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How Much Heat Will An Underfloor Heat Transfer Plate Emit?

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AlaskaDick
AlaskaDick Member Posts: 17

I have easily spent 50 hours going through Internet posts here (including some spirited discussions from 20 years ago) and elsewhere, Siegenthaler’s book, and seller’s information. A question that I’m still not comfortable that I can answer is how much heat I can reasonably expect to emit into a room from underfloor ½” PEX with heat transfer plates.

I found that there is pretty much universal agreement that heat transfer plates are desirable, if not necessary, but little is said about the variation in the style of plates or how their performance compares beyond extrusions being better than .016” stampings and a comparison between 4" x 1/16" extruded and 1/32" x 8" stamped plates. Some of the seller's claims can only be described as remarkable. The range of commercially available aluminum heat transfer plates that I have found for use with ½” PEX include –

  • .062” thick extrusions, 3-3/8” to 6” wide
  • .025” thick stampings, 6” wide
  • Rauplate. .032” thick, 8” wide with two runs of PEX, one on each side
  • .016” thick stampings, around 4” wide

According to the trial version of LoopCad, my worst case room heat loss is 27 BtuH in the living room. Room loses for about another 25% of the house is at 22 BtuH and 13 BtuH is the lowest room loss.

Floors are 1-1/8” plywood with plastic laminate, so about R1.9. Also according to LoopCad, on a -14 degree design day the worst case room would require an average floor surface temperature of 85 degrees with water temperature of 152 degrees. This is with 3-1/2" by 1/16" plates. Because of striping, maintaining an 85 degree average floor temperature could actually result in peak floor temperatures closer to 90 degrees.

I plan on 8” tube spacing and probably using a combination of plate styles, selected based on the room heat loss and ability of the plates to emit heat into the room. If I can’t get the needed heat into the living room I’ll supplement the in-floor heat by leaving in some of the old baseboard units operating at a lower water temperature, a panel radiator, or break out an electric radiator on the coldest days. I don’t really want to do any of these.

Can anyone suggest some good numbers to work from?

Comments

  • DCContrarian
    DCContrarian Member Posts: 217
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    "The amount 0f heat you can transfer into a space from a radiant surface, floor, wall, or ceiling depends on the temperature difference, period."

    This is so important that it's worth saying twice. It seems so obvious, but it wasn't to me, it took me almost 25 years to figure it out.

    Bearing that in mind, I would like to recommend a different way of looking at designing your heat delivery. First, keep in mind that the entire purpose of a heating system is comfort (once you make sure the pipes don't freeze, I guess.) Sure you want it to be efficient, but the reason you're doing something more elaborate than a fire in the corner is for comfort.

    In particular, floor heat is a very expensive way of heating your home. So if you're going to that trouble, design it to deliver the maximum comfort. In particular, do not assume that the design that delivers the maximum comfort will be the same one that heats your house on the design day. It almost certainly won't be.

    Decide what floor temperature gives the comfort you want, for most people it's about 80 to 85F. Size your system so that on just about every day of the winter the floor can be at that temperature without the house overheating. Then add supplemental heat, whether it's radiators or convectors or whatever, for the coldest days.

    If you try to size your floor to meet your heating design temperature — the 99th percentile temperature — with a temperature that is comfortable to walk on, most of the time in the winter the floor is going to be cool to the touch.

    Mad Dog_2Albany Chris
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,157
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    How Much Heat Will An Underfloor Heat Transfer Plate Emit?

    is the question, and I hate to state the obvious, but in my opinion it will transfer about one half as much as two heat transfer plates.

    I like to look at things logically with an eye for accuracy. And I believe that @hot_rod may have the best answer, but a bit longwinded.

    Hope this helps.

    Mr.Ed

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

    JMWHVAC
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
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    unless you have loads in the low teens, the floor should always feel slightly warmer than ambient temperature

    A room with a 10 btu/ ft load would only need a 75 degree floor temperature. That is at design condition!

    If the entire home has those low btu requirements, I don’t know that radiant floors will get you the “warm toes”experience Go with radiant walls or ceiling. Or panel rads,

    prevent overheating by reducing the SWT with reset controls,

    Any time the floor surface is 85 heat will be emitted. Up until the space is 85f

    Hot goes goes to cold, always Another Holohan parable

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Mad Dog_2
  • AlaskaDick
    AlaskaDick Member Posts: 17
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    Thanks for the comments.

