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FAQs about Concrete Floor Radiant Heating
- Can the floor get too hot?
Radiant floor heating produces room temperatures very close to ideal: about 75 F at floor level, declining to 68 F at eye level, then to 61 F at the ceiling. According to the Radiant Panel Association, a radiant-heated floor normally feels "neutral," with a surface temperature usually lower than normal body temperature, although the overall sensation is one of comfort. Only on very cold days, when the radiant heating system is called on for maximum output, will the floor actually "feel" warm.
- Can the tubing leak in a hydronic system?
According to Uponor, leaks are not a concern when the system is properly installed. Their PEX tubing has a life expectancy of more than 100 years, and all the tubing is thoroughly inspected before it leaves the manufacturing plant.
- If I have radiant floor heating, do I need a separate system for air conditioning?
Although some radiant floor systems are capable of cooling by circulating cool water through the tubing (such as this radiant cooling system, from Uponor) most homes will need a separate system to provide the cooling. The reason is that heating is ideally delivered from the ground up. Cooling is best delivered through a separate air-conditioning system with ductwork located near the ceiling. Radiant cooling also won't remove humidity from the air, which can be a disadvantage in sticky climates. In addition, it can result in condensation of moisture on the cool concrete floor surface.
- Can radiant floor heating be zoned?
Yes. In fact most hydronic systems have zoning controls that can regulate the level of heat delivered to a particular room or area of the floor, either by controlling the volume of water flow through each tubing loop, the temperature of the water, duration of pulses of flow, or a combination of all three. Electric systems are usually controlled with programmable dual-sensing thermostats that combine input from a floor sensor with a room-temperature thermostat.
A recent innovation, from Uponor, is a wireless climate-control zoning system that allows you to separately control every room of a home or building. Designed for use with hydronic radiant heating, the wireless control also eliminates the need to run thermostat wires through walls, which can significantly cut installation time.
- How much does it cost to install radiant in-floor heat?
The costs for equipment and installation can vary widely, depending on factors such as the type of system (electric vs. hydronic), the size of the area to be heated, the type of flooring, zoning and control requirements, and the cost of labor. Your best strategy when comparing costs is to get estimates from several radiant heating installers in your area. In general:
- Installations in newly poured concrete floors are usually less expensive than retrofitting or tearing up and replacing an existing floor.
- Hydronic systems typically have higher initial costs because you have to buy more equipment, including a boiler and pump. But if you intend to heat a large area or an entire house, hydronic systems may be more cost-effective to operate in the long run.
- Electric radiant heat, on the other hand, is often more cost-effective for heating small areas, depending on the utility costs in your area. According to WarmlyYours, an electric system for an average-size bathroom costs anywhere from $400 to $700 to install (for an electric mat installed in thin-set cement).
Research frequently asked questions about heating systems from Uponor (formerly Wirsbo)
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