Radiant ceiling heat is a popular heating technology that relies on radiant panels to transmit heat through infrared waves. The heat from the panels provides consistent, cozy heating that is evenly distributed throughout the room. Without the use of vents or ductwork, the system works seamlessly and efficiently.
So, how does radiant ceiling heat work and how is it installed?
The installation process for radiant ceiling heat is quite simple but requires technical knowledge and work. The radiant panels are fitted into the joists in the ceiling and this is done in a concealed way.
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What is radiant ceiling heat?
Radiant ceiling heating is a great way to heat up any interior space to a comfortable temperature. The radiant panels are laid out over the ceiling which provides a large surface area. This allows the system to work even at a low temperature.
Radiant ceiling heat emits heat from the entire surface. Those of you who remember your science lesson might be thinking that hot air rises, so how does radiant ceiling heat work?
Basically, infrared radiation transmits heat via electromagnetic waves. In the case of ceiling heating, the rays spread out from top to bottom. When the waves hit any object or human body, they convert into heat. In simple words, the solid objects in the room emit the heat energy that is absorbed.
As panels are used to radiate the heat, this system does not require vents or ducts like forced air heating systems do. Radiant heating provides a warm, cozy feeling similar to the sun. Plus, there is no noise made as it functions so quietly.
Types Of Radiant Ceiling Heat
There are two different ways to heat up the radiant ceiling panels; electric and water based. Both of these systems are considered very safe, but not entirely without their problems.
When it comes to electric radiant ceiling panels, they depend on heat transfer principles using surface-mounted panels. Electricity is the primary source of heat energy for the panels.
Although this type of radiant heat is not as expensive to install, it can be very costly to operate as electricity is not a cheap fuel, which is why electric based systems are best used in rooms that you only require heating occasionally and on demand, for example a bathroom.
On the other hand, water-based radiant panels can use natural gas, oil, wood, propane, solar, or a combination of different sources. It is more cost-effective and energy-efficient in the long term although it has a higher upfront cost.
Both systems have their pros and cons, so you need to weigh these up before deciding on which you are going to purchase.
How are radiant ceiling heating panels installed?
Radiant ceiling heating panels should be installed by experienced professionals to ensure the system runs without faults.
The ceiling panels can be installed beneath the drywall or can be mounted directly on the ceiling. These panels can also be painted with acrylic colors to match your current decor.
The radiant panels look like regular ceiling panels so they look very discreet. Plus. they have a sleek profile so they can be fitted without requiring overhead clearance or additional space.
On the rear end of the radiant panel, there is copper piping or wiring that carries the heat source i.e. water or electricity.
The panels are usually placed between the ceiling framing parts (or furring strips in case the ceiling is cross-furred).
Ideally, the panels are installed in unobstructed and open areas of the ceiling. It is important not to place them above light fixtures, cupboards, partitions, tiles, or other obstructive objects.
The installation should be done in a way that the transfer of heat remains unrestricted. It is also important to place them in an area where the panels will avoid becoming a fire hazard and stay safe from physical damage otherwise repairs may be needed.
Is it easy to install radiant ceiling panels?
Radiant ceiling heat panels are quite easy to install in homes or offices with a drop ceiling. If the ceiling panels can be lifted out, this can make it even easier. If not, the installer can cut into the plaster or drywall ceiling and then place the panels.
Overall, the process is much easier in comparison to installing a ducted furnace system.
The mounting part can be a little difficult and time-consuming. For some homeowners, it can take up to two days to mount the system to an existing ceiling.
Nowadays, the latest panels in the market are made from lightweight material, rather than being encased in heavy metals. This makes the radiant panels relatively easier to install.
How is radiant ceiling heat wired?
The heating element in a radiant ceiling heat system is typically made from a graphite sheet. Inside, is a copper conductor that is bonded between dielectric polyester film. Then, the heating element is insulated with fiberglass, and covered with a flameproof material. Finally, it is faced with a lightweight aluminium.
The panel’s main junction box is plugged into the ceiling. Electricity is conducted In the heating element of the panel as well as the copper conductors. The unit can be controlled with a thermostat.