Radiant Heating Systems

For indoor comfort, there's nothing like radiant heating. Radiant floor heating has been around for centuries, beginning with the Romans who used to vent hot air under the floors of their villas. Popular in Europe for the last several decades, and now with energy efficiency a hot topic for homeowners and builders, radiant heating is growing more and more popular for American homeowners and homebuilders.

Not only do people love waking up and not stepping onto a cold floor, they also enjoy ease of control and quiet operation, design possibilities - almost any floor covering can be used - cost effectiveness and reliability. And for optimum heat transfer, there's nothing like copper tubing.

There are three kinds of radiant floor heating: hot water (hydronic), electric, and forced air, which pipes hot air though the floor. There are two types of installation for these systems. In a wet installation, tubing is embedded in a concrete slab or lightweight concrete over a wooden base. In a dry installation, radiant floor tubing is snaked between two layers of plywood or affixed underneath a finished floor.

Although each type of system is functional and appropriate for certain applications, in terms of residential homes, there are some drawbacks. Radiant air systems, for example, are not very common in residential applications because air does not retain or hold large amounts of heat, making it not very cost-effective. Electric systems can be cost-effective only if you live in an area where power rates are low or your electric utility company offers time-of-use rates. These plans allow you to "charge" the floors - build up a stockpile of heat - during off peak hours, saving considerable energy and money compared to using the same amount of electricity during peak hours.

Hydronic (liquid) systems are the most popular and cost-effective residential radiant heating systems. These systems work by pumping hot water through tubing laid in a pattern underneath the floor. Zone valves and thermostats control individual room temperatures throughout the system.

Copper has been used for hydronic radiant heating systems since the 1940's. It is the choice of many installers and homeowners because of its superior heat transfer capabilities. It is also noncombustible and extremely dependable.

Water temperatures are very important in radiant heating systems. Radiant heating systems operate with water temperatures of 90-140 degrees. A hot-water baseboard or radiator system, in comparison, runs with a water temperature of 160-210 degrees. 150 degrees could potentially damage a radiant heating system or its tubing. Copper tubing however, is able to handle temperatures and fluctuations without damage to the tube itself.

Radiant heating systems installed with copper tube and fittings have very distinct advantages over other materials. Besides its heat transfer properties, annealed copper tube is much sturdier than rubber or plastic tubing. Soldered copper joints are the most dependable of connections. They rarely, if ever, break or deteriorate. Radiant systems with copper and brass connections are also easier to install because the fittings are standardized. Installers can find compatible parts at any plumbing supply store and don't have to be limited to a single source or manufacturer, as with proprietary plastic or rubber tube systems. Since the cost of copper tubing is considerably lower now than several years ago, it is gaining popularity because of its superior heat-transfer abilities over plastic-based tubing.

Another positive attribute to copper radiant heating systems is that copper tube has inherent resistance to oxygen permeation, which prevents pinhole leaks from forming. Although makers of other radiant systems have introduced precautionary measures against damage caused by oxygen permeation, they still have not proven themselves over the test of time, like copper.

If copper systems are installed and properly maintained they can last a lifetime. Some copper radiant systems are 70 years old and have never had one leak. Copper radiant heating systems are also used for outdoor installations to melt snow on sloping driveways, sidewalks, parking lots and pedestrian areas.

Heat Pumps

One of the most cost-effective means for heating and cooling is the ground source heat pumps. For additional information, please click on the links below:

Contacts for Heat Pump Information:

Chris Pamplin
American Geothermal
1037 Old Salem Road
Murfreesboro, TN 37129
Ph. 1 800 776-8039
Fax 1 800 890-6926
Email: [email protected]

Joe Parsons
ECR Technologies
1248 George Jenkins Blvd.
Building B3
Lakeland, FL 33801
Ph. 941 688-0880
Fax 941 688-0929

Advanced Geothermal Technology
P.O. Box 6469
Reading, PA 19610
Ph. 610 736-0570
Fax 610 736-0571

K. W. Lambert Construction and Equipment
405 Mt. Crawford Ave.
Bridgewater, VA 22812
Ph. 540 828-3147
Fax 540 828-7474