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How to Heat a Barndominium

Written by Warmup Inc on February 13th, 2023 | Choosing a System

Barndominiums may be the next big trend in residential real estate, but for all their rustic elegance, they present a few logistical challenges; for example, what is the best way to heat a barndominium? 

Barndominium is a term used to describe a barn-style building used for residential purposes. Barndominiums can range from old barns that have been remodeled to new construction projects built to emulate old farm structures. 

The methods of achieving this rural nostalgia can be very different, but one fact remains the same; you need to figure out how to efficiently heat a barndominium.

5 Heating System Options for Barndominiums

What is the best way to heat a barndominium? Well, just as there are multiple ways to create a barndominium, there are several ways to heat one as well.

1. Central Heating Systems

Central heating systems are traditionally the most common method of producing heat in residential homes. These heating systems typically utilize a furnace or a boiler to produce heat which is then carried from the unit to the rest of the house with ducts, vents, pipes, or tubes. 

Although the layout and structure of central heating systems all follow the same idea, there are some distinct differences between heating with a furnace and heating with a boiler.


A furnace is used to heat air, which then travels through a series of ducts to reach the different rooms of your home. The warm air exits the duct and enters your room via a vent in the wall, ceiling, or floor. Furnaces typically burn oil or natural gas.

Is a furnace the best way to heat a barndominium? 

Furnaces require a series of large ducts to run throughout your home’s walls, ceilings, and floor; these materials and the labor to install them can add up very quickly. 

Additionally, if your barndominium is a post-and-beam framed structure, you will not be able to run your ducting everywhere it needs to go. Drilling and cutting through posts and beams will compromise the structural integrity of the building, leaving you to build unsightly, bulky chases to run your ducts outside the walls and ceilings.

You should also note that this heating style is often described as having a “triple inefficiency.” 

  • Inefficiency 1: Air does not absorb heat well.
  • Inefficiency 2: As warm air moves, the heat is dispersed.
  • Inefficiency 3: Air transfers heat poorly.


A boiler uses the combustion of natural gas to heat water to high temperatures. This water is then circulated through your house, and passes through radiators which heat your rooms, before returning to the boiler to again be heated. Boilers can also power hydronic radiant floor heating systems in which heated water is circulated through a series of tubes in your floor at such warm temperatures that it heats the floor itself. 

Although radiant heat is arguably the best way to heat a barndominium, installing an excess of water-filled pipes and tubes throughout your floors can be dangerous. 

It’s an all-too-common occurrence; you decide to tear out your kitchen’s old flooring and replace it with new hardwood, but your flooring contractor used nails that were just a bit too long. Now you have two-hundred punctures in your plastic radiant heating lines, and not only is the kitchen subfloor soaked, but your downstairs ceiling is also destroyed.

Hydronic radiant heating uses substantial energy to heat the water and activate the series of pumps required to push the water against gravity and toward its destination.

2. Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are an energy-efficient alternative to traditional heat sources that transfer warm air into cold areas and cold air into warm regions, depending on your needs.

Heat pumps can be great options for heating and cooling your barndominium in certain situations; however, there are some drawbacks as well.

Heat pumps often require ducting, which can be difficult to install inside post-and-beam framed walls. Ductless alternatives exist but they are not always suitable for extremely cold climates.

3. Wood-Burning Heating Solutions

Wood-burning heating systems may match the rustic ambiance of your chic new residence, but are they the best way to heat a barndominium?


It’s difficult to argue against the visual aesthetic of a fireplace: the crackling fire, the stone hearth, and chimney. There’s something timeless about it all.

What isn’t timeless, however, is the lack of actual control you have over the heat. With a fireplace, you can’t set the heat to a specific temperature or keep your house warm while you’re away. Furthermore, attempting to heat rooms on the outskirts of the house can create uncomfortably warm temperatures closer to the fireplace.

In addition to the lack of control over fireplace heating, chimneys require regular upkeep and maintenance to operate safely and efficiently.

Wood Stoves

Wood stoves can be an excellent form of secondary heat for frigid winter evenings, but when it comes to being a primary heat source, they are not the best way to heat a barndominium. 

Like fireplaces, wood stoves match the rustic aesthetic that barndominiums create but lack the ability to regulate the heat that most modern homeowners desire.

Wood stoves are excellent for a hunting cabin in the woods or a secondary form of heating in your home but are not recommended as primary heat sources in modern homes.

4. Space Heaters

Space heaters are typically fueled by propane or kerosene or just plugged into the wall and run off electricity. 

Space heaters are intended to heat small spaces for short periods, not whole houses, for days and months on end. 

Space heaters that burn kerosene or propane for fuel can also be quite dangerous if not appropriately vented and cause several deaths each winter due to carbon monoxide poisoning and fire.

5. Radiant Heating

Electric radiant floor heating is arguably the best way to heat a barndominium. 

Electric radiant floor heating heats your home evenly and consistently from the floor up, which eliminates cold spots and inconsistent temperatures. Even heating allows your barndominium’s thermostats to get accurate readings, and results in less energy use when heating your home.

Unlike forced hot air heating systems, radiant heat warms you directly instead of the air around you, for a greater feeling of warmth with less energy use. Because the heat is coming from the floor, the actual living space is the primary heating zone, rather than all of the air in the room, so there is no downward heat loss. This is maximized when utilizing Warmup’s Ultralight 4-in-1 Insulation when installing a radiant floor heating system.

Electric radiant floor heating is installed as a thin mat underneath your flooring; no more bulky ducting and tedious water lines. 

The Benefits of Utilizing Radiant Heating for Barndominiums

Using electric radiant heating to keep your barndominium warm presents a multitude of benefits: 

  • Easy Installation – Electric radiant heating is easily installed underneath your flooring; no need to mess with bulky ducting or tedious water lines.
  • Superior Warmth – Radiant heat warms you directly instead of the air around you.
  • Energy Efficiency – By heating you instead of the air, radiant heating uses less energy to create a greater feeling of warmth. 

Heating your home evenly from the ground up allows the thermostat to get more accurate temperature readings and less energy being used.

Find the Best Heating System for Your Barndominium with Warmup

With over 25 years of experience and over 2 million systems sold worldwide, Warmup knows the best way to heat a barndominium. 

Warmup’s DCM-PRO and StickyMat electric heating systems provide exceptional warmth without the hassle of altering framing and opening walls.

Want to take your barndominium’s heating to the next level? Pair one of Warmup’s electric radiant heating systems with the 6iE Smart WiFi Thermostat. The 6iE utilizes SmartGeo technology and Advanced Early Start functionality to heat your home as intelligently and efficiently as possible, and can save you up to 25% on your heating bills.

Want to learn more? Contact Warmup today, or get a free online quote and find out why Warmup is the world’s best-selling floor heating brand!


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