Radiant floor heating has grown in popularity as a home heating system option in recent years. This heating setup requires no extra space and can be as effective and efficient as traditional heating systems. If you’re a homeowner thinking about installing this type of system, you might be wondering what kind of cooling setup will work with it. This question will be addressed in this post.
To cool a home with radiant floor heating, you can use one of the following air conditioning systems:
- Split Central Air Conditioning Systems
- Radiant Cooling
- Ductless Mini-Splits
- Window Air Conditioning
- Packaged HVAC Systems
As you can see, there are a few cooling system options that work well with underfloor heating. Let’s go over how each works best to keep your home cool.
Is A Separate Air Conditioning System Required With Radiant Floor Heating?
Homes with radiant floor heating will almost always have a separate cooling system. Though it is possible, HVAC professionals usually recommend using more traditional air conditioning systems rather than combining this function with the radiant floor heating system.
There are radiant systems that combine heating and cooling effects and serve as the primary temperature regulator in the home. This installation, however, is more common in commercial buildings.
How To Cool A House With Radiant Floor Heating
Split Central Air Conditioning Systems
Traditional split systems are the most common type of air conditioner found in homes today. But is it possible to have central air and radiant heat? It’s not surprising that it’s the most commonly used cooling system with underfloor heating, given that most homes have a central HVAC system installed prior to radiant floor heating.
Split air conditioners have an outside unit that houses the compressor and condenser. This same unit houses the system’s blower and evaporator coil. The AC unit is linked to a heat pump or furnace inside the house, which is usually located in the basement or attic.
They work by circulating air conditioner refrigerant (or Freon) through refrigeration lines between the outdoor and indoor units. The blower in the unit then draws in warm air and directs it over the evaporator coil to cool it. After cooling the air, the blower distributes it through ducts located throughout the building.
A thermostat that controls the temperature of the split system’s air conditioner will not be the same thermostat that controls the temperature of the underfloor heating system. Older homes that have not been renovated may lack central heating. As a result, if radiant flooring is installed in these homes, an alternative air conditioner system will be required to provide cooling.
Some underfloor heating systems can also function as cooling systems. In fact, these radiant cooling systems are frequently designed in conjunction with their radiant heat counterpart. Radiant cooling systems operate by circulating chilled fluid through PEX tubing, which is typically installed in the home’s floors. The network tubing, on the other hand, can be installed in ceilings and walls, transforming them into cool surfaces capable of absorbing heat energy.
Underfloor cooling systems do not introduce cold air into a room, but rather remove heat from it through subfloor tubing. The chilled water or fluid within the tubes absorbs a significant amount of heat from the room before traveling through a pump system and being cooled by a heat pump or a chiller. After cooling the floor, the cooled water is pumped back into the PEX tubes. One of the most significant advantages of this type of cooling system is its quiet operation, as there are no fans or blowers that must be connected to the system in order for it to function.
Ductless air conditioner systems (also known as mini-split systems) operate in the same way as traditional central HVAC systems. The main difference between the two is that a ductless system has multiple small indoor units that provide cooling to individual rooms, often referred to as zones, rather than a single indoor unit that distributes cooled air via ductwork. Mini-splits are an excellent choice for new home additions, older homes, and other situations where installing ductwork is impractical.
If you have radiant floor heating installed in individual rooms in your home, a mini-split system may be an appropriate option. They are small, simple to use, and each indoor unit has its own thermostat.
Window Air Conditioning
Window air conditioners can also be used to cool down rooms with radiant floor heating. They work on the same principles as central air conditioning systems, except that all of their components (condenser, coils, compressor, etc.) are housed in a single unit that is placed on a home or apartment building’s windowsill. These units are small and portable, and can be fitted and installed in a windowsill in under an hour. Window air conditioners have their own temperature setting, so when your heated floors are turned off in the summer, you can simply turn on the unit and adjust the temperature to your liking.
Packaged HVAC Systems
A packaged HVAC system is another type of air conditioning system that can work with radiant heat flooring, but you may not hear about it as often as others. These systems provide a one-stop heating and cooling solution for spaces that lack the space to house an air handler or furnace.
They have the same components as a central or mini-split AC system, but they are contained in a single outdoor unit. The unit is usually located in the back of a house or on the roof of an industrial building. They can be a great alternative if your radiant floors start to malfunction for whatever reason, forcing you to use an alternative heating source.
Four Types Of Packaged Air Conditioning Systems
Air Conditioner Packaged Unit: These units are ideal for people who live in hot, humid climates because they provide multiple humidity control options.
Heat Pump Packaged Unit: This type of packaged unit combines the functions of an air conditioner and a heater into a single system and works best in areas with mild winters.
Gas/Electric Packaged Unit: These units provide both heating and cooling by using a gas furnace in the winter and high-efficiency and electric-based cooling systems in the summer.
Dual-Fuel Packaged Unit: These systems can function as heat pumps during the summer months, providing effective cooling and dehumidification.
Is Underfloor Cooling Useful?
Under-floor cooling systems can be an efficient and effective way to cool a room or space. It can, as previously stated, be combined with an underfloor radiant heating system. They can also extend the life of a traditional air-based AC system by lowering the cooling load and the amount of air movement within it.
However, as opposed to homes or apartment buildings, underfloor cooling systems are typically installed in larger commercial spaces, such as industrial structures or multi-office buildings.
The Downsides Of Underfloor Cooling
The following are some of the drawbacks of underfloor cooling systems.
When it comes to installing a radiant cooling system beneath a floor, condensation is usually the most problematic issue. Because these systems are incapable of removing moisture from the air, a particularly humid day could result in a significant amount of condensation accumulating on the floor. This happens whenever the dew point of the air in a room is lower than the surface temperature of the floor.
Condensation on a floor would pose a significant safety risk. Furthermore, radiant cooling can make a room’s floor feel cool to the touch, even if the air near the ceiling feels warmer.
This is because cool air does not rise as quickly as warm air and can be unpleasant in the home.
Setup Is Difficult
Depending on where you live, finding HVAC contractors or plumbers willing to install underfloor cooling systems in your home may be difficult. When building a new home, it may be easier to find a contractor who will install a dual radiant heating and cooling system on the floor at the same time, especially if the space is larger.
While underfloor radiant cooling systems use less energy than traditional AC systems, the initial cost of installation and setup (as well as the cost of the heat pump or chiller) can be particularly high, and as a result, the yearly cost to cool a home using other AC systems may not be offset.
How Hot Are Radiant Floors?
Most underfloor heating systems operate between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The water inside the tubing, on the other hand, can be set to any temperature between 80 and 125°F, raising the surface temperature of the floors by about five degrees above the thermostat temperature.
Many homeowners who install radiant floor heating describe the floors as feeling like the warmth of the sun, which makes sense given that the system uses heat radiation to warm an area within a room from the ground up.
Radiant underfloor heating and cooling systems can be complicated, depending on the building’s current HVAC setup and the system’s installation requirements. This guide should have given you the most common options for combining cooling systems with radiant floor heating.
It is always recommended that you speak with certified HVAC technicians in your area to help determine which heating or cooling option is best for your home, as they can inform you of its capabilities and limitations.