Tag Archives: Comparing hydronic and electric radiant heat

Hydronic and Electric Radiant Heating Systems – Comparing Operational Costs

If you’ve decided to add a heated driveway or underfloor heating system to your list of home improvement projects, hydronic heat might be the popular choice, but it’s not necessarily the best, or least expensive way to go. Electric radiant heat is a new, equally viable option that may give you some pause when it comes time to fork over that cash you’ve been stashing for your home improvement projects.

Installing a hydronic heated floor. Pex tubing being installed in Rau Panel.

Let’s say you are considering adding radiant heat to your bathroom-remodeling project. In a small space, typical heating times can make all the difference, right down to the floorboards. A hydronic heated floor system installation requires PEX tubing placed 1½-2 inches into a cement slab for optimal results. At this depth, you could be waiting a few hours for things to heat up. To avoid the inconvenience of those long wait times, most homeowners tend to leave their hydronic heat systems on throughout the winter months, consuming more energy. An electric radiant heated floor can reduce that wait time by as much as 6½ hours. Radiant heating mats can be easily rolled out above the sub-floor, just under the flooring material, and can heat a tile floor in 30 to 60 minutes flat. With more reasonable wait times, programming the system to turn on and off potentially saves you more dollars, and frankly, makes more sense.

Installation costs tend to be higher for hydronic heating systems. Returning to our bathroom project, the $300 to $400 you would expect to spend installing a radiant heated floor will cost you upwards of $4,000 to $5,000. The upfront investment for equipment, labor and floor height issues make hydronic systems cost prohibitive in small- to medium-sized areas. Hydronic systems require a boiler, which accounts for a big chunk of the budget. Unlike radiant heated floor mats, hydronic floor heating systems also elevate the floor by a couple of inches, a significant difference that can cause big problems for you during your bathroom remodeling job. Radiant heated flooring installed will elevate the floor by only ⅛ of an inch. In this scenario, at least, it probably would not make much sense to run a series of tubing for a hydronic system in your bathroom.

Placing heat cable in the grooves of a floor heating insulation panel

Installing heat cable in a floor heating insulation panel.

Of course there is the issue of maintenance and repairs. Hydronic systems circulate continuously, and rely on a system of valves and manifolds prone to sedimentation, mechanical problems and maintenance issues. If a hydronic heating system installation is faulty, it is difficult to find a leak, and because of the nature of the installation, even if the leak is found, it is difficult to repair. With electric radiant heat systems, fault detectors can pinpoint the exact location of a break. After breaking just one or two tiles, the electric cable can be spliced and the tiles replaced, a far better (and less costly) scenario than I’m imagining with our hydronic heated bathroom floor. Fortunately, Warmzone’s electric floor heating systems are built to last and feature the best warranty in the business. Generally, most homeowners opt for electric radiant heating. It’s well suited for small- to mid-sized home improvement projects. And the initial investment is modest enough that you won’t find yourself over your head, or under water when it’s time to tap into your home improvement budget.

ComfortTile floor heating mat, cable and thermostat

      ComfortTile floor heating mat, cable and thermostat.

The floor heating mat features pre-spaced heat cable woven into a durable mat that simplifies the installation process.

Radiant Snow Melting for the Masses

We are nearing the end of another snow season, one that has been especially brutal in terms of snowfall, and it’s likely that most of us have grown tired of shoveling snow from our driveways. As you sit to rest your aching back, imagine a winter without having to shovel snow or throw down any deicing salt. Enter radiant heated driveways and snowmelt systems. Electric radiant snow melting systems are not just a fantasy anymore; they are the ticket to easy snow removal, and a much more pleasant winter.

Radiant heated driveway

What used to be regarded as a luxury for exclusive upscale neighborhoods is now a reality for all of us. Given the custom options and affordability of radiant snow melting systems, heated driveways, steps and walkways have become increasingly popular among homeowners and businesses alike. Warmzone electric snow melting systems are fully automated, extremely durable and are built to last a lifetime.

The advancements in technology have translated into many benefits for consumers, including a wide range affordable installation options. Radiant snow melting systems can be installed in new and existing driveways, and in just about any type of custom configuration. Whether you want your whole driveway surface heated or just the tire tracks or other specific areas, Warmzone can design the ideal snow melting system for you.

Snow melting systems consist of a heat cable or wiring system installed within the surface of the driveway or sidewalk. When conditions for snow are present, a sensor will automatically signal the control unit which actives the system. The surface is heated and your driveway is now a “snow-free zone”. How much more convenient can it get than arriving at home on a snowy day to a nice clear driveway? No shoveling required!

