Radiant Heating Systems For Homes
Imagine stepping out of bed in the Winter onto a toasty-warm floor – how great is that? With hydronic radiant floor heating, you can enjoy an energy efficient Home that will eliminate cold feet, create a healthier living environment and significantly lower your utility bills.
Hydronic Radiant Heat Cost vs. Benefits
Radiant heating systems exceed the performance, efficiency, and comfort of Forced Air heat – except on initial price. Do the benefits of radiant heating systems outweigh the price premium? Western Europe shows that hydronic radiant heated floors are 90% of their more mature and advanced Home heating market. America is less than 10% radiant heat now, but that figure has doubled and is growing fast. Why is Radiant Heating in demand? Comfort and Health are priceless, energy savings are a bonus. The market is not shifting to radiant simply because it is less costly to operate, the driver is people want even heat, silent, draft-free, and without blowing dust and contaminants over us. How much cheaper does Forced Air have to be to put up with the uneven heat, noise, and allergens? Apparently the price gap is close now as more people are investing in radiant floor heating every year.
Warm floors begin with either a Boiler consuming Natural Gas or Electricity. Alternatively a renewable energy Geothermal or Solar Heat Pump system as the Carbon-free radiant heating source. Downstream from the heater is the radiant distribution system that is customized for the Home owners preferences. Typically hot water is circulated through PEX tubing embedded in concrete underneath the floor’s surface or distributed to baseboard/wall radiators. European styled Convectors (radiators with a booster fan – like SunPump Komfort), are a popular solution that lowers installation costs.
Hydronic Heating System Design
Builders and Owners must use a certified Hydronic Designer to plan the Home circuits based on a Heat Loss/Gain Calculation on a room by room basis. Programs like HOT2000 are used to estimate the Heat Loss per room, or HeatCAD adds the hydronic loop calculations into a comprehensive plan. Most often a counter-person at the plumbing wholesaler provides a free plan based on a template, however we have seen a huge variation as much as 50% for these freebie shortcuts. Consider getting a second opinion from a paid Certified Energy Advisor or SunPump’s application or Mechanical Engineer before installation – not after.
In Thermodynamic principles, heating comfort comes from ultra-low temperature distribution over a very large area like floors, ceilings, or walls. Designers should use hydronic water supply temperatures below 100 F and better below 90 F, using closer spaced PEX pipe loops and slower pump flows to maximize comfort and lower operating costs. Unlike Forced Air, the goal with radiant heating systems is to maximize comfort by reducing temperature differences from floor to ceiling to under 5 F, rather than 30 F from a furnace.
Globally we are in transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The trends include a path to Net Zero Energy homes with super-insulated envelopes that require very small capacity heating systems – much smaller than a routine gas furnace can go. Savvy Builders wishing to set themselves apart with a better than Code efficiency, find SunPump fits well with a DC modulating hydronic heat source for Carbon-free radiant heating and hot water at the same cost or less than a gas furnace and water heater.
Radiant Heating Comfort and Health Benefits
Radiant heat comes from infrared wavelength transmission, it heats the objects and the people in the room, rather than just the air or the room itself. “With radiant floors or walls, everything in the room is that specific temperature,” says John Siegenthaler the Industry expert from Appropriate Designs. “You’re comfortable. You can sit by the window or door and not feel a draft.”
No Heating system is as quiet or clean as radiant heating, since there is not a noisy fan amplified by metal ducts coated in dust. You do not need to suffer from allergies to appreciate the superior Indoor Air Quality provided by radiant hot water. “once you live with Radiant Heating, you can never go back to forced air” says Susan H.
Radiant floor systems heat the space for a cost 30-50% less than Forced Air. This is because water has the second highest specific heat capacity of all materials, about 30 times higher than air, plus it takes 8 times less power to push BTUs through a pipe than the same amount through a duct. A furnace fan can use $650 year electricity compared to $80 for a hydronic pump. While the expense of an effective Radiant Heating system may cost more than a Forced Air heating system, the owner will be reaping the comfort and health benefits for years to come, with a payback on the incremental cost.Why is Radiant Heating in demand? Comfort and Health are priceless, energy savings are a bonus. Click To Tweet
SunPump is the North American leader of innovative renewable energy radiant heating systems. It is the ONLY solar hydronic heater that provides radiant heating and hot water on demand – day and night.
Download the free PDF Heating Systems Cost and Performance Report to see the rigorous comparison winners.