What is Electric Radiant Floor Heating?

In this blog post, you’ll read:According to the US Energy Department, the radiant heating system direct transfers the heat to the panel. Further, it also transfers the heat to the floor, the wall, or the house's cell. The system depends on radiant heat transfer. Infrared radiation is helpful for this process. It directly supplies the heat from the hot surface to the objects or individuals.
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What is the Radiant Floor Heating?

manifold drawing
manifold drawing

According to the US Energy Department, the radiant heating system direct transfers the heat to the panel. Further, it also transfers the heat to the floor, the wall, or the house’s cell. The system depends on radiant heat transfer. Infrared radiation is helpful for this process. It directly supplies the heat from the hot surface to the objects or individuals.

Radiant heating is what you perceive when you sense the hotness of the hot parts from across the room. Yet, when that radiant heating is on the floor, you call it floor heating or radiant floor heating. One of the most common types of radiant floor systems is electric. A wire mesh or loops of individual wires is placed underneath the floor. It produces heat via the resistance the current creates as it flows through the metal.

Recommended Tube Spacing for Radiant Floor Heating

Recommended space Tube diameter
8 – 12 inches ½ inches
8 – 14 inches 5/8 inches
12 – 16 inches 7/8 inches

Types of the Radiant Floor Heating

There are 2 types of radiant floor heating;

  1. 1) Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating Systems
  2. 2) Electric Radiant Floor Heating Systems
types of the radiant floor heating
types of radiant floor heating

Here, we will discuss only the electric radiant floor heating system.

What is the Electric Radiant Floors Heating System?

Electric radiant floor heating is the type of radiant floor heating. It uses loops to build heat as the electricity passes through them. The metal coils resist electricity. Yet, the resistance derives heat when power passes by the coil. The loops wrap with the polymer sheet that acts as the insulator. They heat the floor or ceiling walls, depending on the kind of site. Yet, this radiant heating is an effective method for heating the floor. They need minor maintenance if installed correctly. The life span will also be higher than their substitutes if installed correctly.

But, to run this system, much of the amount is required. The price of electricity is increasing in every state. Yet, installing and using it in small areas of the home is much more efficient. It is suitable in a place like a driveway or a bathroom. The electric radiant floor heating works for the owners of the property. It works best for those who have access to the time-of-use power charges. It works best for floors with a large thermal mass, like concrete. 

The system can be set to run during off-peak days when power bills are lowest. Keep as much energy as possible on the floor. The design is also set to close during peak demand hours with expensive power. A surface with a high thermal mass might provide 8 to 10 hours of heating without consuming energy. Assume the floor has a low thermal mass; in that case, the electric RFH system must work more. Operating costs during peak load hours can rise.

Elements of Electric Floor Heating

  •  Rolls
  • · Mats: A heating mat system comprises plastic netting or solid material. The electric cable woven is also vital when buying mats. This system makes cable placement and installation more efficient.
  • · Loose cable: This system needs the technician to position the wire on the flooring in the setup.
flooring in the setup
flooring in the setup

Why We Use the Electric Radiant Floor Heating System?

Electric-heated floor systems were installed in the area of the home. It works where a conventional heating system exists. Yet, as an HVAC unit, this system cannot reach or touch surfaces cool to the touch. These use radiant heating, like how you can feel the stovetop turned on from across the room. The idea is simple: instead of a forced-air vent in a room that determines which part of the room is heated more. Yet, you can heat the entire room radiantly on the floor.

Electric-heated floor systems are installed in baths. In the bath, bare feet are used most of the time. And who would want to exit a warm shower onto a cold floor? Revamping an existing base with an electric-heated floor system is complex. Yet, a new floor must almost always be installed over the heating system.

To heat a floor, thin cables are installed beneath the floor’s surface. In some systems, these cables are categorized into mats. These cables roll across the subfloor with ease. In some instances, distinct wires separate and attach to the subfloor. In both cases, heat is produced due to an electrical charge moving through wires. Yet, these systems are regulated by a separate thermostat.

How do the Electrical Radiant Floors Work?

automatic control manifold
Underfloor heating systems

Matting or heating cables are installed beneath a floor covering. It installs lower tiles that can provide electric floor heating. Heat is produced in an electric wire cable or mat system. Heat is produced when line voltage is used on a thin copper wire (electric resistance). Wire cable systems are more cost-effective. Yet, it installs in smaller areas than hydronic systems. Electric radiant floor heating has high operating temperatures. The wire cable systems are installed in particular types of completed flooring. You can consider this in the floor area like stone or tile.

The carbon film is used to generate heat in an alternative electrical system. On energy efficiency, “these systems can cover a more surface area than wire cable systems. Carbon film systems work at lower temperatures. Yet, it keeps them more accessible for materials like carpets and hardwoods. It has a larger surface area that reduces heat transfer.

Carbon polymer systems use thin plastic mats. Carbon polymer systems are self-regulate systems. They respond to temperature variations such as solar heat gain from a window or a draft from a door.” The system can adjust its output to meet local demand, saving energy.

It may be the way to go if you add to your home and don’t want to endure the hassle of extending your current heating.

How to Select the Floor Material for Electric Radiant Floor Heating?

