Electric Heat in ceiling?

   / Electric Heat in ceiling? #1  


Super Member
Oct 16, 2010
By the lake in NH & FL
2011 MF 2410 TLB
OK, I went to look at a home today with my son and his wife in MA that they are very interested in to buy. It's a gambrel with about 2400sf. and built in '72.

One thing that I've never seen is how the heating system worked. The first floor was forced hot air but the second floor bedrooms had no registers and the sellers agent said that the heat was mounted in the ceilings....What? So I cranked the thermostat in one of the rooms and grabbed my IR heat sensor from my truck and sure enough the ceiling was getting warmer by a few degrees in 10 minutes.

Who thought up this design? The heat has to penetrate the sheetrock and heat downwards?

If they bought it, the would reroute the power to baseboard registers instead because it was overall a nice home.
Your thoughts? Anyone ever see this?
   / Electric Heat in ceiling? #2  
Of course I'm in the south and a lot of things are different from up north, but I never even heard of such.
   / Electric Heat in ceiling? #3  
My ex mother in law has a house with radiant heat in the ceiling . It heats the objects and people not the air. It was pretty comfortable and was put in as Seabrook was being built, electric rates were going to be so low they wouldn't even need a meter ,somehow that didn't pan out , go figure !
She had a wood stove, then a pellet stove and now a propane heater but the radiant is still in service.
   / Electric Heat in ceiling? #4  
I looked at an apartment building in Oakland CA that used this system... it was a problem because we have some of the highest priced electricity in the country... also, NOTHING can penetrate the ceiling... one unit had a problem because the tenant put a molly hook in the ceiling to hang a plant.

Yes it does work... just not economical in my market
   / Electric Heat in ceiling? #5  
It was done in that mid '70s era in CA too. I've seen a few apartment complexes, and a few homes that have it. I'm convinced it was done simply as a cheap system that takes up no mechanical room in the floor plan. BUT, the sheetrock was a special design with heating coils cast right into the sheets. Many of the systems don't work anymore because people have made holes in the ceiling or the wires just failed.

The whole thing seems ridiculous to me.

People have reported to me that it's not very comfortable because it heats their heads but does nothing for their feet.

In your case, since the home has forced air downstairs, the upstairs heating load will be minimal, so it seems viable to convert it to electric baseboards when you need to later, provided you can accept the baseboards length requirements to heat the room and work around their size with furniture.

You also already have the power needed to run them too.
   / Electric Heat in ceiling?
  • Thread Starter
Thanks to all who replied, it does seem crazy and certainly not the most economical as already stated.
   / Electric Heat in ceiling? #7  
In our area of PA quite a few homes in the '70s were built with ceiling heat. That was in the days of a promise of "electricity so cheap we may not need to meter it". I never had it, but co-workers did and said it was not bad. Only issue today it is quite expensive to operate (like electric baseboard). Also repairs were not easy and expensive.

   / Electric Heat in ceiling? #8  
Some sloppy installations caused fires. Recommend disconnection and replace with baseboard heat .
   / Electric Heat in ceiling?
  • Thread Starter
I agree, if he buys the home we will install baseboard instead.

The challenge will be finding the hot feeds and making sure all unused feeds are dead.