Radiant Electric Heat by Carbonic Heat: Thin, Efficient, and Infrared

Carbonic Radiant Electric Heat

Carbonic Radiant Electric Heat

How many of us get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom?  Did I see you wince when you step on your cold floor?  Been there. Done that.  In my new house, I installed radiant heat under my bathroom floors and my feet have never looked back.

A couple of weeks ago, I met Sunny, of Affordable Elegance Flooring, a distributor of Carbonic Heat, an electric radiant heat product, at a New Jersey home show. What attracted me to his booth was the funny looking gray sheets displayed on his tables.  I wondered how could this “gray paper” heat the floors in your bathroom?  Where was the loop or wires that I was accustomed to see with competitor radiant heat products?

Listen to the podcast of Sunny explaining to me how Carbonic Heat’s electric radiant system works.  He goes into great detail about the heating system, and I urge to listen. The podcast is only 9 minutes long.

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The cool concept behind this product is  how thin the sheets are.  Carbonic Heat touts their product as the thinnest electric radiant heat system on the market.  It is .45 millimeters or 1/60th of an inch thick.  The electric mat of NuHeat, a competitor, is 1/8 of an inch thick.I couldn’t understand why the thickness of the mat matter.  Sunny explained that this system can be installed where floor height is a problem.

Why Radiant Heat?

I have radiant hot water tubes under my bathroom floors.   It is the next best thing to chocolate chip cookies in the winter.  If your feet are warm, your body is warm.

“Radiant heat delivers uncompromised comfort, the highest energy efficiency available (typically, 25% to 30% better that forced air), and – with no air grates, radiators or baseboard to factor-in – there’s no interference with room function or furniture layout.  Radiant heat systems can also be fueled by many different energy sources, and sometimes even a combination of two or more, including fuel oil, gas, electric, solar, ground source heat, and solid fuels.” [Source.]

For a smaller area such as a bathroom, electric based radiant heat is the best choice.

Where Can Carbonic Heat be Installed?

According to the Carbonic Heat website,

“CarbonicHeat MultiFloor™ electric floor heating systems may be installed under ceramic tile, Saltillo tile, natural stone flooring. WoodFloor™ electric floor heating systems are designed for nail down wood flooring, specialty random length wood flooring, and engineered wood flooring.”

What Makes this Product Different?

There are several electric radiant heat floor products on the market.  You might have heard of  NuHeat,  SunTouch, and  WarmYours.  Why does the world need another electric flooring heating system? Sunny explained that the Carbonic Heat system is different.  There are no field wires and other conductors, which means that there is nothing to break when installed.  As Sunny explained, a contractor could put a nail in the system, it would still work.  Competitor systems have loops or wires.  A nail in their systems could cause a cold spot.

How Does it Work?

No wires?  Sunny had me stumped.  How does this radiant heat product work?

“Flat copper wire elements run on either side of the carbon based film with one side hot and one side neutral. When electrified the carbon material acts as a resistor heating the entire film resulting in uniform heat with no hot spots or cold spots.”

The floor system uses infrared technology to heat your space.

What about Electrical Consumption?

Heating by electricity can be quite expensive.  However, the Company states that the system draws 15 watts of electricity per square foot and 98% of its electricity is converted to heat. The system shuts off when it reaches the desired temperature.

What about EMF?

The minute I heard that Carbonic heats the space with electricity, EMF issues started to dance in my head.   Over the years, health concerns have been raised over the exposure to  electromagnetic fields (EMF).  Most recently, cell phone radiation has become an open topic of discussion with the Environmental Working Group  reporting that “significantly higher risks for brain and salivary gland tumors among people who have used cell phones for 10 years or longer.”

I addressed my concern with Sunny and he assured me that this product emits a low level of EMFs.  However, Charles Bryant, Senior Writer for How Stuff Works states in his article, “Could radiant floor heating systems be related to some cancers?

“[a]s far as electric radiant floor heating systems go, most manufacturers go out of their way to make sure there isn’t a health hazard by shielding the wiring. Americans are generally exposed to less than one microtesla — the unit of measurement for magnetic fields — of EMF every day. Unshielded RFH systems can emit 20 to 40 times that amount. There’s only one non-biased third party that tests a radiant floor heating system’s EMF. The test is called the Radiant Electric Emissions Test (REET). Many companies perform their own testing and profess to be safe, but only those that use the REET procedure can make a substantiated claim.”

Thoughts?

I could only find one review of the product, and there isn’t any specifications on the site.  This worried me somewhat. However, I still think this product is very interesting. If you are thinking of trying this product, make sure you obtain good references from  people who have installed this electric radiant heat product. In addition, ask the Company for specifications for your review.  And last but not least, ask the Company if they performed the REET procedure to test their product for EMFs.

Join the Conversation:

  • Have you used this product?  If so, what was your experience?  Hard to install?  Call backs?
  • Would you use this product?
  • How do you feel about EMFs and electric radiant heating?


