Closeup on an eco panel heater a wall in a home

You’ve probably explored multiple heating systems if you live in a cold region where survival without one is impossible. Radiant heating panels are one of the heating options gaining popularity recently, and rightfully so. 

This article will give you a thorough overview of radiant heating panels, including details of their design and construction, working mechanisms, benefits, and applications. There’s also a comprehensive comparison between radiant heating panels and convection heaters. So keep reading to enlighten yourself! 

What Are Radiant Heating Panels?

Radiant heating panels are steel or aluminum wall or ceiling-mounted structures. They heat the objects in their vicinity through electromagnetic radiation. Radiant panels are more energy-saving than convection heaters, provide better air quality, produce less noise, and distribute heat more evenly. 

A Pocket Guide on Radiant Heating Panels 

This section breaks down everything you need to know about radiant heating panels. 

Design and Construction 

The design and construction of radiant heating panels support effective heat transfer. They are steel or aluminum panels with a wall or ceiling-mounting design and finishing that goes with your home’s interior. They come in various sizes and shapes.

Low-pressure or temperature hot water (LPHW) is frequently used to provide heat to the panel. A radiant heating panel typically has a serpentine copper tube attached to its rear. The tube is covered with a foil-faced insulation pad to reduce the convection and radiation of heat from the panel’s upper surface. 

a diagram of the mechanisms behind radiant Ceiling Heating
Courtesy of TWA Panels

This construction ensures maximum contact and heat transfer between the heating element and the radiating surface.  

How Radiant Heating Panels Work 

Radiant heating panels work on the notion of electromagnetic radiation and provide supreme comfort to the occupants of any space. 

As evident by the name, these panels use radiant heat, i.e., electromagnetic radiation that transfers heat to objects at a lower temperature, for their heating mechanism. 

A prime example of radiant heat is the sun on a winter day. The temperature in your surroundings is cool, but if the sun directly shines on you, you’ll feel warm instantly. 

A radiant heating panel works in the same manner. They are mounted on high walls or ceilings, so they can keep all the objects in the room warm by shining on them. 

A radiant ceiling heating panel installed on the ceiling of a dining room
Courtesy of Mighty Energy Solutions

Ultimately, the heating panel warms up all the objects at a low temperature in the room. Then, these objects work as radiators and transfer heat to their surroundings through convection, raising the room’s overall temperature.

Inside the panel, water is distributed through the tube, which is placed near the panel’s surface for maximum thermal contact. First, water runs through the tube and warms it. Next, the tube warms up the panel, which radiates heat to the objects in the room. 

It is worth mentioning that the radiant heating panel’s heating process has the quickest response time among all other heating technologies. The speedy working makes it energy-efficient and money-saving. 

This feature is because it doesn’t transfer heat directly to the air to raise the temperature and make it homogenous. Instead, it only warms physical objects within its reach. 

Benefits of Radiant Heating Panels

Radiant heating panels come with numerous benefits, making for a convenient option if you’re considering installing a new heating system in your home. 

Some of the advantages include: 

Required Heat Distribution Through Effective Placement

While designing the heating system, you have the flexibility to place radiant heating panels where the occupants will benefit from the warmth the most. 

An eco panel heater mounted on the wall of a home above a desk

This way, you can ensure that the heat from the panels directs to the room’s interior. You can also reduce the possibility of excessive heat going to outer ceilings or walls.  

Flexible Positioning, Control, Connection, and Design

There are various ways to arrange the radiant heating panels in the system, including:

  • Free suspension
  • Surface mount
  • Integration with a suspended ceiling 
  • Linked to each other through pipework connected using push-fit flexible hoses

There are also multiple ways to define the control of radiant heating panels in a system, such as:

  • Grouping the panels according to the requirements of the space to be heated for maximum warmth and comfort
  • Operating each panel individually using a thermostatic valve
  • Connecting all the panels to a central control system

Drop rods, chains, or wires can be used to suspend radiant heating panels, as required by the space where you’re installing the system. You can also style panels to match the aesthetic of the room. 

To summarize, there are diverse ways to design a radiant heating panel system for maximum effectiveness and appeal. 

