Radiant Heat is based in principle on the primary source of heat we know -- the warmth of the sun. Hot water radiant heat, like natural sunlight, warms you and the objects around you instead of the air you breathe as other heating systems do. Radiant Heat also assures gentle draft-free circulation in each room of the home. Radiant heating can be installed into new concrete slabs on gravel grade, or to cap an existing floor. It can also be installed in panel radiators. Modern radiators are far different than the big bulky radiators you remember from grandmas house. New radiators can be as thin as one inch and come in all types of styling. Some even look and can be used a furniture.

"Radiant heat provides one of the most comfortable and natural types of heating available."

To understand how your home heating system must perform to keep you comfortable, you have to understand what makes you uncomfortable -- what makes your body feel cold or hot. Your body has its own heating system which helps sustain life. Marvelous though it is, the human heating system alone can't keep you comfortable. For while the body generates heat, it also loses heat. Body heat is given off in winter by radiation, convection, and in a minor way, evaporation. Let's examine these forms of body heat loss in more detail:

  • RADIATION -- transfer of heat by direct rays from your body to cooler objects around you. Place your hand next to a block of ice and you'll feel a chill as rays of heat leave your hand. Similarly, cold walls and floors draw heat from your body.
  • CONVECTION -- transfer of heat from your body caused by the movement of air around you. A fan cools you because the draft pulls heat from your body. Even warm air will chill you if it moves rapidly about you.
  • EVAPORATION -- transfer of heat from your body caused by water drying on your skin, as when you step from the bath. This only plays a minor part in body heat loss.

Your surroundings affect the rate at which you give off body heat. When the body heat loss is stepped up too rapidly you feel cold; when it is slowed down too much you feel hot. But when body heat loss is properly balanced with the environment, you feel comfortable. Indoors there are several things that can speed up your body's heat loss, making you feel cold. These are drafts, cold walls, and cold floors. Your body is sensitive to fluctuating conditions, such as alternating hold-cold cycles, variable temperatures from room to room, and uneven temperatures from floor to ceiling.

Thus, your home heating system should balance body heat loss by supplying the right amount of heat and especially the same type of heat your body loses -- radiant and convection heat. Also, it must prevent drafts, it must warm the floors and walls, and it must provide steady, even heating throughout your home.Water holds heat longer than any other heating system type and supplies steady uniform warmth. For example, a cubic foot of water at 100° F has 2500 times the heat capacity of a cubic foot of air. As a result, a small pipe does the same job as that would require a large duct using air. Each radiant system is a custom project.

A Properly engineered radiant heat systems compensate for orientation of the house. The typical system consists of the boiler and circulating pump -- the heart of the system, and the panel distribution tubing -- the arteries and veins. These work just like the human heating system. The "heart" (or boiler) warms a fluid, in this case, water, and pumps it out through the "arteries, (or tubes) and returns is out through the "veins" (return tubing) to be re-warmed.If you'd like more information on service and installation of radiant systems for Marin, Santa Cruz, and Santa Clara call your local Bellows office.