Radiant heating is often considered a rather unusual option for home heating, despite actually being a technology that predates forced air systems. Though it is less popular than forced air systems like furnaces, radiant heating can actually offer a wide range of advantages over them. Let’s take a look at what radiant heating actually is, and why you might want to consider installing it.
What is Radiant Heating?
Radiant heating is a boiler-based heating system that uses water to distribute heat. Its installation begins with putting a network of water pipes in the walls or subfloor of each room that you want to be heated. Occasionally, these pipes may be connected to a terminal heater like a radiator or a baseboard heater. This network of pipes connects to the boiler.
When the heat is turned on, the boiler heats water and pumps it through the pipe network in the house. As the hot water flows through the pipes, the heat from the water radiates through the pipes and out into the room. This is why it’s called “radiant heating.”
What are the Advantages of Radiant Heating?
There are several big advantages to using a radiant heating system over a forced air system. For one thing, the radiant heating system can heat a room much more evenly than most forced air systems. When warm air enters a room from a duct, it will quickly rise to the ceiling and stay there until it cools down. This is hardly helpful to the people in the room, who are almost always closer to the floor than the ceiling. This creates uncomfortable cold spots in rooms heated by forced air systems. Radiant heaters, however, transmit heat directly through the floor. As the heat does not rely on air as a medium, it stays close to ground level where people can benefit from it.
Radiant systems are also quite energy efficient, delivering more of their heat to their destinations than forced air systems. This is for two reasons. First, water is a better medium for transporting heat than air is. Second, a large amount of a forced air heater’s heat is lost to leaks in the ductwork of the average home. Radiant systems bypass this disadvantage completely by not using ducts.