What are Radiant Ceiling Panels?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Radiant ceiling panels are devices used to control temperature in a room with the use of radiant heat. These panels emit radiation that warms people and objects, but does not attempt to heat the air itself. People warmed by a radiant ceiling panel will feel comfortable even if the surrounding air temperature is cool. This approach to heating can be very effective and efficient for certain types of settings.

Solar air conditioning can be powered with photovoltaic panels, which are often found  on roofs.
Solar air conditioning can be powered with photovoltaic panels, which are often found on roofs.

Some radiant panels are designed to be mounted directly on the ceiling. Others are installed behind it. Companies also make panels that are fitted as replacements for ceiling tiles. In all cases, placement of the panel is very important. People directly underneath the panel will be warmest, as will people in the immediate surroundings. If a panel is positioned in a location where not very many people are present, the heat it generates will not be very useful.

These panels can use a variety of methods to generate radiant heat. Many radiant ceiling panels are electric and tie directly into a building's electrical system, with thermostats people can use to set the temperature. Others may use hot water. The water circulates through the panels, radiating heat that will be transferred to objects cooler than the water. Panels that use hot water can be tied in with a passive solar system, circulating water heated by the sun and using minimal energy to generate heat for the building.

The purpose of radiant ceiling panels is to provide spot heat. They can be used in homes and businesses. In temperate climates, people may attempt to meet most of their climate control needs with spot heating. In cooler climates, heating systems can be used to keep the room air reasonably warm, with spot heating for specific locations to make people feel more comfortable. For example, radiant ceiling panels could be positioned over a row of desks in an office to keep employees warm.

Hardware stores sometimes sell radiant ceiling panels. They can also be ordered through companies that install heating and cooling systems. It can be advisable to have a technician inspect the area where panels are to be installed to make product and placement recommendations. Someone who is qualified to install such systems should be secured for the actual installation to confirm that the panels are put in and wired properly. If mistakes are made, the panels may not work or they may create a fire hazard.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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