Alternatives To Forced Air Heating

If you have a room addition or standalone building in the backyard that you want to heat, you have some choices other than a forced air furnace. Some of these choices won't have to run ductwork, are quiet, and will keep your room toasty throughout. Consider one of the following radiant heat options for your cold space.

Radiant Versus Forced Air Heat

The traditional forced air furnace works by drawing in air from the house and heating it with either gas flames or electric filaments. The warmed air is then sent out to the house through ductwork installed during the construction of the house. The air is warmest right near the vent where the air comes into the room, and cools off quickly the farther you are from the vent. Obstacles in the room, such as furniture, prevent the warm air from moving through the room, producing warm and cool spots. The warm air rises to the ceiling, leaving the floor cool and a blanket of warmth up near the ceiling.

Underfloor radiant heating systems work by heating the air directly on the floor. This warm air rises slowly toward the ceiling, warming the middle of the room as it rises. When the air gets to the ceiling, it has cooled enough to sink to the floor where it is warmed again and begins to rise. This cycle repeats and keeps all portions of the room, and the floor, equally warm.

There are two types of underfloor radiant heating, water and electric, with variations in each.

Electric Underfloor Heating

Electric wires become warm and heat the air over the floor. There are two styles of this radiant heating system.

Heat Cables - With this style, heating contractors lay out electric cables under the floor in a zigzag pattern to get the best heat coverage. No special sub-floor is required and the cables can be covered by tile flooring or stone. This system comes in 120 or 240 volts, depending on the amount of heat you need.

Heat Mats - Electric cables are embedded into rolls of fireproof material that are rolled over the sub-floor. Nearly any flooring material can be placed on top, such as carpet, wood, tile or vinyl. These systems are low voltage and are made to warm small rooms slowly.

Hydronic Underfloor Heating

This system uses warm water circulated through small tubes under the floor to heat the air on top of the floor. The heating contractor installs a special sub-floor that is moisture resistant, then places the water tubes in a grid pattern on the sub-floor. Another layer of moisture-proof material is placed over the tubes, then a hard surface, such as tile, stone or hardwood, is installed as the final flooring material. The water can be heated by your existing water heater, or an independent heater can be installed to keep the water warm. This is a good system in dry climates to increase the humidity level in a room.

Contact a service like Mitchell Plumbing & Heating Inc to learn more.