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Editor's Notepad

Editor's Notepad

Is Radiant Floor Heating the Best Way To Warm A Well-Insulated House?

comments (4) February 4th, 2011 in Blogs
ScottG Scott Gibson, contributing writer

One builder is getting mixed messages about the benefits of burying radiant-heat tubing in a lightweight slab.Click To Enlarge

One builder is getting mixed messages about the benefits of burying radiant-heat tubing in a lightweight slab.

Photo: Drawing: Toby Welles

What's the best way to install radiant floor heating?

Lukas Smith is planning a radiant-floor heating system for his fairly large but well insulated house in southern Ontario. He wonders whether the hot water can be supplied by a water heater rather than a boiler, and how to provide air conditioning.

Lukas's post in the Q&A forum at GreenBuildingAdvisor is an effort to settle the fine points of the design, and the subject of this week's Q&A Spotlight.


Is radiant heat right for this home?

Some of the answers may have surprised him. While some responses steered Smith toward non-boiler options for heating water for the radiant-floor tubing, other posters suggested there might be more economical ways of heating the house altogether. Chief among them is the ductless mini-split, a type of air-to-air heat pump.

Conventional air source heat pumps lose efficiency rapidly as temperatures fall, but newer designs such as a Mitsubishi Electric model perform much better in very low temperatures. One Connecticut homeowner reports that heat so far this year has cost hiim a paltry $170.

Even better, heat pumps provide air conditioning as well as heat, something that radiant-floor heating systems can't do.

Read the whole article at Green Building Advisor.


Further Resources

Warm Board as a Wall Heater

Improvised Radiant Heat in A Bathroom Floor

Warm Floors on a Tight Budget

Energy Efficient From the Ground Up


posted in: Blogs
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Comments (4)

JamesPearce JamesPearce writes: I actually didn't know that radiant underfloor heating systems were done using water until I started doing some research (and ended up here). I did some work with a company called CBS Radiant Heating in Australia and they were using low voltage ultra thin cabling under the floor boards / carpet (whatever covering). *Apparently* it's more efficient but looking at the comments here maybe less well known / less used?
Posted: 3:09 am on May 14th

10orchids 10orchids writes: We have just done a four unit townhouse with 'pex' stapled to the underside of the plywood sub-floor. The heat is supplied from a water to water heat-exchanger that is heated by a high efficient instant natural gas hot water heater. The w-w heat exchanger provides the separation that keeps domestic water from the heating loops. Thermostats and control valves allow zoning. These systems are working very well, they give a warm floor do not take up floor or wall space, and are performing very well in a 11,500 DD climate where the temperature went to -40 degrees this winter. Another advantage is the total furnace (boiler)and hot water heater use a space on the exterior wall 12" x 48" that can be enclosed in a built in cupboard.
Posted: 9:29 pm on March 13th

TahoeContractor TahoeContractor writes: All else constant, I say radiant is best; As far as comfort goes. Another reason I really like it is for environmental quality. Having forced air blowing around can create a poor living environment if the system is not extremely well filtered.

when all is is not constant-
But infloor hydronics is not always an option and there are many many options which all are site/situation specific.

How does running domestic water through a hydronic system effect the components? erosion etc?

the mini-split sounds like a great option.
lots to think about here
Posted: 9:59 pm on February 22nd

ecodude ecodude writes: Yes its petty,

Is your comment based on $$? "heat pumps provide air conditioning as well as heat, something that radiant-floor heating systems can't do"

Radiant-floor can do it, if you have a air to air, or ground source heat pumps!

The caviet is, unless your promoting ductless, they cost more!
Posted: 4:53 pm on February 7th

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