Radiant floor heating is becoming increasingly popular in both homes and commercial premises, due to its space saving design and efficiency. Differing from standard methods of indoor heating, such as wall radiators, or heated fans, radiant floor heating relies on warming a large element, in this case, an entire floor space. Because the surface area of this heated floor space is much greater than other systems, the actual temperature can be much lower to achieve the same level of heat transfer.
There are many benefits to using this type of heating in the home, with the main one being the efficient transfer of heat. When comparing to forced air heating options, in floor heating creates an even distribution of heat, and also does not create an air floor, which can stir up allergens and dust, and has been proven to reduce the dust mite population in homes that use this under floor heating.
Types of Floor Heating Systems
There are two main types of underfloor heating, and those are electric radiant, and hydronic radiant. electric radiant heating is primarily used for individual rooms, where electrical circuits placed under the floor can then heat a variety of materials, the most common being tiles, carpet, wood or stone.
For a system designed for the whole house, hydronic heating provides a better solution. Instead of using electricity to provide the heat, hydronic heating uses a water boiler to heat a source of water, and then pumps it through plastic pipes that are embedded in a concrete slab. You can have many rooms connected through one thermostat, but the boiler connects each room separately, for individual control.
Electric Radiant Heating
This type of heating is designed to be easily installed, by either the homeowner, or a flooring or heating specialist. The heating element is a thin pad which is laid underneath your desired floor, and then connected to a thermostat to control the heat flow. Depending on the size of the area that they cover they will draw a lot of amps from your electrical circuit, and for this reason it is advised to connect them to a dedicated circuit. This is a fairly simple process that local electricians can provide in a short time.
Hydronic Radiant Heating
As with most types of under floor heating, and large surface heating, hydronic heating delivers an even distribution of heat, unlike forced air systems, or hot water radiators. There are a few considerations to bear in mind when thinking about hydronic heating, and the first is that this system is generally only installed in new homes, or homes that are being refurbished, due to the same system running through the entire house. The other main consideration is that with the water pipes being placed in concrete, there is a lot of weight involved, and the home must be structurally able to support the weight. An advantage to hydronic infloor heating is that a variety of options can be used to heat the water for this system, from natural gas to propane, wood and electric boilers, to even solar and geothermal energy.
Floor Coverings for Radiant Floor Heating
Under floor heating needs a surface through which it can radiate heat efficiently, and one of the best for this purpose is ceramic tile. Not only does it conduct heat well, but it also adds thermal storage, as ceramic tiles are naturally high in heat capacity. Vinyl, wood and carpet coverings are also used, but as these materials tend to naturally insulate the floor, they don't provide the efficient heat transfer that ceramic does. Thin carpets provide better heat transfer than thick ones, and laminate wood flooring is better than thick wood flooring, so this should be taken into account when planning the look and the design of any room that will use this heating.