How to Specify a Radiant Heating and Cooling System


While water-based central radiant heating systems are not a new concept in architecture, this relatively modern system reinvents the concept, with its efficiency and versatility making it an integral part of the structure. 

What uses and applications make the system different from others alternatives? Unlike traditional central heating systems, the system incorporates cooling properties. Just like any radiant heating system, it is hidden within the walls, making it completely inconspicuous. A series of water-filled tubes within the walls, ceilings, and floors evenly radiate heat or cold to the core of the project. 

Learn how to specify a radiant heating and cooling system and the applications that make it an appealing option when choosing a temperature regulator system.


How to Specify a Radiant Heating and Cooling System

Kaynemaile by Kayne Horsham

This system has many advantages when compared to traditional radiation and air conditioning systems, mainly due to it being inserted into the structure without any external components. Its hidden nature makes it naturally dust free, a common problem in traditional systems which not only gather dust but distribute it across the rooms, potentially causing health problems. 

Its distribution within the structure allows it to heat or cool spaces evenly without producing air currents due to temperature differences inside the room. This feature also avoids condensation in the walls at the moment of heating, as the project's surfaces will be either hotter or at the same temperature of the air. Condensation produces mold and material degradation in closed spaces, which can be avoided using this system.

Its hidden nature also allows for clean spaces, without disruptive elements that pollute the design. Thanks to its thin structure—0.95 inches––the system can be easily hidden behind drywall, making it a viable option for existing structures as well.

How It Works

How to Specify a Radiant Heating and Cooling System

Copenhagen International School by C.F. Moller Architects

A modular piping system consisting of a series of square tubes interlaced to create square panels is installed in front of the built structure, then covered by a drywall, floor, or ceiling. Its modular nature makes it easy to adjust to different structures and easy to replace in the event of a malfunction. 

The system's pipes are built of polypropylene––a light material that is highly conductive and easy to weld. The lightness of the material paired with the structure’s thinness allows it to be placed safely within ceiling structures without collapse hazards. A panel’s weight––water included––is only 0.51 lb/sqft.


How to Specify a Radiant Heating and Cooling System

Desert Courtyard House, by Agaligo Studio

As mentioned before, the system's best advantage might be its ability to both heat and cool spaces, unlike traditional radiant heating systems. The pipes can be regulated via thermostat during summer to cool the walls, ceilings, and floors, keeping the ambient temperature at a comfort-level set by the user. Other systems––such as air conditioning equipment based on air––often trap and release allergens into the spaces and require more energy to run. Since the system is a closed circuit, there's no need for an exhaust outlet, which makes the system even more appealing for spaces such as apartments or office buildings.


How to Specify a Radiant Heating and Cooling System

Raw Bar by Weijenberg

The system can be easily installed into both preexistent structures or included into new structures. When installed in new structures, there are a few different methods, depending on the structure’s materiality. In drywall walls and roof ceilings the plaques are installed between the studs, over the insulation sandwich, and then covered with a drywall panel. In interior ceilings, the structure is hanged directly from the main structure and then covered by the ceiling structure of choice. In bare metal ceilings, the plaques are fixed with u-shaped hooks, hanging directly under the structure or with the aid of rails. In suspended ceilings, the pipe panels hang from the main structure and are covered with the suspended ceiling structure of choice. In floors, the pipe system goes directly beneath the flooring.

The pipes can be either welded or screwed together, depending on the area they’ll be installed on. For dismountable ceilings, screwing the panels together is advisable for easy dismounting. For walls and floors, welding is advisable, as it adds stability to the structure.

Other Uses

How to Specify a Radiant Heating and Cooling System

X-FLOAT Residences by David Baker

These pipes can be installed strategically to bring uncommon solutions to a project. They can be put behind bathroom mirrors, to avoid steamy surfaces, or under shower tiles to increase the user’s comfort.

Join Modlar's email list to stay abreast of other innovative trends, brands, and materials in architecture.

Looking to stay inspired every day? Follow us on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook to see daily projects and architecture highlights. 

Read More

Comments (1)

Nolan, Commercial Builder/Developer • 2018

This article never once mentions which system it is discussing, but is written as if a specific brand/product is being discussed.