Radiant Heat | New Construction

By Todd Fratzel on Air Conditioning

Radian heat has become very popular in today’s new home construction in cold climates. Once again I’m going to share some of my experience with my own house and others that we have recently built for customers. Radiant heat offers both energy savings along with comforts for home owners.

There are many different types of radiant heat systems on the market today but I will only discuss one of them that I’m quite familiar with. The new homes that we build with radiant heat utilize one of three boiler types; high efficiency gas boiler (Weil McLain pictured in the photo), direct vent oil boiler by Buderus, or a high efficiency gas on demand boiler by Rinnai. Each of these boiler systems provide a high efficiency option for our customers depending on their choice of fuel and preferences.

The system is quite simple, the basement slabs have PEX tubing looped throughout the slab and tied to the reinforcing steel. Each loop runs back to a manifold and hot water from the boiler is pumped through the tubing to heat up the slab and “radiate” throughout the space. The main floor of the house is heated by running rubber or PEX tubing between the joists and stapled to the bottom side of the floor sheathing. Each of these loops is again run to another manifold which allows warm water to be pumped through the tubes thus warming the floor and causing it to “radiate” heat to the floor above.

In my new house we even ran tubing to the second floor for each of the bathrooms so we have nice warm tile to stand on. Radiant works well with concrete slabs, tile floors and engineered wood floors. You should check with the manufacturer of any flooring material prior to installation to make sure it is compatible with radiant heat.

Radiant heat produces a much more even temperature and an incredible warm feeling on your feet. By producing the steady even temperature the system actually will use less energy trying to overcome the up and down swings of a traditional heating system. Many statistics suggest that radiant heat can be as much as 20% cheaper to run than traditional heat systems. On average my experience has shown that the radiant heat system will cost approximately 20% to 30% more to purchase and install. However, the comfort alone is well worth the price and over time it should easily pay for itself.

Wirsbo has some great information about radiant heat at their web site. If you’re interested in more information about the details we typically use in our homes please contact me.

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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