What is radiant heating?

Radiant heating uses an element to warm objects to create warmth in the home. In domestic or commercial locations, radiant elements are installed either in the floors, walls or ceilings to heat the surrounding surfaces, which in turn warm the air and radiate heat into the room. It is an alternative to convection heating, which is what is used by conventional heating systems such as radiators. The first uses of radiant heating were used by the Romans, with their hypocaust systems, and as such the technology has been in place for several hundreds of years. In its modern incarnation, electrical elements are used.

There are several advantages to the use of radiant heat as opposed to other heating systems. Firstly, it is thought to be more efficient. The internal air temperature for a building which is radiantly heated will be lower than in a conventionally heated property whilst able to achieve the same level of body temperature and comfort, with perceived temperatures the same. In addition, the systems can be silent, requiring no fans or blowers to move the air and circulate the warmth. This is often preferable in the workplace, where noise can disturb concentration and productivity. It is also thought to be safer, with no exposed hot surfaces to touch and reducing the risk of fire damage. In environments where there are children, radiant heat is a preferable alternative to radiators which children touch and on which they can subsequently burn themselves.

On other consideration for the benefits of radiant heating is the fact that with reduced necessity of air circulation, airborne bacteria and particles are less readily spread throughout a site. This can help restrict infection and promote a healthy and hygienic workplace.

Under floor or wall heating designs are often referred to as low temperature systems. Their heating surface is much larger than a standard radiator or the heat component of other styles of system, so a significantly lower overall temperature is required to heat the environment to the same degree. This additionally improves air humidity, maintaining a natural level rather than drying the air to warm it sufficiently. Depending on the room type and size, the temperature of the under floor or wall heating panel is generally in the region of 29-35°C. Overhead heating panels in radiant heating systems work at a significantly higher temperature and are more often used in commercial facilities, warehouses or industrial locations. They typically are suspended from the ceiling and hang a few metres above the floor to provide adequate heating for employees in the area.