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Radiant Floor Heating and Cooling Systems

Radiant floor heating (RFH) has been used for centuries. The Romans channeled hot air under the floors of their villas. The Koreans channeled hot flue gases under their floors before venting them up the chimney. In the 1930s, architect Frank Lloyd Wright piped hot water through the floors of many of his buildings. Some home builders' surveys have shown that, if given a choice, most new home owners prefer radiant floor heat over other types of systems.

Advantages

  • Comfort and quiet operation.
  • Even heating throughout the whole floor.
  • Heats from the bottom up, warming the feet and body first.
  • Eliminates the draft and dust associated with forced-air heating systems.
  • Even heat distribution equates with lower heating bills.
  • Lower thermostat settings, because the entire surface of the floor radiates about the same amount of heat that the human body does, making the occupant feel warm even though the temperature might only be 65( F).
  • Does not increase the infiltration of outside air into the house structure (allergens).
  • Aesthetics; the system is invisible.

Types

  • Radiant air floors (air is the heat carrying medium)
  • Electric
  • Hot water (hydronic)

Hydronic Radiant Floor (HRF) Systems are the most popular and cost effective in residential applications. HRF systems pump heated water from a boiler through tubing laid in a pattern underneath the floor. The temperature in each room is controlled by regulating the flow of hot water through each tubing loop.

Floor Coverings
Ceramic is the most common floor covering for radiant heat, however almost any floor covering can be used. However it is wise to remember that anything that can insulate the floor reduces or slows heat entering, therefore increasing fuel consumption.

Controlling the System
A radiant floor that uses a concrete slab takes many hours to heat up if it is allowed to become cold. Because of this most radiant floor systems are not permitted to go into a very deep night setback.

Cost of Radiant Floor Heating
Approximate cost of a hydronic radiant floor is $4-$6 per square foot. This fluctuates depending on the size of the room, type of installation, the floor covering, remoteness of the site, and the cost of labor.

 
 
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