A Few Simple But Important Tips for Choosing a Floor Heating System
Floor heating, meaning heated coils that are installed under your home's floor, can be a good alternative to a standard furnace or be used along with your home's furnace. Since heat rises, those coils might heat an entire room more efficiently and effectively, and you may feel more comfortable when you're in direct contact with a warm floor than with warm air blowing in your face. When you start shopping for floor heating, you might be surprised at how many choices you have and may not know the right option for your home. Note a few simple but very important tips for making your choice.
Electric versus hydro
A hydro system refers to coils that circulate warmed water, whereas an electric system simply warms the coils with electricity and no water is involved. The electric systems are usually more affordable and easier to install; a hydro system means installing valves and pipes that connect to your home's plumbing. The pressure of the water as it circulates can mean added risk of breakage and more repair bills down the road. An electric system is then easier and typically more affordable to install and maintain.
However, note that you might prefer the hydro system because it's not as dry as the electric coils. The humidity of the hydro coils can make the air seem less dry in wintertime and it may be a better option for wood floorboards, as these may dry up from electric coils over time. Consider your own comfort levels when thinking of your budget and the required maintenance of hydro systems versus simple electric coils.
Stand alone system or with a furnace
If your home has a furnace and you will be using floor heating in addition to this heat, you may be able to invest in one with the lowest BTUs available. BTU refers to British Thermal Unit, or the amount of heat produced by any appliance. A floor heating system will have a BTU rating, so using it in addition to a furnace means you can opt for one that doesn't produce a lot of extra heat.
However, if you are only going to be using the floor heating alone, without a furnace, you need something that will produce the amount of heat needed for your entire home. This is calculated by the size of your home and what are called heat loss factors, meaning windows that may let out heat, your home's insulation, and the like. A contractor can usually note the BTUs your home will need from floor heating, and you should ensure you get one powerful enough for your needs.