Radiant Heat - A Brief Background

Radiant heat provides a sustainable method of heating that can be traced back to ancient times. While the advent of radiant floor heat is most often attributed to the early Roman hypocaust heating system, radiant heat was actually being used in Asia thousands of years prior — as early as 5,000 B.C. But the Romans took radiant heat to the next level. Hypocausts were used for heating homes as well as Roman baths and other public buildings. Floors were built upon a series of pillars, creating a space under the floor where warm air could circulate. Hot air and smoke from a furnace was routed through these areas before escaping out the flues in the roof. The furnace had to be constantly stocked with wood, but the method was effective for heating living areas.

Radiant heat has come a long way since the ancient Romans, but only recently, relatively speaking, has radiant heat grabbed the attention of the masses. Consumers are now recognizing — and appreciating — the benefits of radiant heat, and many upscale homes in cold weather climates now utilize heated floors to add energy efficient, comfortable warmth to the home. Radiant heated driveways are also installed to enhance safety by keeping surfaces clear and dry of snow and ice. The systems operate silently and are reliable, extremely efficient, fully automated, and maintenance free.

Installing mats for a radiant heated floor

Electric Radiant Floor Heating Systems

Electric radiant heat systems force energy through a network of conductive material (typically heat cable) installed under the floor to create resistance (heat). (Line-voltage systems are the most commonly used.) Each zone or room is wired to its own fully programmable thermostat (available in 110 or 220 voltage). This way, each space in the house can be efficiently heated as needed. No energy is wasted, unlike conventional systems that lose considerable heat to rooms where vents are closed. (Even when vents are closed the furnace operates at the same capacity.) The line-voltage floor heating cables most recommended are ComfortTile® and Warmzone® In-Slab™ heat cables. Warmzone carries a variety of floor heating systems that can be installed under virtually all types of flooring, ranging from tile and hardwood to laminates, and even carpet. Each system offers unique performance characteristics, so feel free to call and speak to a radiant heat expert at 888-488-9276 to learn more. Our designers are happy to discuss the different systems with you and assist you to better understand what product will be best for heating your floors.

The Unique Characteristics of Radiant Heat

Radiant heat is unique in that it warms objects rather than air. Remember those hot summer days as a kid, swimming in the pool? Afterwards, you'd sprawl out on the warm cement to dry off. The cement (or a hot coffee mug) is a good example of radiant heat.

Radiant heated floors provide heat evenly throughout the room so you never have "cold spots" that are common with forced-air systems. As the floor warms, the objects in contact with it are also warmed, taking the chill out of the furniture, fixtures, and the room in general. This results in even and consistent warmth throughout the room. There's no more need to keep cranking up the thermostat.

If you've never felt the comfort of radiant heated floors, try to find a friend or neighbor who has a radiant heat system and check it out. You'll notice a distinct difference between a home being warmed with a forced-air system and that of a home with radiant heat.

The differences between radiant heat and traditional forced-air systems are significant. To learn more about the features and benefits of radiant heat compared to the features of traditional heating technologies — in particular, forced-air systems — visit our Radiant Heat vs. Forced Air web page. The more you learn about radiant heat, the more you'll love it.

Radiant heated floor

Line- and Low-Voltage Floor Heating Systems

While Warmzone offers both low-voltage and line-voltage systems, there is some misperception among consumers regarding these systems. Low-voltage radiant heat systems actually use the same voltages and consume the same amount of power as line-voltage products. The main difference is the use of a step-down transformer that reduces the voltage supplied to the heating elements.

Due to their safe low-voltage current (8-30v) products like FloorHeat STEP® can be nailed and stapled through to secure the product to the floor and are therefore useful for installation under hardwood and carpet. The low-voltage product we recommend is FloorHeat, which features a highly advanced polymer heating element. This is a proven system that is also used for roof de-icing applications. (For more information about low-voltage and line-voltage systems, check out the article: The Myths of Low Voltage versus Line Voltage Radiant Heat Systems.)

Also, beware of radiant heat providers that try to convince you that low-voltage systems are cheaper and safer to run. Warmzone offers both line-voltage and low-voltage systems, so talk with an unbiased Warmzone professional and stick with the facts to ensure that you decide on the very best system for your needs.

Bare feet on a warm hardwood floor.

Controlling a Floor Heating System

All Warmzone radiant floor heating systems offer you a choice of easy-to-use programmable, as well as non-programmable thermostats that either utilize a floor sensor to measure floor temperature, or an ambient temperature sensor, which measures the actual temperature in the specific room you are heating. (You can also install a thermostat with both the in-floor and ambient temperature sensor.)

Radiant heating systems are fully programmable, and each zone (room) can be controlled separately with the programmable thermostat. This allows you to program your system to operate based on your family's schedule. The system can activate shortly before you wake up each morning and then turn off when you leave for work. The schedule can be adjusted weekdays as well as weekends. The thermostats include an integrated ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) breaker for safety, located at the power source.

While many homeowners prefer to heat their entire home with radiant heat, others prefer to install radiant heated floors in select rooms to supplement a conventional heating source. This can add luxurious comfort to your most popular rooms as well as areas where your children play.

Cutaway showing floor heating cable and thinset under tile

Compare Customer Services as well as Radiant Heat Products

In addition to providing several radiant floor heating solutions, Warmzone is a leading provider of radiant heated driveway and roof de-icing systems. Our products are among the industry's best, but our customer services set us apart even more. Call a Warmzone representative (888-488-9276) or browse our informative website for more information. Electric and hydronic radiant heat technology is used for indoor heating as well as snow melting and roof de-icing applications.

Installing a radiant heating system is a significant investment in your home, so take time to research your options and consult with an expert. At Warmzone, are proud to offer unmatched customer services, installation support and even free installation training. As you consider installing a heated floor or driveway, perhaps one of the most important things to remember is that a radiant heat system is only as good as its installation. That's why it's important to deal with experienced professionals who provide detailed AutoCAD layouts, installation training, and personal installation support services.