Should you install radiant heating in floors, ceilings or walls?

One of the greatest features of radiant floor heating – other than the incredible efficiency and comfort it can provide your home – is the fact that you can customize it to almost any house. Under-floor panels can be cut to fit irregularly shaped rooms, and the low profile of the heating elements make it hard to tell that there's anything under the floor boards.

However, radiant floor heating is so customizable that you don't need to install it under your floor at all. Especially if your house is already built and occupied, it can be a major headache to get underneath the subfloor where the heating elements operate best. If you're willing to think outside the box and install radiant floor heating in your ceiling or walls, you'll feel the improvements the next wintry day.

On the ceiling
No one really calls it "radiant ceiling heating," but that's essentially what this is – instead of installing heating elements under the floorboards, you flip the script and stick them over your heads. BobVila.com explained that radiant heating configurations operate best when there's as little buffer material as possible, and many floors are packed with insulation and other heat-dampening media.

However, there are typically thinner layers on the ceiling side, so heat is more efficiently transferred into the air of the room. BobVila.com noted that radiant ceiling heat is perfect for rooms between 8 and 12 feet tall. As an added benefit, radiant ceiling heating is also perfect for the summer – you can run cool water through hydronic setups to turn your heating system into a de facto – and inexpensive – air conditioner.

In the walls
Green Building Advisor noted that radiant heating works off a "line of sight" principle. Basically, the fewer layers that separate you from the heating elements, the more comfortable you'll be and the less energy your house will use. While large couches and sofas can block a good amount of heating coming from in-floor setups, placing radiant heating inside walls can be an effective fix.

GBA explained that because hot air rises, orienting the heating panels vertically in your walls means that rooms are heated on multiple levels. As heated air rises, it pushes cool air down, which is then cycled toward the ceiling as it's heated by the wall panels. You can also place heating elements on opposite walls of a room for warming action from two areas.

Under the floor
The original and most popular configuration, radiant floor heating is the industry standard for several reasons. First, heating from below creates a more active air current than in-wall or ceiling options. As hot air rises away from the floor, the cold air is pushed down to the floor panels, which can be installed to cover the entire floor of a room.

Tesmar Application Technology explained that, more than other setups, radiant floor heating more effectively circulates air, which is the primary way the technology works in any configuration. Choosing a floor install also means you can "charge" dense foundation and flooring materials like stone and tile that will continue to heat your home long after you cut the power to your heaters.

Homeowners love radiant heating because it gives them the option to warm their houses in ways that are as subtle and unobtrusive as possible. Whether you put it in the floor, ceiling or walls, you'll love the way you wake up and go to sleep in constant warmth – all without seeing your energy bills rise.

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