Types of Water Heaters Used in Radiant Heated Floors


Water heaters provide the most cost-effective heat for radiant floor heating systems. The heated water runs from its source through tubing laid in a pattern beneath the floor in each room. Individual room heat works with a system of pumps and thermostats. The most energy-efficient and thus economical hot- water system for the radiant floor heater depends on the size of the house, the type of floor covering, and geographic location.

Electric Water Heaters

  • Electric water heater tanks come in sizes large enough to provide a home's hot water needs while accommodating a radiant floor heater. Choosing a tank size depends on the general hot water use with the addition of the radiant floor heating needs. Electric water heaters are one of the most expensive systems.

Tankless or On-demand Heaters

  • Providing hot water where and when needed, the tankless or on-demand water heater for the radiant floor heating systems work best in smaller homes located in warmer climates. These systems work with electricity, gas or propane. Units normally sit in a closet or under a sink where regular hot-water use occurs and may require a separate tank for the radiant floor system.

Heat Pump Systems

  • The heat pump hot-water machine is a fairly new option. Instead of creating heat directly, the integration capabilities of a heat pump work with an existing hot-water system. This allows the pump to move hot air off the hot water storage tank through radiant floor-heating pipes. This indirect water system is three to four times more power-efficient than conventional electric water heaters.

Gas Water Heaters

  • Gas water heaters are three times more economical to operate than electric. The tanks come in variety of sizes and operate with the same parts as other water heaters to provide a heat source for radiant-floor heaters. The propane gas water heating option is less expensive than electric but costs more than gas water heaters run through public utility lines.


  • Used for decades to heat water for homes and business, solar heat works best in warm climates for use with radiant floor heater systems, storing the solar-heated water in a tank. This adaptable system uses the same parts as any hot water tank system. Solar heating pays for its installation in five to seven years in electricity and gas cost savings.

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  • Photo Credit Image by Fotolia.com, courtesy of Otmar Smit
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