7 Benefits of Installing an Electric Radiant Floor Heating System

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Check out how electric radiant floor heating can provide superior comfort for your home, and how it can benefit you and your family.

What is electric radiant floor heating, and how it works?

Electric radiant heating works by transferring radiant energy generated by electric heating elements (cables), installed under the floor, to surrounding objects and people. The floor acts as one gigantic radiator, radiating heat, in a similar fashion as when you are exposed to the sun. Electric heating mats can be installed to fit any room area warming regular and irregular shapes with the constant temperature.

While they are mostly used to heat homes, they can also be used for snow melting on your driveway, using the heavy-duty electric cables installed in concrete, asphalt, and under pavers. They are thicker, approved to insert them into concrete, and use in wet locations.

7 reasons why to install an electric underfloor heating system

  • Optimal comfort. Electric radiant floor heating is heating the floor area evenly and thoroughly. The system provides a more comfortable living since the most common problem with the cold feet and dry air are now eliminated. The system is not blowing heated air full of dust as forced air systems, or generate concentrated heating such as radiators. Radiant heating warms the body directly from the floor up, due to an ideal heat pattern. It feels warmer at least 6-8 degrees than forced air. Other systems, due to convective heat, warm the air, which rises to the ceiling and resulting in reduced comfort.
  • Reliable. Once installed, you are set. There is no maintenance. There are no water pipes involved, which can rupture and leak.
  • Simple and quiet. Electric radiant floor heating is not a complex system; it just requires a heating mat, a floor temperature sensor, a conduit, and a thermostat. Since there are no moving parts, such as fans, they do not generate any noise or drafts.
  • Cleaner. As they produce minimal air movement and dust particles floating around, they are ideal for people suffering from allergies and asthma. It helps to eliminate mold and mildew in bathrooms and showers – moisture at the floor level is reduced.
  • Low energy consumption. Due to an even heat distribution from the floor up and precise temperature control, average room temperature can be reduced by a few degrees, which lowers energy losses over 10%. The system is as or more affordable to install than other systems.
  • Flexible installation. The electric heating system is the flexible system that can be installed in homes, offices, cabins, workshops, and any dwelling or room, where individual room heating is needed. It can be used with any floor type. These systems are ideal for the local installation of small areas, such as bathrooms, kitchens, garages, basements, and offices. The system is easy to install, plus it is invisible and doesn’t occupy floor space, such as radiators, for example. The heating mat is thin, so it doesn’t increase the floor level much. Also, there are no ducts.
  • Long-lasting. Once installed correctly, you can forget about it. It will heat as long as you own the house. Some manufacturers provide warranties of over 25 years. They are also maintenance-free; there are no dirty filters to change.

Disadvantages

  • Higher cost. Due to the higher electric rate, the operation cost is higher, primarily when the system is used in the whole house. While they are recommended for installation when building a house, it is time-consuming and expensive to lay the radiant system during a remodel.
  • Longer installation time. Once you apply cement on top of the electric radiant floor mat, it takes time before it completely dries, floor covering to set properly, and the system to be ready for use.
  • Increased floor height. With the installation of the radiant heating system, you can expect to see an increase in the floor height.
  • No cooling. Electric floor radiant systems are built only for heating and cannot provide cooling. That means you have to use another piece of the HVAC equipment.
  • Heat loss. There is potential for significant heat loss into the ground unless the floor slab is insulated correctly.
  • Hard to troubleshoot. As they are installed underneath the wood or concrete flooring, it can be hard to locate the problem and fix it.

Traditional heating systems vs. Radiant floor heating

A traditional heating system, such as the forced-air type, heats the air directly (by blowing the warm air through the ducts and into the room), which then warms up the people in that room.

Radiant floor heating works by directly warming the people, utilizing the floor as one massive radiator.

Installation tips

Electric radiant floor heatingElectric radiant floor heating
  • Floor area that needs to be heated should be clean, dry, and flat. Make sure there are no sharp objects that can damage the electric cable (mat).
  • Layout the heating mat using as few turns as possible.
  • Heating mats cannot be overlapped, folded, crossed over…
  • Do not cut the heating element (cable).
  • If you have to, cut the mesh with scissors only.
  • Maintain the recommended space between heating cables if you have to route around an object.
  • Maintain the recommended distance between the heating cable and other objects.
  • Once the heating cable, connecting lead and a sensor are laid out, apply a thin coat of self-leveling mortar, but first, make sure those elements do not cross each other.
  • The lead wire must not come in contact with the heating cable.
  • The floor sensor must be placed according to the instructions; it should be installed directly on the subfloor, or inside the sensor conduit and embedded in a shallow channel in the floor.
  • The sensor wire may not cross over lead wire and heating cable.
  • Position the floor sensor between loops of cable (should not touch it). It should not be exposed to other sources of heat or cold.
  • Check the resistance of the sensor to see if it matches the specified values. Replace it if it doesn’t.
  • Make sure that the heat output is suitable for the floor covering.
  • The thermostat and mat require XX amps (depends on the manufacturer) dedicated power supply.
  • The thermostat should be installed on the wall, away from the heating source, sun, or windows. Some experts recommend that a thermostat should be installed at least 4 ft, away from bathtubs and shower cabins.
  • To prevent the failure, take the resistance readings before, during, and after installation, which should be per instructions.
  • The recommendation is to insulate the floor structure below the heating mat.
  • Confirm if the heating mat you are installing is compatible with the floor and subfloor types.

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Tools required

  • Multimeter
  • Measuring tape
  • Hammer
  • Wire strips
  • Screwdriver
  • Scissors
  • Chisel (if needed)

Before installation, it is important to read the installation manual and then plan the heating mat layout.

The electric radiant heat mat can function properly only if the flooring is in direct contact with the thinset mortar or cement in which the mat is installed.

Except for the heating mats, there are also other types, such as the heating cable, in-slab cable, and foil system.

Sizing tips

Sizing an electric heating mat doesn’t require any special calculators. You just have to measure the area of the room that needs to be heated.

For example, if the size of the room is 3m (9ft) in length and 3m (9ft) in width, the area is 9m2 (81sq ft). Now use this area and match with the available mat sizes. Exclude the area of objects that are occupied by objects such as showers, tubs, and kitchen cabinets.

3 common problems and solutions

Problem: Floor doesn’t heat up

Solution: Make sure there is power at the controller; a thermostat is set and working correctly, so as the sensor, the heating mat is correctly connected with the thermostat, and the heating mat is not damaged.

Problem: Floor is not getting warm enough

Solution: Make sure a thermostat is set correctly, and the floor sensor is not too close to the heating mat.

Problem: Floor is heated non-stop

Solution: Make sure that the thermostat is set correctly, and the floor sensor is connected with no interruption.

Conclusion

Electric radiant floor heating is an easy and energy-efficient way to warm your house and provide great comfort and long-lasting solution. The heat is distributed evenly that moves from the floor upwards, heating the body directly. As it produces gentle upward air movement, people suffering from allergies are not affected as with the air-forced heating systems. As the average room temperature can be reduced by a few degrees, the energy consumption is minimal.

Due to the flexible installation and variety of options, the electric floor heaters can be used for individual rooms (best), even the whole house, in new homes or while remodeling, and is compatible with any floor type.

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