Radiant Flooring Questions on Two Projects

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Posted by: from Toronto
3/21/2013 at 3:01:32 PM

Hi, I am planning two projects and considering radiant heating via cable in concrete as the way to heat both.

1) a 18 x 12 backyard studio for my wife to teach yoga in.

2) turning a 19 x 11 basement garage into a family room.

I contacted Warm up and Thermawire and they both recommend cable, attached to the concrete mesh, and embedded in the concrete slab. I am getting quotes for the concrete work and now need to find an electrician or contractor to work with the cable / thermostats and make sure they are installed properly.

The cable these two companies are suggesting is here:

My question is two-fold, does this sound like a viable heating solution for these two rooms and is there anywhere in the Greater Toronto area where I could see this type of heating in action? I have read about it online and radiant heating is kind of a "buzzword" right now, but is it really cost effective and satisfying when it's done? I know the install is more expensive but what about afterwards - will this cable satisfy my heating demands? Both areas, backyard studio and basement family room will be well-insulated.

Thank you for any tips, thoughts, or experience.

Robert in Etobicoke

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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time3/21/2013 at 4:22:04 PM

Electric heating is the worst, most expensive heating solution for large areas. I would not recommend it unless you don't mind paying dearly for power.

Imagine turning your oven on for hours on end with the door open, during any paying cycle of the day, and you could calculate what it would cost to run it.

Warm water, however, is a much better solution circulated through pipes in the floor and heated by gas. Very efficient and long life...

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Robert in Toronto
Date/Time3/21/2013 at 4:54:17 PM

Thanks, Robert, for your response.

I hear what you are saying with your oven analogy but unfortunately the backyard studio will be around 80 ft behind the house so I believe that's why the electric cable has been recommended. Also, the cost of a new furnace would have to be factored into it. Doesn't the concrete slab hold the heat for a little while once it's been heated up? Isn't that the principle behind radiant heating? I'm new to this system of heating so I'm really learning as I go. Also, I've been told that there is some maintenance with the hydronic system as opposed to the cable, once installed, being maintenance-free.

As I said, these are things I've been told - being in the field and with your own experiences, you may feel differently. If so, please elaborate.



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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time3/21/2013 at 5:15:01 PM

I didn't see that the studio was going to be away from the home, sorry. In that case, electricity is the cheapest answer for a quick solution (unless you go solar).

The concrete will certainly hold the heat but also will be fighting the cold from below so the slab must be insulated and isolated from direct ground contact in order to be efficient.

If you can use 3-4 zones to allow you to fully control the heating patterns to allow minimum consumption during the peak hours then 100% off peak you will save great amounts of electricity costs. Also, use ceiling fans to keep the warm air on the floors.

I have helped design rooms like this before with energy management and have came up with some great variations in electricity demands which really show gains and losses.

Over-insulate the walls and ceilings (not base code requirements) and get air flow to optimise the rooms' temperatures. You can also add exterior monitors that will ensure if the outside temps vary, the inside reacts properly as well.

The insulation will also help keep the building cool in the summer heat.

If you use a closed circuit liquid system, the maintenance should be zero, unless plain water is used and there are no reserve auto feed storage replenishment system integrated.

Hope this helps some.

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Date/Time3/21/2013 at 6:17:50 PM

Hi Robert,

I have a great deal of experiance with additions, heating of all kinds, new insulation products and more.

I have been building and renovating commercial and residential projects for over twenty years. Form down town Toronto to Niagara Falls.

After reading your post and your reply reply to Robert from Electrolight, mentioning the location of the studio. I'll throw my two cents in for you.

The studio being located where it is has two options that will be effective. One install natural gas radiant heaters. This is the route I would go if you have the option of running a natural gas line out to the studio.

If not, I would put in four electric baseboard heaters.

Prior to either insulate the cieling with R-10 Dow styrafoam. Then use Fiberglass Pink R-30 at least above it in the attic. Install R-10 Dow styrafoam on the inside of the exterior sheathing. Then using red Tuc tape seal every joint cieling and walls. This will provide an air tight seal in the studio. Then add a layer of standard insulation in the framed walls. At least an R-20.

On the concrete floor I always install a form of sub floor. I like DRI CORE 2'x2' panels. These have a thick corrugated plastic backing that sits against the concrete. Then the surface is a grooved wood layer. The peices tap into each other, this provides a moisture barrier, and warms the floor. I would then install a grade 4 or better wood laminate floor. Grade three is standard for residential, but if shoes are being worn in the yoga classes, then you want a tougher finish over the laminate.

If you go this route it will be comfortable and warm. And have reasonable heating costs associated with it.

Go the same route in your basement garage.

Good luck with your project.

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Date/Time3/22/2013 at 9:43:10 AM

Hello Robert,

My name is Steve, with Browns Home Htg. & A/C. Heating with electrical source heating may be a more expensive solution over all. Heating with hot water can be much more economical In-Floor heating with water, or we have a baseboard hot water alternative. These emitters are called RESCOM rads manufactured in our Pickering Ont. facility.

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Date/Time3/25/2013 at 11:51:42 PM

Radiant heating is always more cost effective than forced air. But seeing all the comments, my decision would be to opt out from water. The reasons being: winter and the associated maintenance that comes with that system, draining, bleeding etc. plus the additional cost of a boiler. Stay with cable. Again, my opinion.

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Robert in Toronto
Date/Time3/28/2013 at 10:38:05 AM

Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my questions. I will follow up as the project gets closer, but you have all helped from different angles to allow me to see the issues clearer.



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