Best Radiant Floor Heating (Reviews and Guide 2017)

Radiant floor heaters are a great heating solution for a smaller home because they won’t take up any space and they will produce a lot of heat.

But did you know that radiant floor heating systems are also very cheap to operate?

According to the Department of Energy, a radiant floor heating system will cost less to operate than a heating system using a furnace by up to 50%.

The best moment to install radiant floor heaters is when you’re building or renovating your home, but you can also install them afterward.

In the following article we explain how radiant heating works, what are the differences between hydronic heaters and electric ones, and the pros and cons of using a radiant heating system in your home.

Our short reviews will present the best radiant floor heating solutions available in 2017.

radiant floor heating reviews
  • HeatTech HTMAT-KIT-120-30
  • Square footage: 30
  • Volts: 120
  • Digital programmable floor sensing thermostat and sensor
  • Heating element thickness: 1/8"
  • Cable spacing: 3"
  • Other: 3.0A, 360W, Zero EMF, UL LISTED, 20" x 18" mat size
top radiant floor heating products
  • Warming Systems 50-coil120-kt
  • Square footage: 50
  • Volts: 120
  • Digital Floor Sensing Thermostat with Floor Sensor Wire
  • Heating element thickness: 1/8"
  • Cable spacing: 3"
  • Other: 5.0A, 600W, UL LISTED
best radiant floor heating
  • Warming Systems 20-mat120-kt
  • Square footage: 20
  • Volts: 120
  • Digital Floor Sensing Thermostat with Floor Sensor
  • Heating element thickness: 1/8"
  • Cable spacing: 3"
  • Other: wire is pre-spaced at 3", UL LISTED, 20" x 12" mat size
best rated radiant floor heating products
  • WarmWire 120070WDBKIT-WV
  • Square footage: 70
  • Volts: 120
  • Command Programmable Thermostat, Sensor Wire
  • Heating element thickness: 1/8"
  • Cable spacing: 3"
  • Other: 12 Watts/SF, touchscreen thermostat
Nuheat Floor Heat Mat
  • Nuheat Floor Heat Mat
  • Square footage: 60
  • Volts: 120
  • Thermostat: no
  • Heating element thickness: 1/8"
  • Cable spacing: -
  • Other: 60"x36" mat size, 180 watts
SunTouch electric radiant floor heater
  • SunTouch 12001524
  • Square footage: 30
  • Volts: 120
  • Thermostat: yes
  • Heating element thickness: 1/8"
  • Cable spacing: 3"
  • Other: 3A, 24" x 180" mat size

Top 6 Radiant Floor Heating Products

Electric Radiant Floor Heater by Warming Systems

best radiant floor heatingThis floor heating system uses electricity for power. The 20 square foot heating mat is 20” wide and 12’ long and needs to be connected to a 120-Volt electrical circuit. The mesh of the mat can be cut if you need to change its shape, but you need to be careful not to cut the heating wiring.

This heating mat is delivered with a digital floor thermostat which will allow you to change the heating options and the room’s temperature whenever you like.

This electric heating system can be installed under porcelain or ceramic tile, brick or stone floors, vinyl, laminate, or even carpet floors. The heating elements are less than 1/8” thick, so you don’t have to worry about the flooring’s rise.

Pros

  • Simple Installation – This heating system is very easy to install. The hardest part is actually hooking the heating mat to the electrical circuit, but once that’s done, it’s very easy.
  • Good Thermostat – This unit’s thermostat is very precise. Every change you make is palpable, and all the settings are easy to change.

Cons

  • One Thermostat Per Mat – This mat is effective, but the surface it covers is not really large. If you want to install the radiant heating system in a room larger than 20 square feet, you will have to install more than one mat. The problem is that every mat is connected to a thermostat, so you’ll have two, probably three thermostats in the room.

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120V Electric Radiant Floor Heat Heating System by HeatTech

radiant floor heating reviewsThis electric floor heating system has a surface of 30 square feet. More heating mats of the same kind can be combined to provide sufficient heating for an area of up to 150 square feet using a single thermostat.

The mat’s mesh can be cut off you want to change its design, but you have to be careful not to cut the heating wire. This heating system will produce up to 12 Watts of heat, or 41 BTU per square foot. If you want to change the mat’s design, keep in mind that the best way to arrange the heating cable is at 3” from one another.

A programmable digital thermostat is also included in the price. A 10-foot long cable is provided to connect the mat to the thermostat.

