Radiant heated flooring, although used as a general term, actually refers to a couple of different ways of heating up your home via heat that comes from the floor instead of through a forced air system. Radiant heated floors are designed to warm up your home faster than a forced air system. There are actually three different heating systems that are behind radiant heated floors, air-based systems, water-based systems and electric-based systems.
#1 Air Radiant Heating Systems
The first type of heating system is the air-based radiant heating system. This type of heating system is actually the least effective of the three different types of radiant heating systems. The ineffectiveness of this systems is why forced-air systems are not that effective: air is not the best medium for carrying and holding onto heat.
Air radiant systems seem to be more popular in commercial buildings than in residential buildings. Due to the ineffectiveness of air-radiant systems though, they are not as well used as they once were.
#2 Water-Based Radiant Heating System
One of the most affordable types of radiant heating systems relied on the use of heated water to warm up your floors and thus your home. A boiler is used to heat up water, which is then pumped through pipes that are installed under your floor. With these types of systems, pipes are often also installed in your walls as well to provide more heat.
Water-based radiant heating systems are really popular because you can use a variety of different fuel types to heat up your water and broiler based on whatever is the most affordable fuel type for your area. You can use wood, oil, natural gas, propane, electricity or even solar power. You can use pretty much any energy source you can think of to heat up a water-based radiant heating system, making this a popular source for radiant heat.
However, the one serious drawback to water-based radiant heating systems are leaks. You need to be careful about nailing anything into your floors and walls, and you have to take good care of the pipe system.
#3 Electric Radiant Heating System
The final type of radiant heating system relies on electric coils. These electric coils heat up when electricity passes through them. These coils are specifically made for heating purposes and are made out of metals that are resistant to electricity and are wrapped in polymer.
Electric-based radiant heating systems can be placed within floors, walls, or even ceilings, although floor based heating systems are the most popular.
Electric based radiant heating systems are great because they don't require much maintenance and are built to last for a long time. You will not have to update your heating system in the short-term when you install an electric-based radiant heating system.
However, your energy costs are directly related to the cost of electricity in your area, as electricity or solar-based electricity are the only heating sources you can use for this type of radiant energy.
Radiant heat will help heat up your home more quickly and keep it warm for longer. The type of radiant heating you install depends upon what type of heating system you want to use and what type of fuel system is the most cost-effective for your area.