Online educational resource on achieving indoor environmental quality with radiant based HVAC systems
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Glossary of Terms
Bibliography / resources

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Professional Organizations:

The following organizations have members who subscribe to professionalism in design and installations for radiant based HVAC systems:




How to reduce the risk of dealing with unqualified individuals who could potentially destroy the value of your property.

First and foremost deal only with qualified individuals - this applies to all types of HVAC systems.

The common denominators for qualified individuals are:
They have a formal education and professional designation related to their area of expertise. 
They hold membership with one or more of the above institutes and associations.
They are listed as a certified resource at the associations and institutes.
Design build contractors who have been factory trained will be listed with the equipment manufacturers and wholesalers.
They will all be in good standing with their suppliers, bankers and insurance providers.

Anyone worthy of a professional title can provide you names to contact to verify all of the above information - when several sources can verify the quality of the individual you will have eliminated 80% of the bad apples.

Next is to contact their references...past and present clients.
...and this is important...make sure you get to deal with the person you choose - don't let a bait and switch happen without your approval.
Finally go with your gut feeling only after you have done your'll have to invest thousands of dollars and you want to be able to work with the person taking your cash!

If in doubt you can post your questions and concerns online at our linked in discussion group.

Is your system being designed and installed according to codes, standards and guidelines?

CSA B214 Installation Code for Hydronic Heating Systems

CSA B214 Installation Code for Hydronic Heating Systems

RPA Guidelines 2010 Edition
RPA Guidelines 2010 Edition


Radiant Installations - The Good, Bad and Ugly
Copyright 2012 Robert Bean, R.E.T., P.L.(Eng.) and content providers. All world rights reserved. Thanks to our site visitors, content providers and the guys over at Dan Holohan's "The Wall" who shared a few of the images. If you wish for us to provide a photo credit just let us know.

For additional support visit our visitor services page.

As we have noted throughout the site, radiant system continue to be treated as popular science experiments even though these systems have been used for hundreds of years and researched to a level of engineering one would find anywhere in a professionally designed HVAC system.

We don't understand this phenomena of relatively educated people continuing to want to do silly things like throwing good money after experimental ideas.

Radiant when designed by professionals and installed by professionals is an elegant and efficient way of conditioning people. There is no need to "try" or "reinvent the wheel" just "do" what is proven in thermodynamics and engineering principles. Also it pays to work with the "Blue Chip" firms who provide leadership in codes and standards develop as well as application research. These top tier companies have brand name recognition which will serve you well when you go to sell your home.

Design and installation methods can be found in ASHRAE Handbooks, industry publications (see list of Professional Organizations in side bar) and design guides and software published by "blue chip" manufacturers.

The Bad (see more bad ideas)

bad radiant system with foil

A very bad radiant system...even an early grade school student understands that if you put a pot of water to boil directly on the element it will heat much better than if the pot is suspended in mid air above the element.

The high temperatures that this system would typically have to run at would completely destroy the efficiency of the heating plant and the expansion and contraction rate due to changes in temperature would cause stress in fasteners leading to noise and fastener failure. It matters not anyways since the system failed to perform from the start and needs complete demolition or abandonment.  

dust accumulation on foil

This is the same job as above and we want to draw your attention to the tube placement, lack of insulation and beginnings of an accumulation of dust on the pipes and reflective foil.

The use of reflective foil (above) in sub-floor systems is not without controversy. Radiation in an enclosure is difficult to model and the performance is subject to decay due to the potential fouling and accumulation of dust and debris. In principle it is nice to believe foil reflects energy from the pipe back towards the floor and improves efficiency but in practice the only practical way to efficiently and effectively condition a sub floor type system is with conduction using aluminum heat transfer plates along the entire tube length above or below the sub-floor.

The Ugly

radiant manifold - bad assembly

boiler room - bad assembly

bad boiler assembly

poor workmanship

We have no idea how one could call themselves an experienced professional and leave this type of mess in someone's home. Not only is it ugly but it failed to perform due to bad design and inadequate or missing components.

Remember this wisdom - whatever you have in your boiler room you will eventually have to sell with the property. Anything less in professionalism such as the examples above will partially destroy the value of your property.

The Good

radiant heat transfer plates (below floor) - good assembly

radiant heat transfer flooring - good assembly

radiant heat transfer plates (above floor) - good assembly

radiant heat transfer plates (above floor) - good assembly

The above represent acceptable options in sub-floor systems using aluminum (or graphite) heat transfer plates. Not shown is the required below sub-floor insulation.

poured floor on insulation with guide stays - good assembly

poured floor on insulation  - good assembly

poured floor using lightweight gypsum topping tube accesories for poured floors

The above represent acceptable options in poured floor systems. Shown in top photo's is the required sub-floor insulation.

mechanical room appliances - good installation - courtesy of Peter Kinesy
Photo credit: Peter Kinsey

mechanical room appliances - good installation

tube layout - courtesy of Uponor
Photo credit: Uponor

tube layout - courtesy of Uponor
Photo credit: Uponor

control appliances - good installation -  courtesy of Uponor
Photo credit: Uponor

control applainces and tube layout - commercial -  courtesy of Uponor
Photo credit: Uponor

The above represent acceptable boiler room and control panels for residential (top) and commercial projects (bottom)

Related reading:

Do I need an engineer? A Guide to HVAC/Indoor Climate Design Services
Where will your indoor climate system score?
How to "ball park" your budget for indoor climate control.
Indoor environments: Self assessment
Built to code: What does it mean for consumer thermal comfort?
The Total Comfort System - The "Un-minimum" System
Thermal Comfort: A 40 grit perspective for consumers
Thermal Comfort: A Condition of Mind

Do-It-Yourself HVAC - Should you do it?
The Cost of HVAC Systems - Are You Paying Too Much for Downgrades?
Radiant Installations - The Good, Bad and Ugly
Thermal Comfort Surveys - Post Occupancy, Part I
Thermal Comfort Surveys - Post Occupancy, Part II

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