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Thread: Electric Radiant Heat?
04-19-2012, 07:43 AM #1
Electric Radiant Heat?
So, Mrs. Rontele and I just moved. Beautiful house in Park Hill from the end of the depression. The house was built in 1938 and has a great water heat system throughout the house. The previous owners built on an additional den roughly 20-30 years ago that we are using as our TV room. This room has radiant heat as well. Anyways, our electrician was over yesterday installing some recessed lighting in this room and came across the radiant heating system, which is actually thousands of live wires embedded within the drywall backed by the insulation.
He had never seen a system like this and called in one of his older colleagues to confirm that this is not only an inefficient way to heat a room, but could be a significant fire risk.
Anyone ever seen or heard of this? We ended up killing the system and are going to install a single baseboard heating element, which should take care of heating the room...
04-19-2012, 07:52 AM #2
I've never heard of anything like it and I deal with an old place with all kinds of goofy crap. Mind you electric heat is uncommon here. I would think the fire hazard would be huge. Can you not extend some of the hot water system over there?It's not so much the model year, it's the high mileage or meterage to keep the youth of Canada happy
04-19-2012, 07:56 AM #3
Everyone agrees that this electric heat system is strange. thankfully, we can baseboard and be over with it. Otherwise, old houses kind of rule.
04-19-2012, 07:59 AM #4
Park Hill is sweet, I have some friends who live in an old house over there that they have completely gutted and remodeled. It was cooler before they remodeled.
No idea about the electric heat. PM Rontele, he's an expert on this kinda shit.
04-19-2012, 08:02 AM #5
Even a radiant heater on the shared wall tied into the existing system. Around here electric is an expensive way to go. Other areas are cheaper and more of a viable option.It's not so much the model year, it's the high mileage or meterage to keep the youth of Canada happy
04-19-2012, 08:14 AM #6
04-19-2012, 09:30 AM #7
I have seen this before in VT. It was probably rated when it went in, but is not a safe option now. If electricity is cheap where you are, and there is no penalty for using more power electric base board heat will be the cheapest option to install.
04-19-2012, 10:54 AM #8Registered User
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- Nov 2011
My parents have one of those systems under the floor in their bathroom. I've never heard of one in a wall. Probably not the most efficient way to heat a room.
04-19-2012, 10:56 AM #9
I don't know about the heat in the walls but floor based radiant heat is the tits. Leave your clothes for the next morning on the floor, and oh mannn it's the tits getting out of bed !Do I detect a lot of anger flowing around this place? Kind of like a pubescent volatility, some angst, a lot of I'm-sixteen-and-angry-at-my-father syndrome?
fuck that noise.
04-19-2012, 12:34 PM #10
04-19-2012, 06:43 PM #11Registered User
- Join Date
- Oct 2003
That doesn't seem alarming to me. Gypsum isn't going to burst into flames when it gets warm, and you can buy fire rated dry wall. So if it was purpose built, not some kind of DIY project, I wouldn't be scared. I guess the problem might be that it is rare enough that no one can tell you if it's a proper install. I'd pop the Backdraft DVD into the DVD player and crank that shit.
Don't hang any nice art on that wall.
04-19-2012, 08:02 PM #12Registered User
- Join Date
- Mar 2006
- da hood
I've seen this in several homes while growing up in PA if you're talking about wires in the ceiling drywall. It's terrible shit. It's not a huge fire concern since the drywall is fire rated and it doesn't very hot. Problem is that heat rises and unlike forced air, it just doesn't go down well to the living space. In addition the wires are really fragile and most of it still out there will not circulate hear through the system. Should be fine if it's disconnected. Ductless heat pumps are super efficient and comfortable for smaller living areas if you're doing an addition and don't want to put in an expensive system.
04-19-2012, 08:24 PM #13Registered User
- Join Date
- Mar 2009
- Aspen, Colorado
I am a 20+ year electrician. I have run into this product before. It is called Eswa heat. It is a copper mesh which can be in the ceilings or floors. I have seen it usually in the floors, so they appear warm to the touch, but it can be in the ceiling. When in the ceiling, you feel heat radiating down on you like the sun. Heat can radiate downwards, it is only hot air which rises. The heat will heat anything it radiates down upon. The older mesh system had some fire hazard I believe, but the newer systems are good and the company is still in business.
I had a condo with a radiant cove heater in it. You might want to consider that over baseboard heat. It was pretty nice in that you felt the heat, and you could place your furniture anywhere without risking setting your couch on fire. We used it for space and safety issues over electric baseboard heat. I think I had this system. http://www.radiantsystemsinc.com/
04-20-2012, 12:39 AM #14
My uncle had that ceiling radiant heat in his house in the living room. It was supposed to be energy efficient because the infrared heat made you feel warm without actually heating the room. This house was built in the early '80s. I have no idea if it was better.If you have a problem & think that someone else is going to solve it for you then you have two problems.