    Hotrod - I think you meant to include the photos in this post, I found them when I was doing a search today. I hadn't seen them before but it is good information. It appears that these were the ones that I couldn't see in some of your old posts because they had been deleted.

    "The amount of heat you can transfer into a space from a radiant surface, floor, wall, or ceiling depends on the temperature difference, period." Yes. In a case like mine where it is questionable whether enough heat can be passed through the subfloor, not only the average heat, but limiting the maximum localized heat in the stripes becomes important.

    I decided to take a fresh look at things. The 1-1/8" subfloor is sound plywood that I installed when I did a major remodel and replaced all the subfloor 23 years ago. I see that 1-1/8 plywood is used in the commercial radiant panels, so why couldn't I do the same with my 1-1/8" subfloor? With some more research I found that Hotrod and Siegenthaler have both mentioned this scheme. Instead of putting the PEX and plates under the floor I'm looking at the option routing grooves in the 1-1/8" flooring and putting the PEX and heat plates on top.

    The disadvantage is that I will have to remove, and possible scrap the current floating floor in about half the house. I know what's involved in replacing it - I was the one who installed it. I have two rooms in which the laminate hasn't yet replaced carpet so they can be a test bed.

    Advantages are that I will have to buy less aluminum (with freight to Alaska) and half as much fiberglass insulation. I will also have a more control over tube spacing as I won't have to deal with joist spacing and should be able to keep the floor temperature more consistent in my worst case room to slightly raise the average temperature. A major advantage is that the installation would be above floor instead of in a 18" to 24" crawlspace.

    Plan B is starting to look really attractive, especially the part about avoiding a couple of weeks of work of my back in the crawl space.

  • DCContrarian
    DCContrarian Member Posts: 217
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    "A room with a 10 btu/ ft load would only need a 75 degree floor temperature. That is at design condition! If the entire home has those low btu requirements, I don’t know that radiant floors will get you the “warm toes”experience"

    I think we're making the same point.

    Note that you're only at design condition for 1% of the time, 99% of the time you're below it.

    10 BTU/sf for new construction built to the current energy code is completely reasonable. Of course it depends on your climate.

    I would argue that the solution is to limit the square footage of heated floor. Only do the floors you're likely to be barefoot on, ie the bathrooms. Size them so that on an average winter day they can be on full blast. Then install a radiator or even — gasp! — a heat pump* to keep you warm at 3AM on that 99% day. Use a two-stage thermostat with the floors as stage 1 so the floors always come on first and the other heat only comes on if the floors aren't enough.

    *(My current recommendation is to size a heat pump and ductwork for your cooling load, then add hydronics strategically to cover the difference between what the heat pump can deliver in heating mode and your heating load. Then prioritize the hydronics with a two-stage thermostat so mostly you get that sweet hydronic heat.)

  • AlaskaDick
    AlaskaDick Member Posts: 17
    edited April 29
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    I'm replacing 23-year old cast iron boiler and baseboards so I can replace it on my schedule rather than the boiler's. Decided to go with a mod-con and radiant for several reasons, including that the utility says they are going to have to start supplementing gas from local wells with gas shipped in on boats by 2027. Not ready for a heat pump yet, but radiant will give me that option in the future. Design temperature is -14, but I've seen colder than -20 a few times. Something that may skew the heat loss calculation is that when the temperature is zero or below it is usually dead calm. An open window and a fan takes care of cooling except on the hottest (about 80 degree) day. The house is fairly tight and well insulated. I did a lot of work a few years ago to get a 5-star rating. The reason my problem room needs so much heat is because two of its walls are exterior and there are quite a few windows. They are good windows, but they are still windows. Heavy drapes would help in lieu of the honeycomb mini-blinds, but I hate drapes. I may leave in some of the baseboards to cut in as supplemental heating for at least for the first winter to see how well the system performs. I'm not so much looking for a warm floor, but to get rid of a drafty feeling in some parts of the house (room air, not the floors) when the air temperature is 72 degrees.

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
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    It is a messy time consuming job, but certainly you could groove the 1-1/8" plywood. Is it true plywood not wafer type board?

