Radiant Heating – Consistent Warmth, Low Energy Bills

radiant heatingRadiant heating is an exciting alternative for Edmonton homeowners looking for a cost-effective heating system that provides consistent warmth and low energy bills.

If you are wondering if radiant heaters are for you, let us familiarize you with how they work, the different types, and how they compare to the vastly popular furnace. This knowledge will help you decide if a radiant heating system is right for your home.

How They Work

Radiant heaters creates warmth through infrared light. You may remember from science class that we cannot see infrared light such as light from the sun. The sun emits light that heats our skin, clothes and other objects around us.  The heat transfer is called conduction.  When we go into the shade, we receive less direct light, and thus, less warmth.

Once an object absorbs radiant heat, it then emits radiant heat to other objects, and so on.  The end result is even heat distribution throughout the house.

Types of Radiant Heaters

Radiant heating systems supply heat directly from the floors or from panels in the walls or ceiling of a house.

Radiant Floor Heaters
radiant heater

The two main types of radiant heating systems electric radiant floors, and hot water (hydronic) radiant floors.

Electric radiant floors usually consist of electric cables built into the floor. However, due to the high cost of power, they are only viable if both of the following occurs:

  • the floor absorbs and retains heat for up to 10 hours (e.g., thick concrete floor); and
  • your local electrical company offers time-of-use rates (discounts for off-peak hours).

Electric radiant floors may be effective for home additions where it would be impractical to extend the heating system.

Hydronic (liquid) systems are the most popular and cost-effective radiant heaters.  By way of tubing below the flooring, hydronic systems circulate heated water from a boiler.  By regulating the level of hot water, you can control the temperature of each room.

Radiant Panels

Radiant panels mounted on walls and ceiling are normally made of aluminum.  Both  electricity and hot water power radiant panels, although some consumers worry about leakage with the latter. Thus, the popular choice is electrically heated radiant panels.

Like any type of heat powered by electricity, radiant panels are expensive to operate.  However, they are very useful as a backup heat source.

Since radiant heating panels operate on a line-of-sight basis (you are more comfortable closer to the panel), some Edmonton homeowners don’t like that their heads and shoulders are warmer than the rest of their body with ceiling radiant systems.

Benefits of Radiant Heaters

Radiant heating:

  1. Provides immediate heat. Within minutes of turning on the radiant heater, you will be warm. Other heating systems warm the surrounding air, which takes longer to heat.
  2. Avoids allergens. Forced air systems heat rooms by circulating warm air, which contain dust and airborne particles that have gathered in the furnace. In contrast, radiant heaters emit light to heat objects. If you or your loved ones are prone to allergies, you may want to consider radiant heating.
  3. Is more economical to operate. Radiant heating systems can cut heating costs by 25 to 50 percent.
    • Radiant heating systems do not use ducts. Ducts lose energy when air leaks into them or out of them. Moreover, duct systems lose energy when the hot air heats the duct walls. In winter, the duct walls in an attic or crawl space can be almost as cold as the outside.
    • Hydronic radiant systems use lower water temperatures than hydronic baseboards.
    • Radiant heating systems run on lower temperatures because they don’t warm up the air like forced air systems. Instead, they radiate heat directly to the objects and people in a room.
  4. Radiant heaters are virtually invisible. The heater occupies minimum space in your home. As a matter of fact, nobody will ever notice that you have a radiant heater.
  5. Silent heat. Without a fan or blower, radiant heaters do not produce any sound.
  6. Minimal maintenance. You do not need to clean your radiant heater because no dust and dirt ever enters the heater lines. On the other hand, forced air heating systems require regular maintenance (e.g., furnace, filters and ductwork).

Choosing the Right Type of Radiant Heating

For existing homes, the cost of labour and materials make it cost prohibitive to install radiant floor heating.  On the other hand, radian ceilings are cost-effective since all you have to do is lower a ceiling, making it a popular choice with homeowners.

Radiant panels have the quickest response time of any heating technology.   Homeowners can increase the temperature setting and be comfortable within minutes.  Moreover, since panels can be individually controlled for each room, you can conserve energy by turning down the heat in rooms infrequently occupied.

Radiant panels cost far less than radiant floors.  In most cases they cost less than half of a radiant floor.   They take less effort to design and install.

Hydronic radiant heating (HRF) systems are less expensive to operate than panels since natural gas is cheaper than electricity.  Moreover, radiant floors are best in rooms with smooth surface floors (e.g., marble, tile stone or wood), such as bathrooms, where occupants are often barefoot.

Summary

You can use radiant heaters either as a main source of heating for your home or as a supplementary heating source.

The cost of installing radiant heaters in your home may be more expensive than any other heating systems. However, if you look long-term, radiant heating is the most cost-effective and energy-efficient heating system available on the market today.

Many homeowners in Edmonton are now shifting to a radiant heating that combines heating efficiency, energy efficiency and clean air without the need for bulky ductwork.

A radiant heater is able to provide warmth at a low temperature setting. As well, you can lower temperatures in rooms used less often. Both contribute to lower energy bills.

Being 100% efficient, radiant heaters are now gaining popularity for home heating in Edmonton and the rest of Canada. Radiant heaters transform all of the energy that passes through it into heat. Therefore, there is no unused heat energy.

Contract a professional HVAC Contractor to find out if radiant heating is right for you.

August 19th, 2016 by Bob Bies
About Bob Bies

Bob Bies is the Chief Executive Officer for Furnace Repair Edmonton, which specializes in heating, air conditioning and plumbing installation, repair and servicing. For same day 24/7 service, call 587-409-5683.