Interlocking radiant panels install easily over a wood subfloor. Once the panels are nailed down, PEX tubing is pressed into the grooves to deliver hydronic heat.
John Spier Interlocking radiant panels install easily over a wood subfloor. Once the panels are nailed down, PEX tubing is pressed into the grooves to deliver hydronic heat.

Radiant floor heating provides a range of benefits over conventional systems: It minimizes heat loss, requires no ducts or registers, and its silent, blower-less operation cuts down on dust, allergens, and bacteria. No wonder it's growing in popularity with homeowners concerned about health, efficiency, and comfort.

Here, JLC's John Spier gives a radiant panel primer for builders who are unfamiliar with the technology. There's a lot to know about these systems, and success starts with the right design, he says.

The first step is developing an overall plan that includes the tubing requirements and the number of loops for each room you are heating. The total amount of tubing that can be put in a given space is usually determined by the square footage of the room. The panels typically have a 7-inch spacing between grooves, which results in approximately 1.7 linear feet of tubing per square foot of floor area. In reality, the layout usually produces numbers that are somewhat less than that, so rather than calculating by square footage, I divide the width of the space by 7 inches to get the number of runs, and then multiply that number by the length of the room to get the linear footage of tubing that I’ll need.

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