Efficient Heating Mechanism 

A radiant heating panel system can be hydronic, i.e., liquid-based. This design plays a significant role in its efficient functioning because the energy requirement for heating water is much lower than air. 

As a result, a hydronic radiant heating system uses less electricity and can be combined with renewable energy sources to continue operation. 

Adaptable to Changing Temperature

A radiant heating system is effective enough to adapt to its surrounding’s changing temperatures. With other heating systems, there’s generally a loss of warmth. 

However, because radiant panels warm objects in the room rather than the air, they’re super responsive. They distribute heat efficiently as required by the heating load. 

Improved Air Quality and Minimum Noise Pollution

Unlike convection systems, radiant heating panels do not rotate air in the room to reach a homogenous warm temperature for the occupants. 

Hence, occupants can relax knowing they’re avoiding pollutants, dust particles, mold, fungi, germs, and other substances contaminating the air they breathe. Also, radiant systems are predominantly quiet, so you save yourself from noise pollution too. 

Even Heat Distribution

Radiant heating panels work smoothly and ensure that the space is evenly heated. With this system, you’ll observe an insignificant temperature difference between the ceiling and the room’s occupants. 

This is because while 80% of the room, including objects, is heated through radiation, the other 20% occurs through convection, distributing heat evenly. Consequently, radiant panels maintain a Mean Radiant Temperature (MRT), i.e., the average temperature of all the objects in the room.

Low Maintenance Costs and Chances of Injury

Radiant panels are installed at great heights, which saves them from damage or tampering. Consequently, there are fewer maintenance costs. Additionally, the panels are out of the occupants’ reach, reducing the chance of injury during operation. 

They Can Be Used in Multiple Applications 

You can make use of radiant panels in various locations. Let’s take a look at a few: 

  • Places with high hygiene requirements – hospitals and medical laboratories can benefit from the panel’s clean working mechanism. 
  • Sizeable facilities – warehouses and factories can exploit the radiant heating panel’s ability to be installed at great heights and distribute maximum even heat to the occupants. 
Multiple radiant heating panels suspended from a ceiling in a commercial application
Courtesy of Marley
  • Sports facilities – radiant heating panels support sports facilities, where air movement affects the quality of games like badminton and table tennis. 
  • Noise-free environments – being a hydronic heating system, radiant panels produce minimum noise, so it’s wise to install them in spaces such as studios, theaters, educational institutes, etc.   

Alternate Heating Option – Convection Heating 

Radiant heating panels are always compared with conventional heating, i.e., convection heating.

Various heating devices on the floor and wall on a home, including a radiant heating panel

Let’s look at the critical differences between the two: 

  • Radiant heating panels warm up the objects in the room and the outer walls using the laws of quantum mechanics. In contrast, convection heaters warm up the air in the room through thermodynamics. 
  • Radiant heating panels provide much better hygiene conditions because, unlike convection heating, they don’t involve air movement. Since there’s no moisture because the air isn’t cooling down, there’s no chance of mold growth.
  • Since radiant heating panels do not involve air circulation, they provide considerably higher comfort than convection heaters by not drying out the occupants’ surroundings.  
  • Radiant heating panels prevent the spread of contaminants and pollutants in the air, as opposed to convection heaters that rely on air movement to provide warmth. This feature is excellent for people with allergies or asthma. 
  • The energy requirements for radiant heating panels are much less than convection heaters because the former only heats the solid or liquid objects in the room. Meanwhile, the latter warms up all the air in the space to be heated to reach the required temperature. 
  • Radiant heating panels provide more even heat distribution than convection heaters, known for creating cold areas. 

Final Verdict: Radiant Heating Panels vs. Convection Heaters

Radiant heating panels have been around for quite some time but have only recently grabbed the headlines. When pitched against convection heaters, radiant heating panels are the apparent winners for using better technology.

Their advantages over convection heating include: 

  • Saving energy and cutting back your costs
  • An attractive, space-saving design
  • Numerous applications
  • Improved air quality
  • Better hygiene conditions
  • Even heat distribution
  • Don’t serve as a breeding ground for mold
  • Less noise production
  • Providing much higher comfort 

If you can, invest in radiant heating panels. You’re guaranteed much higher returns in the long run than with convection heaters. 

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