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Navigation arrow.   RADIANT HEAT DEFINED Navigation arrow.   ELECTRIC RADIANT HEAT vs. HYDRONICS
Navigation arrow.   BENEFITS of RADIANT HEAT Navigation arrow.   RADIANT HEAT vs. FORCED AIR
Navigation arrow.   RADIANT HEAT APPLICATIONS Navigation arrow.   RADIANT HEATING INFO & OPTIONS

Radiant Heat vs. Forced Air

The Comparison
A room with Radiant In-Floor space heating will have a very uniform temperature from the ceiling to the floor. Heating a basement floor is an ideal application for a radiant heat system. If you've lived in a house with forced air, you know that you can crank the heat up, but the basement floors will remain chilled. Installing a radiant floor warming system will add comfort and warmth to your lifestyle because heat radiates evenly from the warm floor up, resulting in energy efficient, comfortable heat.
Illustration of radiant floor heating versus forced air heating systems.
The warmest air in rooms that are heated with a forced air furnace ascends rapidly towards the ceiling, leaving the floors relatively cold. This is not an efficient way to heat a home. Although the air is being heated, the floors and surrounding objects remain chilled, making it especially uncomfortable for children who spend most of their time playing on the floor.
Below is an in-depth comparison of electric radiant heat systems vs. forced air and gas systems.


Heating System Comparison
Efficiency Electric Radiant Heat System Forced Air and Gas Heating System
Efficiency at 100% of capacity 100%
60-90%
Efficiency at 50% of capacity 100%
30-60%
Efficient - relative thermal 100%
50-75%
100% of energy is delivered to the
heating element
YES NO
Proper sized capacity of "Off Peak" conditions
YES NO
Maintenance Electric Radiant Heat System Forced Air and Gas Heating System
Annual Maintenance Required - Clean or change filters
NO YES
Easy to repair YES NO
Controls - simple and reliable YES VARIES
Cost Savings Electric Radiant Heat System Forced Air and Gas Heating System
Expandable - easily and economically YES NO
Compatible with all Floor Coverings YES YES
Floor space required for installation (mechanical room) NO YES
Decorating limitations for furnishings, wall coverings, etc. (no registers, grills, radiators) NO YES
Simple Installation and Operation YES NO
Structural building cost increases required to accommodate NO NO
Venting required to outside and combustion air required NO YES
Concrete required - regular or lightweight NO NO
Remodeling Electric Radiant Heat System Hydronic Radiant Heat System
Retrofit-ability in existing concrete or asphalt YES NO
Retrofit into joist space effectively YES NO
Simple modification for remodeling YES NO
Easy and effective for large or small areas YES NO
Minimal floor section height increase (1/8" or less) YES YES
Health and Safety Electric Radiant Heat System Hydronic Radiant Heat System
Health & Medical (doesn't distribute dust, pollen, allergens through the air) YES NO
Environmentally-friendly (greenhouse, glycol, etc.) YES NO
Safety (no high-voltage, no hot surfaces, no combustible gases)
YES NO