Radiant heating systems typically combine a boiler or heat pump furnace and water heater system. The system transports steam and hot water through the home to ensure comfortable indoor temperatures and the warm water you desire. The heated air comes out through radiators, radiator vents, or simply through under-the-floor piping that utilizes heat's natural abililty to rise.
A radiant heating system has its own pros and cons to consider when shopping for a new heating system. Here are a few factors to consider and discuss with an heating service.
Pro: Quieter and More Comfortable Heat
Forced air heating systems rely on fans to push the air out through vents. The sound of the forced air can become quite noticeable when the unit is on high or if the unit is an older model. A radiant heat system operates much more quietly due to the lack of forced air and the fact that the system relies on convection rather than brute force.
The dispersal system in a radiant air system also has a higher radiant temperature, which means the air can feel warmer at a lower temperature. The lower amount of applied heat means the air won't become as dry, which can cause a number of health problems in the winter including asthma, allergies, and itchy skin.
If ordinary furnaces leave you dry and uncomfortable in the winter, you might want to consider installing a radiant heat system.
Pro: Better Heat Dispersal than Other Heating Systems
Older homes often have insufficient or poorly run ductwork or simply areas of the home that don't receive forced air as well as other areas. A radiant heat system has a better dispersal system than many forced air systems particularly when the existing ductwork is lacking.
The improvement again comes down to the natural radiant heat of the system and the convection that allows the heat to continue to rise through your home. For this reason, radiant heating systems and dispersal vents or pipes are often only installed in the first story of a home since the heat will naturally rise upstairs.
Con: Higher Installation and Maintenance Costs
Radiant heating systems can cost more than a forced air system when it comes time for installation. The cost largely comes down to the fact that the HVAC installation company will need to put in entirely new vent and piping system in order to disperse the heat.
Maintenance can also prove more expensive in the long run because radiant heating systems are less common than forced-air systems. The rarity means you might have trouble finding an HVAC company qualified to fix the problem and the parts will prove harder and more expensive to purchase.
Con: No Built-In Cooling or Filtration Systems
Forced-air systems typically combine a heating and cooling system that you can choose with a flip of a thermostat switch. A radiant heating system can offer warm air and warm water but has no built-in cooling system. The lack of a forced-air system also means there isn't an air filter to "clean" the air circulating through your home.