Pros

  • Self-Stick Mat – This mat is so sticky it will stay put even on clean concrete. This is a major advantage, as you don’t have to pour anything on it just to keep it in place.
  • Programmable Thermostat – This unit’s thermostat can be programmed to follow different schedules. You can set it on a vacation mode when you’re away from home, and you can set it to work only when someone’s home, lowering the heating bills.

Cons

  • Poor Customer Service – This model’s manufacturer has a poor customer service, and if you have some problems with the radiant floor heater you can wait for a long time until something is done about it. A big minus.

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Electric Radiant Floor Heating System by Warming Systems

top radiant floor heating productsThis heating cable set can be installed under porcelain or ceramic tiles, wood, laminate, vinyl, or even brick and stone floors. The cable set is long enough to cover a surface of 50 square feet if you install it properly.

This heating wire doesn’t come with a sustaining mesh which is a good thing if you want to arrange it in a different or odd pattern rather than in a rectangular one. The wire is easy to install. All you need to be careful of is to set the wire at a distance of 3” from another curve.

The package also includes aluminum tape used to fix the wire to the floor securely, and a thermostat. The 50 square feet spool contains 200 feet of linear wire. The wire can produce 600 Watts of heat.

Pros

  • No Pattern – This heating wire doesn’t have a mesh, so you don’t have to install it in a particular pattern. This also allows you to arrange the wire in unusual patterns if you need to.
  • Life Of The Floor Warranty – The manufacturers offer a prolonged warranty for this unit. This means the manufacturer is confident enough that the product will work well until the warranty period is over.

Cons

  • Time-Consuming Install – Since this heating wire doesn’t come with a mesh and you can’t cut the wire, you have to lay out all the 200 linear feet of wire. This can be time-consuming, so make sure your room is large enough to accommodate the full length of the wire if you place it 3” apart.

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Radiant Floor Heater With Touch Screen by WarmWire

best rated radiant floor heating productsThis heating wire offers an economical solution for heating a space of up to 70 square feet. The wire is approximately 1/8” thin, so you don’t have to worry about the floor rise because it won’t be noticeable.

The nice thing about this heating wire is that you can install it easily using the strap it comes with. Unlike a mesh which somewhat limits the pattern in which the wire can be arranged, the strap allows you to install the wire in unlimited designs, fitting every room.

Arranging the heating wire with a 3” between the lines will cover the 70 square feet surface quicker and will need 17% fewer turns than those necessary for a 2.5” space.

Pros

  • Detailed Installation Manual – The detailed installation manual will provide sufficient information for everyone who wants to install this heating system in their home, either having previous experience or not. The whole installation process is carefully explained, and a step-by-step guide will help you install the system quickly.
  • Installation Strap – The installation strap is easy to fix into the floor, no matter its surface. Once installed, you can use the straps to arrange the wire in the pattern you want and keep the lines at a distance of 3” at the same time.

Cons

  • Shorter Warranty Period – Even though this model’s manufacturers offer a 25-year warranty, it’s customary that radiant floor heaters to have a life-long warranty. This is still a long warranty period, but it’s shorter than others.

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Nuheat Floor Heat Mat

Nuheat Floor Heat MatThis electric heating mat can be connected to a regular 120-Volt electrical circuit. The mat’s standard size is 60” x 36”, but you can adapt it to fit any design you want, as long as you’re careful not to cut the heating wire while you’re cutting the mesh.

The heating wire is only 1/8” thick, so you don’t have to worry about the floor rising because it will be barely noticeable so it won’t interfere with other elements in your home, like doorstops or sliding doors.

If you want to use this kind of mat in a room with a larger surface, you can actually buy more units, interconnect them, and then connect all of them to a single thermostat. However, you have to keep in mind that the mats cannot be cut, only slightly trimmed at the sides at most.

Pros

  • Easy Install – These mats are all the same size, so if you measure the room you’re planning on using them and find out you can fit three units on the floor then you can proceed to install them very quickly. The mats are thin and applying mortar between them and ceramic tiles or other floor surfaces will present no problems.
  • Interconnected Mats – Unlike other heating mats which need a thermostat for each individual mat, these ones can be interconnected and then used on a single thermostat. This will lower your electricity consumption and raise the comfort level at the same time.

Cons

  • Predetermined Pattern – Even though a predetermined pattern can quicken the installation process in a square or rectangular room, it can make installing the mats in other rooms very difficult.

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SunTouch Electric Radiant Floor Heat Mat

SunTouch electric radiant floor heaterThis electric floor heater will add heat and warmth to every floor in your home. The mat is very easy to install and you can use the detailed installation manual or the installation videos the manufacturer has online to help with the installation.

The mat can be fastened to the floor using hot glue, staples or two sided tape.

By far the easiest way to install it is using two sided tape. Just take the room’s measurements carefully, place the necessary mats on the floor without using the tape to verify the fit, and then use the tape to fix them on the floor and the installation process is complete. The next step is adding mortar over the floor mat, then place the tiles or the other floor surfaces you want and your heating problem is solved.

Pros

  • Easy Installation – This mat is easy to install. The mesh is strong enough to keep the heating wire fixed in a position, but you can cut it easily if you need to adjust the mat’s design. Using double sided tape will make the installation a breeze.
  • Wi-fi Programmable Panel – This unit can be connected to a wi-fi programmable panel, and once you connect the panel to your home’s wi-fi, you will be able to program the mat from anywhere around the world, as long as you download the app and have an internet connection.

Cons

  • Short Warranty Period – The manufacturers offer a warranty period of 25 years, which is plenty but still shorter than that offered by other manufacturers, which offer a lifetime warranty.

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How Does Radiant Floor Heating Work?

Radiant floor heating basically means installing water-heated tubing or electric heating coils under the floors in your home. With radiant heating, the heat from the floors will warm up everything it touches, but the floor will also radiate the heat throughout the room, warming up the air.

how does radiant floor heating workRadiant floor heating uses the same heating principle as fireplaces, infrared space heaters, or even the sun. The air temperature in the room might be even, but if you stay next to the window on a sunny day, or next to a fireplace or an infrared heater, you’ll feel more warmth. Radiant floor heaters work in the same way. You’ll feel warmer because the heat from the floor will radiate upon you.

A radiant floor heating system is better than a forced-air heating system at keeping the room’s temperature at a constant level because the heating elements are distributed over a larger surface, and because of their way of heating the air. The air that touches the floor will be heated fast. When the air is hot, it becomes less dense so it will rise towards the ceiling. When the hot air rises, it pushes the cold air underneath, towards the floor. The cold air comes in contact with the warm floor and the cycle is repeated.

Besides being very efficient, radiant floor heating systems are also economical. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, these heating systems can be cheaper to operate by up to 25 – 50% than furnace heating systems.

The best way to install a radiant floor heating system is when you’re building a new home, but existing buildings can be successfully retrofitted. However, most people who already have a heating system choose to use floor heating in only a room or two, not in the whole home.

Electric vs Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating – Which to Choose?

radiant floor heating buying guide

There are two types of radiant floor heating systems. One uses electricity to heat your floors, while the other uses hot water for the same purpose. Both of them have advantages and disadvantages.

  • Electric Radiant Floor Heaters

    Electric systems are used for heating only, and they employ materials like pre-formed cable mats, flexible cables, bronze meshes, or carbon films as heating elements. Thanks to their slim and low profile, these heating elements can be installed directly under your floor finishes.
    Electric radiant heaters are very versatile, and they can be used for under tile heating, under laminate floors heating, carpet heaters, under wood floor heaters, or as portable area rug heaters. They can also be used as seat or shower heaters.

    Large electric systems, like the ones you need to use if you want to install them in your whole home, or even in a large room, need professional installing. Small heating systems can be installed without professional help.

    Electric radiant heaters use fewer components and are easier to install than hydronic radiant systems. Some electric systems require high-voltage electrical circuits, while other need low-voltage circuits. The cost of running an electrical radiant heating system is not determined by the voltage, but by the wattage output by the system.

  • Hydronic Radiating Floor Heaters

    These radiant floor systems use water or a special compound created by mixing water and an antifreeze solution like propylene glycol. The heat transfer fluid runs in a closed circuit between the boiler and the floor.
    Hydronic heating systems use different types of pipes specially designed for this purpose. The pipes are usually made out of polyethylene. Some specialized applications may use copper pipes instead.

    Installing a hydronic floor heating system requires skilled professionals. A typical system is made out of multiple components and you will need someone who can create a functioning system controlling the boiler, circulators, fluid pressure and temperature. Assembled sub-stations can be used to simplify the design and reduce the installation time.

    Hydronic heaters can use one or multiple energy sources to lower the heating bills. The most common energy sources are boilers which can use natural gas, propane, electricity, biomass, or solar power as a fuel or heat pumps which can be powered by electricity or natural gas.

    The main advantage of hydronic heating systems is that they are cheaper to operate than electric systems, and they are usually capable of delivering more heat. However, they cost more to install.

Best Radiant Floor Heating Buying Guide

If you want to install a radiant floor heating system in your home, there are several things you have to take into consideration.

Hydronic Or Electric?

Both of these heating systems are very efficient, but even if they lead to the same results, they work differently. Each of them has distinct advantages and disadvantages.

  • Hydronic

    Hydronic radiant heaters are more expensive, and their installation costs more than that of electric radiant heaters. The cost of operating them is significantly lower, though, and in time the initial price gap between the heating systems will disappear.

    Besides the initial high price, another disadvantage of the hydronic heaters is the fact that they have more working components. They need a boiler working on natural gas, propane, or electricity, a circulation system made out of plastic or copper pipes, and a thermostat. All these components can be damaged at one point or another, so there is a possibility that hydronic heaters will have a higher maintenance cost than the electrical ones.

  • Electric Radiant Floor Heaters

    Electric radiant heaters are less expensive than hydronic models, and installing them is easier. In fact, most people with experience working around the home could install an electric radiant heater by themselves, using the instructions manual provided by the heater’s manufacturer or an online guide or instructional video. The hardest part of all the installation is connecting the heating wires and the thermostat to the electrical circuit.
    Electric radiant heaters usually use thinner and slimmer heating lines than hydronic heaters, which means that the floor’s rise will be very small and it won’t interact with other elements in your home, such as door stops, thresholds, or sliding doors.

    This type of heaters usually cost more to operate than a hydronic system, but they’re still cheaper to run than other heating systems using electricity, like an HVAC air conditioning system or ceramic space heaters.

Room Design

If you’re planning on installing an electric radiant heating system, you need to take into account the design of the room or the bathroomp. Some electric radiant heaters come in the form of mats. The heating wires are held together by a mesh, and their shape is usually rectangular or a square. The mesh can be cut, but you can only cut so much mesh and still respect the 3” of open space between the heating lines.

If the room in which you’re planning to install the electric radiant heater as an unusual shape, or if there are many objects already fixed into the floor, such as toilets, bathtubs, or shower tubs, it might be easier to use a heating wire stored on a spool. This will allow you to arrange the heating wire in any pattern you want, avoiding objects and covering the whole surface of the room.

If you choose to use a simple heating wire without the mesh, keep in mind that the wire’s lines have to be set 3” apart. There are tools and instruments that can help you with keeping the wires at precisely 3”, so make sure you use one.

Pros And Cons Of Radiant Floor Heating

Radiant floor heating has been used since ancient times, but they have become popular again in the last century. Here is a list of the pros and cons of using a radiant floor heating system.

Pros

  • No Footprint – Radiant floor heaters don’t take up any space, so you can benefit from all the surface your home has.
  • Great Heating Capacity – Radiant floor heaters have their circulation system spread across an entire room, so the room’s temperature will rise very quickly and it will be distributed evenly around the room.
  • Efficiency – Radiant floor heaters are very efficient. Hydronic heating systems are more efficient than electrical ones, but both systems are efficient, nonetheless. According to the Department of Energy, radiant floor systems are cheaper to run by up to 50% than heating systems using a furnace.

Cons

  • No Cooling – Considering the installation cost, radiant floor heating systems come close to an HVAC air conditioner, but unlike an air conditioner, they don’t have a cooling option.
  • Expensive Repairs – If your radiant floor heating system is not working properly, you need to call a professional to look at it.
  • Most of the times, the problems will be solved cheaply and quickly, but if the problem lies underneath the floor, you can expect some steep prices for the repairs.

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Conclusion

Radiant floor heaters are a great heating solution, especially if you’re building a new home, or you’re refurbishing an older one. The best thing about them is the way they distribute the heat and keep the room’s temperature constant.

Unlike regular heaters which produce heat at a variable height, sometimes even at the ceiling’s level, this kind of heaters produce the heat at the floor’s level. This allows the warm air to rise and keep the room’s temperature constant while the floors themselves stay warm and comfortable.

Radiant floor heaters may be more expensive at first when you buy and install them, but due to their low operating cost, they are a cost-effective heating solution. Most models benefit from extended warranties, and you can use them safely for a long period of time.

If you couldn’t find the best radiant floor heating solution on this page, check out our other buying guides. We’re certain that you’ll find the right heating solution shortly.

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