5 Radiant Floor Heating Essentials
- Wire Mesh: Wires are looped through and embedded in a trimmable, splice-able mesh mat. Roll out the mat to cover large areas at once.
- Best Types of Flooring: Electric radiant heating systems work best when installed under tile, stone, and marble flooring.
- Worst Types of Flooring: While the system will not function at optimal levels, it can also be installed under hardwood, vinyl, and wall to wall carpet. The reason why these floor coverings do not work well with electric radiant heating is because they act as insulators, blocking the heat from the room.
- Low Heat: Electric radiant heating systems provide a low heat under floors. This low heat slowly builds up and makes the flooring warm to the touch, and heats the room up a bit. Radiant heat systems can heat floors up to as high as 95 degrees F.
- Additions: A good way to heat up additions, without having to extend HVAC ducting. Personally, I would supplement with a couple of electric baseboard heaters, too.
Basic Types of Radiant Floor HeatingThe most popular type of radiant floor heating is called electric radiant heat. Individual wires or wire mesh is sandwiched between the floor's finish layer (i.e., the part that you see and walk on) and the substrate.
Less popular types are hydronic radiant heat and radiant air floors. Hydronic radiant heat involves running hot water through tubes under the floor, much like a hot water space radiator, except in the floor. Radiant air floors have tubes of hot air, rather than water, running under the floor. In this article, we focus on electric radiant floor heating.
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Pros and Cons of Radiant Floor HeatingPros:
- Electric radiant heating systems buried within thermal masses (such as concrete) can retain heat for a long time, even after the power is turned off.
- A discreet way of heating a floor. With the right temperature setting, it's difficult to even detect that the radiant heat is on.
- Can help reduce overall heating costs--your HVAC or space heaters do not have to run as hard to heat up the flooring.
- Difficult to install retroactively.
- More effective at warming the floor surface "to the touch," rather than heating the entire room (though it is possible to use radiant floor heating as your primary heat source).
- Uses electricity, which is typically an expensive way to provide heat.
- Broken wires are trapped between flooring surfaces and are difficult to repair.