If you are looking to warm your floors with a radiant heat system and have entered "radiant heat system" into a search engine, you might find yourself scratching your head at this point. There are dozens of products available to purchase, and there are even more companies telling you that their product is the best.
So which product is the best? Should you install a hydronic heating system that pumps hot water through your floors, an electric cable heating system, or a low-voltage panel system? The answer lies in the type of project you are doing. Not every system is ideal for every project, but there is an ideal system for each type of project.
There are hundreds of different types of flooring available to consumers. Each floor type features different characteristics and thermal properties. Radiant floor heating systems are designed to perform best for certain types of floors. So, whether you're looking to heat ceramic tile, vinyl, floating hardwood, or other type of floor, you'll want to do a little homework to find which system best suits your needs. Companies like Warmzone offer one of the largest selections of floor heating (and snow melting) systems on the market, and each system is designed for best performance under certain floor types. Calling and talking with an expert at a company like Warmzone would be the best step one could take. Find out what systems are designed specifically for heating your floor type. You can do this without any sales pressure, and the information you gain can be invaluable.
Hydronic radiant floor heating was the first radiant heat technology available to consumers, and as such, has been the most popular choice for heating homes over the past decades. Hydronic systems may also offer lower operating costs, which makes it an attractive option for heating large areas or entire homes. While hydronic systems have the potential of offering lower operating costs, be aware that the installation costs will be significantly more than that of an equally sized electric floor heating system. Hydronic radiant heat systems require a designated room for the boiler or hot water heater, a series of pumps, and manifold. The flexible tubing is routed in pre-cut channels of specially manufactured gypcrete (a concrete-like material), or wood and aluminum panels. Specially treated water is heated by the boiler and then cycled by the pump through the closed loop of embedded tubing in the floor.
Hydronic heating is the most complex of all radiant heat systems. These systems require trained professionals to design, engineer, and perform the installation. Your best economies of scale are achieved for hydronic systems in large areas or entire homes because of their expensive components. Because the boiler of hydronic radiant heat systems can operate on natural gas, the operational costs can be slightly lower than those of equally sized electric radiant heating systems. This makes hydronic systems a popular choice for large radiant heating projects.
Hydronic systems can be installed under any type of flooring. Some hydronic systems required the tubing to be installed in a 2-4-inch bed of light concrete and were best installed during the initial construction because of the weight load demands and adjustments to the floor buildup. But like electric floor heating systems, hydronic heating technology has improved in recent years. Newer low-mass products have been developed to avoid previous installation challenges by fitting the tubing into pre-engineered panels that are not only lighter, but offer better conductivity for the heat. Hydronic systems offered by the top providers today are more efficient and easy to install, and can be used in most major remodeling and new construction projects.
If you want to install radiant heat in smaller areas like a bathroom or kitchen, a hydronic floor heating system may not be the best value for you. The complexity and cost of installing the system, along with the long-term maintenance and up-keep required is probably not worth the small amount you will save in operational costs. This is where the advantages of electric radiant heat make a difference.
Electric radiant heat systems utilize relatively thin heat cable or advanced heating panels. Electric floor heating systems are vastly popular, and are especially well-suited for heating small areas (10-300 square feet) like bathrooms, kitchens, and sun rooms. These systems offer homeowners an ideal means for complementing their existing heating system by adding luxurious warmth to the family's favorite rooms, or kids' play room. Electric heated floor systems include a thermostat, and consumers have a wide selection of options for the heating element. Thin ComfortTile heat cable is one of the most popular options becaue of its versatility and performance. The heating cable is available off the spool, or pre-spaced in mats. The individual lengths of cable (off the spools) are oftentimes less expensive than the mats, and give you the ability to space the cable how you want. This is especially handy if you have an odd shaped room that requires a customized layout to heat every custom-shaped area in your room. Other systems have the cable pre-spaced and attached to a flexible mesh or tape to create a mat that can be easily rolled out during installation. The mats can be installed much quicker, and the cable is already spaced correctly.
Whether you purchase the heat cable on spools or in mats, the systems are equally effective, so when determining which system to purchase, you should examine the area to be heated and determine what would be best. Also take into account the ease of installation. A reputable radiant heat provider will work with you the ensure that you make the best decisions concerning your floor heating project.
Some heating elements must be embedded in a separate layer of concrete or mortar, whereas other systems can simply be installed in thinset - or without any mortar at all. Systems such as FilmHeat are designed for installation under floating floors - without the need for any self-leveling compounds or mortar. The untra-thin heating panel is placed directly under the floating floor. (Learn more about FilmHeat.)
A variety of other floor heating systems is available. Homeowners can be assured of finding the ideal system for heating their particular floor types. In-Slab floor heating systems are designed for installation in concrete slabs, while the RetroHeat system is designed to heat existing floors - without having to do any remodeling. The heating panels are simply stapled up between the floor joists, and batt insulation is then placed of the heating element to direct all the heat up to warm the floor. The system is surprisingly effective, and provides homeowners with an affordable option for adding radiant heat to their home.
While many install electric floor heating systems to warm their entire home, the most common option is to install electric heated floors in select rooms, complementing the existing heating system. If you're looking to heat smaller areas, it is nearly impossible to beat the simplicity and price of an electric radiant heating system.
Finally, there are low-voltage radiant heat systems. These systems are ideal for mid-size to larger areas (300-3000 square feet) and are comprised of a control box, transformer, heating panels, and thermostat. This remarkable system is also commonly used in roof de-icing applications as well. The flexible polymer panel is installed directly under the the roof shingles (or metal roof). FloorHeat STEP is a low-voltage radiant heating system and that features an extremely low profile heating element. The thin, durable polymer heating element is available in different widths, and is self-regulating. Because it is so thin, FloorHeat does not result in notable buildup of floors.
The low voltage system can be installed directly under any type of flooring including hardwood, tile, laminates, and carpet. Whereas most cable systems must be installed on top of the concrete or backerboard subfloor when installing tile, FloorHeat can be installed underneath it. These systems are easy to install and don't require maintenance like a hydronic system. The self-regulating capability of FloorHeat means that when the ambient temperature rises, the electrical resistance increases and the consumption of electricity decreases. For this reason, the element cannot overheat, and the system is extremely energy efficient. But keep in mind for tile heating jobs that the low-voltage system will likely be considerably more expensive than that of the highly touted ComfortTile system - which utilizes thin heat cable. Consult with a floor heating expert to learn more details so that you are sure of finding the best system for your home.
Radiant heat technology has made significant advances over the years and is an excellent way to supplement your existing heating system or be your sole source of heat. One good way to be assured that you're being sold the best system for your project is to buy from a company that offers all of the available types of radiant heat.
Warmzone is one company who carries various types of radiant systems and is dedicated to specifying the product that makes the most sense for each individual job. Without a bias towards one system, they have become a consumer advocate in the radiant industry and will save you time and money.
Warmzone has already done the research and has selected to only work with the best products on the market. Because they are a large nationwide wholesaler, they can offer you the best pricing by selling to you direct. You can receive a free estimate for your project by submitting a request at www.warmzone.com or call a radiant heat expert at 888.488.9276.
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