By Deanna Summer, MP Global Products
Radiant in floor heating is nothing new. It is probably one of the oldest known methods of heating and can be dated as far back as to the Romans. Today, all over the world, in-floor radiant heat is more commonly found and almost a complete way of life for how housing is built, but in the United States, it is often considered a luxury add-on long after the fact. When we design buildings, traditional HVAC systems are integrated into a structural plan. Floor heat can be more of a “finish” that comes with the flooring and is a design consideration way past structural design. But the best heat a house can have is invisible, silent, and efficient.
Unlike hot water radiators, baseboard, or forced air, a radiant floor heating system heats objects instead of just the air in the room. Every building, no matter how well insulated, constantly is losing to the outside. Conventional heating systems work to replace this loss by heating the air. The human body loses heat to the colder objects around us. We feel cold because of this heat loss, because heat always flows toward cold.
For example, if you are standing next to an object that is colder than your body, that object will steal body heat. A radiant floor heating system does not heat the air directly like a baseboard or forced air system. Rather, a radiant system warms the floor, the chair, the sofa, the tables, the walls, and this slows the rate at which your body loses heat to these objects. An overall even feeling of warmth and comfort is the result.
In-floor electric radiant heating systems add comfort and coziness to rooms. The system’s heat most floor coverings like tile, stone or marble flooring as well as laminate, engineered wood, and thicker luxury vinyl tiles. Check with each product manufacturer to determine proper compatibility with flooring types. Some radiant heat systems use conductive carbon ink technology embedded in a flexible film, others use cable on mesh systems or mat systems.
As Easy As 1, 2, 3
Step 1 – Measure out the room and understand where the heat would be needed. In cases of large areas, spot heating may be an economical way to add floor heat by simply placing the heat where it will benefit the most, such as around sofas and main walk ways. Free room design tools are available to assist in proper configuration.
Step 2 – Roll out the mats and dry fit for the area, cut to fit length if needed. Mats are available in common sizes to accommodate most layouts.
Step 3 – Direct all lead wires toward one central junction box with the final connection made by a licensed electrician to the electronic programmable thermostat. One thermostat will handle 150 square feet of mats on 120V system and 300 sq. ft. on 240V systems.
Step 4 – Install flooring as directed.
Maybe the Romans were on to something back then. Warm floors can translate into warm bodies. With today’s high energy costs, it pays to use the most efficient heating system. Plus, it’s a great way to add on to the installation sale by touting the advantages to having warm feet in cooler months for only pennies a day. As an installer, you are adding value to the new floor covering and increasing the job’s bottom line with radiant floor warming, all the while keeping the installation fast, clean, and easy.