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Comments

  1. 1

    Gary L Maedl says

    Hi Anna,

    There is nothing really “green” about this CarbonicHeat flooring (or any electric resistance heating product, for that matter). All electric resistance heating products have a COP (Coefficient of Performance) of 1.0 by definition. All fossil fuel systems, oil or gas, have higher COP ratings than this (although COP does not directly apply to fossil fuel systems), and Geo heat pump systems have a COP of 3.5 to 5.0.

    If you are strictly comparing electric floor heating systems, then the thinness of the Carbonic heating system may be attractive for installations where floor height is an issue. And there is no doubt that a warm floor, especially in a bathroom, is a wonderful delight. But a few things I heard in the Podcast concern me.

    1. Putting a Nail Through It- I cannot imagine that this would not pose a problem. As stated, it works by having two layers of flat copper wire (think printed circuit board) separated by a layer of carbon fiber. The carbon fiber conducts electricity between the “hot” and neutral copper wire layers and, because of high resistance in the carbon fiber, it heats up (just like a toaster). I’m not an Electrical Engineer, but it seems to me that putting a nail through this would short circuit the two copper wire layers. In fact, the manufacturer’s web site talks about the “…7 3/4″ cut/nail center lines…” in the product description.

    2. Operational Cost- The manufacturer of Carbonheat states that it consumes a maximum of 15 watts per sq. ft. Since it will turn on and off according to the thermostat setting, let’s use 10 watts per sq.ft. just to be fair. If you have a bathroom with a 4′ x 10′ floor area (40 sq.ft.), then it would consume 40 sq.ft. x 10W = 400 watts per hour. Most people would leave the thermostat set at the same temp (it takes too long to heat up to turn it on and off), so our 400 watts per hour x 24 hours/day = 9,600 watts per day = 9.6 Kilowatts (kW)/day. If you pay $0.186/kW like our area, this will cost you about $1.79/day or about $53.57 per month. Not very cheap in my opinion.

    3. Electrocution Danger? (I searched for an answer to this but did not find anything.) What happens if you get out of the shower dripping wet and the puddle of water you are standing in penetrates down into this “electrified sandwich” through the surface flooring? Although I can’t imagine that you could install this without a GFI (Ground Fault Interupter) on the circuit, you still could get zapped, especially if it is run using 220 volt (more efficient than 110 volt) electricity. I would really like to hear the manufacturer address this issue.

    Anyway, this is my opinion about this product.

    • 2

      nyvdtdh says

      Dave, they gave me a price but I don’t recall now. I called the main company but no one responded. What is SunTouch’s cost without installation? Anna

  2. 3

    Anna@GreenTalk says

    Gary, as always, I am grateful for your comments. How do you think the potential electrical issues differ from any of the other electric radiant heat products? Do they all have the same potential of electrocution danger?

    I was surprised by the nail issue too. Let me see if I can get them to respond as to why it isn’t a problem. (If they can.) Anna
    Anna@GreenTalk´s last blog post ..Bathroom Remodel- Easier- Greener with Bath Simple’s Design Tool

  3. 4

    Gary L Maedl says

    Anna,

    The electrical issues for underflooring resistance heating are all pretty much the same with respect to performance (COP = 1.0) and electrocution dangers.

    Products like these typically have to have the UL and/or CE ratings in order to be sold. The people at these labs are very smart and I cannot imagine that they would allow a product to be sold that has a significant danger of electrocution.

    Having said that, as an engineer, I cannot see how you could eliminate this danger. If the “electrified sandwich” (which is an accurate description) is installed directly under a ceramic tile floor and that floor develops a crack in the grout (as happens quite often), then how could you prevent the electricity from flowing through water that penetrates through this crack down into the heating elements? A GFI would cut the danger down to almost nothing (as it does with wall outlets in bathrooms and kitchens), but GFI’s can fail. (That’s why they have a “Test” button on them.)

    Anyway, the operational cost of electric resistance heating products are known industry wide as the most expensive way to generate heat. So even if it is safe, why would you use it unless you have no other way to install radiant floor heating?

  4. 5

    Dave @ Radiant Floor Heat says

    Cool sounding product.

    I haven’t heard about this until now and will have to investigate this further. Like an earlier poster said, the biggest selling point for the Carbonic Heat sounds like how flat it is (It won’t raise the floor level as much). What is the cost of this in comparison to other radiant floor mats – vs. Nuheat or SunTouch?
    Dave @ Radiant Floor Heat´s last blog post ..Mar 21- SunTouch Radiant Heat Floor Mat

  5. 7

    jonathan willner says

    as the system is ungrounded a person standing on a wet floor WILL feel a tingel(up to 90V !) if he tuches any equipotential part such as a tap .
    further more due to the hi aspect ratio it has inheritly hot /cold spots visual during a scane via a IR camerathe. QC is flawed.

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