04-20-2012, 07:18 AM #15
10-21-2012, 05:10 PM #16
Bumping this. First time home buyer here. We have found a place that we really like but the major issue that it has is the entire house is on electric radiant ceiling heat. The house was built in 1962 and apparently was somewhat common around here at the time. Being a complete home owning jong, I am concerned that I would be getting myself into a money pit and we would ultimately end up having to install gas forced air. The wife is all for making an offer but I am extremely hesitant because of the heat issue. After scouring the interwebs I am getting mixed information. I guess my question for the collective is would I be foolish to get myself into a house with this type of heat? I would prefer not to have to replace the entire system.
We don't see ourselves here forever so resale is important as well. How many potential homebuyers would we be turning away? Is this a nonissue that I should not be concerned with? Thanks!
10-21-2012, 06:02 PM #17
You need to get the electric bills for a year or two and see what the damage would be. Sometimes the utility gave a very favourable rate to the homeowner so you need to find out what you would actually pay and if the rate is transferable to a new owner.
Depending on the house it may be easy or hard to add forced air. If there's an open basement then it's easy to add to the main floor and keep electric for upstairs. For a 50 year old house it might be worth doing the big reno if you like that sort of thing.If you have a problem & think that someone else is going to solve it for you then you have two problems.
10-21-2012, 07:02 PM #18
2200 sq foot house, Jackson WY, cost about 100 a month mid winter with a system like this. Was a typical rental (aka not maintained) and a 60's build as well.
Overall, I wouldnt be super scared about it. But Im not a home inspector and could have just gotten lucky.Live Free or Die
10-21-2012, 07:26 PM #19
i've heard of ceiling heat (and also the oddball in-wall heat as well in houses pre WWII). in either case, it seems like an inherently inefficient way to heat indoor space. in-floor (hydronic) heat is awesome. second best, IMO, is hydronic radiators...but i actually own an old character home in northern ontario (cold) with old cast iron rads everywhere, but a newly renovated basement suite that's entirely in-floor electric. pretty slick, and not too too expensive (mind you, there's mega insulation down there).
anyway, back to the ceiling heating...i guess it depends on what the previous folks have said, re: costs. find out typical utility costs for the previous year (or 2). if it's a short-term house for you that you're not planning on flipping, i might be a bit concerned about resale value. electricity is becoming more and more of a luxury for homeowners, unless you're running a solar setup, or some other reciprocal program that feeds back to your local power grid. that said...as time goes on, houses entirely relying on electricity for their heating needs will more than likely become less desirable for that reason. just my 2 cents.
10-21-2012, 10:06 PM #20
Much appreciated everyone. We will be getting the last two years bills from the realtor tomorrow and we will find out more then. This place is also paired with a gas fireplace that we would plan on using most. For us the heat isn't really a concern. We live in Oregon and don't have particularly harsh winters. Plus I'm a cheap ass and don't like to pay to run the heat all the time. The concern would be how many buyers would be turned off by it when we try and resell down the road like was mentioned. We of course will be having an inspection done before we commit to anything. Anymore advice or prior experiences is appreciated. I'm trying to find out as much information as possible before we make a decision.
10-22-2012, 10:33 PM #21
I also rented a place with this system. I was always a bit dubious about it's energy efficiency. Heating the ceiling in a vaulted ceiling style house seemed silly - it increases the temperature difference at the inside/outside interface which drastically increases loss.
The hydro bills were completely out of control in the winter.
The system in that house was by a company called Therma-Ray, which is also still in business.
10-22-2012, 10:35 PM #22
You should PM Rontele.
I'm blind in my right ear, I can't smell a thing you're doing.
10-23-2012, 09:56 AM #23Registered User
- Join Date
- Jan 2008
In general radiant heat--whatever the source--is a good idea, since you aren't trying to heat the air, just the people, furniture, etc. As someone with no personal knowledge of electric radiant heat, though, my concern if I were buying this house would be whether there was anyone in town who understood it and could work on it if needed. I'd call some local HVAC guys or maybe electricians and if everyone just says "Huh?" I'd either forget about the house or plan on a new heating system.
10-23-2012, 11:35 AM #24
As said above, radiant heat is nice 'cos it's comfortable and you're not wasting so much energy heating air changes. Gas-powered radiant heaters are often used in places like workshops where it's necessary to leave the doors open.
For more background on how the body feels temperature check out the work of this guy:
10-23-2012, 01:15 PM #25
So is the idea to set the thermosat lower because you feel warmer than it actually is?
I've seen this system before when visiting a friends house back in 82 ish. His dad had built most of the house and had worked for hydro in Ont. AS with any elec heat it depends on the price of elec in area compared to other options. In our place in BC elec is very cheap for first x KWH and then goes up 50% once you pass that threshold. As long was we use wood stove for bulk of heating then its supper cheap.Mrs. Dougw- "I can see how one of your relatives could have been killed by an angry mob."