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My home in NJ, USA uses has gas-fired hot water radiators for heat. I am renovating the bathroom and will be adding underfloor heat. The bathroom has a radiator that I'd like to eliminate.

I don't know much about underfloor heat and my question is: is it mainly to feel nice on your feet or can it be used to heat the room? Can I eliminate one radiator if I add electric underfloor heat?

The bathroom has finished, heated space on 5 out of six sides. Three walls, the floor and the ceiling all adjoin heated space. Only one wall faces outside. The heating zone has 9 radiators on it, I'd be eliminating about 10% of its capacity by removing one radiator but the new bathroom thermostat would be set to the same temperature as the rest of the house.

If there is something I should read, or someone I should consult with before doing this I'd be happy to be pointed in that direction.

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  • Have heard that infloor heat is very nice, warm feet equals a warm body. Heat also rises so it should heat a room. Think some places only have in floor heating. Insulation for the outside wall should be good or better. Most infloor heating is usually by hot water, I think, not sure if electric would not cost more to heat. NY state is planning to go all electric though.
    – crip659
    May 8 at 19:02
  • I looked into converting the radiator to underfloor hydronic but it's complicated and expensive. I'm not fully versed but apparently requires a different circulator and its own zone, thus its own pipe circuit run to the basement. And specialized knowledge to install.
    – jay613
    May 8 at 19:17
  • can be done using a thermostatic valve, but if you have little idea get a plumber.
    – Solar Mike
    May 8 at 19:33

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is it mainly to feel nice on your feet or can it be used to heat the room?

It is used to heat the room. How it feels depends on how well the building is insulated.

If it is well insulated, then the underfloor heating only has to heat a little bit, so it will feel barely warm. Still better than cold tile, but not by much. If the building is badly insulated, the underfloor heating will have to work at a higher temperature to heat the room, so it will feel warmer. It's pleasant, but it's a sign you're wasting money.

I installed hydronic underfloor heating in the house. It's well insulated, so in the living room, the floor doesn't feel warm, just "less cold". I put more pipe in the bathroom and adjusted the flow so the bathroom floor does feel warmer. Of course it only feels warmer when the heating actually runs... which only happens when it's pretty cold outside and not sunny.

I set a different temperature for the day and night, so the heating system tends to wake up about an hour before I do, and the bathroom is warm in the morning.

I wouldn't recommend installing a hydronic system in your bathroom. First, because you need to run pipes and put a slab around them, which is quite a lot of effort, and it will raise your floor, adding an annoying step. Second, hydronic needs low temperature water, 25-30°C, so if your radiators run on higher temperature like 50°C, you need a mixing valve, a circulator, something to control it... It's a big mess for just one room.

If you want to install electric underfloor heating:

It's better to put some insulation under it so the heat goes where you want (ie, up). If your floor is already insulated, no problem. It's better to use tile because that transmits heat better, but that's the standard for bathrooms so no problem. And unlike a hydronic system which has quite a lot of mass due to the slab, the electric ones are quite thin, so it should heat quicker. It should be possible to put a timer on it to start it a little bit before the morning shower, so you find the floor pleasantly warm.

Unlike a radiator, it won't warm your towel though.

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  • Tile or other hard flooring is appropriate. Carpet acts as a nice insulator to keep a heated floor from heating the rest of the room.
    – FreeMan
    May 9 at 13:17
  • Yeah, and carpet in a bathroom would be... hmmm...
    – bobflux
    May 9 at 13:20
  • 1
    @bobflux tell that to every B&B in England :-p...
    – jay613
    May 14 at 10:05

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