Radiant floor Heating - Pex, etc.

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by chuck b, Feb 12, 2011.

  1. chuck b

    chuck b sea-bee

    Messages:
    75
    Location:
    levering, michigan
    Have a small 650 sq. ft. northern Michigan cottage. Remodelling the kitchen which leaves no room for electric baseboard heaters in the area as the kitchen cabinets are a "U" shaped configuration.

    Have looked into electrical wire type radiant heat and understand that although they warm the floor and your feet, they offer poor warming of the air above the floor.

    Does the water-filled version, e.g. Pex Tubing offer a more effective way of warming the air above the floor, and could or should they be "blown out and drained" as the cabin is seasonal and not used during the winter months (I drain the water system, water heater, etc)?

    Or can some sort of electrical baseboard heats be installed at floor level say in the kick panel area at the bottom of the kitchen cabinets practically?

    Thanks.
  2. Stormrider49

    Stormrider49 New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    Nevada
    There are electric toe kick heaters available. King, Broan, and Myson all come to mind.
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,937
    Location:
    New England
    A boiler and the pex can be filled with an antifreeze solution specifically made for radiant systems...If so, then you wouldn't need to drain it. Adding antifreeze to a boiler decreases its ability to transfer heat, so you need to take that into account when deciding how much and where you need the tubing placed. You need to do a heat load analysis and then put in enough tubing to provide the proper heat transfer. Any radiant system does more in heating you than the air, but it does provide a very comfortable environment. Often, you'll end up comfortable at a lower air temp. Warm feet is a really nice thing in the winter! Note, radiant has a lot of mass to typically heat up, and you may want to include a remote controlled thermostat that you could call, or if you have internet, address by the internet to start warming before you get there.
  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,922
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Kitchens generally don't need a lot of heat. The appliances throw off a fair bit of heat as it is. You will probably find that electric in-floor heat is adequate. Toss a toe-kick heater under the sink for good measure and call it done.

    I priced out hydronic in-floor heating when I built my house and opted for electric instead.
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,937
    Location:
    New England
    The great NW Ontario probably has very economical electric rates with their large hydro-electric supplies...most places gas is much more economical. Electrical heating mats are generally limited to about 11W per sq ft. (about 35BTU). So, it is critical to determine how much heat you need before you go ahead. You can get more out of hydronic.
  6. chuck b

    chuck b sea-bee

    Messages:
    75
    Location:
    levering, michigan
    Thanks

    THANKS BIG HELP! I researched the Myson, Broan and know that they will be the solution to my problems. Many thanks. Expecting that they will not pose a fire hazard or they would be off the market, and are well insulated for such a small space (cabinet toe kick pocketed area).

  7. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,922
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    What I pay for electricity does not factor into my advice. Truth be told, I heat with wood and have a natural gas forced air furnace and gas water heater. I could have tied in-floor hydronics into the existing DHW system but I chose electric. As I said, kitchens don't generally need a lot of heat.
  8. Electric warmth will suffice. Electric floor heating.

    The comment about kitchens and not needing a whole lot of heating there is accurate.

    The OP remarked: "... understand that although they warm the floor and your feet, they offer poor warming of the air above the floor..." which is close, but a bit off the mark.

    Read more about floor warming systems to know that it is OK to have toasty toes and not have the very warmest air, in the first place. But THIS is just one segment of floor in a heated house, so you already have warm air moving around in the house by convection currents. And it's a kitchen, with appliances using power and with base cabinets against the walls, not bare walls. It's not as if it had a patio door. It's a kitchen. The warmest room in the house.

    Beside, as mentioned previously in this post and others, you already have whole-house heating so you do not have to concern yourself with the "air" near the floor being a degree warmer or cooler. IF your ENTIRE house were to be heated with electric cables, the discussion would deal with a number of other important subjects. THIS is just a kitchen floor in a heated house.

    ANyone who has ever written that electric heating cables "only warm" and "don't heat" is avoiding the technical analysis. It's all about power. Watts, watt-hours, kilowatthours, etc. There is a perfect correlation: more power = more heat. Although every engineer will agree that it's all about power, many of them fall into the mental trap of saying electric "doesn't really" heat the house, but only warms it. Duh. Electric systems produce heat. Analyze that and let go of the phraseology about "not really heating".

    Go ahead and put in a large (long) 230V cable, and let a thermostat do the automatic calculating to lower the amperage to give you the slow heat you want or to give you maximum warmup in the fastest time possible. The cost is pretty much the same for a cable that can consume more power. The real cost is the time to figure things out and then install it.



    Hope this helps.
  9. chuck b

    chuck b sea-bee

    Messages:
    75
    Location:
    levering, michigan
    Thaks for the Reply!

    Thank you for your lengthy and knowledgeable reply. All made perfect sense. Appreciate it!

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