Understanding Radiant Heating Systems
As the cost of fuel sources such as natural gas and heating oil continues to rise, more and more people are exploring alternative options for heating their home during the winter months. Radiant heating represents one form of heating that has gained many devotees in recent years, thanks to its small footprint, quiet operation, and comfortable results.Yet many people continue to shy away from radiant heat, simply due to a lack of understanding. Many cite confusion about the different types of radiant heat as a main source of their hesitation. If you would like to get your facts straight about radiant heating options, read on. This article will provide a useful overview of three different systems currently on the market.
Radiant Heating in General
Despite the wealth of options when it comes to a radiant heating system, the basic concept remains the same in most models. Three components form the backbone of an electric radiant heating system: a thermostat, a temperature sensor, and a heating cable. As with virtually any heating system, the first two act to regulate when and under what conditions the heater comes on.Heating cables give radiant systems their uniqueness. They are installed beneath the surface of the floor. Electricity flowing through a heating cable generates heat, which moves upward through the surface of the floor. This method of heat transfer produces much more consistent results than forced air systems, thanks to the fact that the floor will retain — and thus continue radiating — heat once the system has shut off.
Loose Cable Heating
Loose cable systems represent the most fundamental form a radiant heating system can take. They also require the most experience and care on the part of the installer. The cables come on a large spool, leaving it up to the contractor to place them in an even, consistent manner across the entire floor.The process of placing the heating cable must be undertaken in a systematic manner. Otherwise, else certain parts of the floor may not receive as much heat as others. The cable tends to be laid out in a serpentine manner, allowing a single unbroken cable to cover the entire floor. Hot glue or staples act to temporarily hold the cable in place.Once the contractor feels satisfied by the arrangement of the cable, they pour either thin set mortar or self-leveling compound across the floor. These substances fill in the void spaces and create a level surface. Once the leveling compound has fully cured, the flooring itself may be installed on top of it.
Mesh Mat Heating
The drawback of loose cable systems lies in the relatively labor intensive method of installation, which may be enough to outweigh any savings in terms of material costs. Mesh mat systems tend to carry a higher price tag, but also offer a much greater ease of installation. They consist of a woven mesh through which the heating cable has been looped.Embedding the cable in this manner means that an installer simply has to unroll the mat across the floor — a process requiring only a fraction of the time it takes to install loose cable. This allows the contractor to move on to the leveling phase within minutes, ensuring a speedy resolution to the process.
Solid Mat Heating
Solid mat heating systems go one step further in terms of their ease. Here, unlike mesh mat systems, the thin-set or self-leveling cement can be omitted entirely. As its name might imply, a solid mat system comes in the form of a smooth mat. This mat simply has to be laid atop the subflooring and fastened in place. Your flooring may then be installed on top of it immediately.
Radiant heating represents an exciting option, one that anybody interested in a new heating system should consider. For more help determining what type of heating system will best suit your family’s needs, please don’t hesitate to contact the heating experts at Alabama Climate Control, Inc.