"Ceil Heat" question

Anyone know anything about “Ceil Heat”? Is it completely independent of the air handler? Is it a radient heating system only? The system has electric strips in the ceiling. Since warm air rises, I question the effeciency of this type of system. House age is early 70s.

Their fine with a forced air furnace pushing air around, never seen the system by itself.

As a drywall contractor, I’ve only worked on a couple of homes over the last 20 years with ceiling heat installed, both were remodel projects.
The two homes that we worked on had small wires that were run over the top of the wallboard. The wires are spaced fairly close together, within a few inches of each other. A skim coat of mud was applied over the wires, and then the brocade finish was applied over the skim coat.
I don’t think this type of heating system has much to recommend it. It couldn’t be very effiicient. It may have been used in our area in the 60’s and 70’s because of all of the cheap hydro power we had in the NW at the time (not anymore!).
It would be impossible to patch. The wiring is continuous, if it is cut or knicked, the home owner would lose the heat in that room. You probably couldn’t put five nails or screws in the ceiling without hitting at least one wire. Water damaged ceilings would be very difficult to repair if the board had to be replaced.
In both houses, this was the only heat system in the house, with no fan or ductwork to move air. Both houses were inexpensive, single story, 3 bedroom, 800-1000 sq. ft. max.

I saw a couple of these in Colorado. They were installed in the late 60’s and 70’s when there was a natural gas shortage. Inefficient design and everyone home that had these also had a woodstove because they were such energy hogs. I just used my IR thermometer to verify they were working,


I inspected two houses this month that had this exact set up. The homeowner (engineer) that installed the second one, told me they are very efficient. He had his last 3 years electrical bills out for us to look at. According to him, if the heat can’t rise(ceiling),then it works its way down to the floor. It took about 30 min. to raise the temp 10 degrees in the rooms I tested. Owner said he keeps these controls set on 70 during the cold months. There is no air handler needed or required. One house did have ceiling fans in every room, though.

There was a discusion on Radian heat on the 18th of this month .
I guess you missed reading it .
I did a search and all that I found said it was more efficient then other types of heating
Roy Cooke

I did an inspection just last week that had ceiling radiant heating installed. It was the first time I had seen it but from the research that I gathered because it is radiant heating it doesn’t matter if it is on the ceiling floor or in a wall. Because it radiates heat like the sun as long as it can see what it is heating it will heat. So what I mean is that it will heat your furniture and walls and you it isn’t necessarily heating the air but radiating heat to objects that are in the path of the heat energy. You are correct that hot air rises and would not make sense to have it in your ceiling but because it is heating the objects it seems to work well. With a forced air system the air temp reaches a certain temp and the heater shuts off but your floors and furniture might still be cool. It was popular here in San Diego for a while but we have a very mild winter. In a harsher climate I don’t know how well it would work. I did find that there are at least two types, panels that go on top of the dry wall and, a cable type that is put on the drywall then skimmed over.


Works here in Southern Ontario Canada , but you are correct it might not work in a harsh climate . It is slow but constant and you can have your bed rooms at a lower temp with individual room controls.
Roy Cooke

As Roy says these are Radiant heat systems. It heats in the line of sight. Under tables and chairs are not heated only the objects.

Many homes here in NW Ohio have this radiant heat and yes they are efficient. Not easy to repair, but takes time. You can use a standard tic tracer to follow the cables or dampen the ceiling to find breaks in the wires. Patching takes training. Some cable heat has 2 layers of drywall with the cables between the layers. These can be patched from the attic on 1 story homes easily.

Ceil Heat or ceiling heat was a prevalent type of heating around East Tennessee in the 70s and 80 because the guy that invented it lived in Knoxville, Tennessee.
It’s a gridwork of wires embedded in the ceiling of each heated room, and each room has its own thermostat.
The Tennessee Valley Authority delivered dirt cheap electricity in the era, so it really didn’t matter too much if most of the heat went up; you just turned your thermostat up a few degrees to compensate.

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Back in the 80’s and early 90’s we had a bunch of these systems installed in my area as well, but they were mainly a pre-assembled panel that was installed directly on the bottom face of the truss between the vapor barrier and drywall. I was never a fan but apparently many liked them. Then about 93, a number of brands had immediate disconnect orders issued due to fire hazard concerns. What a pain crawling around the attic moving insulation trying to identify the panels of concern… I did manage to catch a few still in use that fell into the immediate disconnect rule. Deals went south… very unhappy sellers that day.

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I saw my first ceiling heat system just last week. We left it on for a few minutes and could definitely feel the heat radiating from the ceiling.


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Inefficient but that’s was what it was back then.