A circular radiant ceiling heater with black casing and protective cage.

Radiant ceiling heaters are one of the less common home heating choices in the US, but they can work very effectively in the right setting.

As with all HVAC solutions, there are pros and cons. What may work perfectly for one home could be a poor choice for another.

The biggest advantage of radiant ceiling heaters is their reliability. They tend to require minimal repairs throughout their life and have lifespans of around 20 years. That is on par with most forced-air furnaces and boiler systems.

Radiant heaters can be powered with either gas or electricity.

Ceiling-mounted gas powered models are widely used in commercial and industrial settings, where they are well-suited to providing heat in high-ceilinged buildings such as warehouses.

Electric models are the more popular choice for homeowners because they can be safely installed on lower ceilings and don’t make any noise, unlike their industrial counterparts.

Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s take a look at what kind of settings these units work best in.

Pros of Electric Radiant Ceiling Heaters

1. Reliability

An electric radiant heating system is installed in a ceiling
Electric radiant ceiling heating being installed in the ceiling of a residential home.

Radiant ceiling heaters are built to last. With proper installation and maintenance, most models last around 20 years with little to no issues.

The repairs tend to be relatively simple and inexpensive.

2. Maintenance

These systems don’t require much maintenance. In most cases, you only need to keep the area around the heater clean and dust-free.

If you have a model with an exposed heating element, you may need to occasionally wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove the build-up.

You might also need to periodically check the wiring to ensure it’s in good condition. Other than that, there’s not much else you need to do to keep your unit in good working order.

3. Safety

These systems don’t give off harmful fumes or chemicals. IF the system is fully electric, you don’t have to worry about potential gas leaks.

Radiant heaters don’t produce any sparks or open flames, so there is little risk of causing a fire.

Most models have built-in safety features that automatically turn the heater off if it gets dangerously hot.

The only time you need to be careful with radiant ceiling heaters is when you’re cleaning them. Make sure they cool down completely before attempting to clean them or you risk getting burned.

4. Quiet Operation

Radiant heaters do not use fans to distribute warm air, so they are virtually silent when running.

You may hear a sound from your unit when it turns on but that is it.

5. Clean Air

Because they don’t circulate dust and other allergens around your home, they can be a good choice for people who suffer from asthma, allergies, or other respiratory conditions.

6. Heaters Come in a Variety of Styles

Radiant heating styles set out in a collage. Hydronic pipes on the left and a rectangular electric and circular electric on the right.
Radiant ceiling heaters come in different styles, to suit any home.

Ceiling heaters come in various styles, so you can find one that works with your home.

Some models come with remote controls for your convenience so you can adjust the heater wherever you are.

Other options include: timers, program settings, and built-in lighting.

7. Radiant Ceiling Heaters Are Scalable

You may have heard people that radiant ceiling heaters are only for small rooms, however, there are many models on the market that are powerful enough to heat large rooms.

Most homeowners choose other HVAC solutions for large spaces because radiant electric heat can be costly to operate.

That being said, let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages of these units and why they might not be the perfect solution for your home.

Cons of Using Electric Radiant Ceiling Heaters

1. Expensive To Install

A fan of money spread out on a white table.
Radiant ceiling heating can be expensive to install, but is it worth it in the long run?

These units can be quite pricey to install. You need a dedicated electrical outlet for each heater. And since these units are installed in the ceiling, they can be tricky to set up. Most installations require a professional HVAC company or an electrician to do the wiring.

The price of radiant ceiling heaters ranges from $300 to $1,400 per room. Installing them in every room can be pretty costly if you have a large home.

2. Expensive To Operate

Electric heat of any form is expensive to operate.

The only exception to this are electric heat pump systems as they do not “create” heat but rather transfer existing heat in the environment from one area to another.

High utility bills is the factor that steers most people away from electric ceiling heaters. If homeowners have access to heaters that use natural gas or propane, they choose those options 95% of the time.

3. Not A Good Choice for Homes with High Ceilings

Hot air rises, and homes with high ceilings will make the heater work harder to provide enough heat to be felt at ground level. This means higher utility bills and often a shorter lifespan for the heater.

Domestic radiant ceiling heaters are designed for standard homes with relatively low ceilings and industrial units are not meant for residential homes.

All in all, if you have high ceilings, we recommend looking at other HVAC options for your home.

4. Radiant Ceiling Heaters May Not Be for Every Home

A ceiling tile being slotted into place in a suspended ceiling.
Not all ceilings are suitable for radiant ceiling heaters.

Here’s the thing: Radiant ceiling heaters will not work for every home. This is because they need to be installed in the ceiling, and not all ceilings can support the heater’s weight.

If you’re considering getting a radiant ceiling heater, ensure that your home can accommodate it first.

This is especially true for homes in heritage zones and older homes. They usually don’t have the necessary infrastructure to support a radiant ceiling heater.

It is worth noting that if you live in an apartment, you might be unable to install a radiant ceiling heater. Apartments often have concrete ceilings and don’t work well with these types of heaters.

Final Thoughts

Radiant ceiling heaters can provide sufficient heat in a variety of setups, but there are some pretty big drawbacks.

  • Are you comfortable with the installation process?
  • Is your home a good candidate for radiant ceiling heat?
  • Are you okay with relatively high electricity bills?
  • Do you like how they look?

If you don’t have access to any of the cheaper heating options (natural gas, propane, wood), an electrical heat pump or mini split might be something to consider.

Take a good look at all your options before moving forward with an install.

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