The Pro's and Con's of Radiant Heat

Radiant heat is a heating system that works by transferring heat to the room through the floor. Although it's fairly uncommon in modern homes, radiant heat is an ingenious way to improve your quality of life while also warming your space efficiently.

It's said that radiant heat feels like the warming of the sun on the ground. Walking over heated floors is a pleasant sensation, similar to the sensation of standing outdoors in early summer, enjoying the warmth of day.

Some people install radiant heat in their bathrooms, others install it throughout their house. Knowing the differences between the types of radiant heat, as well as the advantages and disadvantages, can help you decide whether this type of heating is right for you.
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Radiant Heat Basics

Radiant heat is divided into two categories: electric and hydronic. Electric heat is meant to be a supplemental type of heat, warming the floors but not warming the entire home. Electric radiant heat comes from heat mats installed beneath the floor. When the mats are turned on, wires running through the mats warm the floor to a comfortable 80 (or so) degrees.

Hydronic heat is heat delivered through hot water running through pipes beneath the floor. Hydronic heat can be installed throughout the house and can be used as the sole source of heat in the home.

Benefits of Radiant Heat

Radiant heat has many advantages and disadvantages. For many homeowners, the pros of radiant heat far outweigh the cons.


Forced air heating systems create a blowing noise that creates a sound in the background. As the forced air heating system cycles on and off, the noise in the background turns on and off. By contrast, radiant heat is silent heat, with no noise of air wooshing or blowing to be heard.

Energy Efficient

Traditional HVAC heating systems are naturally inefficient, especially in older systems where ducts are leaky and in disrepair. Radiant heat systems are naturally efficient because the heat cannot escape the home. Heat radiates up from the floor and into the room. Nearly all heat created by a forced air heating system is captured in the home.


Furnaces blow dusty air through the home, especially when the ducts become dirty inside. Radiant heat systems do not blow air at all. For people with allergies, radiant heat systems can increase comfort and reduce allergy symptoms in the home.


Forced air heat systems create drafts of warm air, cutting through the colder air in the home. The warmest places in the room are often the spaces right next to air vents. Radiant heat produces heat throughout the room without creating cold spots and hot spots.

Easy to Install at Time of Construction

Radiant heat installation is easy to perform in a home that is just being built or remodeled. If you're building a custom home, work with your contractor to purchase a radiant heat system for your new construction home.

It Just Feels Good

There's almost nothing more comforting than stepping out of your shower onto a warm, heated floor, or waking up in the morning and putting your feet down on heated carpet. Radiant heat is luxurious. It can make your morning, your evening, or your entire day more pleasant.


Disadvantages of Radiant Heat

If radiant sounded too good to be true, jere's what you need to know about the downsides.


Installation of radiant heating can be costly, especially if you're retrofitting an existing home with radiant heat. If you're building a new construction home, your contractor can help you work within your budget to install this type of flooring. Radiant heat is more affordable when it's only installed in one or two rooms. You can keep costs down by installing it in your bathroom only.

Floor Height Elevated

Radiant heating elevates the floor just a little bit. Many modern radiant heating systems are designed to lay as flat as possible to prevent the floor from being raised unnecessarily. If you're installing radiant flooring throughout the entire home, the lift in elevation will be uniform and thus unnoticeable. If you're installing radiant flooring in the bathroom only, your builder can help ensure that the slight rise between the bathroom and other rooms is difficult to notice.

Installation is Disruptive in an Existing Home

Installation of radiant flooring in an existing home can be disruptive, because installation usually requires the floor to be torn out. It's much easier to install radiant flooring in a new home, where the flooring materials can be installed directly on top of radiant heating elements.


How Is Radiant Heating Repaired?

One of the concerns that homeowners often express when installing radiant heat in their home is, how will it be repaired if it should break? Since radiant heat mats and pipes must be installed under the floor, reaching your radiant heating system to make a repair it is not always an easy task. Fortunately, radiant heating is very durable and has a long service life. Repairs are not common.

When it does break down, repair people use devices to locate the specific location of the breakdown. Tiles from the floor are then carefully removed and re-installed. Typically, the disturbance to the surrounding flooring is minimal. Working with an experienced contractor can help ensure the work is done well.


Discuss Radiant Heat With Your Custom Home Builder

Radiant heat is just one of the many unique features you can install in your custom home. It can improve quality of life for you and members of your family. In addition, radiant heating is desirable to home buyers. If you should ever decide to sell your custom home, radiant heat can make your house more attractive to home buyers, and can improve the value of your home overall.

For more information about designing your custom home, contact a reputable home builder in your area. Your home builder can introduce you different ideas and home systems that can make your custom home a better place to live. Your custom home builder can also help you choose the best systems for your budget.

For more information about designing your custom home in central New Jersey, contact GTG Builders LLC to schedule a consultation. With 65 years of experience, we can help you create the custom home of your dreams. We'll be happy to answer questions about radiant heat and other systems to help improve comfort in your new home. We'll also be happy to make suggestions for other systems that will improve quality of life in your custom home.


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