Can Water Heater be used for Radiant Floor Heat?

Morning coffee in the winter makes you warm. But what makes you warmer is the warm tiled floor saving your cold feet. Well, that’s the blessing of radiant floor heating. But who’s gonna add those high-tech materials under the floor?

It’s surely going to cost a lot! You need to replace the flooring and elevate the floor height too. But there’s an easy solution! We are talking about the water heater you use in your house! Yes, nowadays, a very common practice in the winter is using the heater for radiant floor heating.

Can water heater be used for radiant floor heat this winter? How much does it cost? Why should you try this? What sized heater do you need? Well, well, well, we’ve all the answers! We’ve got your back!

Can I Use Water Heater for Radiant Floor Heat?

We have already told you, you can use a water heater for radiant floor heat easily. Boilers are designed for making the water too hot for radiators. In this case, keep in mind that radiant heat runs when the water is warm.

Boilers will need additional equipment for generating water at lower temperatures when it comes to floor heating. But if the equipment for making the temperature low is not there, there is a change of cold-chocking damage. This will happen when the room temperature water will get back to the boiler.

A water heater, on the other hand, can afford you radiant floor heat. And the best part is, this is inexpensive than using boilers.

The heater will keep the temperature right and will only use the energy that is required for keeping the heat accurate in the system. And if you want to reduce the cost lower, you can also settle for tankless water systems too!

How Does Radiant Floor Heat Work?

First, we will discuss how the radiant floor heating process works. And then, we will deal with how you can use the water heater for making radiant floor heat! In the forced-air heating systems, warm air is blown through the large ducts.

Here, a hydronic system is used. This system we used in dedicated water heaters or the boilers too. This is used as a heat source. In this process, there’s a circulating pump. This pump moves the hot water and takes it through the PEX tubing.

And then, it gets back to the heater. It’s necessary to mention that the PEX tubing on the floor doesn’t have any joints. As a result, there are uncut lengths of tubing snake through the whole floor. This starts and ends at the manifold.

On the other hand, the work of the manifold is to balance the water in every single loop. In this process, it helps the system to vent. After this, the water will return to the bottom part of the water heater. It goes through near the drain.

At this time, the water is more or less 10 degrees cooler than before. If you are planning to use boilers for radiant floor heating, make sure you have enough knowledge about the sizing. Check out the radiant floor heating boiler sizing to help you get the best one in one shot!

Water Temperature and Efficiency

Now, it is very common to use a water heater for radiant floor heat. And most important, this is less costly compared to the other methods available. The radiant floor heating process includes electric heating coils.

Along with this, water-heated tubing under the floor of your house is also required. On the contrary, water heaters are usually operated at low temperatures. It refers to efficiency.

Size of the Tankless Water Heater

If you want radiant heat from a water heater, you can get your hands on a tankless water heater. But in this case, the sizing of the water heater is a fact to keep in mind. So, what size tankless water heater do I need for radiant heat?”

For radiant floor heat, you need an incoming water temperature from 40-105 degrees. With this, you need to heat 5.2 gallons of water minimum. And to do this, you will need a tankless water heater that is capable of generating a 60 degree rise in the temperature at 5.2 gallons every minute.

This is the minimum amount we have explained. You can go further up for a better result too. But make sure that the tankless water heater is capable of heating 5.2 gallons of water every minute to 60 degrees.

Why Should I Use Water Heater for Space Heating

Here’s a little shortcut for you to know if the water heater is going to help you with radiant floor heat or should you actually get it or not.

  • The best part of a water heater is you can operate the water heater with any return temperature. As a result, you can heat water along with the floor heating thing, right?
  • If you use a water heater for space heating, you don’t need to worry about the flow rate at all! This makes the radiant floor heating process easier.
  • The increment in the efficiency when it comes to using a water heater for space heating is visible. You won’t know it unless you do it!

These are not our words, trust us. Bill Clinton, the owner and the operator of Sonoma, Calif said these works himself.

In short, he gave you enough reasons to save your money and energy by using a water heater in this combo manner! Or you can simply rely on the electric radiant floor heating too! Have a look at the best electric radiant floor heating systems to make this winter a summer! 

The Combo and Its Use

The water heaters of these days come in a combo pack. Such devices will do the job of both. When you open a hot water tap, the incoming water will start flowing via the heat exchanger. Then the heated water from the fire tube heat exchanger will heat the home’s water to the required temperature.

On the other hand, when you need space heated, the diverter valve will start working. It will direct the heated boiler water into another loop. This is the external space heating loop. And eventually, the space heating technology will start working.

These are designed for space heating along with portable water. But along with this, you get another benefit from the combination-water-heaters.

Yes, you guessed right- we are talking about saving space. If you take a look at the combination boiler and hot water heaters of the market, you can save the space of keeping two different winter-essential in one place and that without wasting the space!

Wrap Up

Now you know how amazing a water heater can be for not only making the water hot but the floor too! With a water heater, make the winter cozy. We’ve told you everything you need to know before you pick up a heater for both jobs. From now on, save money and keep the house warm!