radiant floors

6.10-6.12 Radiant floors and traditional heating system in Hungary

6.12.Hungary-2-detail-b Highlights Relevant to Sustainable Design:

We can learn to save energy on heating from countries with fewer natural resources than America.

This cross section of a turn-of-the-century house shows a sophisticated heating system. The hearth is unique in that it is open for cooking but channeled to let hot smoke vent into adjacent cavities that serve as ceramic heaters. They are called Bubos Kemence, pronounced “Boob-a-come-ense,” and serve as radiators. The traditional wood-burning stove is similar in that chambers take the smoke on an arduous path curving through the masonry as it leaves the house. This path forces the hot, smoky air to heat the masonry along the journey up and out of the house. Even several hours after the fire is out, the masonry still radiates heat. Several New England fireplace makers now offer airtight designs that leverage this thermal advantage.

Years later, I leveraged this thermal advantage in the radiant floors of our solar home. We have both solar photovoltaic (PV) panels for electricity as well as solar water heating panels. The PV panels run the pumps to move the water, and the thermal panels heat the water. By running water coils instead of smoke through the gypcrete under the floor tiles, we are able to continue benefitting from the heat emitted by the masonry floors well after the sun has set. For details, see the chapter “Sustainable Smart House” in part 3, “Commercial Impact.”

(The following two larger sketchbook sections are for perspective on subsequent content.)



(The figure outline in this image is for scale to illustrate the size of the fold-out field drawing. The descriptions of certain key elements and insights are included with the accompanying drawings in this section.)

Author and illustrator: Charlie Szoradi is an architect, inventor, and the CEO of Independence LED Lighting. He writes about many other topics related to heating system options and radiant floors through his extensive travels around the world.

If you have found this posting online, it is an excerpt from Mr. Szoradi’s book Learn from Looking that served as the inspiring seed content for this drawing share resource. For additional drawings and insights on sustainable heating system and radiant floors, we hope that you enjoy exploring LearnfromLooking.com. You can search via general terms such as sustainability as well as narrower terms such as solar photovoltaic and radiant floors.


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