Electric Radiant Floor Heat
The biggest benefit to using electric radiant floor heat is it can be installed in small applications as well as large. For instance, if you just want radiant floor heat in you bathroom, you install an electric mat, or wire system under the floor, cover it up with finish flooring, and you will be able to control the warmth of that specific room. The thermostat can be put directly in the room where the heat is so you don't have to activate it when it's not in use.
Radiant heat is not a new idea. In the 1930s, architect Frank Lloyd Wright did what the Romans and Koreans did centuries ago when they channelled hot flue under the floors of their houses before venting them out the chimney, he piped hot water through the floors of his buildings.
Electric heat is one of the newer ways to incorporate radiant heat into a home. An electrical system is split into two types.
One involves the use of coiled wiring and the other uses electrical mats.
Installation of Electrical Radiant Floor Heat
An electric system is recommended for homes with less than 3000 square feet of area to cover and can be used in one room or in the entire home. Electric radiant floor heat systems are easy and less expensive to install than the other type of radiant heat systems. The amount of energy that is used by radiant heat is about 10-12 watts for every square foot covered.
The cost of installing an electrical radiant system might be twice as high as installing a forced air heating system but the cost savings in the long run come up to about 25-50%.
Installing an electrical system will include having an electrician over to design and assess your house and advising you on the dangers or the effects to the rest of your electricity system. The process itself involves nothing more than running electrical wires under your floor boards and attaching it to a thermostat. You need a dedicated power circuit that can churn out 15-20amp GFCI-Protected power. It is recommended that the cables be at least six inches from the walls.
Effects of the electric radiant heat system cables used for electric radiant heat system are usually so thin there is no need to raise the height of the floor. They can add about 2inches to your floor height while the mats only ad about to 1/8 inch to the overall height of your floor.
The design element is simple and the mats cost very little to install. The installation is so simple, you can do it yourself. Just follow the electrical radiant heat system instruction guide. Different brands of mats will have slightly different instructions, so make sure you follow specific directions for your brand name mat.
Heated wire is more difficult to install. The kinds of cables that carry most of the installation costs are the coated. Installing these is much more complex and might prove to be labor intensive, which is why you would be better served if you consult with a licensed electrician. Electrical systems will provide durability and a guarantee that they will work for a significant number of years.
Mats or Wire Systems
There are a few differences you need to be aware of between the two electrical types of radiant heat system. Mats that have been put on a concrete slab will heat up faster than the cable system running through the slab. It takes about an hour for a mat system to reach peak performance while it can take several hours to reach peak performance for coiled cable system. Cables however retain the heat more than the mats do. Electric radiant floor heat systems work with concrete, ceramic cement tile, carpets and stone.
Most electric utility companies will offer time-of-use rates that make it more efficient to install and use. These rates allow you to heat up or charge the concrete floor with heat during off-peak hours which is normally anytime between 6am and 9pm. If the thermal mass is large enough the heat within will keep the house comfortable warm for a minimum of 8 hours without having to switch the electricity on. This saves on the amount of electricity you use to heat yours house and lets you contribute in a small way to the global drive to save the planet from global warming. Like they say, every little bit count and your bit will have been cleverly played and remain worthwhile for years on end.
Advantages of Electric Radiant Floor Heat
- Electric radiant floor heat is an evenly distributed heat source. The room is warm where people are, by the floor and not on the ceiling.
- It can be used for many different floor surfaces. You can use electric mats or wires for concrete, tile, and laminate flooring.
- There are many companies that make great electric radiant heat systems. Some of these companies include Nuheat, Suntouch, and ThermoFloor.
-It can be used on small projects, larger projects, inside and outside.
- Each room can be linked to an individual thermostat so you don't waste energy heating rooms that aren't in use.
Disadvantages of Electrical Radiant Floor Heat
- Electric is efficient, but not as efficient as a hydronic radiant floor heat system.
- You shouldn't use it for areas larger than 3,000 square feet.
- The room doesn't heat up immediately if the floor is cold. It takes between 30 minutes to a couple hours for the floors to warm up the entire room.
What is the best situation for electric radiant floor heat?
When you are remodeling a bathroom or a smaller space, incorporate an electric radiant system. You really need to feel the warmth to really understand why this heating option is so wonderful. Just imagine waking up to get to work and instead of walking on cold, clammy tile floor, your bathroom is a heated oasis.
See if you can visit some different homes, or even go to the local hardware store and look for displays showing off electric radiant floor heat systems. Once you actually touch a warm tile, you'll understand why it is such a great way to heat a room or an entire home.
- Portable Electric Radiant Heaters
- Outdoor Radiant Heating
- Electric Radiant Floor Heating System - Past and Present
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