The Comfort of Radiant Heat
Radiant heating is a type of thermal systems for heating indoor and outdoor areas. In fact, heating by radiant energy is seen everyday - it is the effect you feel when in the warmth of the sunshine or a hot oven from across a room.
Radiant heat thermal systems depend on radiant heat transfer, which is the delivery of heat from a hot surface to people or objects via the radiation of heat, also called infrared radiation. Entire buildings can be warmed through this type of radiant heat rather than the conventional method of convection heating. This thermal system omits heat energy from a warm element, such as flooring, overhead panel, or walls, to warm people and objects in a room rather than directly heating the air. Even though the internal air temperature of radiant heat buildings may be lower than conventional heated buildings, they both achieve the same level of comfort, and when adjusted, the temperatures are equivalent.
There are several types of radiant heating systems: Underfloor heating systems (electronic or hydronic), wall heating systems, and radiant ceiling panels.
Underfloor and wall heating systems often are called low-temperature systems since their heating surface is much larger than other systems, therefore needing a much lower temperature to achieve the same level of heat transfer.
The two types of underfloor heating systems include electronic and hydronic. Electric systems use electric cables built into the floor as mats or tiles to transfer heat. Hydronic systems are the most popular, as these use a system of pump heated water and tubing laid in a pattern underneath the floor to transfer heat.
Radiant heat wall panels have the quickest response time of any heating technology. When walking into a room that is heated with radiant panels, the temperature can be set and the heat can be felt in a matter of minutes. Since panels can be controlled individually depending on the room, these thermal systems can result in energy saving costs and efficiency.
Radiant overhead or ceiling panels are mostly used in production and warehousing facilities or sports centers. These radiant systems hang a few meters above the floor and need much higher surface temperatures.
Wall and ceiling radiant panels are mostly heated electrically, and have been found beneficial as supplemental heating in some rooms of residential homes where extending conventional heating systems is not ideal or cost efficient.
There are several advantages of radiant heating thermal systems, the first being that since there is less circulation of air inside a room, it reduces the spread of airborne particles – especially beneficial for people with allergies. Second, since this type of thermal system does not rely on a duct system to transport heat, there is no risk of energy loss, therefore making it more efficient than baseboard heating and forced-air heating. Radiant heat can also be economically beneficial, especially with homes with high electricity prices, since these thermal systems can be heated with a variety of energy sources including gas, solar, or oil.