When you are spending money to set up your new radiant underfloor heating system it makes sense that you would want to save a few bucks.
You’re probably wondering if you can skip the new radiant heat thermostat and use your old one and save money and hassle.
Well, the answer is that is a possibility, but it may not be.
My personal philosophy is to always use the right gear for its intended purpose. You’ll get more out of your system that way.
In my opinion, you should use the right kind of thermostat for your radiant floor heating especially if it is hydronic.
In this article, I wrote up a detailed buyer’s guide to help you pick the right radiant heat thermostat and included my picks for the top 5 best radiant heat thermostats.
In a Rush? Here Are Our Top Picks
Do You Need a Special Thermostat For Your Radiant Floor Heating?
You really do need a special radiant heat thermostat as the ones that work the best measure the temperature of the floor and in the air to make sure that the floor is not getting dangerously hot while it heats. If you only are measuring air temperature then the floor heating system could overshoot the temperature and be way too hot to the touch until it reaches the thermostat sensors.
With a smart radiant heat thermostat, you have far more control than with a traditional thermostat. Radiant floor heating is not complicated, but since it is slow to heat it is best if you can program it with more accuracy. That’s what you get with the right radiant heat thermostats.
You can even use sensors to know when somebody leaves the room so it shuts off on its own. And you can also turn it on remotely through an app so it is warm when you get home if you come back when it isn’t normally scheduled to go on.
There are a lot of benefits including energy savings. It just makes sense to have one if you go for infloor heating.
Make sure you have the right thermostat for your heater!
Electric vs Hydronic
Hydronic floor heating simply means that it uses circulated hot water. The term can refer to baseboard heat or even a heat fan that has a pipe with hot water that radiates heat.
In our case, it is a closed-loop system in which a boiler or water heater circulates the hot water through a series of PEX tubing underneath the flooring.
Check It Out!
An electrical system uses heat conducting mats with coils that heat up by using electricity. They use resistance to produce the heat and are wrapped in a polymer for safety.
Usually, the mat and thermostat come together as they are part of the same system. If you are looking into an electric radiant floor heating system then half of your job is already done. You likely don’t need to use your old thermostat or buy a special electric radiant heat thermostat for the job.
Do Smart Thermostats Work with Radiant Heat?
Most smart thermostats are designed for forced air heating and not for radiant hydronic systems.
Now that radiant floor heating is becoming more popular for its efficiency and effective house heating, they are starting to adjust to the demand.
What makes it difficult is that radiant floor heating systems take longer to heat up and sometimes require two stage heating. Even if the thermostat can control two stages, sometimes the boiler used doesn’t.
Houses with different zones also present a challenge and usually require multiple thermostats and sensors.
The best smart thermostats work with a floor sensor that can adjust the temperature more accurately and avoid overshooting the desired temperature. This is both safer and more efficient.
Now that you know that smart thermostats work with radiant heat, we provide our 5 best radiant floor thermostats. We also include our top choice for best thermostat for radiant floor heating.
5 Best Thermostats for Radiant Floor Heating
Best Overall – Honeywell Home T9 WIFI Smart Thermostat
- LIVE AND SLEEP SMARTER. Choose the temperature in a specific room, like the...
- AMAZING SENSOR RANGE. The battery powered Smart Room Sensors utilize unique...
- MULTI-ROOM FOCUS. Don’t be forced to choose one room over another, the T9...
- SAVE MONEY AND ENERGY. Adjust your thermostat from anywhere with your...
- SMART RESPONSE AND ALERTS. Intelligently learns your home’s heating and...
You can see some of the key features in the box above, but here are some more details.
The Honeywell T9 has multi room capability so you can set the temperature for each room individually. You can set different times for each room besides just the temperature.
If there is nobody on the upper floors during the daytime then there is no use in heating the floor there. Just add a sensor for each room that has the radiant heat to create a different setting for each. (NB: This only comes with one sensor so you will need to order more for each additional room!)
Geofencing can also be added so when you are home it is picked up by your phone entering the zone. The heat can kick on at that point so it doesn’t need to be turned on if you arrive at a time that hasn’t already been programmed.
What We Like:
- Easy to install
- Works with Alexa, Cortana, and Google voice commands
- Has multi zone capability
- Supports geofencing
- Tracks your heating trends
What We Don’t Like:
- Requires C wire
- Can’t change brightness of display