How Does a Radiant Heat Boiler Work?

A radiant heat boiler is used for heating buildings during winters. Radiant heaters can also be used in climate control systems during winters. It is one of the oldest heating techniques, which were first used by Romans for heating their baths (Roman baths). Before understanding how radiant heat boilers work, we first need to know what exactly is radiant heat.

Heat is form of energy which requires a medium to transfer itself from one place to another. Heaters usually transfer this heat or warmth through air. The heat source warms up surrounding air, which in turn increases the temperature of things that comes in contact with heated air. Radiant heat also works on the same principle, but there is a slight difference in both.

Instead of heating the air directly, heat sources are installed within floors or walls (to be precise, voids in floors and walls) of a structure. The heat sources then warm the air between the voids, thus heating the other surface in process. Through this process, the floors and walls get heated without actually heating the entire air in a room or a particular space.

Types of Radiant Heaters

There are four types of radiant heating systems, divided according to the type of surfaces they heat:

  • Under floor heating system
  • Wall heating systems
  • Radiant ceiling panels
  • Overhead gas-fired radiant heaters

Modern radiant heaters use two types of heat sources – electric coils and hydronic or water boilers. In electric radiant heaters, the coils are placed directly below the surface of floor or ceiling, which then heats the surface as explained above. Whereas, in radiant heat boilers, hot water or steam is circulated through a series of pipes, tubes or vents for heating.

Working Principle of Radiant Heat Boilers

In radiant heat boilers, metal tubes or pipes are embedded in walls and floors, which can carry hot water or steam. A water boiler, which is usually kept in the cellar, is used for heating water. The heated water is then pushed into the circulation system through a pumping system. When hot water circulates through these pipes, floors and ceilings get heated through radiant heat. Water which has cooled down after heating is again pumped back into the boiler for reheating. Instead of using traditional water heaters, wall-mounted tankless water heaters can also be used for household purposes.

Advantages of Radiant Heating Systems

  • Uniform heating of closed structures within a matter of minutes.
  • Radiant heating systems are an economical and environmentally friendly way of heating homes during winters.
  • Safe for people with problems like arthritis, asthma, allergies and chemical sensitivities.
  • About 25% of heat loss is reduced.
  • Relatively free from hazards like carbon monoxide poisoning and fire.
  • Safe for children, pets, furniture, cloths and other heat sensitive materials due to absence of open grills, hot radiators, or burners.
  • Eliminates moisture condensation, which may cause problems such as musty closets and dampening of walls and other household items.