Skip to main content

Radiant heating – a quick guide

Is radiant heating right for your business?

If you are looking at technologies to help you to save money on your heating bills, and reduce your carbon footprint, one of the options you may have come across is radiant heating. But what is radiant heating – and would it be suitable for your needs? Let us guide you through the basics to help you come to a decision.

What is radiant heating and how can I heat my business with it?

We are all familiar with radiant heat, even if we don’t realise it. Step outside your office on a summer’s day and that warmth you feel is down to the radiant heat of the sun. But it’s possible to experience it in winter too, from a log burner for example. Imagine standing in front of that log burner on a sub-zero winter’s day: the room is cold, but you are able to enjoy the heat given off by the fire – that is radiant heat.

Radiant heating differs from the convectional heat we receive from radiators in that it warms an object or person rather than the surrounding air. And, don’t be confused. A radiator does not supply radiant heat and should really have been called a convector.

Radiant heating can be supplied through customisable panels, on ceilings or walls, or tubes under the floor, and they can be deployed equally in big working areas and in smaller spaces like hotel bedrooms, for example.

The benefits of using radiant heating in your business

One of the key reasons to switch to radiant heating is the cost reduction. Because the heating is flexible and can be targeted to where it needs to go, you won’t be wasting money unnecessarily heating a big area. It can be produced with gas or electricity and the heat is instant.

This gives you better control over your premises heating. With radiators, you will need to turn the heating on some considerable time before your workforce arrives in order for the ambient temperature to have risen to the desired level. With radiant heating, you can turn it on as they arrive.

If you have large premises with individual workstations, the panels can be installed where they are needed, rather than having to heat the entire building. You can control individual zones to match their requirements, so no heat is wasted.

And, don’t forget, if you have a large working space, unless you have destratification fans and first-class insulation, heat produced in what is regarded in a more traditional way via radiators will just disappear into the ether.

Using radiant heating will not only cut your energy costs and carbon emissions, but it could also give you a happier and more productive team.

What are the key considerations when thinking about radiant heating?

As with switching to any new form of heating, you are always going to have the initial installation costs and these can be quite substantial depending on the size of your premises.

Because radiant heating warms the person, rather than the surrounding air, you will need to carefully consider the location of your heating to ensure it is targeted to the correct area.

You’ll also want to check to make sure there are no obstacles, like shelving or desks, preventing your team members from enjoying the warmth.

When it comes to thinking about the placement of the heating, you also need to consider how to make them accessible for future maintenance. This is a particular consideration for underfloor systems.

As with any electrical heating system, there is always an associated fire risk, so ensure you use a qualified installer.

How much does it cost to install radiant heating?

This is very much dependant on the size of your premises and how many panels you need. But big differences in quotes have been noted. Ask your potential suppliers/installers to give you a full breakdown of what is included in their quote, so you can compare like with like.

Would radiant heating be suitable for my business?

Radiant heating is suitable for a variety of businesses, from manufacturing set-ups with individual working areas, to smaller offices.

It works well in large, open spaces which are poorly insulated as the heat can be directed towards the workforce rather than escaping through the roof or windows.

In offices where some people prefer a warmer environment, they may be tempted to bring in an expensive-to-run portable heater. Radiant heating gives you the flexibility to provide varying levels of heat to ensure all your staff are comfortable.

Frequently asked questions about radiant heating

  • As heat rises won’t we get cold? No, it’s not heat that rises, it’s hot air and as the radiant heat is warming a person rather than the surrounding air, the heat won’t just disappear to the ceiling.
  • Isn’t it a modern technology that hasn’t been fully tested? Actually, radiant heating is a lot older than a lot of people realise. The Romans used a form of radiant heating with their underfloor systems. It has certainly evolved and developed over the years and is now an efficient way to heat your business.
  • Aren’t radiant heating panels just another name for radiators? Wrong. As discussed, radiators don’t actually supply radiant heat. They are designed to heat the air, while radiant panels are more about warming objects, including, of course, people.
  • Isn’t it more important to heat the whole room, rather than just the workforce? If you have a huge warehouse, for example, with a number of small workstations, it makes no financial sense to heat the entire space. It would also be difficult to regulate an even temperature throughout the building. Radiant heat ensures the heat goes where it is most needed.
  • Are radiant heating panels cheap to install? They can be, but if you’re intending to heat an entire room (e.g. retail space or cafes) they may not be your best option. If you are looking to warm the air in the building then other systems – including biomass or heat pumps – are likely to have higher installation costs but will be significantly cheaper to operate over their lifetime.
  • Is radiant heating cheap to operate? Yes, it can be, but again only if it is used in the appropriate situations and is properly controlled.

You can arrange a free assessment here

If you are a Scottish SME and would like to know if a radiant heating system is a good option for your business, we are here to help. We can arrange for an independent consultant to visit your site and make recommendations for free. You can arrange a free assessment here.