What Are Radiant Ceiling Panels and How Do They Work?

Radiant ceiling panels offer a low-cost, energy-efficient heating solution for your home.

The technology works by heating up interior spaces in a way similar to the sun. It directly and immediately heats both people and objects in the room making you feel warmer, faster. The infrared panels are placed in the ceiling and there are no vents or blowers used, so it is absolutely noise and movement-free. 

What makes radiant ceiling heating so popular is how natural the warmth feels and how un-intrusive the system is, as it is all in the ceiling.

If you want to find out more about radiant ceiling heat in general, read our article about what radiant ceiling heat is.

Modern lounge

We’re an affiliate: We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate it!

How Do Radiant Ceiling Panels Work?

The radiant panels either have piping or wiring carrying the heat source depending on whether it is water or electricity based.

These radiant panels work through far-infrared heating technology or FIR. This technology is used in wall panels, hot water heaters, as well as underfloor heating. For electric radiant ceiling heat, the infrared waves pass the electric current through the panel to generate and radiate infrared heat. For water, hot water is passed through the pipes, providing heat to the panels.

The frame of the panel is usually made from a high-density fiberglass insulation board or a metal plate with the inside containing a solid heating element. However, the panel is coated with a decorative texture to hide these components.

Radiant Heated Ceiling Panels Benefits

There are several advantages of installing radiant heating panels in homes, schools, hospitals, and other buildings. These include:

Energy efficient

Radiant ceiling panels do not need to be set at a very high temperature to work effectively, making radiant ceiling heat very efficient.

At only 85 to 95°F, they heat up immediately and allow for lower energy consumption as compared to conventional radiators.

Maintenance free

The system is very hassle-free as there are no vents or ducts to clean. If there are any leaks, they can usually be detected while testing the system.

If installed correctly, there are almost no chances of breakages needing repair.

Visually appealing design

The radiant panels don’t take up any additional space in the room as they are installed within the ceiling.

As the heating system is not visible to the naked eye, this adds a minimal and aesthetic look to the room.

Ease of installation

The system is hassle-free and does not have many installation requirements like demolitions or structural modifications. This makes it a great choice for houses undergoing renovations.

Even heating

Radiant ceiling panels provide an even level of heat from the ceiling to the floor. All the surfaces are uniformly heated, including people, objects, and furniture, resulting in a cozy atmosphere.

Customizable settings

You can change and set the thermostat for the radiant panels in different rooms according to your preferences. Heated areas can also be customized.

Efficient panels

This technology is extremely effective at heating a space even if it’s very cold outside. It can even be used as the primary source of heat for a large building.

Comfortable, quiet environment and safe

Unlike blowers, radiant heating works silently and does not create any noise. It is also a very safe type of heating that is completely concealed so isn’t a huge fire hazard. Read more about radiant ceiling heat safety here.

Better air conditions

As compared to forced-air heating systems, radiant heat does not make the air dry. Not only this but it also reduces the risk of having breathing issues as it does not blow dust around. It’s evenly distributed heating results in feeling more easy and comfortable.

Radiant Ceiling Panels Disadvantages

Like any other system, radiant ceiling panels have their own set of limitations or problems. This includes the following:

No Cooling Feature

Most radiant ceiling panels are made for heating but do not have any cooling option. So, homeowners need to have another source for cooling, like air-conditioning or ceiling fans. If you choose a traditional air-conditioner, a duct system will also have to be installed in the house. 

Direct Heat Below Panel

Other heaters can create a consistent temperature throughout the room. However, with a radiant ceiling panel, you may feel more heat directly below the panel.

As heat is produced at the ceiling, you may feel a more warm sensation on your head and top of the body. Similarly, areas far away from the heating panels may have a difference of several degrees. 

Installation; Operating Costs

The initial installation of radiant heating panels can be on the expensive side. Ongoing operations can help you save money if you use the system correctly.

Electric panels, however, have a higher cost of operating compared to water-based radiant heating. To cut down on expenses, one must turn off the panels whenever they leave the room. 

Heat Naturally Rises

When it comes to radiant ceiling panels, they are easier to install, compared to radiant flooring panels. However, there is one problem with the system: heat rises.

So, the heating panels will have to work against nature. This doesn’t mean there will be less heat, but the ceiling panels may seem less effective and energy-efficient than floor panels. 


Radiant ceiling panels are not recommended for buildings with high ceilings, especially in narrow rooms. In addition, the system may not be favorable for vaulted ceilings. 

If you want to learn more, read our full article on radiant ceiling heat pros and cons.

Hydronic Radiant Ceiling Panels

Hydronic or water-based radiant ceiling heating systems are the most popular and cost-effective choice among the different sources. This system relies on a central boiler to heat up the water which is pumping through tubing located under the ceiling. 

The boiler is typically heated by natural gas, oil, propane, solar power, wood, or electricity. Hydronic radiant panels can be installed on different ceilings. As the panels can be laid out on a large surface area, the room warms up very quickly.

Plus, the water running through the tubing results in a super silent heating experience.

One potential drawback of a hydronic radiant ceiling system is that any leaks with the use of water can cause serious damage and are expensive to repair. 

Electric Radiant Ceiling Panels

Another option for radiant ceiling panels is using electricity. These surface-mounted electric radiant ceiling panels heat up directly using electricity as their primary utility. A series of resistance wires are installed between the floor and subfloor. 

The panels are constructed in a simple way and have a lower initial cost. However, electric panels cost more during ongoing operation, compared to water-based ones. It generally works best in smaller rooms like bedrooms or bathrooms.