Jump to content

Thoughts on Updating Ceiling Radiant Heat


Recommended Posts

Hello, I'm new here; but I've been reading posts from this forum for quite some time. Great information.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my radiant ceiling heat.

The house was built in 1968, and has 220V ceiling heat, the brand is "SWAN" on the thermostats.

I've lost two zones - one in an entryway so I don't worry about it, the other is 1/3 of my kitchen.

I've recently discovered the wide variety of floor electric systems, but most have to be set in cement underneath the flooring.

Then I discovered these: http://cozywinters.com/shop/rug-heat.html

rug-heat_B.jpg

What a great idea! With these, my floor is just a floor, my ceiling just a ceiling, and my radiant panels can be rolled up and stored with the rugs in the summertime.

I have some questions I'd love to get your advice/opinions on:

Has anyone had any experience with radiant electric floor heating? How does the efficiency compare with in-ceiling radiant? How durable is it?

Will I lose efficiency by using 110V vs 220V?

Has anyone heard of converting a home from ceiling to floor electric radiant heat?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd be worried about a kid dropping a Tonka truck on that mat and causing a deadly shock hazard. A coffee table with metal legs would scare the crap out of me.

Radiant heat under ceramic tile floors works fairly well. The systems I know about draw a few amps at 120 volts. A 240 v system needs half as much current to generate equal heat, but the result is about the same, BTU-wise.

Electric heat is said to be 100% efficient, because all the energy consumed is given off as heat.

Since you have the 240 v circuits in place, go with conventional baseboard heaters. The small wall-mounted fan heaters are very good, but some people don't like to hear a fan starting up.

There is an electric heater for kitchens that fits under the cabinet. Kick panel heater, has a little fan in it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello, I'm new here; but I've been reading posts from this forum for quite some time. Great information.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my radiant ceiling heat.

The house was built in 1968, and has 220V ceiling heat, the brand is "SWAN" on the thermostats.

I've lost two zones - one in an entryway so I don't worry about it, the other is 1/3 of my kitchen.

I've recently discovered the wide variety of floor electric systems, but most have to be set in cement underneath the flooring.

Then I discovered these: http://cozywinters.com/shop/rug-heat.html

rug-heat_B.jpg

What a great idea! With these, my floor is just a floor, my ceiling just a ceiling, and my radiant panels can be rolled up and stored with the rugs in the summertime.

I have some questions I'd love to get your advice/opinions on:

Has anyone had any experience with radiant electric floor heating? How does the efficiency compare with in-ceiling radiant?

Both convert 100% of the electrical energy into heat. The "efficiency" will depend on how much of that heat is lost. If you have poor attic insulation, the ceiling heat will lose heat to the attic. If you have poor floor insulation, the floor heat will lose heat to the crawlspace or unheated basement. (Unless, of course, there's living space above and/or below.)

How durable is it?

Since floor coverings take more abuse than ceilings, I'd say that it's less durable that the stuff in the ceiling.

Will I lose efficiency by using 110V vs 220V?

No. It makes no difference with a resistance load.

Has anyone heard of converting a home from ceiling to floor electric radiant heat?

I haven't heard of it. There would be very little advantage. Ceiling heat casts thermal shadows below furniture. Floor heat would cast shadows above the furniture. With either one, if you leave them on long enough, the objects in the room will warm up and even things out over time.

If I were in your position, I'd get my broken ceiling zones repaired. A good electrician who knows how can do it will little fuss.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd be worried about a kid dropping a Tonka truck on that mat and causing a deadly shock hazard. A coffee table with metal legs would scare the crap out of me.

If it doesn't have a GFCI built into the plug, kind of like a hair dryer, I'd want it plugged into a GFCI receptacle, maybe both even.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've seen a couple electric mats under wood click-plank. It worked fine. No idea about cost of operation. Cost of installation is crazy; about $5000 for an "average" FR.

The better types look like that orange platic safety netting you see on construction sites; the stuff is really tough. It would handle a Tonka truck impact.

