Low-Voltage Radiant vs. Hydronics Radiant (Hot Water)

Electric radiant heat warms your floors evenly throughout 100% of the system's coverage. Hydronic systems warms a maximum of 85 - 90% of the system's coverage in best case scenerios. Hydronic systems heat the floor less the further away the hot water mix gets from the boiler. (see illustration below). Unattended systems may also require a Glycol mix to prevent freeze up if system failure occurs.

Fact-Based Comparison
Heating System Comparison

Efficiency Low-Voltage
Radiant Heat System
Hydronic
(Hot Water)
Floor Radiant
Hydronic
(Hot Water)
Baseboard
Efficiency at 100% of capacity 100% 65-90% 65-85%
Efficiency at 50% of capacity 100% 35-65% 35-65%
Efficient - relative thermal 100% 100% 50-75%
100% of energy is delivered to usable floor space YES NO NO
Proper sized capacity of "Off Peak" conditions YES NO NO
Maintenance Low-Voltage
Radiant Heat System
Hydronic
(Hot Water)
Floor Radiant
Hydronic
(Hot Water)
Baseboard
Annual Maintenance Required - filters to clean or change NO YES YES
Easy to repair YES NO NO
Controls - simple and reliable YES NO NO
Cost Savings Low-Voltage
Radiant Heat System
Hydronic
(Hot Water)
Floor Radiant
Hydronic
(Hot Water)
Baseboard
Expandable - easily and economically YES NO NO
Floor covering - Compatibility without restructuring the design YES NO YES
Floor space required for installation (mechanical room) NO YES YES
Need for registers, grills, radiators NO NO YES
Installation and Operation - simple YES NO NO
Structural building cost increases required to accommodate NO Variable NO
Venting required to outside and combustion air required NO YES YES
Concrete or Thinset required NO Variable NO
Remodeling Low-Voltage
Radiant Heat System
Hydronic
(Hot Water)
Floor Radiant
Hydronic
(Hot Water)
Baseboard
Retrofitability - in existing concrete YES NO NO
Retrofit into joist space effectively YES Variable NO
Simple modification for remodeling YES NO NO
Easy and effective for large or small areas YES NO NO
Increase floor height more than 1/16" NO YES NO
Health & Safety Low-Voltage
Radiant Heat System
Hydronic
(Hot Water)
Floor Radiant
Hydronic
(Hot Water)
Baseboard
Distributes dust, pollen, allergens through the air NO NO YES
Can contain Glycol (Poison) NO YES YES
Safety, possibility of exposed high voltage NO Variable Variable
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