Different materials are used that perform well with radiant heating. Yet, remember that you need to install a material that does not react with moisture and heat. So, various kinds of electric floor heating mats work with the type of chosen material. The best floor material conducts heat. Ceramic tile is the best choice to use with your electric heating systems.

Installing Electric Floor Heating under Luxury Vinyl Tile with Self Leveling Concrete

Is the Electric Radiant Heating Energy Efficient?

Electric radiant floor heating is a practical approach to providing heat. Electric floor heating designs use electrical resistance to produce heat. It radiates to the room’s solid objects. This results in less energy waste than other forms of heating, such as forced air. The solid items heated by floor heating systems keep their heat longer than hot air. It has the inherent characteristics of electric floor heating. Most users report contented at a lower air ambient temperature. It can only lead to significant energy savings if they use a forced air system.

Even though electric radiant floor heating is cheap, it requires energy. The operational cost of your floor heating system will depend on several factors. These include the system’s size, the required temperature, and the local power rate.

What are the Main Benefits of Electric Radiant Heating Systems?


  • Electric radiant heating systems are installed between the cement board and ceramic tile. Yet the thermal mass helps the system keep the heat for hours after the power has been switched off.
  •  Electric radiant floor systems provide a gentle and inconspicuous type of floor heating.
  • Electric radiant heating systems are convenient for renovation.
  • They are installed and are invisible when set to the correct temperature.
  • Electrical systems are cost-effective radiant floor options.

How Much Does It Cost?

You should pay $8/square foot for an electric radiant floor for the materials. For estimate purposes, the best figure for the material alone is between $10 to $12/per square foot. You expect to spend about $16, including the materials and professional installation. Yet, it also depends on the cost of electricity and the location where you live. You can estimate the operating prices between 50 cents to $1 per day. Yet, it is the cost for an 8 x 10-foot bath if the system works 24 hours a day. The operating cost will be 25 cents to 35 cents per day. This cost is for the exact measurement (8 x 10-foot bathroom) when running it for 8 hours daily.

Power Need

  • The designer and the installer must be aware of the system’s power needs. It is because of the large amounts of heat that need to be delivered by the heating cable.
  • · A supply of 120 Volts and up to 15 Amps is enough to heat a small bathroom.
  • · Manufacturers can also produce cables with commercial service voltages. These voltage figures are 208 VAC and 277 VAC.  
  • · Large rooms consider using 240 VAC services as it delivers the same energy as 120 VAC at half amperage.

Always think about how much current is being used in the entire circuit. The total amperage load of the circuit or the thermostat should not be exceeded. The load is not exceeded if many floor heating cables connect to the same service circuit. In a home setting, 15 amps are the most load. An individual relay on a different circuit from the electrical panel. This can power more heating cables if the system needs more than 15 amps. More lines can be powered by installing more circuits and relays.

  • · Finally, consider how much you’re asking the electrical panel to handle. Your heating system uses all the power from the circuit breaker. It leaves nothing for the lights and appliances.

What is the Role of the Controller?

Electric floor heating systems must be used with a thermostat. This thermostat measures the floor’s temperature for safety. This prevents the system from running away. It also helps to avoid wasting energy by releasing heat into the ground.

  • · 15-amp thermostats that can switch between 120 and 240 volts of electricity. This voltage is ideal for use in bathrooms and kitchens. These thermostats must be wired to a floor sensor to prevent the floor from getting too hot. Sub-relays or extra thermostats are installed if more than 15 amps of power is needed.
  •  Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats tell the temperature in the house with a simple app.
  • When compared to floor heating, snow-melting devices often have higher load requirements. Contactors handle power when the load is too much for a thermostat or snow sensor. The high-power relays in the contactor may switch currents of 50, 100, or 200 amps. Sensors assess these;
  • snow moisture
  • ambient temperature
  • slab temperature

Wi-Fi-enabled switches activate and deactivate. Yet, you can download climate data and switch it on. It can also use with these controls.

manifolds for heating
manifolds for heating

Is There Any Risk from Electric Heated Floors?

It’s known that electricity and water are dangerous when combined. Yet, it’s also true that electric radiant floor heating was developed for floor heating. It prevents safety hazards associated with water exposure. Prevalent, they’re safer than other heating options. There’s zero chance of getting a shock from radiant heating on the floor.

Each heater on the market has undergone an extensive quality assurance testing system. This ensures it is safe to use before it is made available to buy. It needs to shield the wiring from damage. It must be secured by wrapping that diverts current from the above floor. The connection cables are of the highest quality. Safety must be kept in mind for electrical items.

Factors Affect the Electric Radiant Floor Heating Life span.

The following variables impact the durability of Electric Radiant Floor Heating:

  • Age

All machines will experience this. As the system ages or has many heating and cooling cycles, its efficiency declines.

  • Subpar Materials

Low-quality parts prevent the electric heating system from operating at its highest potential. Knowing how much current or voltage is sent to the heating components is essential. It is determined by the quality of the wires used in the installation. The quality of cables impacts how a system can handle voltage variations and surges.

When installing electric systems, ensure you understand the process. There are installation guidelines that must be followed. If these systems are not installed correctly, their lifespan will be reduced.

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