Hydronic Radiant Heat

Hydronic radiant heat installation

Hydronic radiant floor heating systems are one of the most energy efficient and effective systems on the market to heat your home.

Given that, let me back up for a moment and put radiant heat‘ into context for those of you that don’t regularly think about thermodynamics. Basically, radiant heat is the type of heat we feel from the sun or from a campfire or a warm rock. Most would agree, radiant heat feels the best of all heat sources to warm a body. Hydronic radiant heat installed in your home’s floor indirectly uses water to convey the same type of heat to the occupants in a room. Here’s how it works: Hydronic radiant heat uses a boiler or instant water heater to heat water (the hydronic part of the name) and then pumps the hot water through plastic PEX radiant tubes that have been laid into a thermal mass, often a concrete slab floor. The hot liquid releases its heat to the thermal mass or concrete slab, as this mass heats up it radiates warmth into the room. Think about the thermal mass like a warm rock and it all makes sense.

The reason hydronic radiant floors feel so much more comfortable and natural in comparison to a standard heating system is simple. With conventional heating systems, warm air is moved around in spaces, when this warm air passes over human skin, it evaporates the moisture on the skin cooling you down slightly before warming you up (the same way sweating cools you down). So with a standard heating system you actually have to turn the heat up past the temperature you want to feel to offset this effect, with radiant heat you feel the ambient temperature without evaporation on your skin, so you feel warmer more easily and with less energy expended to create unnecessary high room temperatures.

Hydronic radiant heat systems can be built so that they are zoned, giving the owner even more control over which areas of their building are heated and when. Zoned systems are controlled by a thermostat connected to a manifold that distributes the hot water to the tubing in a particular zone. By shutting off certain valves and opening others, the zoned system can heat one room while bypassing another, further saving the owner money by not heating unused space.

Hydronic radiant systems are not just affordable, but also greatly improve the health quality of the indoor air of the home. By avoiding pushing dust around rooms with moving air, radiant systems are often recommended to people with allergies. Given all the options, our clients typically always chose radiant heat and are glad they did. Not to mention everyone likes warm toes.

Posted on October 23, 2010

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