Warming the objects vs. warming the air
Electric radiant heat: What contractors need to know.
Based on the principle of warming the objects in the space vs. the air, radiant systems provide comfort at lower room temperatures than convection systems — and in the case of electric radiant, at substantially lower power consumption. It can be one of the most comfortable and consistent methods to heat an interior space.
Electric radiant baseboard and wall-panel products are becoming more popular due to their relatively low cost of installation, ease of application and architectural design flexibility. Depending on the design requirements, a variety of configurations can be applied to either enhance the room architecturally or “disappear” into the room design.
Radiant products can be installed along the perimeter or outside walls to provide heat to the space as well as a barrier against heat loss — such as below or around windows and doors. However, they are not limited to these applications. By providing warmth via radiant heat transfer, installation on interior walls and even ceiling applications, it allows for design flexibility and architectural integration.
There are substantive differences between different product designs and associated price points that offer the buyer a variety of good-better-best solutions. The main difference between these products lies in the materials of construction and finished product quality. Whereas light sheet metal or “clamshell” designed products are quick to heat up when energized, they also are quick to cool down once the controlling thermostat is satisfied. Other designs constructed of heavier materials are designed to retain heat, and as such take longer to heat up but remain consistently warm and require less cycling of the power source, essentially storing heat more effectively to maintain a stable comfort level in the space. This is a similar principle to the heavy cast iron steam radiator used years ago.
Electric radiant products also provide a simple and effective solution for difficult areas such as bathrooms, mud rooms or any room where the existing heat source does not provide sufficient comfort. With the ever-increasing popularity of mini-split and heat pump applications, controlling comfort with temperatures below 20° F outside can be difficult. Electric radiant heat provides a simple, effective and comfortable supplement to these systems. Electric radiant products also are an excellent answer to challenging remodeling projects.
Electric radiant products may require a dedicated electrical circuit of 120 or 240 volts, depending on the unit size and the size of the room to be heated. Installers always should check with their local code requirements to confirm the area’s specific requirements. Certain manufacturers offer “smart thermostat” technology allowing the systems to be fully programed and controlled via remote Wi-Fi technology, to tailor and monitor the system for a balance of comfort and optimized energy efficiency.