Cost of Electric Radiant Floor Heating
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A home with a concrete slab under the floor or an otherwise drafty home can benefit from radiant heating. Electric radiant heating is a popular option for keeping a home warm in cold seasons. This type of heating is also one of the easiest remodels to keep basement flooring warm to the touch.
The Minimun and Maximum Costs
- Minimum cost: $1.50 per square foot
- Maximum cost: $3.00 per square foot
Homeowners planning to install electric radiant floor heat must consider several main materials: the electric heat cable and wiring system, mesh matting and membranes, and the floor tile.
The heat cable is installed under the floor in a grid pattern for maximum efficiency. The cable is matched with a GFCI-controlled circuit that regulates the safety of the cables, particularly in wet environments like a bathroom. A 15 or 20 amp circuit is usually required to complete the installation.
The system has to be placed in a mesh mat to keep the cables in place. Mesh matting is installed in a mortar compound along with the tile installation. The cables are connected to a controlled thermostat that regulates the efficiency of the radiant heating system. The thermostat can vary by room zones.
Alternative membranes encasing the cables may include additional padding for comfort or a copper heating element that is horizontal to the tile. Thinner mesh mat systems are available as a copper woven material for floating floors or vinyl plank flooring. Wiring kits are typically used for custom flooring situations that require different thermostat controls for rooms which change from slab to above a crawl space or foundation.
Floor tile is the top choice for a radiant heating system. The tile dissipates the heat by building thermal mass above the heating element. Ceramic and stone are often used in this application along with engineered products. The cables are very thin and shouldn't cause the floor to rise.
Tile or engineered hardwood flooring will add additional installation costs from $3.25 to 6.00 per square foot depending on the quality and type of material. Thermostat pricing varies from $50 to 100 depending on the style and settings for the room. More expensive thermostats will have a regulator that can monitor multiple rooms independently.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Radiant floor heating can add tremendous comfort to a room such as a bathroom or kitchen. It can make a basement feel more livable without increasing the electric bill. Radiant heating is also highly flexible for very small spaces. Older homes may have small bathrooms that would otherwise remain cold due to the lack of an air duct system in place. There are also tremendous cost savings over the installation of a traditional radiator or forced air heat system.
However, radiant heating often requires the addition of new flooring and a substrate that can drive costs up. It can also be expensive to repair if there is damage to the heating cables or if improper installation damages the substrate below. Radiant heating is also less effective as a whole room heating system.
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Last updated on May 17, 2016