    I would do a 3/8" tube 6" on center. What flooring will go back over the "on top" system. You would need to deal with the .050 thickness of the plate, even if you routered in a U fin. The tighter the tube spacing, the lower the supply water required and that helps a lot with heat pump options. the lower the SWT the higher the COP.

    I/m not sure if there is a 3/8 U fin, unless you go with the thin gauge flashing type plates. But those would need a thin wood floor nailed over them to keep then from moving and making noise.

    The pic on the right is Warmboard, 12" oc

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
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    Maybe I misread this statement you posted. No way you can maintain a 85 floor temperature across the heating season? Low load rooms would have a small portion of the room as a radiant panel, that is not practical?

    Decide what floor temperature gives the comfort you want, for most people it's about 80 to 85F. Size your system so that on just about every day of the winter the floor can be at that temperature without the house overheating. Then add supplemental heat, whether it's radiators or convectors or whatever, for the coldest days.

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • AlaskaDick
    AlaskaDick Member Posts: 17
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    Yes, real plywood. My current thinking is to top it with 1/4" plywood. That would actually take the floor to it's original height when it had a low pile carpeting (I went to laminate to accommodate my wife's wheelchair) and would give a flatter surface for the laminate. One seller offers 6" x 22 gauge/.025". I was thinking 8" centers. What do you think of that for my worst room and probably narrower plates or wider spacing for the less demanding rooms? I'm open to 3/8" tube, but it looks like the choices for heat transfer plates for that size is pretty limited.

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
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    No problem getting 1/2" tube to 8 or even 6" spacing. The A pex seems to be the easiest. Although I hear PERT is very easy to work.

    Yes the spacing could vary based on rooms with higher loads. LoopCAD should be able to allow you to play with spacing and see how SWT is changed?

    .025 you could bury below the 1/4 ply without furring around all the plates. The extruded plates would be too thick to just plywood over without recessing them.

    Do all you can to keep the maximum SWT below 120F, if you have a HP in your future.

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • DCContrarian
    DCContrarian Member Posts: 217
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    OK, I'm going to try and explain. For the purpose of illustration, imagine a house in the land of my birth, Suffolk County, MA. Heating design temperature is 12F, cooling design temperature is 88F. The coldest month of the year is January, where average temperature is 29F with an average high of 36F and an average low of 23F. Imagine this house is 3,000 square feet, it needs 15 BTU/SF/hour at design temperature to hold 70F indoors, or 45,000 BTU/hr.

    I'm going to throw out two straw men before my final proposal. The first straw man is to put heating under all the floors in the house. Ignoring for a moment the feasibility of putting heating under 100% of the flooring, to get 15 BTU/hr/SF you need a floor temperature 7.5F above room temperature, or 77.5F when room temperature is 70F. That heating system would be very nice — silent and invisible, like it's not there at all. (That's the way heated ceilings are, BTW). But it would also be really expensive, and you wouldn't feel anything, and you might say you want heated floors you can feel.

    Straw man two would be to say I want floors I can feel, let's heat them up to 85F. At 85F they're going to put out 30 BTU/hr/sf, so to get 45,000 BTU/hr you only need 1500 SF of heating. Sounds good. But they're only going to be 85F when it's 12F outside, and that's only 1% of the year. On a typical January day, you only need 26K BTU/hr during the day when it's 29F out, and 36K BTU/hr at night when it's 23F. That works out to 17 BTU/hr/sf and a floor temperature of 78.5F during the day, and 24 BTU/hr/sf and a floor temperature of 82F at night. That daytime temperature is going to be right on the edge of perceptibility.

    My proposal would be to shrink the heated floor area even further so that it can run more of the time at its hottest. Let's say we do 800 square feet of heated floor, at 85F and 30 BTU/hr/sf that's capable of 24K BTU/hr. The heating load of the entire house is 24K at 39F, so that floor can run at 100% for basically the entire month of January without overheating the house. At a floor temperature of 80F and 20 BTU/hr/SF that floor puts out 16K BTU/hr, which is the heating load when it's 49F, so the floor can be 80F or above for almost the entire winter without overheating the house.

