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Choose and Correctly Place a Radiant Floor Heat Thermostat

Have you wondered how to choose and correctly place a radiant floor heat thermostat? Before we examine the topic of radiant floor heat thermostats, let’s first talk about the basics of the most common thermostats that are used for electric radiant floor heating. Each type holds its own advantages, depending on the application and whether there are additional heat sources heating the same room(s).

All types of basic radiant floor heat thermostats are available with a digital readout or with an analog display. This means that each thermostat has a means of the set point to a chosen temperature. There are digital thermostats that are capable of monitoring the energy consumption of your system also available. These work through a simple phone app.

In addition, thermostats are also available in manual or setback control modes. However, thermostats become very complicated in connection with electric radiant heating systems. This is because these heating systems are slow in response. I personally recommend avoiding setback thermostats. If you feel it absolutely necessary, then by all means invest in one. But learn to set the timer functions and be willing to live with some less than desirable comfort conditions.

With electric radiant floor heating systems, you can leave your system at a comfort setting and it will save you in comfort and energy costs. If you do leave the home for any extended period of time, say two weeks, simply shut off the system and turn it back on when you return.

The most common thermostats for radiant floor heating systems are:

  • Air sensing: These are common and less expensive than the other thermostats. However, they are the most challenging dialing in accurate temperatures as they can overshoot temperatures as much as two to four degrees.
  • Air sensing and floor sensing combination: These thermostats for electric radiant floor heating offer the best in energy savings and dialing in comfort.
  • Floor sensing only: These types of thermostats do not compete with the thermostat that is controlling the primary heating system. It is also ideal to use these types of thermostats when the electric radiant floor heating systems is the primary heat source for the room.

Where do you place the thermostat in the room you are heating?

The placement of a thermostat for radiant floor heating is critical to ensure comfort as well as efficiency. Depending on the type of electric radiant heating system, it may prove to be important to place the thermostat in a location that will allow easy access for wiring to a low voltage transformer, to the electrical panel or with the electric mats or cables. For obvious reasons, the location of the thermostat should always be in the same room as the electric radiant heating systems you want to control.

If the thermostat is installed near a heat source such as a heat vent, the thermostat will be fooled to think that the temperature in the room is already warm and will not turn on the electric radiant system. The same rule would apply for when sunshine enters the room. If the sun rays shine on the thermostat it will raise the temperature near the thermostat and keep the system off. Keep in mind that solar heat gain for a home is very helpful in lowering energy costs and it’s highly encouraged to keep your window shades and drapes open during the colder winter months. However, if the thermostat is placed in a location that is away from heat sources and direct sunlight, it will respond more accurately, keeping the room at a temperature that is better suited for the occupants.

Also, it is extremely important to place a thermostat on an interior wall as opposed to an exterior wall. Interior walls are more accessible for wiring, as opposed to an outside insulated wall. With placement on an exterior wall the thermostat will most likely be sensing cooler air temperature and cause the system to turn on well above the normal temperature set point. This can lead to a condition called overshooting that will cause discomfort resulting from temperatures that are above the comfort zone of the homeowner. It is also important not to place the thermostat near a window due to the air draft that can leak through even with the best insulated windows on the market.

I hope this gives you some direction in choosing a thermostat for your radiant floor heating system. Contact a representative at (800) 785-8738, or via our web form for additional information.