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Radiant Floor Heat Pump: Is it Cost-Effective?

The radiant floor heat pump is an efficient and innovative solution for home climate control. Discover all the advantages

Radiant floor heating is an optimal and modern solution for distributing heat inside a home; the heat pump produces thermal energy with power from renewable sources. Have you ever thought about integrating these two technologies?

Radiant floor heat pump: efficiency and environmental sustainability

Radiant floor heat pumps represent an innovative and highly efficient solution to ensure thermal comfort in buildings, both residential and commercial.

This solution integrates two technologies, the heat pump and radiant floor heating.

A heat pump is an innovative technological system used for heating, cooling (if reversible), and producing domestic hot water, powered by thermal energy from external renewable sources such as water, air, and the ground, avoiding the use of fossil fuels.

To delve deeper into how a heat pump works, I recommend reading the article “Heat Pump: How It Works, Types, and Costs“.

Radiant floor heating, also known as radiant floor heating system, consists of a series of radiant panels made up of tubing coils positioned beneath the surface of the floor. In these tubes, hot or cold water circulates depending on the season and therefore based on the heating or cooling needs of the spaces. As the water flows, the temperature spreads first through the floor and then, through radiation, evenly throughout the room.

Radiant floor heating can be powered by a heat pump, traditional boiler, or condensing boiler or solar panels that will heat or cool the water inside the pipes.

How does the radiant floor heat pump work

Heat pumps combined with a radiant floor system represent a type of heating system that exploits the thermal energy present in the surrounding environment to efficiently and ecologically heat indoor spaces. Their operation is based on the principles of thermodynamics and uses the thermodynamic cycle of compression and expansion of the refrigerant.

We can outline the operation of this system in steps:

  1. thermal energy absorption: the heat pump extracts thermal energy from the surrounding environment, which can be air, ground, or water. Even at very low temperatures, there are still traces of heat in the environment that can be utilized;
  2. refrigerant compression: the refrigerant inside the system is compressed by a compressor, increasing its temperature. This process requires electrical energy, but the amount of heat produced is greater than the electrical energy absorbed;
  3. heat transfer to the heating system: the high-temperature refrigerant is then passed through a condenser inside the heating system. Here, it transfers the accumulated heat to the water or heating fluid circulating through the floor;
  4. heat distribution: the heat is evenly distributed through the radiant floor heating system, heating the space comfortably and uniformly;
  5. refrigerant expansion and return to the cycle: the cooled refrigerant is then passed through an expansion valve, where it expands and reduces its temperature. This cycle repeats continuously, allowing the heat pump to maintain a constant temperature inside the building.

The great advantage of radiant floor heat pumps is that they can operate in both directions, allowing for spaces cooling during warmer months. This cooling cycle is simply reversed, with the refrigerant absorbing heat from inside the building and releasing it to the external environment. This versatility makes them a complete solution for year-round thermal comfort.

What are the benefits of using a radiant floor heat pump?

If heat pumps and radiant heating systems individually increase the efficiency of a home, imagine the benefits when combining the two systems.

The main advantage is certainly energy savings, resulting in significant cost savings: heat pumps operate at a maximum supply temperature of about 50°C/60°C, radiant panels work with water at temperatures between 25°C and 35°C, the lower temperature demand allows for a saving of about 30%.

Using a radiant floor heat pump provides greater system safety because unlike a traditional boiler, it does not need to be connected to the gas network but is directly connected to the electrical grid.

It also offers great thermal comfort and high living comfort, with consistently uniform temperatures and minimal noise due to the silent operation of both systems.

Working at low temperatures also avoids raising dust and mites and maintains healthier air, preventing allergies.

The system allows to minimize environmental impact because the heat pump mainly utilizes natural sources to produce thermal energy, ensuring greater sustainability.

Advantages of heat pumps for underfloor heating

Advantages of heat pumps for underfloor heating

Which Heat Pump to Choose for Radiant Floor Heating?

There are different types of heat pumps, in particular, we can distinguish them based on the energy source used:

  • air-to-air heat pump: transfers thermal energy by taking it from the external air and introducing it into indoor spaces in the form of internal air to cool or heat them;
  • air-to-water heat pump: uses the thermal energy contained in the external air to transfer it to the water in the system’s circuit;
  • water-to-water heat pump: extracts heat from a cold source consisting of water, such as a lake, a river, or a groundwater, and transfers it to the internal system’s water;
  • geothermal heat pump: utilizes heat from the ground, which it extracts through geothermal probes and uses it for sustainable thermal energy generation.

The choice of the most suitable type should be influenced by the greater availability of renewable sources in the location where the system will be installed.

Furthermore, it is very important to check the quality of the heat pump, ensuring that it has high efficiency values, therefore high COP (coefficient of performance) and EER (energy efficiency ratio), and that it is sized to meet the home’s needs.

Through the BIM MEP systems software and its extensive catalog of objects, continuously updated, you can design radiant floors through the 3D modeling of the system components and technical connections of radiant floor heating.

For further insights, watch the video on Edificius MEP, the BIM software for MEP systems as simple as CAD!