    But that floor is only capable of 24K when it's on 100%, so you need to come up with another 21K for times when it's below 39F out. There's lots of ways to do that. One way: this house is going to have air conditioning, summer design temp is 88F. So there's 58F of heating and maybe 13F of sensible cooling, throw in latent, solar gains and occupant gains, this house is probably going to have a 2.5-ton HVAC. I like the Mitsubishi M-series, something like this:

    https://ashp.neep.org/#!/product/34583/7/25000/95/7500/0///0

    which has a maximum heat output of 32K BTU/hr at 5F, it could pick up the rest of the heat you need.

    But Massachusetts has really high electricity prices, and you're already installing a boiler, so my recommendation would be to get all of your heat from the boiler. One way would be to put a hydronic coil in the ductwork because you're installing ductwork too. Another would be to install radiators, and a third would be to install more hydronic loops.

    But the key to making this work — always having those warm floors — is blocking the other heat source, whatever it is, from coming on unless the heated floors are on 100% and you still need more heat. That's where the two-stage thermostat comes in. This guarantees that in mild weather the heated floor is the only source of heat and can run full out.

    The other key is being strategic about how you place those heated floors, places where you're likely to be barefoot but also spread around the house enough so it can be the only source of heat in mild weather. Bathrooms are a good place to start.

  • AlaskaDick
    AlaskaDick Member Posts: 17
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    Thanks for everyone's comments and suggestions and with helping me to think this through. To summarize where I am -

    For my problem room my goal will be to keep the floor temperature as consistent across the floor surface as possible, i.e., keep the hottest areas directly above the tube at the beginning of a circuit as close as practical to the coolest areas between the plates at the end of a circuit. This will allow the highest average floor temperature while avoiding uncomfortable hot spots.

    • Use tube spacing and wide heat transfer plates to keep striping to a minimum.
    • Use circuit length and flow to keep the delta t of the circuits relatively low so the average temperature of a circuit is kept close to the beginning and end temperatures of the circuit.
    • Start the circuits along the exterior walls where the temperature can be a bit warmer but where no one is likely to walk.
    • Put the tubing and heat transfer plates above the floor in routed grooves and take advantage of the (overbuilt) 1-1/8" plywood subfloor as a place to put it. This will give me a lot of flexibility in tube placement/spacing. It will also make the system more responsive by removing the plywood's mass and R-2 insulation value of it between between the tubing and floor surface.

    One question - I told my son, who is a remodeling contractor and has installed quite a few floating floors, that I planned on putting 1/4" plywood over the plates and tubes. He asked why he couldn't use a thin layer of floor leveler without plywood. This would be his first experience with this type of installation. My suspicion is that the leveler is pretty inflexible and the flexibility of the plates and the temperature changes would be lead to the leveler cracking. Any thoughts?

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
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    You can pour gypcrete to a feather thin edge. But I have never tried it over aluminum plates. I'd expect some hairline cracking, so the final flooring would want to be a floating type I suspect.

    Gyp would give you a small amount of mass, some fire and soundproofing if that matters. The psi of the mix has some effect also.

    One of the counterflow serpentine tube methods helps even out the temperature spread. A bit more complicated to lay out.

    The Uponor design guide shows some options.

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • AlaskaDick
    AlaskaDick Member Posts: 17
    edited June 3
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    I've done some experimenting using a mockup of my above floor heating system and thought I would share what I found.

    I will be routing grooves in the existing 1-1/8” plywood subfloor for above floor PEX. The information I was looking for was a performance comparison of .024” X 6” wide heat transfer plates to .016” X 4” plates. I had already ruled out an under floor installation because the subfloor is fairly thick for the amount of BTUs per SF that it will have to be emitted to keep up with the loss on a -14f design day. I had also ruled out extruded plates due to the greater difficulty of installation and cost.

    The mockup is 3’ long and 16” long. It is stacked up of 2” (R-10) of extruded polystyrene with ¾” of plywood with another ¾” of plywood cut into furring strips screwed down to allow grooves for the tubing. There are two, parallel 2’ long sections of aluminum heat transfer plate. The centers of the plates are spaced at 8”. One plate is omega style, .024” thick and 6 inches wide. The other is C style, .016” thick and 4” wide. ½” PEX is inserted in the plates. This is topped by ¼” plywood, screwed down, and .220” laminate flooring.

    Examples of the heat transfer plates. The wider one is painted, brown on one side, white on the other. The narrow plate is shiny mill finish on one side, shiny anodized blue on the other.

