Radiant Heating

We rented a cabin a few years ago the only source of heat was a fireplace in the main room. The bedrooms were freezing cold. My daughters thought that their father was a genius when I created some bed warmers by heating rocks in the fireplace, wrapping them in towels and placing them under the blankets at the foot of the beds. I had created a radiant heating system!

Alas, my daughters have since found out that their father was not a genius. I am a bit of a history buff and understand some basic radiant heating principles. The heated rocks absorbed the heat from the fire, held the heat and then slowly radiated the heat out in all directions. Materials with mass do this quite well, for example: stone, concrete, and water.

Materials with little mass don't store a lot of heat or radiate the heat. For example, air heats up quickly during the day and cools off quickly at night. Water has much higher mass than air. The water in lakes and oceans warms up slowly but retains the heat for a longer time. The water will absorb the sun's heat during the and thus the air around it will feel cool. At night, the water will radiate out some of that stored heat and the air around it will be warmed.

These basic principles of radiant heat can be used in home heating systems. With good design they can be a very efficient and extremely comfortable form of heat. - George


  • Radiant heating systems can have many advantages. For example:

    Comfortable and Even Heat

    A warm object heats nearby objects by heat radiation. For example, a person standing on a heated floor is warmed by the radiant heat in the floor. This makes for a very comfortable and even form of heat.

    We feel warmer in an evenly heated space then in a space with some very warm and some very cold surfaces. And this holds true even if the average temperature in the evenly heated space is lower than that in the unevenly heated space.

    Kitchen Floor

    Zone Heat

    Radiant heating systems lend themselves to zone heating. Heating levels that can be adjusted to the needs of different areas. For example, heating rooms to a higher level when they are in use and a lower level when they are not in use.

    The right amount of heat in each space equals wise energy use and savings.

    Wirsbo Thermostats

    Wirsbo Thermostats from our Sponsor PexSupply.com

    No ducts!

    Heating ducts are large and can use up a lot of space. Radiant heat uses wires or pipes to get the hot water or electricity to each area of a home and these wires and pipes take up very little space.

    Wirsbo Manifold

    Wirsbo Manifold Courtesy of our sponsor PexSupply.com

    For example Pex piping and pex manifolds can be used to bring the hot water to various parts of a house. Pex piping systems can be used in new construction and may simplify the heating system in a remodel or upgrade.


    Radiant heat can be delivered in all sorts of ways: