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What is best heat source for NH?

Dear ATOH,

We plan to build a house in one to two years. What is the best active heating source? Radiant heat? Is embedding the pex tubing better in 1) concrete, 2) lightweight concrete, 3) aluminum plates above a 1 1/2" floor deck, or 4) aluminum plates under 1 1/2" floor deck???? Is there a quantitative comparison? Does radiant create a type of heat that rises such that ceiling height matters in a well-insulated house? Should I cycle the heat back down with ceiling fans or tubes/ducts with fans? I will face the house to the south and have a small solarium.

Thank You,

Steven Ashe

Re: What is best heat source for NH?


All the questions you ask are valid and important.

It is up to the installer to answer and address these issues when definite plans are made for an installation.

If designed properly, there would not have to be any reliance on fans or ducts to redistribute the heat.

Radiant heats a room differently, like a camp fire, that gives up its heat when the heat waves strike objects in the room.

Try to think of a west-facing wall in your new house made of 3' thick natural stone; the sun will heat the stone all day and when the sun goes down, the built-up radiant heat (accumulated btu's) in the stone wall will heat the room/house for several hours, long after sunset. That's how radiant works; heat is pumped into a heavy mass (floor) that in turn "radiates" to heat the room/house.

Hopefully you can hire a competent contractor who can sort these issues out; there's a lot of math and design expertise that goes into a radiant install.

Also Google "residential radiant heating" to get background info on how radiant works.

Radiant is a good choice for NH, most techs would prefer light concrete-embedded radiant tubing for its superior heat emitting ability.

This would provide an excellent mass to pump the heat btu's into.

The height of the ceiling issue would depend on the heat loss calculation factors of the particular room in question, which in turn would determine the amount of radiant tubing installed in the room, as well as how closely the tubing would be spaced next to each other.

Carpeting is not a good choice for finished flooring material; preferred is tile flooring, stone, hardwood, ceramic, vinyl, etc.

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