Radiant Floor Heating Systems
Why Radiant (Warm Floor) Heating?
Comfort and energy efficiency. Comfort is hard to define. It’s better understood as the absence of discomfort. In that light, perhaps the most remarkable thing about radiant heat is, well – nothing. There are no forced air registers to see, no noise or dust from mechanical blowers, no hot air blowing on you to exacerbate winter dryness, no hot ceilings to waste energy, no cold floors to chill your feet. Warmth emanates beneath your feet when you get out of your warm bed. The mild warmth of a radiant floor is a subtle experience. It always feels just right.
A typical radiant heated home in the United States can expect a 25% energy savings over a conventional forced air heated home. This 25% savings can be attributed to a number of factors listed below (The 25% figure comes from a 1998 study by Kansas State University and the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
Parasitic losses. Parasitic loss refers to energy lost due to inherent inefficiencies of a system.
Lower air temperatures for the same comfort. When we are outside on a warm, sunny day, we may be comfortable in a tee shirt even if the air is only 60 degrees. This is because the radiant warmth from the sun allows us to be comfortable at a lower air temperature. The same is true in your home. With the warmth emanating from a radiant floor, we can offer the same level of comfort with the thermostat set a few degrees lower than needed in a home with a forced air heating system.
Zoning reduces energy usage. Most forced air heated homes have a single thermostat, in other words, they utilize single zone heating systems. This is because forced air systems are inherently difficult and therefore, more expensive to zone.
Blowing hot air paradoxically can cool us. We can be quite comfortable outside until the wind picks up. Even though the temperature has not changed, the movement of air across our skins causes evaporative cooling. Paradoxically, hot air blowing from a duct may require you to set the thermostat slightly higher to maintain the same comfort levels.
How Does Warm Floor Heating Systems Work?
Radiant Floor Heating (RFH) systems supply heat directly to the floor of a house. The system depends largely on radiant heat transfer — the delivery of heat directly from the hot surface to the people and objects in the room via infrared radiation. Radiant heating can be compared to the effects feeling the warmth of a hot stovetop element from across the room.
There are (2) basic ways to supply radiant floor heating: Hydronic (hot water) and electronic. Hydronic systems are the most popular and cost effective way to heat your entire house. Water is heated by a boiler or water heater and then pumped to manifolds in different zones of the home and dispersed through ½” polyethylene tubing.
This durable polyethylene tubing is typically encased in either the concrete slab or foundation and can also be covered by a secondary layer of lightweight concrete over the wood sub-floor structure. Another method of installation is integration on top of the sub-floor in grooved panels, snap-in grid systems or on the underside of a sub-floor and fastened with aluminum heat deflector strips.
Electric powered radiant floor heating systems are primarily used to supplement heat in a small room such as a bathroom or kitchen. Since electrical current encounters resistance within system wiring, it can be less efficient to use compared to hot water radiant heat systems and therefore is not recommended entire home use. Radiant floor heating is generally installed during construction or remodeling of a home, but in some cases a home can be retrofit for a RFH system.
Our qualified and experienced HVAC technicians are also available to provide maintenance and repair services for your existing RFH or “Warm Floor” heating system.
Kaiser Air Conditioning and Sheet Metal is glad to provide estimates to homeowners or contractors building or remodeling a home and also to those homeowners who are interested in identifying if their home is a candidate for a radiant floor heating (RFH) system. Installation and service of radiant floor heating systems is available throughout Ventura County and surrounding areas.
Contact us for more information, to schedule an appointment with a Kaiser AC Comfort Adviser or to receive a competitive quote for your next radiant floor heating system.