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You want radiant floor heating or snow melt. Now what is that you need?
You want radiant floor heating or snow melt. Great! Now what is that you actually need?

You want radiant floor heating or snow melt. Great! Now what is that you actually need?

You want radiant floor heating or snow melt. Great! Now what is that you actually need?

So you made up your mind and want a radiant floor heating or snow melt system for your house. Excellent choice but beyond that initial decision you have only a vague idea how such a system works and you have no idea what you really need.

You are not alone and you should not be hesitant to ask.

In order for your radiant heating installer to give you a proper quote he has to ask you several questions that will dictate how that system will need to be put together. It is best to have all the answers ready in advance in order to avoid a lengthy back and forth and to be in charge.

Of course you want the best radiant heating system for the least amount of money.

Nobody in has right mind wants to overspend on an inferior system. Beyond a certain point excessive insistence on a figure you came up while budgeting on your radiant heating system will result in an honest radiant heating contractor telling you it is impossible. If said contractor only cares about making a quick buck then your system will be inefficient, short lived or outright dysfunctional and fixing such a system will cost twice as much as opposed to getting it right the first time.

First off select your radiant floor heating heat source.

For the sake of simplicity I will only consider natural or propane gas fired heat sources. If you wish to use electrical, coal or oil fired heat sources please read my post on the subject. To be able to decide please answer these questions:

  1. Do you want to use the radiant floor heating’s heat source to heat your domestic hot water (DHW) also?
  2. Do you want to run a hot water recirculation system?

For those who do not know hot water recirculation is a plumbing convenience feature that constantly circulates hot water to all fixtures throughout a house ensuring almost instantaneous hot water supply when you open a tap. If you do not have one set up you need to wait for the hot water to show up when you open a tap or shower control. The further you are from the water heater the longer you wait wasting precious water unless you don’t mind starting your ablutions in cold water.

With all the above information considered please refer to the flow chart below to decide on your radiant heating heat source.

Heat Source Decision - You want radiant floor heating or snow melt. Great! Now what is that you actually need?
Heat source for a radiant floor heating system decision making flow chart.


You have a heat source in mind, what else?

  • Figure out in advance exactly where you wish to have radiant floor heating installed. Is it only in the basement? Is it on the upper floors too?
  • If on the upper floors too do you have the floors exposed and ready for the tubing to be stapled down like in this house?
  • How many heating zones per floor do you wish to have?
  • Do you want a Smart WiFi Connected Floor Sensing Thermostat for each zones, the more economical offline ones or a mixture of the two?
  • Will you also have a forced air heating system in the house? If so do you want to use your boiler and an air handler to provide heat for it?
  • Send the architectural plans for your project. From it the hydronic radiant contractor will have no problem figuring out the exact areas.

What is a must, what makes sense and what is not recommended in a radiant floor heating system?

  • You must insulate the basement floor under the tubing. If you don’t you will be heating Mother Earth instead of your house. Do not skimp on insulation, the more the better all over the house.
  • Radiant floor heating is the best kind of heat for the house. If you can afford it go for it. You will save on heating your house and it will pay for itself in the long run.
  • Keeping the zones to a minimum saves you money.
  • In the basement zoning makes no sense as the whole floor is one piece with no thermal breaks between. Zoning it especially small basements is a waste of money spent on actuators, controls and thermostats.
  • On the upper levels keep zones to a minimum to save money on the controls if you wish. One for each the bedrooms, one for the rest is good practice. There the zones are isolated by the plates on the floor. Of course one floor one zone is the cheapest way to go.
  • WiFi thermostats are fun to have. With floor heating though it is best to set the temperature once then forget it until the summer.
  • Forced air systems that use gas burners are loud, dry out the air and eat a lot of  gas. If you want forced air too use your boiler and get an air handler.
  • Since you already will have a boiler most likely use that to also heat your domestic water. Save on space, gas lines and venting. Not to mention boilers are 96% efficient, water heaters are 75% at best.

If you read this page, digested and got your ducks all in a row please Contact us and we will make sure you will have the best system that meets your demands at all times at the best price possible.

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