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Frequently Asked Questions About Radiant Heat

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Q. What is radiant heat?
A. Radiant heat is a unique transfer of energy that naturally searches out colder objects to warm. Instead of rising like warm air, radiant heat starts by warming the coldest and closest objects from its source. This is why radiant heating systems are generally placed under floors.
Q. How does a radiant heating system work?
A. Electric radiant heat systems utilize a conductive material (heat cable) that is embedded in the floor. When the floor heating system is turned on, the energy forced through the heat cable creates resistance or heat. The heat radiates and warms the floor and room. Electric floor heating systems feature rapid response times and are very energy efficient.

Hydronic radiant heating systems utilize specially treated water that is heated and pumped through PEX tubing to heat the floor.
Q. What radiant heating system is better, electric or hydronic?
A. Both systems have distinct advantages. When heating small areas or under a tile floor, electric radiant under floor heating systems make the most sense. The advantages and benefits of electric floor heating cable are usually superior to hydronic floor heating for warming small and medium sized floor areas. Electric floor heating cable systems are more efficient, easy to install, and the least expensive. Controlled by a thermostat with an in-floor sensor, electric under floor systems are maintenance-free and have the quickest response time.

Hydronic systems require a mechanical room with a boiler and pump, but these systems usually offer a slightly lower operating cost than electric systems, making them more popular for heating large indoor areas.

Read the article Which Radiant Heating System is Best for your needs.

Q. What is the difference between low-voltage and line-voltage systems?
A. The main difference between low and line voltage cables is in how the heating cables are controlled. Low-voltage cables require a control box and transformer, whereas line-voltage cables only require a thermostat. Low-voltage cables are not safer once embedded in a medium, and operational costs are not any less expensive. Line-voltage cables tend to be less expensive per square foot when heating smaller areas.

Read more about line-voltage and low-voltage radiant heat systems.