Using Radiant Heat in Homes

radiant heat

Radiant heat systems are a comfortable, efficient way to heat your home. Invisible, too! They supply warmth through wires or tubes that run underneath your floor of your home and heat your home evenly. 

A radiant heating system is a great choice for a new home or when renovating/adding additions to your existing home. Even with our warm Sacramento weather, nothing beats a warm floor beneath cold tiles during colder months.


Types of Radiant Heat

There are two main types of radiant heating systems. Both hot water and electric radiant heating systems provide even, gentle warmth for your home.

1. The electric system of heating mats is generally used to retrofit a single room, most commonly a bathroom or addition where running additional ductwork is difficult. This system uses loops of resistance wire that is laid in a zigzag pattern. It is commonly used across the US as an affordable, luxurious, and practical heating source. It is not recommended for whole-home heat.

2. The hot water system (Hydronic) is typically used as a whole-home heating system. Hot water systems circulate hot water through loops of tubing that is placed in the floor. This system is the most efficient way to heat a home but really only suitable in new construction or a major renovation.

The Price of Warmth Underfoot

Hot water radiant heating systems are often not a practical choice for many Sacramento homes as systems require a boiler which is not a common heating method in our area. Because of this, installation is often costly and impractical, especially when working on existing homes. Energy efficiency can vary depending on type and use but you can learn more about energy option and rebates in Sacramento from the Department of Energy.

Installation Methods

Installation methods are similar for both hot water and electric radiant heating systems. Tubes and mat are laid between the sub-floor and top floor covering.

In a wet installation, cables or tubing are embedded in a thick slab of concrete in a house without a basement or in a thin layer of concrete laid on top of a subfloor.

In a dry installation, cables or tubing are laid beneath the flooring. The tubing or cables may be suspended beneath the subfloor and run between the floor joists.

The best floor covering for a radiant heating system is ceramic tile, quarry tile or stone. These floor coverings help to store and transfer heat efficiently to your home. Laminate wood floors are also a good choice for a floor that is laid over a radiant heating system. If carpeting is laid over the radiant heating system, it should be thin so it does not prevent the transfer of heat to the room.

Nothing better than a warm floor beneath your feet! Our Sacramento plumbers can help with a variety of installations or provide suggestions on radiant floor selections. Contact us for more information.