Radiant Ceiling Panels: An Economic Heating Alternative

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Radiant ceiling panel systems can be used during a building retrofit process while earning points toward LEED certification. Radiant ceiling panels offer temperature gradients so low between ceiling and floor that there is less than one degree of difference. The heated ceiling panels are heated in one of three ways: water pipes, electric or air flows embedded in the panel. Of these three, electric circuits and water pipes are the most used solution. Your selection will be based on the actual energy costs and the size of your project.

Startup Costs

Grant Snowden, from SteelCeilings, told us that:

Using hydronic radiant ceiling panels in commercial buildings typically consist of aluminum panels painted white with non-visible copper pipes on the back which handle the water flow. The panels incorporate acoustic material to address the building's need for NRC (noise reduction coefficient).

The ceilings typically save 25% of a building's energy costs. The initial cost will range in price from $200 to $500. However, each zone requires its own thermostat, which is approximately $40. Radiant panels are maintenance free and will provide savings on utility bills by maintaining temperatures at a pre-determined level.

How Radiant Ceiling Panel Works

Surface-mounted electric radiant ceiling panels spread the heat, using heat transfer principles. It is also the same principle as an outdoor environment with sunny skies; the sun (in this case, our radiant panel) will emit heat and the rays will get down to the room or people to warm them. Electric panels have electricity as their sole utility, are quite simple in construction, and ​have a lower 'up-front' cost. Water, on the other hand, can be heated by almost any utility, be it natural gas, propane, oil, wood, solar, or electricity, and is quite versatile.

Radiant ceiling panels typically consist of a high-density fiberglass insulation board, a heating element, and a textured surface coating mounted in a frame. The thickness of these panels is usually a one-inch panel, ranging in size between 1 x 2 and 4 x 8, powered by 120 or 240-volt current. Radiant ceiling panels can offer you a range of temperature of operation between 150 to 170 F and can achieve that temperature within 4 minutes or so of being activated.

Heated Ceiling Panels Benefits

  • 100% energy efficient
  • Maintenance free
  • Pleasing design.
  • Can provide an even temperature from floor to ceiling
  • Individual room temperatures can be set
  • Rooms can be programmed minimizing operational costs
  • Heated areas can be customized
  • Can be used as the primary source of heating for an entire building
  • Can provide a lower room air temperature than conventional forced air systems
  • Energy savings by allowing only the occupied areas to be heated
  • Installation can be done on the surface, flush, suspended on a ceiling grid, or freely suspended
  •  Some underfloor systems simply rely on air currents within the joist space and the mass of the wood subfloor to spread the heat.
  • No other heating equipment is needed
  • Panels pricing range average from $200 to $500
  • Underwriter's Laboratory has approved most radiant ceiling panels.
  • Normally less wattage than required by the building codes is required than the one used by conventional electric resistance heat

Manufacturers of Radiant Ceiling Panels

The following products could be considered during your evaluation of a radiant ceiling panel:

  • SSHC, Inc.Available in various sizes, voltages & wattages. Panels are green products & highly energy efficient. Noise, dust & odor-free, non-drying, non-allergenic & no maintenance required
  • INDEECO: Radiant panels maintain an even temperature from floor to ceiling. Features include power range from 250 watts to 715 watts, voltage rating up to 277 V, 0.9 amps to 5.2 amps, 610 mm width & up to 1219 mm height. Ceiling mounted panels allow full use of floor & wall space.
  • AERO Tech Manufacturing: Types of panels include lay-in formed metal panels, snap-in formed metal panels, linear panels & linear extruded panels. Features include sound control and color retention.