How Do Radiant Floor Heating Systems Work?

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Forced air heating systems like furnaces and heat pumps are well known and widely used in homes across the Champaign, Illinois area. Radiant floor heating systems are an efficient alternative that you may not be aware of, but may want to consider installing when it comes time to replace your old heating unit. Edelman, Inc. explains the ins and outs of this heating solution as well as the benefits these systems offer to homeowners.

What Are Radiant Floor Heating Systems and How Do They Work?

Radiant floor heating systems are a type of heating solution that heat a space using radiant heat transfer. Heat radiates from a warmed surface, reaching people and things in a space which absorb the heat to gain warmth as well as warm up the space. Forced air heating systems like furnaces create heat, which is added to the air then distributed throughout the house.

In homes, electric heating and hydronic water heating are the most commonly used options in radiant floor heating systems, though air-heated systems do exist. Depending on the radiant floor heating system being installed, electric wiring or hot water pipes are installed underneath the floor in a home. In electric systems, the wires connect to the home’s electrical system, and electricity is used to generate heat. In hydronic systems, a water heater or boiler is used to heat water, and a pump circulates heated water through the piping. 

The cables or piping are either installed within the home’s concrete foundation or encased within a layer of material atop the subfloor, known as a wet installation, or installed within the space below the flooring between the floor joints, known as a dry installation. 

Benefits of Installing Radiant Floor Heating in Your Home

Using radiant heating systems presents unique advantages that other types of heating systems do not have. When installing radiant floor heating systems, some of the top benefits you can expect include:

Better Energy Efficiency

Radiant heating systems are more efficient than other options, saving you money on heating costs. An in-floor radiant heating system is more energy efficient than using baseboard heating in the home. It is typically more efficient than using a forced air furnace or heat pump as you don’t have to worry about duct heat losses.

Consistent Comfort Levels

Since radiant flooring heating systems do not heat the air and rely on radiant heat transfer for heating, room temperatures stay more consistent from the floor to the ceiling. Heat in the air isn’t rising as it does with forced air heating, so cold spots are not as common. Plus, these systems warm up quickly to warm up a space right away.

Improved Indoor Air Quality

In homes with forced air heating, battling allergens in the air can be a constant problem, as the furnace or air handler continuously circulates these contaminants throughout the home via the air supply. Radiant heating systems don’t spread allergens throughout the home, therefore those with allergies may prefer this heating option and experience fewer symptoms when radiant floor heating is used in the home.


Hydronic radiant floor heating systems are very versatile and can be used with a number of different energy sources and equipment. Boilers using natural gas, oil, liquid propane, or even wood-burning units can be used as a heat source, or the system can be set up using a water heater that is powered by electricity, natural gas, or even solar energy. The option to use these energy sources can help homeowners save versus electric radiant flooring when electricity prices are high.

There are also numerous flooring options that work with radiant heating. Ceramic tile conducts heat efficiently, plus provides thermal energy storage for warm floors. Vinyl, laminated wood, linoleum, and thin carpeting can also be used over top of radiant floor heating systems.

Installation of Radiant Heating Systems for Your Home

Radiant floor heating systems are an efficient heating option for many homes in the Champaign, IL area. To learn more about this heating option and to receive an estimate for installation in your home, contact Edelman, Inc. today.


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