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Radiant Floor Heating Installation: What Are The Options?

Aug 27, 2008
If you're looking into getting radiant floor heating, you already know about some of it's advantages. With in floor radiant heating, you get warm, even, luxuriant heat without any unsightly radiators, exchangers, vents, or ducts. It's also super quiet, so you don't have to think about anything except for how warm the room feels. Very cool stuff.

So, how do you go about installing this amazing heating? To help you understand what's involved, lets talk about the different types of in floor heating systems available.

First, we have electric in floor heating. Electric systems much like an electric blanket that sits underneath your floor. These require no central device to provide heat, making them easy to install anywhere you have electrical wiring.

However, since electricity is expensive, you don't want to be running these things all the time. To help accomplish this, electric radiant floor heating is best installed over a concrete slab, which will absorb the heat while the system is turned on, and release it gradually as time goes on. This works great if you get discounted electricity during non-peak hours, since you can run the floor during those times, and enjoy the radiated heat throughout the day. If you can't install on a slab, though, you won't get to enjoy this benefit.

If this is your situation, try hydronic radiant floor heating. Here, a central boiler heats and pumps water through a network of pipes that run underneath the floor. Since water holds heat, these are more efficient that electric systems. These systems can be installed in one of two ways. The traditional "wet" system embeds the tubing into a concrete slab on the floor, which provides that same benefits as mentioned above with the electric system.

A "dry" system places the tubing underneath the floor framing. The heat is contained and spread evenly by means of a series of reflectors and diffusers. These systems are great if you don't have or don't want to deal with a concrete slab, but they aren't quite as efficient. However, they are still a great option if your house dictates it.

The big question that comes up is whether you should do this all yourself, or hire it out to a professional. In the case of an electric system, installation by an intrepid do it yourselfer is more feasible. Hydronic systems, due to their complications, are not an ideal do it yourself project. You will likely want to seek professional help here.

This should all help give you some idea of what it takes to install a radiant floor heating system. There are many options and configurations available, so be sure to shop around. Ideally, you should get professional radiant floor heating installation so that you can ensure that your system runs well and is up to code. However, the choice is up to you. Either way, you're sure to enjoy the warmth from your new in floor radiant heating system!
About the Author
David Wilson is the man behind the Radiant Floor Heating Guide. Visit the site to learn more about the various types of radiant floor heating, including hydronic radiant floor heating.
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