Radiant In-Floor Heating
At Haley Mechanical we are all about your home comfort. If you are a Southeast Michigan homeowner in Ann Arbor, Dexter, or surrounding communities we want to educate and inform you regarding radiant floor heating, one of the most comfortable, economical, and efficient methods available today to heat your home.
Radiant Heat System
Essentially, radiant heating transforms your walls, ceilings, and floors into a large, low-temperature radiator that surrounds your family in warmth!
While radiant panels can be used in walls and ceilings to generate heat, radiant heat floors rely primarily on convection, which means that as the warm air rises from the floor, the heat is naturally circulated around the room.
What are the advantages of radiant floor heating?
Radiant floor heat is the perfect choice for those who suffer from allergies or other respiratory conditions because there are no ducts to circulate dust, dirt, mold spores, and other allergens or bacteria as there are with traditional forced air systems. Additionally, radiant heating is more energy efficient than baseboard heating, and often more efficient than ducted systems that often have leaks or other issues that can result in the loss of conditioned air.
Radiant heat floors are available in three types: Air-heated, electric, and hydronic (liquid-based). Hydronic radiant floor heating is the most popular, and save on electric costs due to the fact they consume very little electricity.
Radiant Heat Floors
As mentioned, there are three types of radiant heat floors including air-heated (the air carries the heat), electric, and hydronic (hot water). Additionally, there are what are known as “dry installations” and “wet installations.” Dry installations involve installing the radiant floor tubing between two layers of plywood or attaching the tubing beneath the subfloor or finished floor. With wet installations, radiant tubing is placed into a bed of concrete which not only protects the tubing but radiates heat evenly throughout a room as the concrete acts as a thermal mass by absorbing the heat and radiating it.
Dry installations have become more popular following innovations in floor technology, primarily due to the fact that it is less expensive to build and takes less time than wet installations in which the cable or tubing is embedded in concrete slab foundations or in a layer of material such as gypsum or thin concrete installed on top of the subfloor.
Air-heated, Electric, and Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating
Below is in-depth information on the three types of radiant floor heat.
Air-heated Radiant Heat
Air-heated radiant heat flooring is not ideal for residential applications, largely due to the fact air is incapable of holding substantial amounts of heat. This makes this type of radiant heat less cost-effective, although they may be used in conjunction with solar air heating systems. Even then, there is one obvious drawback in that temperatures are generally much colder at night, and solar systems produce heat during the daytime when it’s needed less.
Electric Radiant Heat
Electric radiant floor heating is most effective for those who have lower cost electricity or have a thick concrete floor and an electricity provider who offers time-of-use rates. When the thermal mass (for instance, concrete floor) is sufficiently large, the heat stored in the mass can generally maintain a comfortable temperature for about eight to ten hours. With electric radiant floors, you “charge” the floor which is why it is important to have a company offering time-of-use rates, as you can charge during the hours when electricity is at its lowest rate, often referred to as “off-peak” hours.
If you are building a home addition it may make sense to consider electric radiant floors, however, you should research and consider mini-split heat pumps or other options as well to determine which is most efficient for your needs.
Hydronic Radiant Heat
Hydronic radiant heat floors often make the most sense for climates such as Michigan that is heating-dominated. Today, hydronic systems are usually the most cost-effective; installation costs will vary depending on factors such as home size, location, floor covering, type of installation, and labor. Essentially, tubing is placed in a pattern beneath the floor; heated water from a boiler or solar water heater then flows through the tubing.
Types of Floor Coverings
How well radiant floor heating works to warm your home and its efficiency can depend on the type of floor covering you prefer. While you can use laminated wood floors, carpet, linoleum or even vinyl, experts recommend ceramic tile as it adds thermal storage and is a good conductor of heat.
Solid wood floors are not the best choice for radiant floor heat due to the fact the heat can dry out the wood, resulting in cracking or shrinking. If you prefer the wood look, choose laminate wood flooring. Many homeowners like carpeting; if this is your choice, choose thick or dense padding and a thin carpet. Linoleum and vinyl are often popular floor covering choices for the kitchen and bath, but be aware that the efficiency of radiant heating can be reduced with any type of covering that insulates the floor from the room.
There are many advantages in choosing radiant floor heating including up to 30% savings on energy costs. This type of heating system can be used in conjunction with geothermal technology as well, and features a 30-year warranty valid from installation date. Energy efficient, healthier for your family, exceptional warmth and comfort, and added resell value to your home. In a word, superior.
To learn more about radiant floor heat and whether it is the best choice for your SE Michigan home, contact the experts at Haley Mechanical today. A barefoot comfort like you have never experienced before!
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