Kelly Faloon 2013-07-03 06:50:56
Explore radiant ceilings to provide homeowners with heating and cooling options. Radiant ceilings, which were popular long before the focus was placed on radiant floor heating, appear to be making a strong come back. Many of the original nonupright radiator-type of radiant heating systems were radiant ceilings. Most people who lived in these older dwellings (circa 1935) were under the impression they had radiant floors.However, when these methods of radiant heating were introduced, the insulation requirements for radiant panels were unknown and unenforced as they are today. If you had a radiant ceiling on the main floor, it felt like you had radiant floors on the second floor due to the upward loss of heat. In one instance, a homeowner didn’t realize his home had a radiant ceiling on the second floor until a general contractor decided to cut into the ceiling to install a new solar tube skylight.Suddenly, water was everywhere. The contractor thought he’d possibly severed a potable water line, so he called a plumber. When the plumber arrived, he determined that a bunch of 3/8–in. Copper water lines were embedded in the plaster of the ceiling. He wasn’t properly licensed to work on a hydronic heating system, so he referred the general contractor to a hydronic heating expert.Upon arrival, the hydronic contractor confirmed that some of the copper tubing heating lines embedded in the radiant ceiling system were severed. The confused homeowner was certain he had radiant floors and not radiant ceilings. The second story of the home was always warmer than the rest of the house, which is fairly common in single-thermostat, older, multifloor Dwellings. Much to the homeowner’s surprise, he had been living with radiant ceilings on the main floor, and inadvertent radiant floors and intentional radiant ceilings on the second floor. This is why the second floor was uncomfortably warm. The homeowner thought it was the “heat rises” syndrome.Other than the missing insulation in the ceiling of the first floor, which the homeowner eventually had blown in during another kitchen/living room remodel, the house was and still is being made comfortable with radiant ceilings. Other than the efforts of a few welleducated architects, such as Frank Lloyd Wright, radiant floors didn’t really make a grand entrance into the U.S. housing market until the early 1980s. Richard Trethewey, of “This Old House” fame, was one of the first people to start the radiant floor revolution in 1986 and that revolution is still going strong today. Comfort is the goal During the ISH Frankfurt trade show held in Germany, numerous companies were providing complete radiant ceiling heating/cooling “systems” to the European market. Some of these manufacturers have migrated over to this side of the pond and are offering their services and wares to the American contractor. In fact, many American manufacturers have caught the wave and are marching forward with their radiant ceiling offerings. Their “packages” include an air source, a reversible air-to-water heat pump capable of providing heating or cooling fluids to the radiant panels, and the dew point controls necessary to guarantee that the production of condensation will be eliminated. They Also can provide an air-moving system to control the relative humidity within the space and complete the package for delivering of high-grade, high-efficiency radiant comfort — heating and cooling — to the end users. Radiant ceilings are finished with thin drywall, which allows for a higher surface temperature with the same water temps used for radiant floors. No carpet, rugs or furniture to block the heat. And because no one will be walking on the ceiling, wider tubing on centers and partial coverage are options, saving materials and installation time. However, if radiant cooling is to be considered, the whole ceiling should be covered with either 6-in. Or 8-in. On centers with good plates or high-output panels with good aluminum coverage. The point of this exercise is to demonstrate that although most contractors are familiar with radiant floors, radiant comfort can be delivered from the ceilings, walls or floors. And these alternative radiating surfaces are not a new technology by any means. In order to gain a greater share of the heating/cooling market, it is important that the installed cost of a radiant system be lowered in order to compete with the alternative methods of heating and cooling Offering alternative radiating surfaces/sources to clients can significantly lower the cost of delivering a high-quality radiant comfort experience to them. Radiant ceilings for heating have held their place longer than radiant floors, while radiant ceiling cooling systems are long past the concept stage and are being used residentially as well as commercially throughout the world.
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