Boucher Energy Systems Radiant Heat

Boucher Energy Systems Radiant Heat

Not at all. In fact, it is probably the oldest method of central heating there is. The Romans used a crude system of radiant heat to warm their famous baths as early as 80 BC. They built fires and let the heat travel through passages under the marble floors. Europeans heated their castles in much the same way during the Dark Ages. Click on the picture to the left to read a very interesting radiant heat proposal in an early Roman book.

In the 1930’s, radiant heat began to make a comeback in New England, via the advent of reliable electric circulation pumps that allowed us to economically pump warm water through a building. In these systems, copper or steel piping was embedded into the floors, or many times the ceilings of a home.

Once the war was over, there was a huge need for affordable houses for young GI’s. The housing development was born. Perhaps the most well known of these was Levittown, New York. These houses were built on a simple concrete slab. The slab had tubing buried in it, looped to a boiler and presto, radiant heat for the masses.

This concept was used in Massachusetts as well. The «Campanelli» houses where constructed in several towns, including Framingham and Bellingham. These homes were long slab ranches that typically had the boiler located right in the kitchen. Many are still in use today. However, many have failed. We have examined some and found slabs that have cracked and deteriorated. In time, the chemicals and ground moisture attacked the thin-wall copper tubing in the concrete.

Today we have Pex tubing. This is a very specialized plastic pipe that has been in use in Europe since the early 1970’s and is impervious to the chemicals that damaged the older copper and steel piped systems. We have seen Pex tubing removed from a concrete slab poured in the early 1980s with the tubing still in perfect condition. The slab was simply being removed for an addition.

I wanted to pass along a couple of things to you.

First, we received our first full gas bill since the installation. While I realize we will not know true savings from the installation of the new boiler until the heating season, I wanted to let you know that our «therm per day» gas usage dropped by more than 50% comparing the month of June to the month of July. With all the kids and house guests during July, I believe this represents real evidence of the savings we will realize on the gas consumption to produce domestic hot water with the new boiler and indirect hot water heater. AS IMPORTANT, we now have consistent and sufficient hot water to do laundry and run baths.

Second, I wanted to let you know that when the plumbing inspector came to the house to inspect the installation, he was very impressed and asked that we give him your contact information because he says he rarely sees an installation job that is so well done.

Thanks again to you and your crew for a great job.

R.G. Medfield, Massachusetts

What makes a radiant-floor heating system different from a convection heating system such as finned-tube baseboard?

A radiant-floor heating system first heats the objects in the room. Then, the objects heat the air to a certain degree. They do that by convection, but the movement of the air is relatively slow because the objects in the room do not get that hot.

Convection systems heat the air first — to a fairly high temperature. The air then uses its warm, «ferris-wheel» like convection currents to heat the people and the objects in the room. In operation, it is the exact opposite of a radiant-floor heating system.

Most people can sense the difference between the two systems right away. This is because the air in a radiantly heated room is usually very still and it’s always cooler than a room heated by convection. This lack of air movement affects the overall comfort level. The human body loses about 25% of its heat to convection (drafts), so if the air is still, your body will lose heat and you will usually feel more comfortable.

Benefits at a glance:

  • More comfort first and foremost.
  • Healthier — no dust or allergens being blown around.
  • Higher operating efficiency due to low water temperatures and the heat being where the people are rather
    Boucher Energy Systems Radiant Heat

than at the ceiling.

  • Quieter because there are no fans or blowers.
  • Less maintenance, no filters or ducts or baseboard to clean.
  • Decorating freedom without constraints of vents, returns or baseboard units.
  • What is the rate at which my body loses heat?

    Your body, believe it or not, is a radiator. At rest, you produce about 400 BTU/hr. Your body gives up about 100 BTU/hr. to evaporation when you perspire and breathe. You give up another 100 BTU/hr. to convective air currents. The rest of the heat, a full 200 BTU/hr. you give up by radiating it towards the colder objects around you.

    Have you ever noticed that while you feel perfectly comfortable standing on your living room carpet, you feel cold when you walk into the kitchen on the tile floor? Or, at a restaurant, you feel cold near the window, but feel warmer when moved to the center of the room? The temperature of the room has not changed, but your body is radiating LESS heat when it is not near cold objects.

    In a radiant floor heating system you will radiate less heat away from your body because the objects around you will be the same temperature as you are. That is why a radiant heating system controls the rate at which your body loses heat.

    What types of radiant heat are available?

    The three basic types of radiant heat are:

    Example of radiant in concrete installed by BES


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