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Radiant heat: oil or propane? Under hardwood OK?

Pete_7 Member Posts: 2
We are building. We want to put in radiant heat. What is best oil or propane? If we use propane, we will bury the tank. Is there any risk in putting the radiant heat under a hardwood floor? If so, is there anything that can be done to avoid that? What kind of radiant system would be best? The house is about 2200 sq ft, two floors and will have lots of windows.


  • Al Letellier
    Al Letellier Member Posts: 781
    radiant heat under hardwood

    Peter, oil will always deliver more BTU"s per gallon that propane (approx 140,000 for oil vs. 90,000 for propane). Assuming you use a quality boiler, oil is head and shoulders the best choice for fuel, all things being equal.But sometimes, job site conditions, building construction and occupancy may dictate gas as a better choice.
    As to the radiant heat under hardwood, we do it all the time. Properly installed and set up, you will have very few problems with a system of this type.
    Select a good professional heating contractor and go over these issues well ahead of time. The proper planning of any job makes a huge difference in the outcome and your personnal comfort. Good luck.

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  • Steve Ebels
    Steve Ebels Member Posts: 904
    Al is steering you right

    Oil is less expensive per BTU than LP almost universally. Modern low sulfer fuel oil running through a new oil burner is nothing like what was out there only 10 years ago. We routinely see CO levels below 5 ppm during combustion tests without a trace of smoke. If your dryer, stove and water heater are LP you may want to do some serious math to determine which route to take. The biggest consumer of btu's after your boiler is the water heater but you can utilize the boiler to do that job to a substantially higher efficiency than a regular gas water heater.

    As far as wood floors go, here's the scoop. I'll go so far as to say that a radiant floor will not ever cause a problem PROVIDED it is designed, installed and controlled properly. Bear in mind that wood is a natural substance not an engineered piece of goods. It will move no matter what and accomodations have to be made for that.
  • Cosmo
    Cosmo Member Posts: 159
    Control is Key

    This the main thing to watch with wood floors. A professional as Al mentioned will know how to limit the surface temp of the wood floor, and reset the water temp according to outside ambient temperature to provide slow, gradual water temp changes. Use rosin paper under hardwood instead of roofing felt, etc.

    Cosmo Valavanis
    Dependable P.H.C. Inc.
    Plumbing Heating Cooling
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