Radiant heating is best explained by the warmth that sunshine provides. Radiant heat transfers radiant energy from the heat source to objects and people within line of sight. Radiant heating technology can be used for heating indoor and confined outdoor areas.
Radiant heat is more energy efficient when you're only using the space being heated for a few hours, and you're able to stay within the line of sight to benefit from the heat being given off. That's because the heat is directed to you as the occupant of the room, versus convection heating that heats the air in the room, and relies on air circulation to heat people in the room.
One of the benefits of radiant heating is lower air circulation inside a room or building, which reduces the spreading of airborne particles which may cause illness.
Different Types of Indoor Radiant Heating
The air temperature for radiant heating systems is typically lower than for conventionally heated buildings. That's because people will be more comfortable, and perceive the room temperature based on how they feel.
In fact radiant heating systems are often called low-temperature systems because their heating surface is larger than conventional systems, so they need less heat to achieve the same level of heat transfer. The added benefit is higher and healthier humidity levels, and you don't need a humidifier to avoid dry skin.
- Underfloor heating systems, electric or hydronic (water circulates through tubing).
- Wall heating systems (shown above).
- Radiant ceiling panels which is popular in Europe.
Outdoor Radiant Heating Systems
When heating outdoor areas, convection heating isn't practical as the wind will blow the heated air away. Even when you can control the wind, warm air will rise and carry the heated air away. That's why outdoor radiant heaters are so popular for these uses.
- Overhead natural-gas fired heaters, commonly known as patio heaters.
- Snow melt radiant heating systems (learn more) – electric or hydronic.
- Trace heating – using an electrical heating element that runs along the length of a pipe, or zig zags on a roof, to raise the temperature.