Radiant Heat – Red Hot Retrofit
Red hot as in sales, that is. The reasons behind the increasing popularity of radiant heat panels are ease of installation, quick warm-up, dust-free heat, and low cost relative to other alternative heating systems.
For the same price as a pellet stove, you could heat a 1,500 square foot home and not have to deal with locating, storing, and lugging 40-pound bags of wood pellets.
A U.S. Department of Energy sponsored study concluded that radiant heat panels were 52% less expensive to operate than electric baseboard heat and 33% more cost-effective air to air heat pumps. The study concluded that “energy savings would be obtainable in a great portion of U.S. households”.
Radiant heat panels manufactured by Enerjoy are about 1 inch thick, and range in size from 2’x2’ to 2’x8’. They are textured to look like the ceiling and can be painted to match the room’s décor with quality water-based acrylic paint.
The panels operate at 150-170 degrees F. and radiate heat to objects and people in the room. The panel itself reaches operating temperature in only three to five minutes.
Advantages of Radiant Heat Panels Heat loss from ducts, even insulated ones, reduces the efficiency of forced air systems. Additional leakage is created by the internal air pressure generated by forced air systems. No duct, No pressure, no leakage problems.
Since the need for a blower to circulate heat is eliminated, so is the cost of electricity to the blower motor. Without a blower, there are no filters that need to be replaced.
Heating without moving air also eliminates drafts and prevents dust and pollen from circulating while maintaining the air’s moisture content.
Radiant heat panels require no maintenance or service because there are no moving parts.
With separate thermostats for each room, zoned heating is easy as turning a light switch on and off. Significant energy savings can be realized by allowing only the occupied areas to be heated. The quick response time radiant panels will return an unoccupied room to a comfortable temperature in minutes.
Radiant Heat Panel Applications Radiant heat panels are an excellent source of heat for bathrooms (no more foggy mirrors), log homes, gazebos, screened-in porches, and stables. If you’re heating a greenhouse, radiant heat will protect your plants in the absence of sunlight by maintaining root temperatures.
Replacing a wood stove with ceiling-mounted panels in auxiliary buildings such as workshops or studios allows the use of all available floor space.
Radiant Heat Panel Installation and Cost The low amperage requirements for ceiling heat panels can usually be provided by existing 120 or 240-volt circuits. The 30%-70% wattage reduction over electric baseboard heating eliminates the need for dedicated wiring. Wherever a single panel is installed, the existing 120-volt capacity circuit is usually adequate for the additional load.
Installation of radiant heat panels typically costs between $1.25 and $1.50 per square foot of heated space. For a 1,500 sq. ft. house, the estimated cost would be $1,900 to $2,300. That’s considerably less than the cost for a complete forced-air system.
Disadvantages of Radiant Heat Panels The major limitation of radiant heat panels is the absence of a cooling function. Installing a ducted central air conditioner would undermine many of the advantages of using radiant panels.
One way around this would be to install a mini-split air conditioning system. The mini-split, like radiant panels, is also a cost-effective retrofit solution and can be zoned to cool only occupied rooms.
If controlling heating costs is your primary concern, radiant heat panels offer an easy, cost-effective, and healthy way to retrofit your home with comfortable, reliable heat.