Historically, radiant heating in general has suffered some bad press because of poor application and system design. However, continuing improvements in building design, teamed with investment in product development, have resulted in radiant heating proving a viable option for applications such as factories and warehouses. Phil Alcock, managing director at Frico, examines the radiant option
CHANGES in technology, design and environmental conditions have all contributed to major transformations in the heating industry.
Continuous research and development into radiant heating has paved the way for modern solutions for buildings that would otherwise be a challenge or inefficient to heat using conventional methods. Such changes mean specifiers need to consider the implications of heating solutions available.
In the radiant heating industry, misconceptions regarding energy-efficiency, comfort and operational effectiveness hinder what could otherwise be a soaring market sector. It is important to understand the benefits of radiant heat and its applications.
End users should be made aware of the energy and long term running cost savings radiant heating can offer. When weighing up various heating systems and their comparative projected lifetime costs, it proves to be a popular and practical option and is one of the most economical heating options on the market.
In developing innovative product solutions, Scandinavian experience is leading the field, due in part to the challenging climate in the home market.
This fresh experience is being introduced to the UK to overcome traditional resistance to radiant heating. Through training seminars and factory visits, specifiers, contractors, distributors and installers can all benefit greatly, which is why in-house training courses and CPD events are becoming so popular.
Radiant heating emulates the natural solar heating process. Just like the sun's rays, radiant heaters transfer heat to people and solid surfaces in a room, directly warming objects, rather than the air.
Minimal losses occur on the way from ceiling to floor, and temperature distribution is very even. Radiant heating acts in much the same way as lighting, in terms of dispersion and reflection. The natural feel of radiant heating means occupants feel comfortable with temperatures a few degrees lower than in a room heated by convection, resulting in energy savings for the building owner.
With practicality a hot issue, Frico has focused attention towards easy installation and optimal application of radiant heating systems, making it a popular and sensible solution for designers. Ceiling-mounted or high level flat panels allow for increased use of wall and floor space, avoiding the space restrictions of conventional heat emitters. Like lighting systems, electric radiant heating can be adapted to provide a dispersed or narrow beam and intensity can be matched to application and mounting height, offering true versatility.
Frico Thermocassettes for ceiling mounting are appropriate for ceilings up to 3m in height where the walls are required to be kept free. They act as attractive and effective emitters giving invisible radiant heat.
A typical problem area in many applications is heat loss through large glazed areas and the creation of cold radiation by the glass surface.
Radiant heaters can reverse this process by warming the cold surface and allowing comfortable conditions close to glazed areas.
Frico Thermoplus is a slimline electric radiant heater unit for indoor use, which provides excellent protection against cold draughts from windows. It is available in versions to suit wet and dry rooms with outputs from 300W to 900W, but no visible emission.
Other Frico radiant heating solutions include the commercial industrial EZ range, for ceilings up to six metres, the IR range of high intensity heaters for ceilings up to 15 metres high or greater, depending on applications, and also models for exterior and wet area use. Not limited to electric heating, the range includes the Sunztrip and Sunztrip Recessed water heated panels, suitable for commercial premises from offices to warehouses and transport depots.
Radiant heating is incredibly efficient in relation to energy use. It works directly, unlike convection and fan heating methods, so no reheating of circulated air is required. A significant benefit of radiant heating is a reduced temperature gradient. The difference between floor and ceiling temperature with radiant ceiling heating is minimal, perhaps less than one degree. This leads to significant energy savings, especially in high ceiling buildings.
Radiant heaters perform quietly, are maintenance-free and take up little space. Furthermore, radiant heating allows spot heating; for example, in warehouses and factories, where it is simply not viable to heat the whole space.
Similarly, radiant heaters are effective as zone heaters. They create different temperatures in spaces such as small offices, kiosks or individual workstations, resulting in less unnecessary heating of larger spaces. Radiant heaters also provide virtually instantaneous heat, so can be run only when only when needed.
In accordance with current environmental, air quality and safety concerns, radiant heat provides a healthy surrounding. Even temperature distribution and minimal air and dust movement mean less heat waste and a healthier environment.
With a clearer understanding of the radiant heating industry and communication of the benefits, the UK will soon be reaping the full rewards of this natural way of heating.