radiant floor vs hot water baseboard heat

capejohnJanuary 6, 2008

I'm considering hot water baseboard heat for a new house. A few people have suggested I look into radiant floor heat. The house will have a walkout basement (concrete slab) which we will use often. The upper 2 floors will be mostly wood flooring. Are there major benefits to consider comparing radiant floor heat vs baseboard hot water? I understand Radiant is quite a bit more $$ to install, but maybe cheaper to run. We are located in Massachusetts. Any input/suggestions/insights would be helpful. Thanks.

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All fuels require net BTU's to produce a certain amount of heat, but with radiant, you will probably feel more comfortable with less net BTU than with baseboard, so in that respect you might spend less on fuel. You also don't have the issues with the baseboards and furniture placement. If I could do it over, I'd install radiant. Regardless of your choice of heat, I believe many people would prefer hot water heat, for comfort, than any other type.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 5:19PM
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To be fair, it is probably more about the skill of HVAC designer and installer than the type of system, however we have lived with steam, hot air, hydronic radiators, hydronic base board and now a hydronic radiant slab. This is the first time we have been completely happy with our heating system. The thing I like best about living on a heated slab is that the heat is non-intrusive. It is warm and comfortable everywhere. There are no cold spots or hot spots. We have backed our thermostats down 4 degrees from our previous homes and still find it comfortable.

Another plus is the freedom to place furniture against any wall without dealing with baseboards or radiators.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 7:31PM
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Radiant in-floor + geothermal = highest energy efficiency, greatest comfort & highest resale value.

Of course, expect to pay top dollar for the privilege of owning this premium installation; a price that may be well worth paying as energy costs continue their upward climb - through the roof!


    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 12:03AM
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If you are going to have hot water heat in you house you should have radiant heat in at least some rooms. Bathrooms and the kitchen would be the first choice. Then you can go from there as your budget allows.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 11:11AM
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The trend now days is towards infloor heat. Infloor heating systems operate at 120 degrees as opposed to 180 degrees for Radiant baseboard heat. Because infloor systems work at 120 degrees, you can use a condensing boiler which has efficiencies which compare to forced air systems. Some claims are up to 98% efficient, but 94% is typical. Your highest efficiencies come when you can condense the combustion gases which is impossible with a system that operates at 180 degrees. Uponor (Formerly Wirsbo) was the innovator from Sweden. When you are near a cold surface such as a wall, you will feel colder than the room temperature. When you have a warm floor, you will feel warmer than the room temperature. Infloor heat is great to walk on with bare feet and great for kids to play on the floor.

Stay warm!

Dan Martyn

Here is a link that might be useful: UPONOR

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 1:31PM
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