Radiant heating also referred to as hydronic heating, is an energy efficient cooling system. The system makes use of a tube network, which transmits a hot liquid right beneath the floor of your house; the emitting heat is transferred into your home through radiators or based board heaters. A radiant system is a preferred choice in homes that desire a greater control over their heating zones and more comfortable temperatures. The resulting heating bills are lower, and environmental impact is also reduced.
How does radiant heating work?
The heated liquid, which is usually water, is transmitted through a piping network to all rooms of your house. Generally, these tubes are installed within the concrete slab or beneath the floor, such that heat is uniformly distributed across the floor surface. Additionally, radiators and baseboard heating units can also be used to regulate a more comfortable temperature.
The liquid is heated in a boiler, which has high energy efficiency and then forced to flow through the plumbing manifold. This acts as the control unit and directs water to different heating zones, each of which maintains a personalized, constant temperature. Newly-heated water is circulated into the tube network, whereas colder water is transferred back to the boiler for heating.
Thus, the closed loop, radiant heating system allows flexible temperature control, while ensuring energy efficiency.
A radiant heating system is a more comfortable cooling option because the floor radiates heat upwards in an even manner. On the other hand, a traditional system works by blowing warm air through the walls, ceilings, and floors, which results in poor air circulation, leading to cold spots and temperatures spikes and dips.
However, hydronic heating is more constant and even, ensuring a warm and comfortable floor.
A typical radiant heating system is comprised of the following main components.
Boiler – for heating the liquid
Liquid medium – usually water, but other liquids and antifreeze mixes like glycol can also be used; this prevents the liquid from freezing inside the pipes
Thermostat – connected to the plumbing manifold for directing water flow and maintaining room temperatures
Tubing – plastic tubing such as PEX, which ensures water flow through the home
Heat exchanger – baseboard heater, radiator or another in-floor element that transfers and distributes heat in the rooms
Pump – continuously circulates the heated liquid
The boiler of a radiant heating system is energy efficient and wastes very little heat. The following boiler types can be used.
Tankless hydronic water heater – smaller than the general tankless heater; this module is specially designed to ensure hot water on demand
Combined hot water and boiler – a combined boiler heats water for home usage as well as hydronic heating; can be designed as tank or tankless model
Solar heater – doesn’t provide enough hot water alone, but can increase system efficiency, if used with a boiler
The heat exchanger can be placed in the following locations.
Underneath the floor – used in newly constructed homes
Baseboard heaters – used for remodeling projects; require less tubing