Most people don’t think of radiant heating systems as being very popular in warmer climates, such as Arizona, Texas, or Florida, but that may not be the case anymore. Consider Richard Copeland, service manager of Verde Sol-Air Services in Camp Verde, Arizona, who started offering radiant heating systems about 15 years ago. “We found that people retiring to northern Arizona wanted this type of system in their new homes. Many of them came from other parts of the country where radiant heating was more popular, and they wanted that same kind of comfort here.”

Granted, northern Arizona gets its share of colder weather in the winter, but for much of the year, it is a gloriously temperate climate — particularly around Sedona, which is where Copeland installs most of his radiant heating systems. And while most customers in this area choose radiant heat due to a want rather than a need, once the system is installed, they find the energy savings it offers as an added bonus. “Our systems tend to be very efficient, because we can design around lower water temperatures due to the milder climate,” said Copeland.


As more folks migrate to warmer climates in their golden years, it is natural to expect an increasing demand for radiant heat. “There is a lot more interest, which is being driven by customer experience — people who have lived in homes with radiant heat understand the comfort,” said Casey Swanson, sales manager, south region, Uponor. “There are many snowbirds who live with these systems in northern climates and would use them in the South if they were offered.”

That’s because radiant heating provides excellent comfort, regardless of geography, said Max Rohr, academy manager, Rehau. “Humans are most comfortable when their toes are warm and their heads are a slightly lower temperature. This comfort profile matches the output of radiant systems.”

Radiant heating systems are also very adaptable and can be used for residential and/or commercial applications, both new construction and retrofit. They are particularly beneficial in applications in which people work on concrete all day, such as auto mechanic shops, said Rohr. “A cold concrete slab will pull the heat from the objects touching it, even if the air above is warm. Since mechanics and their tools are on or near the ground most of the day, having a warm floor is really nice. Radiant slabs also have a large thermal mass that doesn’t fluctuate quickly when a big bay door opens. In a forced-air application, you could have a full air change and have to continue heating with cold surfaces and cooler air inside.”

Copeland mainly installs radiant heating systems in new homes and does not see much demand on the commercial side. “In our area, commercial projects are mostly cost-driven, and with today’s highly efficient forced-air equipment, it essentially becomes a redundant system, so it is a hard sell. However, we do see quite a bit of snow-melt projects on a commercial level, because it serves a public safety need.”

Radiant heat can be installed as either a primary or supplemental heat source, but Rohr believes it is most efficient to use it as the primary heating method in warmer climates and install it with radiant cooling. “A well-designed radiant heating and cooling system can use up to 30 percent less energy than other options. For heating, radiant systems are generally designed to be the sole source of heat. For cooling, however, a hybrid system is commonly needed to cover the cooling load and address the humidity appropriately.”

For commercial applications, Swanson agrees that combining radiant heating and cooling makes the most sense for many end users. “When customers choose these systems, they want to be able to use them year-round and not pay for something they only use a few times a year. Radiant cooling allows the use of these systems almost all year long.”


While radiant heating systems will probably never be as popular in warmer climates as heat pumps or furnaces, contractors should still consider offering them. “Floor-heating contractors have a distinguishable skill set in warmer climates,” said Rohr. “If every one of your competitors installs forced-air heating equipment, and you can bid and install a boiler system option, you have set yourself apart from the crowd. The best contractors often present a variety of heating source options to their customers and pick which one fits their needs.”

To set themselves apart in this way, contractors in temperate climates should focus on raising awareness of radiant heating technology, said Swanson. “Many older people who move South are at least somewhat aware of radiant heating systems. But we need to increase awareness for those who are native to the southern regions as well. There is also a lack of education on how to put these systems in and a perception that these types of systems cost a lot.”

That’s why it’s important for contractors to point out how much energy can be saved with a radiant heating system, especially in areas with high utility costs. “The market share for radiant heating tends to be higher where energy is expensive, regardless of geography,” said Rohr. “If propane prices quadrupled in Georgia next week, we would likely see an increase in radiant new construction business there because of the excellent energy efficiency you can obtain with these systems.”

But comfort is still the main reason consumers choose radiant heat over other options. “Radiant heating is a premium comfort option,” said Rohr. “Experienced contractors who know the product and can explain it well to homeowners drive the radiant market across the country. The bottom line is, there is no bad area for radiant heat. It is always a great option for customers who want to reduce energy use and life cycle costs while being comfortable in every corner of their homes.”

Publication date: 10/24/2016

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