A Guide to Electric & Hydronic Radiant Heat for Homeowners

Hydronic or Electric Floor Heating

When should you go hydronic?

For spot warming or primary heating of a portion of the house, it has been found that in 60 percent of cases, electric floor heating is more favorable than hydronic floor heating. If radiant heating is to be used as the sole source of heat throughout an entire home, 90 percent of the time hydronic radiant heating is a better option. However, even if underfloor heating is planned for the whole house, an electric system will be a better choice in warmer climates, where you often only need to heat the home for a few hours in the morning and a few hours at night.

When should you go electric

For both spot warming and primary heating, it has been found that in 90 percent of cases, electric radiant heat preferred over hydronic radiant heat. You should expect to spend $400 to $800 to install an electric in-floor heating system for a small bathroom. An equivalent hydronic system would run $4,000-$5,000. Hydronic systems have high start-up costs because you have to buy a boiler. As a result, electric radiant heat is more cost-effective.

What are the advantages of electric over hydronic floor heating?
A major misconception: Can electric underfloor heating be my sole source of heat?

Although many people believe that only hydronic floor heating systems can be a sold source of heat, electric floor heating also can be used as a primary heat source. A hydronic system in a cold state area, such as Nebraska or Illinois, will generally be designed at 18 BTUs per hour per square foot under tile and 30 BTUs per hour per square foot under carpet. If we translate this heating capacity into electrical watts, it corresponds to 5.3 watts per square foot under tile and 8.8 watts per square foot under carpet. WarmlyYours floor-heating systems offer 15 watts per square foot under tile and 10 watts per square foot under carpet. Clearly, the WarmlyYours electric system has enough heating capacity to serve as a sole source of heat.