Winters in Korea are cold. When I lived in Korea the one thing that kept the winters bearable was the warm floors. Korea uses, I think universally, radiant heat as its primary heat source. The comfort of having warmfloors heating the house without the noise and discomfort of having forced air is really nice. The one thing that I did not like about radiant heat in Korea was having to rotate the 연탄 (coal briquettes). I don’t think 얀탄 are very popular in Korea right now though. I think it used to be that every year there were news reports of people dying from carbon monoxide poisoning from 얀탄. Nowadays the floors are heated primarily from a gas boiler.
We finished building our house last year and we decided that our primary source of heat would also be radiant. Unfortunately, here in the United States the radiant heat market is left to some very high dollar specialists, especially here in sunny California. So, after getting some very outrageous bids for the job, we decided to do it ourselves.
A friend of mine builds greenhouses and most commercial greenhouses have a radiant heat system built in. So he was very helpful to us in getting the job done. We literally did all of the work ourselves. I spent a lot of time on the phone with manufacturers and suppliers who were more than happy to help create a system that suited my needs and then sell me the materials to build that system. Here is a photo of the pex tubing once we have zip-tied it to the rebar, before pouring the concrete slab:
The system is powered by a boiler that pumps hot water through all of the tubing in the floor to warm the house. The boiler also does the same thing through a water tank for hot water. It is very efficient. Here is the boiler plumbing setup. It looks more complicated than it is:
The boiler can be seen on the left. Not shown is the indirect water heater to the left of the boiler.
This has been our first full winter living in our new house. While our radiant system is not perfect, we have really enjoyed having 온돌방 in our house. By doing it ourselves we saved a lot of money (really, a lot) and learned a lot too.