    Under the area not covered by the plates is .039 inch/1mm foam underlayment. My rationale for this is that it will act as a thin furring strip and prevent small waves in the floor where the ¼” plywood is pulled down tight by screws.

    Although it’s not in the mockup, there will be a layer of .039”/1mm foam underlayment between the ¼” plywood and laminate flooring.

    At the ends of the two lengths of ½” PEX tubing the flow is split by tees to keep the flow through both the same. The water source is a temporary connection into the recirculated DHW line going to the house. Temperature varies between 113 and 129 degrees as the water heater cycles on and off. Since my interest was relative performance rather than specific temperatures, the temperature swing isn’t a problem. The PEX is snug in the omega style plates and fairly loose in the C style plates.

    Out of curiosity, I put a thin bead of silicone caulk between the plate and PEX on the second foot of each transfer plate to see if it made any difference.

    There are six sensors in the mockup. On measures ambient air temperature, one is placed next to the PEX where it enters one of the plates, and each plate has two, placed at the inner edge and just under the plate. They are spaced at 6” and 18”. I've found the electronic thermometers to be pretty consistent - they are within .2 degrees of each other under 100 degrees and within one degree above that. Although they touch the plates (or for the entry sensor, the PEX) I’m not convinced the heat transfer to the sensors is optimal.

    Here is also a FLIR image take on the surface overlain on an "Xray" image of the plates.

    The FLIR image by itself.

    Location of the sensors under the edge of the plates all the relevant sensor temperatures at a point in time.

    What I’ve learned –

    The wider and thicker plates give a more consistent temperature across the surface. And, of course, the heated area is 33% wider. The narrower plates are hotter above the PEX, apparently because the heat isn’t being transferred through the plates as effectively.

    The thin layer of silicone caulk does make a difference. Where it is used, the sensor at the edge of the plate is about two degrees warmer than where it isn’t used, i.e., there is better heat transfer from the PEX to the plates. This is apparent from the sensors and the FLIR image for the wider plate, but less evident for the FLIR image for the narrower plate. It appears to be worth the extra effort and cost for the caulk for this type of installation.

    The omega style plates fit into a ¾” groove. The grooves for the C style plates needs to be about 1/16” wider.

    The temperature difference between the water in the PEX and the outer surface surprised me. Around 20 degrees.

    These dual electronic thermometers are dirt cheap off of Amazon. I power them with an extra 12vdc wall wart. I plan to incorporate several of them into the boiler room.

    I’ll need to pilot drill and countersink the holes for the 1” drywall screws in the ¼” plywood. If I don’t, the screws break when they try and make their own countersink.

    A question - The heat transfer plates will be clamped firmly under the ¼” plywood. Is there any reason to use staples/nails to hold them in place?

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
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    Are the two systems running at the same time? Or did you run each one from a cold start?

    With the bull headed tee it would be hard to know if both are getting the exact same flow rate?

    If you knew exact flow rate and delta T the output is simple to calculate 500 x flow X (deltaT)

    But certainly the more aluminum, the more surface area moving the heat energy. Isn't that the concept behind WarmBoard.

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • AlaskaDick
    AlaskaDick Member Posts: 17
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    Both sides are parallel through bull headed tees. I watched them from cold start, but they had been running for several days before I took the measurements that I posted. Exactly the same flow wasn't necessary for my purposes, but I made the lengths and fittings as close to identical as I could so I expect the flow to be pretty close between the two.

    Accurately measuring delta T of the water across the two feet of tubing with heat transfer plates is beyond the capability of the tools I have. The mockup was at the beginning of the DHW loop. Delta T for the entire 40 foot DHW loop is only 4-5 degrees. Before I break it down I want to make measurements of surface temperature at various points at right angles to the tubes, water temperature, and ambient temperature, just for the record. I don't have a mixing valve on the water heater. If I can get one installed before I break it down I'll recheck the temperatures when there is less of a temperature swing.

    I saw pretty much what I expected to, but there is enough contradictory and self-serving information out there that I wanted to see for myself before deciding how much to invest in heat transfer plates. There were a couple of things that I didn't expect - the temperature difference between the water and outside surface of the PEX and the effect that silicone caulk had on the temperatures of the plates.

