Share this article

print logo


. I stayed in a hotel that had electric radiant floor heat in the bathroom and dressing area. It felt heavenly. Can this type of heating be installed in a house and can it be used under carpeting? -- Beth H.

Dear Beth: Electric radiant floor heating has been used in existing and new home construction for many years. Although it is most often installed under tile or other solid flooring, some systems are designed to be laid underneath carpeting. This makes installation very simple in any home.

As you noticed, electric radiant floor heat it is one of the most comfortable heating methods available for two reasons.

First, the heat is down near the floor where you are. With forced air heating, the warmest air often ends up stagnating near the ceiling.

Second, this is radiant heat which warms you similar to standing in the bright sun on a cold winter day. If you install it in the rooms your family uses most often, you should be able to set your regular furnace thermostat lower and still be comfortable at a lower room air temperature. This will cut your utility bills.

There are several designs of electric floor radiant heating systems. Some are best in new construction under tile while others are designed to be placed between the carpet pad and the carpeting. Some are sold in color-coded kit form including the wiring, heating elements (pads/wires) and wall thermostat.

Most systems can be powered by either standard 120 or 240 volts so special wiring is not needed. The simplest control is a standard on-off thermostat. For the best comfort, digital thermostats are available that sense both floor and air temperatures to precisely control the amount and timing of the heat. A common system for tile floors uses heating cable. The manufacturers can advise you about how much cable is needed to crisscross on the floor.

A thin layer of thinset is spread over this and the tile is applied. Some cable can also be installed between the floor joists from the basement below. Another option is a fiberglass mesh with the heating cable already woven through it. This makes installation much simpler. The mesh and cable is only 1/8 -inch thick so it easily fits under tile, stone or hardwood floors. There are several options for under-carpet applications.

In one, a fine heating element is sandwiched between several layers of aluminum foil laminate. It is only 1/1 6-inch thick and is placed over the carpet padding. Another design for use under carpeting, hardwood or floating floors, uses a mesh screen to create the heat. The 120 or 240 house voltage is stepped down to a safe low-voltage which actually flows through the heating screen.

Write for (instantly download -- Update Bulletin No. 888 -- buyer's guide of nine electric warm floor system manufacturers listing design types, sizes/heat outputs, common applications, comfort controls, and installation instructions. Please include $3.00 and a business-size SASE. James Dulley, Newspaper Name, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244.