Advantages of Radiant Floor Heating

Radiant floor heating is comfortable

By far, the biggest advantage of radiant floor heating is comfort. The large radiant surface means that most of the heat will be delivered by radiation—heating occupants directly—rather than by convection. Warmer surfaces in a living space result in a higher mean radiant temperature, a measure of surface temperatures in a space that influences the rate of radiant heat loss from occupants). With higher mean radiant temperatures, most people are comfortable even at lower air temperatures. Delivery of the heat at floor level with a warm floor surface also allows occupants to walk around barefoot even in winter—a very popular feature.

Radiant floor heating is green

With green homes in particular, after going to all the effort and expense to incorporate healthy and sustainable materials, ensuring high levels of comfort with radiant floor heating should be a top priority.

Energy savings

There is potential for saving energy with radiant floor heating through several mechanisms, including lower thermostat settings, lower-temperature boiler settings, and reduced infiltration. Homeowners with radiant floor heating are likely to be comfortable at lower air temperatures because of the elevated mean radiant temperature in such homes, the lack of significant airflow (as occurs with convective hydronic heating and forced-air heating systems), and the delivery of heat at floor level. Proponents of radiant floor heating argue that someone normally comfortable at 72°F (22°C) will be comfortable in a building with radiant floor heating kept at 68°F (20°C).

Potential for use of solar energy

The relatively low temperature required for circulation water in a radiant floor heating system provides an opportunity to utilize solar hot water. This approach works best with concrete-slab systems; higher-temperature water is generally required when the tubing is attached to the underside of wooden floors. While such systems are fairly complex and expensive, radiant slabs offer one of the best ways to make use of solar energy for heating portions of a building without direct access to sunlight. Most practical are systems in which solar energy heats water in a storage tank that can then be circulated through the slab.

Quiet operation

Radiant hydronic floor heating is extremely quiet. Unlike forced-air heat, there is no noise from a fan or airflow through ducts; and unlike hydronic baseboard heat, there is usually no gurgle of water through baseboard radiators or creaking from expansion and contraction. The primary noise will be the sound of circulating pumps and the fan used in power-venting the boiler. With radiant floor systems that have tubing attached to the underside of wood flooring, there may also be some creaking from expansion and contraction.

Flexible room layout

Because there are no baseboard radiators or air registers with radiant floor heating, there is much greater freedom as to where furniture can be placed. Radiant floor heating systems are "invisible."

Improved indoor air quality.

An argument can be made for improved indoor air quality in houses with radiant floor heat. Compared with a conventional forced-air distribution system, there is likely to be less dust circulated around the house. And unlike electric baseboard or forced-air heat, there will be no surfaces hot enough to burn dust particles—which could introduce volatile chemicals or toxic particulates into house air (even passing through filters). This concern would be greatest for people with acute chemical sensitivities.

Advantages of Radiant Floor Heating copyright 2011