When it comes to radiant systems, heating gets most of the attention. Maybe it’s the unexpected comfort of warm floors in the winter or the security of an ice-free sidewalk that captivates the imagination.
But as the Northern Hemisphere enters summer, it’s important to remember radiant systems can cool as well as heat. It even operates on the same heat-transfer principle -– like water, heat tends to transfer from a greater concentration to a lesser.
In the winter, heat transfers from the hot water in the radiant system tubing to the cooler floor (or walls, ceiling, sidewalk) and the surrounding air. In the summer, it reverses course; heat transfers from the air and surfaces to the cold water running through the radiant system, thus lowering the air and surface temperatures.
Not every radiant system needs to be designed for both heating and cooling. But it’s relatively easy to engineer residential and commercial systems that do both.
Typically, a dual system requires tighter tube spacing to handle the heat transfer when it’s being used for cooling. That additional tubing allows for lower-temperature hot water during heating season because of the greater surface area.
Condensation can be a concern with radiant cooling, especially in humid environments, but a properly designed system can work without condensation even in the steamiest conditions. An example of this is the New Bangkok International Airport in Thailand, which uses radiant cooling despite a high solar load, background humidity and a lot of passenger traffic.
Closer to home, California has some good examples of systems designed to cool and heat. There’s the California Military Department building, where several hundred Viega Climate Mats made installation simpler and faster. And the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center has a dual radiant system that Viega helped design.
Whatever the location, the Viega radiant design team can help make sure a dual system uses the right materials, tube spacing, controls, heat source and water temperatures to work effectively.