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Do It Yourself - Most Popular

Radiant Floor Heating – Energy Efficient Heating System Print E-mail
Written by Ken S.   

Radiant Floor

Radiant floor heating is a more efficient way to heat your home by turning floors into radiators. More people are checking into radiant floor heating and are trying to determine if it is appropriate for their homes.

Two different systems of radiant floor heating in your home:

Hydronic system – This is when water is heated by a boiler or water heater and circulated through tubes buried in the floor. This energy is absorbed by the floor, than it gives it off as radiant heat.

Electric system – This system is similar to the hydronic system, except that electric heating elements warm the floor instead of tubes. The electric system is less expensive to zone. You can use this system to heat the entire house, or you can install it to provide heat in specific areas.

Which system is the most cost effective?

There are many different variables that will affect the cost of installing either system. However, an average cost for an electric system for a small bathroom runs about $300 to $400. A hydronic system that is equivalent would run almost $4,000 to $5,000. This is a huge difference and can be the deciding factor

Both have their advantages. With a hydronic system, you can change the fuel source, which can affect the cost. You are able to use gas, oil, electricity and solar energy. With the electric system, you will not have to buy a boiler, but you also are not able to change fuel sources. There are times that there are special heating or off-peak rates available sometimes to make electricity equivalent or even less expensive than fossil fuels.

Other reasons why electric radiant flooring is a better choice overall

  • Floor elevation – In a hydronic radiant heating system, the floor is elevated by a couple of inches. The electric system will only elevate the floor by 1/8”.
  • Time it takes to heat up – Because hydronic systems are placed 1.5” or 2“ into a cement slab, it takes almost 4 to 7 hours for the floors to heat up once they are first turned on.
  • Energy saving – Electric heating mats are put above the sub-floor, right under the flooring material. Floors made of tile can actually heat in 30 to 60 minutes.
  • They can be controlled by a timer and a thermostat, where the homeowners will preset the on/off cycles to heat only when and where heat is needed. Therefore, you can even select the rooms you want to heat up.
  • They are easier to maintain and repair. Hydronic systems circulate water through valves and manifolds, making them prone to sedimentation and mechanical problems. Electrical heating systems do not have moving parts; therefore, no maintenance is required.
  • If there are any repairs needed, it is harder to find a leak and it is difficult to repair. An electrical radiant heating system has an underground fault detector that can pinpoint the exact location of the break. Repairing the problem is much easier in an electrical radiant heating system, as only one or two tiles need to be broken and a splice to the electric cable can fix the problem.


Radiant floor heating is efficient in heating homes. The two types of radiant floor heating are hydronic and electrical. Overall, the electrical radiant floor heating tends to rate higher in many different aspects, such as cost, maintenance and performance.

Comments (3)
  • R.G.Sahasrabudhe  - underground fault detector
    Dear Sir,

    We are interested in purchase of your Underground fault detector to locate faults in Floor Heating Cables.

    Kindly send your offer and Technical write up on the same.


  • R.G.Sahasrabudhe  - Underground fault detector
    Dear Sir,
    We are interested in purchase of multiple units of your Underground fault detector.

    Kindly send your offer and technical write up explaining the principal of working.
    with best regards,
    E mail :
  • John Bucknit  - Underground Installation Errors
    Dear Sir,

    I am wondering who I should get to help me install the underground floor heating cables and such. I have just moved into a new house, and I want to replace the underground heating system, but am not sure who to contact. Please help!

    PS: Great job with the website! :D

    - J.B.
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