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What heat source should I use for radiant floor in barn?

greenfarmer22 | Posted in Mechanicals on

I had a PEX radiant floor system installed when we poured the floor of my workshop in our barn. The workshop area (with concrete) is 60 X 40 and the rest of the barn (with dirt floor) is 60 X 80. I’ve put up a wall, and will install a ceiling and insulation in due time to contain the heat in the workshop as best as possible. I have 60 solar panels on the roof and I would like the heat system to be electric for obvious reasons. I don’t have a water line to the barn yet, but may have one in future. I’d prefer a closed system, I think, to not use well water. I don’t really need warm water anywhere else in the barn.

So, I’m looking for a setup that is efficient for running often in the winter to circulate and warm the water. I’m really new to this stuff, so any advice would be greatly appreciated. Any models or specific units would be helpful as well.

Thank you,

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  1. ethant | | #1

    Perhaps a heat pump water heater, particularly a split system like the Sanden. Then you can offer your elec. use with solar panels.

  2. Jon_R | | #2

    Depending on how often it will be used, it might be most efficient to use fast heating overhead radiant heat. Possibly with rigid foam and plywood on the floor.

  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    Green Farmer,
    There are two ways to produce space heat with electricity: (1) Using an electric-resistance element (a method that is 100% efficient) or (2) using a heat pump (a method with an efficiency between 200% and 300%).

    Neither method requires a hydronic distribution system (water pipes in the floor). In fact, hydronic distribution pipes make electric heat more complicated and expensive, not easier.

    If you want to heat with electricity, I advise you to abandon the PEX tubing.

    The most efficient way to heat would be with one or more ductless minisplits. (Ductless minisplits are air-to-air heat pumps. They are widely available and efficient.)

    The cheapest system to install would be electric-resistance baseboard units.

    If you insist on using the PEX tubing, your system will very rapidly get expensive and complicated. Here is a link to an article that describes the equipment you would need: Air-to-Water Heat Pumps.

    Note that air-to-water heat pumps, unlike ductless minsiplits, are neither widely available nor particularly easy to maintain (since few local contractors are familiar with them).

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