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Prepping for electric underfloor heating

Before you begin installing your new electric underfloor heating system, it is important to do some preparation. Rather than going into every detail of underfloor heating, I thought it would be helpful to cover the most important preparation steps to think about before you begin.

First, you will want to plan the installation. It is most helpful to work with suppliers that will provide a layout of where to install the cables and mats. A visual layout will save you a lot of time rather than just laying down the cables or mats.

If you have read my other blogs, you will know that I place emphasis on installing insulation under the electric cables and/or mats. When it comes to underfloor heating, this is the greenest energy solution because it helps minimize future energy costs. If you choose to forego insulation, not only will this increase the monthly operating cost of your electric radiant floor heating system, but it also will have a major impact on overall comfort. Taking the time to install insulation saves money and increases comfort over the life of the system. Consult with your salesperson on their recommendation for insulation. Not all contractors are going to share your excitement about adding insulation, as they may not be familiar with the application process. Regardless, insulate directly below the cables or mats. If it is not feasible, perhaps there is available space in the area below the room to insulate between the joists. This will help drive the toasty warm heat up to the finished floor.

Next, you should think about thermostat placement. The location of your thermostat is important so that the temperature in the room is maintained at a comfortable level. Normal installation height is five feet from the floor. Placing the thermostat on an outside wall or in direct sunlight will cause false temperature readings and will result in unsatisfactory performance due to over heating or under heating. I recommend choosing thermostats that not only read the ambient air temperature, but also measure the floor temperature at the same time. This will further enhance comfort and will help keep the radiant under floor heating system from competing with a forced air heating system that is providing hot air into the room.

You should also consider whether your mail goal is warming your floor or heating space. What are your expectations of heating with the electric underfloor heating system? I covered this issue in a past blog in more detail, but it’s worth mentioning once again. If there is no other source of heat in the room, then the underfloor system is considered a primary heating application and will require a heatloss to ensure it will meet your expectations. However, if there is another heat source in the room, then most likely the system will be designed as supplemental floor warming. So, what is the difference? Basically it comes down to placing enough heating element into the floor in order to provide adequate primary space heating. In order to ensure satisfaction during a cold Minnesota winter you will want to ensure the heating element is placed into the floor.

The final point is crucial. What floor covering are you planning on placing over the top of your electric cables or mats? Not all cables or mats can be placed under carpet and many are not suitable with hardwood or laminate wood floors. Some of these systems need to have a self-leveling concrete over the top of the cables to ensure they do not get too hot. For example, a carpeted floor traps heat produced by the cables or mats. If the cables or mats become too hot, they could be prone to premature failure. The thin layer of material measures anywhere from 3/8 to 1’2” in additional height and will help dissipate the heat properly, but will need to be taken into account for added height it gives the room. This additional height may result in doors needing to be trimmed down in order to close properly.

I hope this information helps you plan your electric underfloor heating system. For more information, call a representative at (763) 477-3664 or contact us today via the web!