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Your Guide to Electric Radiant Heat

Electric radiant heat is an affordable, efficient heating option made available with the advancement of technology, and should be considered if you have places not easily warmed by other options.

Your Guide to Electric Radiant Heat

With the coming of the 20th century, and even more so now in the 21st century, electric radiant heat has become a primary source of energy and warmth for most Americans.  It's not used by everyone, to be sure.  But perhaps it's an option you should consider.

Maybe this is your dilemma: It’s cold outside and you have one or two rooms away from the central heating system that only serves the upper level of the home.  To extend the existing system to accommodate the other rooms will require installation of additional hot and cold air plenum as well as an auxiliary fan, just to move the air.  Also, the existing unit would have to be partially re-built to utilize zone heat and an additional thermostat.

A quick solution is to purchase a radiant electric heat system for one or two rooms. The unit is one that can be easily surface mounted to the wall, or left free standing in the room.  The unit can be plugged directly into an existing wall outlet, served by a 15-amp breaker.   The unit can provide, not just heat for the room, but hot water in the bathroom and kitchen as well.

A couple of cautions here before installing electric radiant heat: Check the current load on the electrical circuit, where the unit is plugged in.  Check the Amperage of the breaker or fuse serving the outlet.  Also, check if you are using 110 Volt or 220Volt units since they may be available with several options. Check these items and some of the detail listed next and write the information down on a sheet of paper.

If you arrive at the store armed with information about the breaker or fuse size and load on (what’s plugged in!) the circuit you want to use, size of the room in length and width of the floor and ceiling height, the sales clerk or department manager can help simplify the task of selecting the materials you’ll need. Also, consider the distance from the end of the heating unit, where the electrical connection will be hooked up to the nearest acceptable electrical outlet.

If you purchase one of the economy units, you may also need to purchase an in-line thermostatic switch to control the temperature.  You may find it desirable to add a few dollars and invest in a unit that combines the thermostat with a timer so the unit can be temperature or operation adjusted to operate at lower temperatures when the room is unoccupied.  Most units will limit you to six feet or less of cord.  Other units will require hiring an electrician to install the electrical connection directly to a segregated circuit in your main circuit breaker service box.  In the latter case, you will need to check on what's permitted based on local zoning, utility and/or rental agreements for your locality. It's better to check BEFORE you make the final purchase selection.

The actual installation usually only involves placement of the radiant units along an outside wall several inches above the floor and clear of any furniture, dressers, drawer chests etc, that block movement of air and heat to radiate about the room. I have a son that for whom I installed a system like this. In the case of my son, I had to use a floor unit on wheels to position the unit in the room since all of the wall space is occupied with desk, bookshelves, chests of drawers and other furnishings. 

How does it work?  He’s using his electric bed heating pad and the timer to keep temperature cool for sleeping and when he’s not around during the day.  There are two switches on the unit that permit minimum heat generation during off hours and the ‘high’ switch for extra heat when the outdoors temperature really drops or he wants extra heat. Needless to sayFree Articles, we are now big believers in electric radiant heat.

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After a succesful life in trading, importing and exports, Rupert now spends his time writing freelance articles for many well-known publications, as well as various educational institutions.  For more of Rupert's articles regarding electric radiant heat, please visit

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