Of Water and Wires: Hydronic Heated Driveways vs. Electric Heated Driveways

‘Ride the Current’ or ‘Go With the Flow’?

If you’ve finally put down the shovel and decided to purchase a heated driveway system, will you be going hydronic or electric? If you’re a newcomer to the concept of driveway heating, hydronic and electric are both popular, and extremely viable forms of driveway heat, and Warmzone has the expertise, and experience, to help determine which is best for you. What these systems share in common—four key components you should be familiar with before purchasing a heated driveway system:

  • The Heating Element (Embedded in the driveway)
  • Snow Sensor
  • Power Controller Unit (Powers the heating elements on and off)
  • Power Supply (Circuit breaker panel)

Of the components mentioned above, the heating element and the control source distinguish hydronic heated driveway systems from electric heated driveway systems.

Hydronic Heated Driveway Systems: Going with the Flow
The heating element for a hydronic snowmelt system, as you may have guessed, involves water. Specifically, hydronic heated driveways use what is known as closed-loop tubing to heat the surface of the driveway. The tubing is generally made of a flexible (and quite durable) polymer or synthetic rubber to circulate a mixture of hot water and propylene glycol (antifreeze). The fluid is warmed to temperatures between 140 to 180 degrees F to deliver enough heat for snow melting.

Heated driveway with brick pavers

A water heater or a boiler is the chief source of heat for a hydronic driveway heating system, which can be powered by any energy source that satisfies the btu requirements, including natural gas, electricity, oil, wood, or even solar collectors. A circulating pump and supply and return manifolds, installed in an easily accessible location, transfer the water between the heat source and tubing.

Electric Heated Driveway Systems: Riding the Current
Unlike hydronic systems, electric heated driveway systems use hot wires to heat paved surfaces. These wires are surrounded by layers of insulation, copper grounding braid and a protective outer layer of PVC or polyolefin to form a flexible cable about ⅛ to ¼ inch in diameter. What’s great about the heat cables is the flexibility of the application. Cable is available on spools as well as pre-spaced and woven into mats, and can be customized (cut) to suit virtually any type of layout, including odd-shaped driveways, common walkways and sidewalks, etc.

After being triggered by the snow sensor, the control unit then powers the heat cable to warm the driveway. To reduce the power demands (and operating costs), you can install cables in just the tire tracks of a driveway rather than the entire area. Warmzone provides complete system design services to ensure that you receive the best system layout and products for your project.

Radiant Heat for Custom Applications

Finding a Radiant Heating Solution as Unique as You Are
As temperatures plummet and heat bills skyrocket, consumers everywhere are turning to radiant heating systems. As the most affordable and customizable option out there, radiant heating is quickly making a name for itself as a titan in the heating market.

So radiant heating is the latest and greatest, but what exactly is so great about it and what can it do for you? One word: customization.

When it comes to radiant heating, the possibilities are endless. Warmzone can design a radiant heating system completely customized for your home and lifestyle, and it’s as easy as one, two, three!

The first step of your radiant heating revolution is studying the available options and talking with a radiant heat expert to help determine the best radiant heat system for your needs.

Indoor Radiant Heating
Radiant heating can be installed under just about any surface, including tile, carpet, wood, etc. Put it in your bathroom, your kitchen, your living room—anywhere you need heat. Each room, or zone, can be controlled with its own thermostat. giving you great flexibility along with outstanding efficiency. Radiant floor heating is an affordable way to keep your house perfectly warm without racking up the electricity bill.

Outdoor Radiant Heating
You can also enjoy the benefits of radiant heating outdoors. Exterior snow melting systems keep your property safe by preventing pesky snow and ice buildup. There are several outdoor radiant heating products and options, including heated driveways, sidewalks, roof heating, pipe tracing, and portable heating mats; all of which will make your life a little easier in the harsh winter months.

We realize that your radiant heating system isn’t the same as the next customer’s, so we’ll work with you to come up with a radiant heating system tailor-made to your needs.

Example of a Warmzone floor heating AutoCAD

Once we assess your project’s requirements, our team will design a custom radiant heat solution with an AutoCAD of your system, complete with all the technical specs you need so you know all the details prior to any installation taking place.

With radiant heating, your only job is to sit back, relax, and enjoy your custom radiant heating solution. Let your heated floors warm your home evenly and efficiently. Sit back and watch from the warmth of your living room as your radiant heated driveway does the shoveling for you. And sleep in peace knowing that your gutters and pipes are safe from nasty and potentially devastating snow and ice buildup.

Why settle for an out of the box heating solution? Let us help you customize a radiant heating system that meets your needs, fits your budget, and keeps you and your family warm and safe.