I recently received an email from a customer that wanted my opinion on which hydronic or electric radiant floor heating system available is the best on the market. With so many different radiant heating systems to choose from, there is no way
that I can narrow it down to a single system that is better than all others. Depending on your personal need, a system that
may be perfect for one home might not work in another. I can’t and won’t try to say which specific system is right for you
but I can give you some key tips that can help you significantly narrow down the choices.
There are two main types of radiant floor heating available – electronic and hydronic. Electric radiant floor
heating uses the flow of electricity to generate heat. Hydronic radiant heat, on the other hand, uses hot water heated one
of several different ways that flows through tubing installed under the flooring. Though there are many variations of both
electronic and hydronic radiant heating systems, narrowing down the choices to one or the other can put you well on your way
to deciding what is right for your home or business.
Here are some industry standards that should help:
When installing radiant heating for smaller applications such as simply warming a cold flooring surface or spot heating a
home, electric radiant heating is usually preferred over hydronic. For larger applications, either electric or hydronic
systems may be preferred depending on the particular situation. Special precautions must be taken with certain floor
coverings such as radiant floor heating with hardwood floors.
Electric radiant heating systems can vary in power greatly. Some systems are only strong enough to warm the floor
covering, while others can warm entire homes. Electric systems usually warm up quickly when turned on and cool off quickly
when turned off. However, some electric floor heating systems, such as those installed in concrete slabs usually take longer
to heat up, but will radiant heat long after being turned off. This is due to concrete’s ability to hold and radiant heat
long after the system is shut down.
Hydronic radiant systems can take a long time to heat up therefore they are often left on 24/7 in cold climates. Because
hot water takes awhile to cool off, hydronic systems radiate heat for a long time after being turned off. To install a
hydronic floor heating system, you need a boiler, which results in high start up costs. For this reason, hydronic systems
are mostly used in large applications where the start up costs tend to even out.
I hope these tips help to give those searching for radiant heating some idea of where to start. For tons of great info on
different electric and hydronic radiant floor heating systems available, check out FindAnyFloor’s section on Radiant