Most radiant heating systems in Ottawa are radiant floor heating systems. Others can use the wall or ceiling as a the radiant heating surface. HVAC Systems based on radiant heating rely mostly on radiant heat transfer, which is the release of heat via infrared radiation directly from a warm or hot surface to the people and objects in the room. Radiant heating is the effect you feel from the sun or when you feel the warmth of a fireplace from across a cool room. Because of the popularity of using radiant heating in floors in Ottawa, it is often referred to as “radiant floor heating” or just “floor heating”.
There are a number of advantages to radiant heating in Ottawa. Radiant heating is usually more efficient than forced-air heating because it is delivered with few heat losses along the way. In Ottawa, radiant heating requires a lower water temperature, so tends to be more efficient than baseboard, or radiator heating. Hydronic radiant heating systems are very flexible, as a high volume of heat can be easily transferred to serve various other heating functions. A 3/4 pipe can transfer as much heat as a 8 X 21 air duct.
Hydronic Heating Flexibility
Once the boiler is available, the domestic hot water can be heated using an indirect water heater, pools and spas can be heated using exchangers, and remote areas where conventional systems are difficult to install can also be heated. In areas like Ottawa, radiant snow melting systems can be used to keep walkways, ramps of driveways clear of ice and snow. Hydronic radiant heating systems can use a wide variety of fuels to heat the liquid, including gas, oil, or wood-fired boilers. Hydronic based radiant heating systems also make it relatively easy to use combine indirect solar water heaters.
TYPES OF RADIANT FLOOR HEAT HEATING
Radiant Heating Systems – ELECTRIC RADIANT FLOORS
Electric radiant floors typically consist of electric cables built into the floor. These radiant systems are also available in configurations that have mats of electrically conductive plastic mounted on the sub-floor below a floor covering such as tile.
Due to the high cost of electricity in Ottawa, electric radiant floors are usually only cost-effective for very small areas like bathrooms or kitchens to temper the floor surface for added comfort. Electric radiant floors may also make sense in home additions where it may be unworkable to extend the existing heating system to serve the new space. Other options, such as mini-split heat pumps, operate more efficiently can provide most of the heating at a greatly reduced energy cost and also provide air conditioning with no ductwork required.
Radiant Heating Systems – HYDRONIC RADIANT FLOORS
Due to our large heating requirements in Ottawa, hydronic radiant heating systems are by far the most popular and cost-effective method of radiant heating. Hydronic radiant floor systems circulate heated water from a boiler through tubing laid under the floor. In some scenarios, radiant heating systems use surfaces like walls or ceilings. Zoning of different areas or rooms with hydronic radiant heating is done by controlling the flow of hot water through the tubing loop using zoning valves or pumps controlled by individual thermostats and/or floor sensors. Installed hydronic radiant floor prices vary depending on the size of the home, type of installation, the floor covering. Hydronic radiant flooring can be retrofitted to existing homes in Ottawa , but is best done when under renovation.
Hydronic radiant heating is becoming a far more popular option for custom homes in Ottawa, where the installation can be done during construction. These are often hybrid hydronic systems which incorporate the heating for a garage, pool, hot water and sometimes snow melt systems together. Although radiant heating prices in Ottawa may seem high, the benefits are numerous and the higher level of efficiency and comfort provides a ready return on the investment. Be sure a professional design is done on the system, before step one!
TYPES OF RADIANT FLOOR INSTALLATIONS
Radiant Heating Systems – WET RADIANT FLOOR
Whether you use cables or tubing, the methods of installing electric and hydronic radiant heating systems in floors are similar.
So-called “wet” radiant heating installations are when cables or tubing are embedded in a solid floor, typically concrete or a light weight over pour material like gypcrete. This type of radiant floor heating is very common in Ottawa, and is the oldest form of modern floor heating system. If you chooses concrete, and the new floor is not on solid earth, be sure to consult a professional engineer to determine if additional floor support may be necessary due to the added weight.
One consideration with radiant heating embedded in slabs, known as “wet” floor installations, is their slower thermal response time, which makes practices like night or daytime temperature setbacks difficult if not impossible. We, along with most radiant heating experts, recommend maintaining a constant temperature in homes with radiant heating systems. A great benefit is that once up to temperature, the thermal mass emits heat more evenly and maintains temperatures with fewer fluctuations. Typically, it takes little energy to maintain the floor temperature, making this the ideal scenario for high efficiency condensing boilers, which operate more efficiently at lower water temperatures.
Radiant Heating Systems – DRY RADIANT FLOOR
Due to recent innovations, in floor technology, known as “dry” floors, in which the cables or tubing run in an air space beneath the floor, have been gaining in popularity in Ottawa. A dry floor is faster and less expensive to build. But because dry floors involve heating an air space, the radiant heating system needs to operate at a higher temperature. Dry installations involving suspending the tubing or cables under the sub-floor between the joists often requires drilling through the floor joists to install the tubing. Insulation must also be installed under the tubes to direct the heat upward.
Radiant Heating Systems – QUIK-TRAK
Uponor has improved on dry radiant floor installations by manufacturing a plywood sub-floor material manufactured with tubing grooves and aluminum heat diffuser plates built into them. This is called Quik-Trak, and there are different versions for varying applications. Quik-Trak makes a radiant floor systems considerably less expensive than accommodating a gypcrete over pour. Due to less thermal mass, Quik-Trak is also faster to react to room temperature changes.
Radiant Heating Systems – FLOOR COVERINGS
Ceramic tile is the most common and effective covering for radiant floor heating in Ottawa, Ceramic floors conduct heat well and the dense material adds thermal mass. Other common floor coverings like vinyl and linoleum sheet goods, carpeting, or hardwood can also be used, but any covering that insulates the floor from the room will decrease the efficiency of the system.
Carpeting can work very well with radiant floor heating in Ottawa, as long as proper design considerations are taken into account. Carpet and under pads have insulating qualities. Flooring manufacturers are aware of this, and have begun to manufacture products that are appropriate for radiant heating, with lower insulation values. The water flowing under the carpet covered floor will need to be hotter to compensate for the insulating effect of the Carpet and under pad. Laminated or solid wood flooring can be used, but tubing may need to be spaced closer to allow delivery of heat with a cooler floor temperature. In most cases, a maximum floor temperature of 80-84 degrees F will provide enough heating, without having a negative impact on the wood floors.
Radiant Heating Systems – RADIANT PANELS
Prefabricated Wall or ceiling-mounted radiant panels are usually made of aluminum and can be heated with either electricity or with tubing that carries hot water. Most commercially available panels for homes are electrically heated, while hydronic radiant panels are generally constructed and incorporated into the building during construction or renovation. Like any type of electric heat in Ottawa and Ontario, electric radiant panels can be expensive to operate. There are many different configurations, like bathroom mirrors that can provide supplemental heating in some rooms or heat to an addition when extending the existing heating system is not viable.
Radiant panels have the quickest response time of any radiant heating technology. Because the panels can be individually controlled for each room, the quick response can result in cost and energy savings when rooms are rarely occupied. When entering a room, temperature setting can be increased and the room will be comfortable within minutes. As with any heating system, set the thermostat to a minimum temperature that will protect the structure and prevent any pipes from freezing.
For more information, contact the radiant heating experts at Below Zero Heating & Air Conditioning Ltd