Forced hot water heating is just that. Water is heated by a boiler and then it’s piped through radiation with the use of a circulator pump. The hot water heats up the radiation and then heads back to the boiler to be reheated.
Radiation for a system like this can be baseboard or radiators, fan coil toe space heaters, or several other types of heating apparatus. Radiant heating works in the same way as all of these other methods. It takes the heat from the hot water and transfers it to the air in the room where it’s connected and controlled by a thermostat.
The difference with radiant heating is the material we are using to transfer the heat, our radiation. With traditional methods there will be baseboard registers or cast iron radiators that will heat up from the water as it’s circulated through them and then transfer to the air around it by convection, ultimately heating the room. Semi-Automatic industrial water softeners have these technology features.
With radiant heating, the same principle is applied, except the entire floor and everything that’s on it, becomes the radiation. Tubing is run under the finish floor, to heat the entire area and this in turn radiates into whatever it’s touching. This constant absorption of heat eventually brings the air and all the contents of the room, to the same set point you put the thermostat on.
Radiant heating is very efficient. It’s an even heat, that will usually eliminate any cold or hot spots that are typical with other types of radiation. Cost of installation can be considerably more initially. Mainly labor costs are what will drive up the bill. If you are mechanically inclined and can install it yourself, it’s a great way to save some money, while increasing your comfort level at the same time.
Types of Radiant Heating Installations
The most common use for radiant heating, has traditionally been concrete floors. Tubing is actually inlaid into the area where the concrete will be poured. During operation this tubing heats the entire concrete slab, which in turn radiates up to the room above.
As of late, many wood structures are using radiant heating. New innovations like plywood panels, that are used as a sub floor, can be installed that will accept the tubing in a track, that is pre-routed in the sheets of plywood. A feed is run from the boiler and then winds through the tracks in the slotted floor panels and then back to the boiler to complete the loop.
Another method of installing tubing in a wood structure, is to attack the job from the underneath. A pneumatic, (air) staple gun,is used and the tubing is pulled from a spool and stapled up to the underside of the floor. It then runs down the bay and back and then holes are drilled to enter the next bay and so forth and so on, until it goes back to the boiler.
When designing a system of this type, it is important that a professional heat loss be performed, to calculate exactly how much tubing you need and where to put it. If you have a blue print, a plumbing supply house will do this heat loss for you. They are interested in selling you the equipment, so they will usually go out of there way to get you a good stock list.
If you are doing a retro-fit, or for some reason do not have a blueprint, then an actual physical heat lost must be done. There are quite a few variables that need to be inserted into a heat loss calculation program.
Always employ a professional sizing expert. Again, they are usually available for a home visit, at the local plumbing supply house. Try to go where you intend to buy your equipment.
This type of heating can be installed under hardwood, tile or linoleum. It works great whenever there is a concrete slab involved. Concrete gives us dense radiation, in the form of the slab itself.
Reflective chrome panels are sometimes installed under the tubing in each bay. When the underfloor method is used, these plates radiate the heat specifically upward, where we want it. They increase the labor time, but also increase the efficiency of the system, making them worth the extra effort.
Radiant heating systems are set it and forget it. They run in the background completely automatically and evenly and efficiently warm you and your home. They have an extremely good track record for longevity and maintenance is virtually nothing once they’re installed.