About Radiant Heat and Snow Melting Systems
The Introduction of Radiant Heat
Radiant heat is the oldest heating technology known to man. The ancient Chinese were
using radiant heat as early as 10,000 B.C. to heat their beds, and by 500 B.C., the Greeks and Romans had
succeeded in creating an efficient radiant floor heating process known as the "hypocaust".
The hypocaust system utilized pillars that raised the floors to create a space
underneath where hot air could circulate. Spaces were also left inside the walls so that hot air and smoke from
the furnace would pass through the enclosed areas under the floor and out of flues in the roof. The heat
radiated through the walls along the way to warm the rooms.
A worker would constantly feed the fire in a furnace that was usually located
against the outside wall of the structure. Water was also heated and circulated under floors, marking the
introduction of hydronic floor heating. Today’s hydronic radiant heat systems feature specially treated water,
along with a boiler to provide the heat. The heated liquid is then circulated through a closed loop of PEX
tubing embedded in the floor. While the hypocaust marked the first true radiant under floor heating system, the
heating process was labor-intensive and high in fuel costs, which made it a luxury for those at the public baths
or living in villas. Fortunately, radiant heat today is affordable, so homeowners of all walks of life can
enjoy the luxurious comfort provided by these systems.
Radiant Heat Technology
In addition to being the oldest heating technology known to man, radiant heat is
also the most efficient. Radiant heat is simply a transfer of energy that radiates heat from the source.
Today's radiant heat systems feature one of two radiant heat technologies: hydronic or electric. Both
technologies are used for radiant heated driveways (snow melting) as well as radiant heated floors. Hydronic
radiant heat systems utilize specially treated liquid that is heated and then pumped through a series of
PEX tubing embedded in the driveway (or floor) while electric systems feature heat cable that is also spaced
and installed in the concrete, asphalt or under pavers. The heat cable generates warmth that spreads outward,
warming the driveway and melting snow and/or ice.
are fully automated and very efficient. Both hydronic and electric snow melting systems consist of three basic
elements: a heating element, activation device (snow sensor), and a master controller.
Call a Radiant Heat Expert today and see
what Options are Best for You (888.488.9276).