What Is Radiant Heat?
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Radiant heating is widely regarded as the most comfortable, healthiest, and most natural heating process available. People are warmed in the same way as they are warmed by sunshine on a cool day. Floor drafts, cold spots, and dry air are eliminated. Dust, air contaminants, bacteria, and low humidity levels, all problems associated with forced-air heating, are nonexistent in a home with a properly designed radiant heating system.
What is Radiant Heat? Hold your hand over a hot cup of coffee and feel the heat. The typical conclusion is that heat rises. Typical maybe, but incorrect! “Hot air” rises but “heat” can travel in any direction. That is why you can feel the heat of the cup when you place your hand to the side of it. Radiant energy transfer is caused by a warm surface giving up its heat to a cooler surface. Whenever there is a temperature difference between two surfaces, both surfaces will attempt to equalize. Radiant energy travels through space without heating the space itself. It only turns into heat when it contacts a cooler surface. Our human comfort relies just as much on radiant heat transfer as it does on air temperature, yet the majority of heating and air-conditioning professionals think only in terms of air temperature.
Over the past 50 years Americans have typically heated their homes by blowing warm air from ceiling mounted registers. This crude attempt at warmth sacrifices comfort for over 200 days of the year in the Puget Sound region. With a forced air system, because warm air rises and cold air sinks, it’s always cooler on the floor. The average contractor will rarely inform you that ducted air systems have the lowest comfort rating and the highest monthly energy costs of any heating system. The contractor simply installs the system in the home because it costs less initially. Period.Why is Radiant Floor Heating more comfortable?
Our body temperature is warmest at our head and circulation is poorest at our feet. That’s why the human body is most comfortable in a room that is warm at the floor and slightly cooler at head level.
Forced air heating systems which blow scorched air are the exact opposite of what the human body requires — hot at the ceiling and cold at the floor.
With Radiant Floor Heating it is also easier to zone heat your home or building. Work areas can be kept at a comfortable working temperature, while bedrooms can be kept slightly cooler for sleeping. At the same time, living rooms, bathrooms and entrances can be kept slightly warmer.
People who want a truly comfortable living environment specify radiant floor heating. By controlling both the air temperature and the radiant transfer of heat to nearby objects, radiant systems deliver a comfort that is unsurpassed.
Why are radiant heating systems superior to forced air systems? Air is a horrible conductor of heat. While the air coming from the vents may be warm, it does not warm the objects in the room or radiate that warmth throughout the room. A hydronic radiant heating system takes advantage of the superior conductive properties of water to more efficiently heat your home by heating the objects in it.
A home with quality radiant heating has supreme comfort, far lower operating costs, is absolutely silent, and builds equity. The slightly higher installation cost of a radiant system is always offset by the lower heating bills, not to mention the supreme comfort provided by a hydronic radiant heating system.
In commercial buildings and factories, Radiant Floor Heating increases productivity and helps reduce health problems associated with working on cold, damp floors. In barns you won’t have any drafts and the floors will be warm and dry. In nursing homes and hospitals, the warm floors mean the highest comfort for the occupants. Management of course enjoys the low fuel costs and minimal maintenance associated with radiant heating.
Water is used to carry heat. Water is one of the best conductors of heat; it can be circulated positively and its temperatures can be accurately controlled so you get a more even heat with less temperature fluctuations.
Whether you have hardwood, vinyl, carpet, ceramic tile, or concrete floors, they’ll all be “barefoot warm” for the most comfortable living and working environments.