The Benefits of In-Floor Heating Systems
February 8, 2021Categories: Radiant Floor Heating
Radiant floor heating is an energy-efficient, cost-saving way to heat your home. Learn about the advantages and disadvantages as well as the best types of flooring for this in-floor heating system.
What is Radiant Floor Heating?
Radiant floor heating, also referred to as under-floor or in-floor heating, is an energy-efficient heating system that’s installed underneath your flooring. It works by conducting heat through the floor’s surface to warm your home through heat transfer.
Types of Radiant Floor Heating Systems
There are two types of radiant heat floor systems that are most common:
- Electric Radiant Floor Heating: uses electric wires laid under flooring to produce heat
- Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating: uses tubing embedded under flooring in a looping path; boiler or water heater circulates hot water through tubes to produce heat
So, what type of radiant floor heating is right for your home? Let’s take a look at both the benefits and drawbacks of electric and hydronic radiant floors as well as what type of flooring works best for radiant heat.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Under Floor Heating
There are several advantages to installing radiant floor heating in your home. First, under-floor heating can substantially improve indoor air quality. Forced-air heating can distribute pollen, dust, microbes, and mold, which is especially irritating for people with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues.
Second, radiant floor heating provides a constant, stable heat that rises from the floor, so the coolest air remains near the ceiling. Conventional heating systems work oppositely, which can result in sudden temperature changes. Air comes out of the register at a very high temperature and rises to the top of the room. Then, the air quickly loses heat and falls as it cools. This leaves your feet feeling cold while the top half of your body is warm. Additionally, your furnace shuts off when your home reaches your desired temperature, leaving you feeling chilly as soon as warm air stops blowing from the vents.
There are also advantages and disadvantages specific to each type of radiant flooring:
Electric Radiant Floors
- Affordable to install
- Great for heating small spaces
- Expensive to operate due to the high cost of electricity
Hydronic Radiant Floors
- Cheaper to operate
- Great for heating larger spaces
- Higher installation costs
- Needs water from a boiler or water heater
The Best Flooring for Radiant Heat
Because they are completely hidden by your flooring, radiant floor heating systems are most easily installed during a build or remodel. But what type of flooring works best for radiant heat?
Porcelain, ceramic, and stone tile are all ideal flooring choices for radiant heat systems. They are great conductors of heat and won’t crack as they don’t expand and contract with heat.
Engineered hardwood is preferred over solid hardwood for radiant floor heating. Because of its plywood base, engineered hardwood is more stable and won’t warp or crack with changes in temperature.
Carpet isn’t the best choice, as it’s not a good conductor of heat. Your feet may be warm, but the heat is unlikely to spread to the rest of the room. If you’re set on carpet, consider a thin option with a low pile.
Although not an ideal choice, laminate can be used for in-floor heating. Laminate’s thinness allows it to feel warm to the touch. Another benefit is that heat can easily escape to warm the room. But, if moisture were to escape from a hydronic system, the laminate would be damaged.
Installing radiant heat under wood floor can tricky because of its natural tendency to expand and contract when exposed to fluctuations in temperature and moisture. But it isn’t impossible. Recommendations include increasing the temperature gradually to let the wood adjust and using quarter-sawn wood which expands in thickness instead of width, making it less prone to warping and cracks.
Have questions or are interested in learning more about radiant floor heating installations? Contact Martinov Home Solutions today! We are a local HVAC company offering award-winning heating and cooling solutions to the Akron, Ohio area.