Radiant heating is making a comeback in Minneapolis, MN, as advances in technology and home construction have emerged. When you hear the term, you probably think back to the white coil radiators made of cast iron. The design has come a long way since then. Here is everything you need to know about radiant heating from the Minneapolis HVAC experts at Total Comfort.
What Is Radiant Heating?
Radiant heating is exactly what it sounds like, heat radiating from a heat source. A fireplace and a radiator are considered forms of radiant heating, because warmth radiates throughout a room from the source of the heat. Modern radiant heating is considerably more discreet. Using new construction and renovation techniques, radiant heating is now seamlessly integrated into wall cavities and under flooring. Most force-air conditioning units push heat down from the ceiling, but since heat rises, your HVAC is working harder than it needs to be to keep warm air circulating.
The Different Types of Radiant Heat
There are 3 types of radiant heat conductor systems. The most popular is a hydronic system that uses hot water pumped from a boiler into tubing laid under floorboards or tile. The levels of heat can be controlled by adjusting the flow of water through different zones of the house.
The second type of radiant heating is electric. Like hydronic, cables are laid under floorboards and tile, and an electric current flows through the cables. It also comes in the form of conductive plastic mats that sit above the subflooring. It is especially effective in homes with thick concrete floors. Concrete stores heat better than wood subflooring, meaning that it will still radiate heat even after the currents have been shut off.
The third type of radiant heat uses hot air. Air-heated radiant floors are not as popular or as cost-effective compared to electric and hydronic, unless you pair it with solar energy technology.
Installing a Radiant Heat System
The best time to install a radiant heat system is when you are building a new home or putting in new flooring. If you are building a new home, radiant heating tubing is usually placed into the foundation of the home as the cement dries. This is called a wet installation. It can also be installed over a subfloor in a thin layer of concrete or gypsum. In a dry installation, the tubing is installed in the space between the flooring and subflooring. This method is also used when installing tubing in walls. It is usually less expensive and faster than a wet installation. Ceramic tile is the best conductor of heat, which is why it used most often in this kind of installation. Vinyl, carpet, wood, and linoleum will work as well, but not as effectively, because of the extra padding between layers.
Why Should You Get Radiant Heating?
Compared to a traditional furnace and forced-air HVAC, a radiant heating system is completely silent. Since it doesn’t require running a network of ducts through your attic, your senses are not assaulted with dust, pollen, or mold that can accumulate in ductwork. A radiant heat system produces an even heat throughout your room, without drafts or variable temperature changes from one side of the room to another. It is more energy efficient than forced-air units, which means you will also be saving money on your monthly energy bill.