some hydronic radiant heating systems, the flow of heated water is controlled by pumps or zone valves while the temperatures are regulated by a thermostat.

In addition to the above, you also have choice of ceiling or wall-mounted radiant panels.  These aluminum panels can be electrically or hydronically heated, although there are concerns regarding leakage with water-heated systems.  Consequently, most residential applications use electrically heated panels.  Although they can provide sufficient heat throughout the home, they are powered by electricity which will impact the cost of your monthly utility bills.

How much do radiant floor heating systems cost?

Most homeowners have no idea about the cost of installing a radiant flooring heating system.  Thus, it is always advisable to talk with the professionals at Anytime Plumbing.  These are the different factors that can influence the cost of this type of system and that professional plumbers take into consideration when estimating the cost to install one in your home:

  • distance to the job
  • flooring square footage
  • labor rates
  • type of flooring
  • type of system

When comparing costs of residential applications, the average cost of an electric radiant heating system is $11 per sq. ft. or $16,500 for a 1,500 sq. ft. home.  The average cost of a hydronic or water-heated system averages $13 per square foot.  Therefore, it would cost nearly $20,000 to install this type of radiant heating system in a 1,500 sq. ft. home.

If you are looking to get the system installed or repaired, we’d be able to evaluate your specific requirement and then provide you with a written quote, which will make sure there are no discrepancies in the payment terms. To learn more about radiant heating systems or to schedule an appointment for a FREE estimate, contact Anytime Plumbing today. Additionally, for all plumbing services, we have 24/7 emergency plumbing crew on standby, if needed.

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