The stuff that goes under carpet doesn't instill confidence. It looks like something the salesman thinks is a really brilliant idea.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Natural gas is cheap right now and I believe that it will only get cheaper during your lifetime. If you have that option it is the way to go. Of course, installing a furnace, ac compressor and duct work will cost some money but you will like it.

I grew up with ceiling radiant heat. It sucks. My head was hot and my feet were cold. (Duh, heat rises.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Duh,

No it doesn't; heated air rises. Heat from ceiling heat radiates evenly in all directions from it's source. Your feet were concealed from the radiant heat source when you were standing or sitting with your legs under a table. When you put your legs up on a footstool and reclined in a sofa your body, legs and feet were all exposed to the same amount of heat. That's how it worked. Hell, it's how the sun works.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would consider what Morgan posted. Your radiant ceiling heat is old technology that uses a good amount of power for heating the home. A new central system would most likely save you on the power bill, make your home more comfortable and would increase its value if you ever sell it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would consider what Morgan posted. Your radiant ceiling heat is old technology that uses a good amount of power for heating the home. A new central system would most likely save you on the power bill, make your home more comfortable and would increase its value if you ever sell it.

Scott,

Not sure I get that. Compared to installing a forced hot air system in a house that wasn't built for it, the cost of replacing the ceilng panels will be pretty small.

I remember the franchise pounding into my head that statistics say that most folks keep their home, on average, about 7-1/2 years.

If I have to shell out $15,000 to bring in a gas line, install a FHA system and construct soffits and chases all over my house to hide all of that ducting, venting etc. where the designer never planned for it; I'm never going to see a payback from energy savings in my lifetime.

The added value you talk about (Which I'm not so sure is really there) is pretty much zeroed out by the cost to install the system. I think I'd rather spend the little bit more on electric heat and use those savings to enjoy life a little more rather than see it all sunk into a messy retrofit that's pretty much a black hole for my money.

Maybe it's just me though.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Link to post
Share on other sites

Some of the systems allow installation of multiple fan coils on a single compressor. Depending on the arrangement of the house, yes, you need a coil in every enclosed room.

After traveling through China, you get used to the little thing on the wall pretty quick.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Duh,

No it doesn't; heated air rises. Heat from ceiling heat radiates evenly in all directions from it's source. Your feet were concealed from the radiant heat source when you were standing or sitting with your legs under a table. When you put your legs up on a footstool and reclined in a sofa your body, legs and feet were all exposed to the same amount of heat. That's how it worked. Hell, it's how the sun works.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Mike,

Of course you are correct; what was I thinking, duh! That Dogfish 60 Minute (ok, several) must have been kicking in.

But electrical resistance radiant ceiling heat still sucks. After 8 eight years of that stuff I ran away and joined the circus. I have a great story about the day the elephant died.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Unless the orginal poster wants to add AC, there's no economic-based reason to change his heating system. The damaged sections can be repaired very cheaply.

If he installs a warm-air system or a mini-split system, he'll never see a payback.

But he'll have something similar to a heating system instead of something that will continue to crap out here and there as long as anyone owns it.

I only bring it up because most folks have never heard nor seen a mini-split. I figure some 60's house with radiant ceiling heat probably has any number of odd HVAC situations. I bring them up all the time in my area, folks make a few calls, and suddenly they're able to solve all sorts of heating and cooling riddles that the usual trades approach neglected to inform them about.

Whether or not "the damaged sections can be repaired very cheaply" isn't untrue. Or true. It's a function of locale and a few variables.

In my city full of handy folks and excellent electricians, I have yet to find anyone that will even begin to consider it. In the middle of somewhere Oregon, with the cheapest electrical rates in the country, there are probably folks willing to dig in someone's drywall for a few bucks.

Link to post
Share on other sites

If he installs a warm-air system or a mini-split system, he'll never see a payback.

There is a huge difference between the install cost of a ducted system and a ductless system. In this area, small, open-plan homes can easily get most of their heat from a single-head ductless that costs about $3000 to install and is about 225% efficient, with an approximate payback period of about 10 years when replacing electrical resistance. "Never" is the wrong word.

A ducted system costs a helluva lot more.

Link to post
Share on other sites

If he installs a warm-air system or a mini-split system, he'll never see a payback.