  • DCContrarian
    DCContrarian Member Posts: 217
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    First, kudos for doing your own, hands-on research.

    The only question I have is about routing the subfloor, I would avoid that if at all possible. It's going to be a lot of work and hard to do a good job. You have to worry about keeping your lines straight, plus dealing with all of the dust and avoiding nails. Plus the routed areas will be only 1/2" thick, which is going to create weak spots in OSB. I'd be thinking instead about raising the floor by 5/8" and putting down rips of 5/8" subfloor between the tubing.

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
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    Are you talking about silicone in the grooves to get better pex contact? Or the plates to wood? Silicone in the groove can make a difference on thin aluminum plates that don't have a tight grip.

    Although it can be a very messy job.

    Get a cordless caulk gun if you plan on doing a lot of silicone work :)

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • AlaskaDick
    AlaskaDick Member Posts: 17
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    DCContrarian -

    Almost all of the grooves will run at right angles to the joists. The subfloor is 1-1/8" plywood, not OSB. It is screwed and glued to the joists, so screws can be moved if necessary. (I put the subfloor down myself during a remodel a number of years ago.) I'll use a wooden guide screwed to the subfloor for each groove to keep them straight. The returns will be done with a guide or radius attachment for the router.

    Agree that it will be messy and require some labor. The trade off is working under the floor in a crawl space that averages about 18" high beneath the joists. Raising the floor causes it's own set of challenges. I'm especially sensitive to transitions between floor height because my wife is in a wheel chair.

    hot_rod - Silicone between the aluminum and tubing. I found about a two degree difference in the heat transferred to both omega and C plates with silicone. It shouldn't be too messy above the floor but I wouldn't want to try it below a floor.

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
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    Silicone or not? It comes down to how much work you want to add to get a few % points of possible improvement? As long as the pex manufacturer approves the product, no harm I suppose.

    Silicone in thin aluminum plates when used below the joist was mainly to help eliminate the squeaking noise pex EVOH barrier tube could create as it slid around in the groove.

    At one point at a manufacturers seminar they suggested only fastening one side of the plate to the floor so they could expand without making the "oil can" popping noise! Crazy! it defeats the whole purpose of transfer plates.

    With thin aluminum plates, If you lock the plates in tightly in a floor build up, the expansion noise tends to go away.

    Under floor, not so much.

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Derheatmeister
    Derheatmeister Member Posts: 1,558
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    We have installed many different Radiant Infloor system i.e

    1. Dales Thermofin Plated stapleups from the underside/Crawlspace (Very Labor Intensive)
    2. Thermofin Radiant Ceilings (Very Labor Intensive)
    3. Staple down in gripcreate
    4. Concrete slab pours Elevated on Mesh/Rebar (Back Breaking)
    5. Roth Panels
    6. Climate Panel
    7. Climate Panel radiant walls

    As the years go by we leaned more towards the Climate Panel installs due to the ease of install,Quick response/Reaction time and great heat transfer !

    Uponor now has a product which is a light weight XPS panel system that is called Xpress Trak..We do not have any installs of this product yet !

    It does add approx. 5/8" to the floor vs. 1/2 " from the Climate panel and primary tubing spacing is 6" vs 7" on the Climate Panel..

    Here is a link to the submittal sheet which has limited information

    https://www.uponor.com/en-us/getsubmittalpdf/383996/standard/Uponor%C2%A0Submittal%C2%A0%7C%20Xpress%20Trak

    Hope this Helps.

    Richard.

  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,157
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    The statement you made about the silicone sealant… "The thin layer of silicone caulk does make a difference" made be think of something else. The three ways that heat moves are Conduction, Convection and Radiation. The silicone is doing some extra Conduction work in your test. What if you uses a different filler than silicone? I'm thinking something like the heat transfer compound you get with some Honeywell Aquastats for use in those 1/2" diameter well adaptors to fill the void between the inner wall of the well adaptor and the sensor on the control. I wonder if that compound would do a getter job, and if it does, is it available in a less expensive quantity like the caulk gun size tubes.

    I think of weird stuff sometimes.

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
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    Thermal grease, thermal paste, thermal adhesives. Whatever you choose, be sure it is compatible with the tubing and it's coatings.

