Radiant Heating In Commercial Buildings Goes Hand In Hand
For any business, a commercial building that’s kept comfortable and warm is much more attractive to customers, business partners and employees than one that’s chilly and poorly heated. One alternative to traditional HVAC systems, radiant heating, continues to gain in popularity as its many benefits are tested and approved in real-world settings.
Standard heating systems burn fuel or expend electricity to generate warm air, which is then distributed throughout your facility through the system’s ductwork. Radiant heating, in contrast, does not use warm air. Instead, radiant heating systems direct heat straight to the floor, ceiling or wall. Heat rises from these sources and is transferred from the warm surface to the room. As the heat rises, it warms the occupants of the room gradually and evenly, from the lower extremities upward.
The benefits of radiant heating include:
- Better efficiency: Since radiant sources heat directly, they can provide sufficient comfort even with the thermostat set at a lower level.
- Reduced costs: Since radiant heating can be effective at lower thermostat settings, less energy is used and heating costs are reduced.
- Clean and quiet operation: There are no noisy fans, blowers, or other system components in a radiant system. A radiant system does not burn fuel and produce any type of exhaust gases or harmful emissions.
- Improved aesthetics and interior design options: Since there are no ducts, vents, registers, or other features common to furnaces and heat pumps, radiant heating gives business owners more flexibility in the use of their available floor space. There are no intrusive or unsightly HVAC system components to interfere with interior design.
The heat from a radiant system comes from electric cables, warm air or hot-water tubing installed directly in the floor or other location. Hydronic or water-based radiant heating, using hot water produced by a boiler, is the most frequently used.
Choosing the type of system that best suits your commercial space depends largely on the space itself and how the space will be used. Here’s an overview of the three primary types of radiant heating systems:
- Electric panels: These panels easily and quickly mount to the ceiling (or sometimes walls), making it easy to connect them to the existing electricity supply. Further, businesses can add panels as they grow within the space. Optional sensors or timers may be utilized to further enhance efficiency, allowing the radiant panel heat to turn on only when the space is occupied. Low-intensity panels weigh very little, and will generally support themselves when attached to a metal frame. High-intensity panels require more intensive installation steps.
- Electric cables: Generally used under floors, and most often with concrete, or inside wall cavities, cables offer good thermal capacity and promote even room temperatures. At the same time, electric cable systems are slow to respond to temperature changes.
- Hydronic: Able to offer both heating and cooling, hydronic systems conduct heat through tubing installed under floors or behind ceilings. Using a highly qualified expert to install a heating/cooling hydronic system is a must, as special considerations for cooling include preventing condensation, which makes floors slippery and may promote mold problems.
Other considerations to consider when choosing system type include the type of building: A large area generally requires a high-intensity system. Low-intensity electrical panels work well in older buildings, while low-intensity ceiling panels are well suited for a retail business or office space. In a warehouse facility, where lower temperatures are acceptable, electric radiant units installed above areas where workers perform tasks offer optimal heating. Ultimately, radiant systems are worth considering for their flexibility, energy efficiency and low maintenance requirements.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection, and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial, and Residential settings. For more information about radiant heating in commercial buildings and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!
Image Credit: Nicola Corboy