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What You Need to Know About Electric and Hydronic Radiant Heat Systems

>> Oct 23, 2017

If you are fond of walking barefoot at home even in the cold autumn and winter months, then you should really go for heated floors, also known as radiant floors, that is if you haven’t yet. Not only does infloor heat provide warm comfort for your feet, it actually does a lot in keeping floors dry and even keeping various parts of the house a little less colder.
But picking the right radiant floor system to install in your house can often be tricky, and mostly your decision will be based on a number of factors, including your budget, your preferences, and even the type of home you’re living in. In this article, we will help you go through the basic advantages as well as the disadvantages when choosing an electric heat system or a hydronic radiant heat system.

The Case for Electric Heating Systems

Electric heating systems have a couple of things going for them. First of all, they are a lot less sophisticated than hydronic heating systems. To give you a very basic idea, an electric heating system is just like a blanket with an electric current running through it. The electricity is what generates the heat, and that heat is distributed throughout the floor via a heat cable.

The set-up is made complete by a thermostat and a temperature sensor. What the thermostat does is turn the heat on or off, based on the temperature sensor’s readings. It must be noted though that the sensor measures the temperature of the floor, and not the room’s.

Installing a standard electric heating system should be pretty easy for anybody armed with some basic electrical wiring knowledge, and it doesn’t take a genius to lay the heat cable on the floor. This brings us to the next advantage of electric heating systems -- they are relatively cheap. You don’t need a big budget to procure the materials needed, and the installation process is pretty straightforward. If you want to install an electric heating system on, say a bathroom or a small kitchen, you only need to spend about $200 to $300.

The Case for Hydronic Heating Systems

Unlike electric heating systems, hydronic systems are a bit more complicated. This is because in hydronic systems, the heat is supplied literally by hot water. The hot water can either come from a boiler or from a water heater, and is then distributed via plastic tubes that run beneath the flooring.

Because hydronic heating systems are not as easy to install as compared to electric heating systems, they tend to be more costly in terms of the time required to install them, as well as the materials and the know-how needed to set them up. For instance, because the system involves installing plastic tubes, a boiler/water heater, a pump, and gas lines, you will generally need to take care of more stuff.

Moreover, apart from electrical know-how, you will need some plumbing expertise. In terms of the materials alone, you will probably spend no less than $600, and that’s not counting the professional help you might need in installing the system.

Still, hydronic heating systems are ideal when it comes to heating large spaces, rooms, or even your home’s entire floor area. This is because it can supply floor heating at a lower operating cost as compared to electric heating systems.

And while it is true that hydronic heating systems require more materials, you can actually use those same materials to deliver heat to every part of the house, not just a specific room or area. And if your home already has hot water radiators or baseboard units, you can use any of those existing resources for the hydronic heating system you plan to install.

The pros of electric heating systems can be summarized into two words: affordability and simplicity. The materials needed to install an electric system are not that expensive, and the set-up itself can be done by any person with basic electrical wiring know-how.

While electric heating systems are good for small rooms (like bathrooms or kitchens), they may not be as efficient in channeling heat to a larger floor area.

As for hydronic heating systems, the fact that they require a lot of components to properly set up makes them generally more complicated to install. And also, not only do you need some electrical expertise, but you also need some plumbing help in making sure the hot water goes where it needs to be.

But when installed right, hydronic heating systems are more efficient in heating bigger floor spaces, and even the whole house. And in terms of costs per square foot, picking a hydronic heating system over an electric heating system also means lower operating costs in the long run.

Written by APM Construction Services, a construction and home maintenance company that is the best choice for heating and cooling in Columbia, MO.

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Welcome to my blog. I'm a home maker, a stay at home wife. I'm just an ordinary woman who has interest in reading, working at home and learning to write. We live in Bogor, Indonesia.
This blog contains articles in family topic.
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