    The tube manufacturers have been reluctant to give a thumbs up to any product until they test it.

    The silicone based products seem safe, it depends on what they blend in like zinc oxide, etc. If you ever welded galvanized pipe or tube you may know what zinc oxide smells like when heated, very toxic.

    We use a silicone transfer grease from Dow on our ultrasonic flow meter cuffs. Incredibly messy stuff to work with.

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • AlaskaDick
    AlaskaDick Member Posts: 17
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    Thanks again for all the comments and suggestions.

    Xpress track looks interesting. However, with most floor coverings I see that they they recommend 1/4" plywood or cement board on top of it. I'd have to raise the kitchen counters for the dishwasher to still fit. It's only 5/16" tubing, so more loops and manifold connections would be required. I couldn't find anything on the manufacturer's site giving thickness of the aluminum, just one individual on a blog saying it was .020 inches thick.

    The point of checking with the manufacture before using silicone caulk or similar is well taken.

    I first used thermal paste to put power transistors on heat sinks over 50 years ago and last used it a few months ago to install a a solid state relay. It's way to expensive and messy for this application.

    I came across an Ebay seller who advertises "12oz tube aluminum thermal conductive sealant" for use between PEX and heat transfer plates. In theory, aluminum in the mix should improve conductivity. I couldn't find anything else about it or similar products on the web. I wonder if it is a special product and how it performs? Cost is about 50% more than caulk. With one exception, descriptions of "aluminum" caulk say they are aluminum color or gray but don't say they contain aluminum. The only one I found that said it contained aluminum in a quick search was electrically conductive and cost over 30+ what standard caulk costs.

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
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    I suppose the price depends on what metal is blended and the % they use?

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • farmwi
    farmwi Member Posts: 19
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    Cheap, effective, space saving. I did it as an experiment.

    1st house, followed advise of experienced. Used a primary pumped system.
    After looking at my infrared camera, of heat with or without aluminum, either way the heat is right above the pex. Pex is cheaper than aluminum, so why bend or buy at higher $ per foot. Use pex at cents per foot. After experiencing high electric bills, changed it to a 2 pump multivalve system.

    What works and what didn't.
    After reading an article that suggested adding a gap between the tubes and the floor to increase air circulation and spread heat out I gave it a try. Heat camera seemed to suggest it spread the heat as well as aluminum.

    It would have been a lot of trouble to bend aluminum again. I also contemplated the risk to simplify tubing and eliminate balance devices. This was installed over a crawlspace, so leak would be not likely be expensive. Now 8 years on, I'd do it again, even over a living space. Used 3/8 pipe on sale, wouldn't do it again, bends easy, but lower flow. Thickness of 3/8 pex wall same as 1/2" so less heat get's through, more resistance. So will use 1/2.

    Used a single feed line and return line to an array. Creating a radiator like array, many parallel tubes. I used 4 tees to feed 2 pex for each 16" joist bay. So each stud bay had the equivalent of 4 pex tubes, 2 send, 2 return. (Drill 1 hole to return in the next bay to increase radius if tubing won't bend tight enough) This means the whole length of tube slightly less than 2x width of room with array and allowed to expand. Since all tubes are the same length, same number of elbows, flow is even. If your thinking one side of the room will be hot and one cold, think of a car radiator. Feed is in a top corner, and return in the opposite bottom corner. Same with floor layout. Thanks to a tenant, the house froze one time, with no loss of fittings or leaks in the heat system. Boiler preserved itself.
    Pex has narrower spacing. Insulation was added to the stud bay to reduce losses to crawlspace.

    So in the boiler area there is only 1 delivery and 1 return for each array.

    There is no expansion noise as there may be with aluminum fins.

    Pumping requirements are dramatically reduced. With so much parallel flow a 45w pump is adequate for the 1000 sq ft house, including DHW.

    Another money saving method is to eliminate all ferrous from the system. Then you can use the cheaper non oxygen barrier pipe. This is more important with more pex tubing.

    Will this work in this situation, IDK, I'm just putting it out there for anyone who might find it useful and can tolerate the risk of 15 psi on pex fittings out of sight/reach, or is/willing to test it for themselves.

    Also FWIW, boilers etc are in small sheds outside of the living areas for really easy maintenance on rentals keeping a small plumbing footprint is really beneficial.