Why do we sell selected hydronic radiant heating and plumbing products? Aren't there enough vendors already?
It is true that there are a lot of products on the market. All or most of them are really good and worthy of being sold. Unfortunately, it is the method that most vendors are using that is the problem. Too many layers of marketing and sales along with a desire by the big guys to "control the market" has made it difficult for the small contractor and "do it yourself" homeowner to get these products at reasonable prices. This all results in very high prices at all levels. Homeowners are denied the heating system that they want out of practicality. It just costs too much. Worse yet, often the system is compromised by these false economics. Instead of installing what is really needed, the buyer settles for a scaled down version that doesn't meet the requirements of comfort and efficiency. This is all so unnecessary. As I show people on a daily basis. Radiant heating can be comfortable, efficient, AND AFFORDABLE.
Aluminum Heat Transfer Plates. One of the most useful products in suspended radiant panel heating systems (floors, ceilings and walls) is the aluminum heat transfer plate. These are simple devices that are used to conduct heat energy off of the tubing and transfer it to the back surface of the floor ceiling or wall. They are used to enhance acceleration as well as improve over all heat output. They reduce or eliminate the incidence of "hot spots" on the surface of the floor over the tubing.
I have worked with the manufacturer of heat transfer plates for over 17 years. We've tried a whole lot of configurations, lengths, widths and thickness in order to find the best overall product. We wanted a product that would work underneath a floor, on top a floor in a sandwich construction and in walls and ceilings. It needed to do the job in terms of heat transfer, but we didn't want too much heat transfer. We found that large plates acted as a "heat sink" and pulled all of the energy off the tubing in just a very short distance. This left the remainder of the radiant panel pretty much tepid. We also wanted a product that was affordable.
The plate depicted below is one that I feel is the most attractive product for most radiant panel heating systems. This plate is sized for ˝ inch nominal tubing. I feel that ˝ inch tubing is the most practical size for 99 percent of the residential and small commercial applications. It has at least 80% more heat carrying capacity of 3/8-inch pipe, can practically serve up to a 350-foot loop and yet fits nicely in any 5/8-inch or thicker subfloor layer.
We refer to this plate as being an “Omega” style plate. That is because the groove that the pipe sits in is shaped like the Greek letter “Omega” or “W “. This means that the tubing is held snug in the groove making the heat transfer more positive and keeping the tubing in place during construction. The omega style plate requires far more sophisticated manufacturing equipment, adds some cost, but is well worth the effort in improving performance and reducing problems during construction.
At 18 inches long, this plate can be used to serve two square feet of surface with a minimum of 4 inch spacing between plates and a 12-inch on center spacing between pipes. As a practical matter, I recommend placing the plates close together near outside walls with large windows or glass doors (typically high heat loss areas) and then spacing them much farther apart as you progress into the room along the tubing run. This method typically results in plate usage equal to about 80 percent of the floor surface.
This plate is designed at just under a 5-inch width. Years ago we tried wider plates in an attempt to broadcast the energy further from the tubing. We found that this was unnecessary because the temperature diminished rapidly along the width of the plate beyond just a couple of inches. Also, we found that the wider plates were more prone to a noise that we call “oil canning”. Wide plates don’t have as much longitudinal rigidity and stability. They could start to click when heated with a noise similar to that of those old fashioned oil cans that had a convex bottom that you pop with your thumb to get the oil to flow.
As with any product or process of installation, there is a learning curve to using the aluminum plates in radiant heating systems. I have prepared a number of installation guides for use in:
Sandwich installation on suspended floor
Sandwich installation on concrete floor
Radiant ceiling new construction
Radiant ceiling retrofit
General guidelines and hints
Go to order aluminum plates firstname.lastname@example.org