Greg Cooper, managing director at climate control specialist Radiana, discusses the benefits of radiant ceiling systems for housebuilders, installers and residents alike.
When it comes to ensuring the comfort of homeowners and creating standout for a property or development, one key consideration is the indoor climate system. Simply changing the physics of how the comfort cooling system works will ensure it addresses a number of needs – from enhancing energy efficiency, to creating a healthier and more comfortable indoor environment.
Traditional air conditioning systems work hard to cool down rooms, but don’t necessarily do this evenly or efficiently. Most people have experienced the feeling of sitting under the draft of an air conditioning unit, probably feeling a little chilly, yet the person across the room doesn’t feel any benefit of the air conditioning while it’s blasting away.
Air conditioning also consumes a fair amount of energy and, in turn, throws lots of warm air out into the outdoor environment. This adds further to the environmental concern of the ‘urban heat island effect’ and doesn’t provide good air quality indoors either, due to the way such systems recirculate air. All in all, traditional air conditioning simply doesn’t tick every box.
In contrast, a radiant cooling system which is installed into the ceiling or walls, offers a ‘3D cooling’ effect, creating the ultimate thermal comfort for the homeowner. As the energy transfer method used is radiation, which is not dependant on the movement of cold air, there are no draughts. Instead, ceiling cooling is achieved by passing cold water through the ceiling panels, which in turn cools all the surfaces in the room.
By covering up to 70 per cent of the ceiling surface area with ‘active’ ceiling radiant cooling panels there will be an even spread of cooling. The result being a responsive,’ silent running system which provides thermal comfort for homeowner, wherever they are situated within the room, while also improving air quality – with the added benefit of offering around 50 per cent energy savings.
To meet every specification requirement, radiant systems can be installed into new build projects, or as retrofit. Depending on the product selected, they can also be completely concealed within the ceiling, adding to the aesthetic appeal when compared to bulky air conditioning units.
As well as benefiting the homeowners, radiant ceiling cooling systems offer huge benefits for housebuilders and installers too. Firstly, specification of radiant cooling systems means less trades on site, therefore reduces time spent co-ordinating trades. This new technology also removes the need to sequence hot works on site and the handling of ozone damaging gases – aspects of a build which can cause issues on site when traditional air conditioning has been specified.
Designed with ease of installation in mind, radiant ceiling panels can be fitted directly to the ceiling frame in much the same way as traditional plasterboard – making it quick and easy to install and commission when compared to HVAC. Plus, they’re also designed to seamlessly integrate with existing and emerging renewable technologies.
When it comes to heat pumps, radiant water-based systems are a natural choice to pair with heat pumps and even maximise the heat pump’s efficiency as they can be run consistently at a higher temperature, compared to air only systems.
When the system is in the hands of the homeowner, compared with air condition systems, they will benefit from less maintenance, low running costs and a silent running system, which further enhances the comfort of an environment. There’s also the flexibility of creating different temperature zones and coupled with an intelligent control system. This can deliver tailored cooling or heating in different parts of the room or space, depending on solar gain and personal preferences.
The ideal balance of comfort, energy savings and aesthetics is achievable with radiant cooling and heating systems. Along with the fact that they’re also designed specifically to pair with renewable technologies, there’s no reason why this innovative solution won’t start to be seen as the standard specification, providing housebuilders with an intelligent way to manage and enhance the homeowner’s experience within a building.”