Designing an underfloor heating system is not a matter of drawing lines on a paper; it also requires the use of engineering science. Over the years, a lot of people have adopted this system for their commercial buildings. Most who are favoring these heating systems are also, for the most part, the same ones who have embraced underfloor air distribution solutions.
In the United Kingdom, for example, many buildings now have underfloor heating systems and underfloor ventilation systems. However, the actual performance of the heat emitter is often overlooked or unknown during the design stage of these systems.
Underfloor heating systems were initially installed in newly developed properties within a 75mm thick sand and cement screed. Also, a 50mm thick anhydrite flowing screed was used in other scenarios.
As the underfloor heating systems became popular, the market started to design new systems to be installed in new buildings as well as older ones. These new systems can be categorized as either suspended or floating floors, and there is an increased emphasis on low profile systems.
However, underfloor heating systems come with their own challenges, and thermal simulation is required to solve these challenges. It also helps to reduce the costs which might be incurred uninstalling default systems.
Thermal simulation of an underfloor heating system helps to:
- Locate thermal bridges, that is, at the windows, walls and heating pipes.
- Understand the dimension of heating systems in regard to their maximum power. Considerations for worst case scenarios like cold winter days are also made.
- Rate the underfloor heating system in regards to the achieved floor temperatures and human local comfort responsiveness.
- Make comparison between different window glass panes or conceptual window system to understand their energy efficiency for typical winter or summer load cases.
- Reveal the locations at risk of moisture condensation in corners or behind closets.
Even if you are just choosing the proper materials to be used in concept studies, using thermal simulation for any underfloor heating system is very important. Results received from the simulations can assist in evaluating different methods that can be used to increase occupant comfort while still keeping energy costs at a minimum.