There is a huge difference between the install cost of a ducted system and a ductless system. In this area, small, open-plan homes can easily get most of their heat from a single-head ductless that costs about $3000 to install and is about 225% efficient, with an approximate payback period of about 10 years when replacing electrical resistance. "Never" is the wrong word.

A ducted system costs a helluva lot more.

I agree. The Mitsubishi Slim Jim Heat Pump would be my choice if I had $ 3G to spend on heat right now. I would put in 2 indoor units. They can be run independently, so you actually have more control than you do with a conventional ducted system with a single thermostat.

Baseboard heaters that are used regularly in a clean house don't smell like burning hair. I like the fact that you can adjust the heat in every room. Programmable thermostats are probably the most cost-efficient addition you can make to an electric heat system. To any system, actually.

Link to post
Share on other sites

If he installs a warm-air system or a mini-split system, he'll never see a payback.

There is a huge difference between the install cost of a ducted system and a ductless system. In this area, small, open-plan homes can easily get most of their heat from a single-head ductless that costs about $3000 to install and is about 225% efficient, with an approximate payback period of about 10 years when replacing electrical resistance. "Never" is the wrong word.

A ducted system costs a helluva lot more.

Nearly never, then.

I think you miss my point. It's simple and cheap to repair a broken radiant ceiling heat coil. For $200 his coils could be repaired and he'd have a fully functional heating system that requires absolutely no maintenance and that provides individual control of heat in every room.

Spending $3,000 on a single head ductless system would give him air conditioning, which would be nice, but otherwise, there wouldn't be much advantage to it. He's lose room-by-room control of his heat and, in the winter with doors closed, in his poorly insulated 1960s house, the far rooms are going to be cold. (Yes, they sure as hell are.) And for this, it would take him 10 years to break even. There's no payback there.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't see any advantage to minis either. We explored this with the 900 SF condo on 2 floors and the monkey that pulled out the trunks and returns for the upper floor. The cheapest 3 zone mini I could find then was $3000 wholesale for parts. A single head installed for $3000 isn't going to be effective, let alone efficient.

We did a single head this past summer (AC only) with a roof mounted coil for a 1000 SF office and it cost over $4K. The technology is cool, but it ain't cheap.

Link to post
Share on other sites

There are lots of advantages determined on specifics of the application. It's not a one size fits all world. I've found most Americans predisposed to dislike unconventional solutions; it's always more comfortable going with recognizable technology.

And like I said, if someone can find a tech to dig in drywall and fix a coil for $200, then do that. If one can't.......come up with a solution.

Something is wrong with the approach to mini's. We did a whole house for about $6200. Another job had a 3rd fl. needing two heads; total price installed $3200; it was an excellent solution to a complicated problem, and was way under conventional systems.

Other jobs and other bids had costs hitting the stratosphere, with no reason provided or apparent.

In China, where everything is hammered down to minimums (it's still an extremely poor country), it's the defacto option. My friend did her entire apartment, about 1000sf, for 30,000 rmb, or about $2000.

So, I don't understand all the disparate price points.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Scenarios are all over the place. If funds are scarce, the horizon short, the house cut up into small rooms, and the electricians willing, fixing the ceiling heat for $200 is a no-brainer. If funds are adequate, the horizon longer, the floor plan somewhat open, and the mini-split installers competent and competitive, new heating equipment is probably smart.

I deal with homeowners all the time on energy/heating/remodeling/payback scenarios. Some people want to keep their chitty, uninsulated, cut-up house for a few more years and just want to be able to keep the place at 65 degrees by any possible means. Those folks need to go to the hardware place and buy one or more 1500-watt oil-filled radiator space heaters and put them near where they sit/stand/work. Other people like their location, like their house, and can make some improvements with a ~10-year period in mind. Those folks often get mini-splits and 100% of them later report to me that they love them.

A fairly common profile here is someone older who is tiring of cutting, splitting, carrying, and lighting wood in their stove. They are going to install something to supplant or replace it, probably a mini-split. From what I know, a lot of the northwest has solid rebate programs for the equipment, so it's a popular choice.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...