Electric and Hydronic Radiant Heat

What are the Differences Between Electric and Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating Systems?

If you are considering a radiant heated floor or snow melting system, it is important to do a little homework and consult with an unbiased radiant heat expert prior to making any decisions. There are many radiant heating options, both for interior and exterior applications, so finding the solution that is best for you can be daunting. And that decision will impact your upfront costs as well as your long term expenses.

The two types of floor heating systems are electric and hydronic. Electric heated floors typically utilize thin, electric heating cable. (Warmzone® also offers a wide variety of other electric heating elements, including paper-thin FilmHeat™ panels, FoilHeat™, low-voltage FloorHeat STEP systems and more.) Hydronic floor heating systems use a boiler to heat specially treated water that is pumped through a closed loop of special PEX tubing installed underneath the floor's surface. Because a boiler, pumps and manifold are needed, a mechanical room is required for the hydronic system. The complexity of the hydronic system makes the installation more expensive than electric systems, but because these systems typically use natural gas, the operating costs can be a little lower than those of electric radiant heating systems.

Electric radiant heated bathroom floor

Finding the Right System and the Right Provider

Keep this important thought in mind as you are searching for the ideal radiant heat solution: While it is crucial for you to find the best radiant heat system for your project, unless it is installed correctly, the quality of the product is of little consequence. So finding the best radiant heat system also means finding the right partner who will provide professional system design and engineering services, as well as include installation training and expert installation support for your installers.

Warmzone provides the complete solution and ensures the best system choice by having a professional, experienced staff that will carefully consider all the specific characteristics of your project and then design a system that offers you the most value. (Radiant heat - especially electric radiant heat systems - are easy to customize. The systems can be tailored to meet your heating needs as well as your budget.)

Warmzone's wide selection of proven radiant heat products (which includes both hydronic and electric radiant heat systems), combined with preeminent design services and unmatched customer support ultimately saves you money while providing peace of mind. As a trusted leader of radiant heat solutions, Warmzone has an experienced staff and a variety of options for your floor heating and snow melting projects.

Electric Radiant Heat

Electric floor warming systems are extremely energy efficient and can be installed under just about any type of flooring. Electric radiant heat is especially well suited for small rooms such as bathrooms or kitchens. The benefits of electric floor warming systems include; easy installation, rapid response time, maintenance free, and easy to customize. Each room (or zone) with radiant floor heating can be controlled by its own thermostat, so you have precise, efficient control of the areas of the house you wish to heat. Some of the most proven floor heating solutions are ComfortTile®, In-Slab™ heat cable, FilmHeat, Prodeso®, and the low-voltage FloorHeat STEP system. The RetroHeat® electric floor heating system can also be used to heat existing floors, providing you can access the floor joists from below. The thin heating panels are stapled up between the joists and batt insulation is then placed over the heating element and secured to direct all of the heat upward to warm the floor.

Electric floor heating cable in mats.
Hydronic floor heating system being installed

Hydronic Radiant Heat

Hydronic radiant heating systems were the most popular radiant heating solutions, but the easy installation, performance, and maintenance-free attributes of electric radiant heat have contributed to its rise in popularity. Hydronic radiant heating systems are quite complex and consist of many different components. The systems heat a special mixture of water and propylene glycol (anti-freeze) and pump it through flexible PEX tubing installed under the surface to heat the floor. Hydronic systems use gas or oil burning boilers to heat the water, which is then circulated through the tubing by electric pumps. Large hydronic radiant heating systems can often operate at a cost slightly lower than that of electric systems because of the lower cost of fuel (natural gas or oil). Because of the lower operating cost, you may want to consider hydronic radiant heat if you are looking to heat your entire home, or a large area.

For hydronic systems to perform as intended, they must be designed by an experienced radiant heat expert and installed by a competent, qualified contractor. In addition to providing premier products, Warmzone includes complete radiant heat design services with each system. Contact Warmzone to learn more or to receive a free quote (888-488-9276).