How Radiant Heat Works

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) conducted studies using radiant heating, which
showed that most individuals indicated a feeling of comfort at temperature levels 6°F to 8°F lower with radiant heating than with traditional heating systems, such as forced-air or baseboard heating. The reason for this is that these systems whether electric or hot water heating systems are convective systems that use air as the primary heat-transfer medium. Traditional forced-air and baseboard heating vents are typically placed on outside walls. These systems are designed to fill the room with warm air until the temperature in the room reaches that at which the thermostat is set. As the warm air fills the room, it rises to the ceiling, cools, falling to the floor then either returns to the furnace or to the baseboard heater.

Radiant heat is the direct transfer of heat to cooler objects. With radiant ceiling heat, the temperature variation between ceiling and floor is approximately 2°F to 4°F, with the floor temperature being approximately 2°F warmer than the air temperature. With floor radiant heating, the results are in reverse, meaning that the temperature variation between floor and ceiling is approximately 2°F to 4°F, with the ceiling temperature being approximately 2°F warmer than the air temperature. In addition, the use of low-e thermal glass helps to contain the radiant energy, thus reducing heat loss.

With radiant heat systems, you should not need the use of a humidifier, as radiant heat does not dry out the moisture in the air like with other heating systems. Heated air from furnaces and baseboard heaters flow against cooler air located against exterior walls, which creates a stack effect, drawing in the cooler outside air through any cracks. Radiant heat systems reduce the chances of creating a stack effect, because radiant heating maintains a constant temperature throughout the room. This results in an approximate 25% to 35% reduction in heat loss, which translates into a savings for the homeowner.