Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating

Jan 01, 2011
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pipes for hydronic floor heating
Radiant Floor Heat Ideas.com

Hydronic floors are liquid-heated floors. This form of radiant floor heating pumps heated water from a boiler through tubing laid in a pattern underneath the floor. There are a lot of great benefits to hydronic floor heating, the most noteworthy being the tremendous energy-saving capabilities of such a system. With this system, the homeowner can control thetemperature in each room individually, avoiding the wasted heat and energy associated with forced air heating systems.

How Hydronic Radiant Floors Work

The temperature in each room is controlled by regulating the flow of hot water through each tubing loop, using a system of zoning valves, pumps and thermostats. There are added energy savings and convenience factors to hydronic floors in that the homeowner can choose the energy source for heating the water. You can use one or a combination of any of the following heat sources:

  • Gas water heater 
  • Electric boiler 
  • Heat pump 
  • Solar or geothermal sources 

The water is usually heated to about 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Installation Choices

There are a few ways that hydronic floors can be installed. They are commonly installed under a concrete slab, but there are other options too, such as the tubing laid in the grooves of pre-cut wood panels. The concrete method, known as "wet installation," encases the pipes in a slab of concrete or lighter-weight gypsum cement. "Dry installation" is when the tubing can be fastened to the underside of subflooring instead.

Your installation choice depends on whether your home is new construction or if you are remodeling to include the installation of the hydronic system. In some cases, such as when a home is being slightly remodeled, it may be more feasible to use a dry application. It's very important to hire a professional HVAC contractor to install any radiant floor heating system. It may also be a good idea to consult with a local plumber, too.

Other Benefits

  • No noise: With systems like conventional forced air systems, blowing heat creates a noise, as does the system when it turns on and off. With hydronic systems, there is no such noise.
  • No dust particles blown into the air: This is of major significance to those who suffer from allergies. A decreased amount of allergens in the air can make for a huge increase in quality of life for a person with asthma or severe allergies.
  • Energy efficient: As with any radiant floor system, you will see an energy savings and lower energy bills. With hydronic floor heating, you can expect the system to be about 20-40% more energy efficient.
  • Savings: Lower energy bills means more money staying in your wallet.

Additional Hydronic Floor Resources

Radiant Floor Heating.com

Watts Radiant

U.S Dept. of Energy

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