Here, Greg Cooper, Managing Director at climate control specialist Radiana, provides an overview of the benefits of radiant cooling when it comes to enhancing wellbeing.
The four key factors that address thermal comfort are air temperature, radiant temperature, air movement and humidity. However, often when we think of adding technology to cool spaces within a property, traditional solutions simply can’t tick every thermal comfort box. For example, in order to achieve a cooler air temperature, air conditioning units move around cold air and, in doing so, dehumidify the atmosphere.
In contrast, radiant cooling systems truly address those four key factors and find a balance that sets a new standard for creating total thermal comfort within a space to be enjoyed by everyone within it.
With a radiant cooling system, as the energy transfer method used is radiant technology – which does not depend on the movement of cold air – there are no draughts. Instead, cooling is achieved by passing cold water through the ceiling panels, which conditions the environment and, in turn, cools all the surfaces in the room.
The closed-loop hydronic ceiling system responds to factors such as body heat to create the perfect indoor environment. In turn, there are no hot or cold spots in an environment cooled with this technology because heat always travels to colder areas.
The innovative ceiling panels are also quick and easy to install into the ceiling or walls in the place of plasterboard, making the system completely invisible. When 70% of the ceiling surface area is fitted with ‘active’ radiant cooling ceiling panels, the result is a highly desirable ‘3D cooling’ effect, which expands equally in all directions.
One other key benefit of radiant ceiling panels absorbing all heat radiated from the rest of the room is fully controlled humidity. When planning the tech to control the indoor environment, there’s often much talk about the temperature of a room, but less about humidity, despite this being a key factor to whether the space is comfortable and healthy to be in.
In a nutshell, if humidity levels are too high (more than 60%), you run the risk of growing mould and bacteria, musty smells embedding in soft furnishings and creating a stuffy atmosphere, which drastically reduces overall thermal discomfort. Yet, if humidity levels are too low (less than 20%), there’s an increased risk of catching a cold or infection, experiencing dry and itchy skin and even damaging interior decor within your home, including any wood or paint finishes. As such, finding a balance and having the ability to control humidity throughout the year and differing seasons is key.
When humidity is just right (at between 45 and 55%), thermal comfort is heightened and improved and the environment does not dry out your skin – which is crucial for those who suffer from skin conditions. Another important aspect balanced humidity achieves is a reduction in dust, allergens and the spread of viruses or germs within the home, which is particularly pertinent for those who suffer from allergies and asthma.
Currently, 5.4 million1 people in the UK are receiving treatment for asthma, while a staggering 44%2 of British adults now suffer from at least one allergy. The number of sufferers is also on the rise, so it’s never been more important to specify solutions that reduce any possible triggers to improve health and wellbeing now and safeguard your home for the future too.
While soft furnishings are typically known as the main culprits for harbouring dust mites, skin cells and dander, cooling systems that rely on blasting air are also a magnet for dust and germs which gather behind and inside the panels. As such, when the system is turned on, allergy and asthma symptoms can be further exacerbated as these problematic particles are encouraged to circulate into the atmosphere.
Radiant cooling significantly reduces the movement of dust, all while being kinder to the environment, thanks to 50% energy savings and less maintenance, compared with aircon systems. Plus, when paired with intelligent controls, a radiant system offers the opportunity to create different temperature zones – even within one specific room – depending on solar gain and personal preferences. Plus, when it comes to future-proofing your self-build or renovation, radiant cooling panels are also designed to effortlessly integrate with existing and emerging renewable technologies, with heat pumps being a natural choice to pair radiant water-based systems.