Sunday, 9 April 2017

Underfloor Heating History

Underfloor Heating - The Stone age

Stone age men discovered fire. They soon realized it was a great way to keep caves warm during cold days - and who could blame them? It set the scene for thousands of years. Caves gradually became exchanged for tents, wooden structures, then stone buildings, but heating remained the same - wood gathered, flints banged and fires lit. Romans, ever the ones to harness whatever technology they could, built channels beneath floors, and encouraged warm air from wood-burners to flow through them to heat rooms above. Wow - big improvement - the first appearance of underfloor heating.

Illustrations can be found around the world, from central Rome to the fringes of the empire. Snug for occupants, and a sought after winter's job for slaves tending the wood burners - good for all concerned. Aside from the fact that they almost certainly endured appalling chest problems due to fumes seeping through chinks in the floors.
"Fine particles cause the premature death of an estimated 300 people in Finland a year". Thirty of these deaths are attributed to wood burning.
Marko Tainio, a researcher at the National Public Health Institute of Finland, says that fine particles are a factor especially in heart and pulmonary disease, cases of which are on the rise. They also contribute to lung cancer. The Environment Ministry is preparing regulations which would set limits to fine particle emissions on new fireplaces, sauna stoves, and other small wood-burning devices."YLE, Väli-Suomen Media Group".

Okay, new wood burning stoves are more efficient, less heat escapes up the flue, less fumes, less particles - but they can be messy. Underfloor Warming - getting it together.

Hot air rises

Various forms of central heating systems made inroads from the mid 1960's onwards, generally powered by gas or oil heated boilers, using so-called radiators in rooms. Great idea. The only problem being that heat from the 'radiators' is actually from convectors, and fairly localized at that. Convected hot air rises - and unless it can be persuaded to flow elsewhere, it creates a beautifully heated ceiling, but not such a beautifully heated room. Not exactly ideal.

Like a lot of things Roman, underfloor heating fell out of favour once they lost power. It took another couple of thousand years to realise it wasn't a bad idea after all, and the world promptly re-discovered it. Underfloor Warming - comes of age

Modern underfloor heating systems have evolved.

 Modern systems no longer fill rooms with fumes. They can be run by either electricity or hot water, whilst a stratum of insulating material beneath the heating elements ensures no heat is wasted by going downbank.

Underfloor heating, such as the systems from HandyHeat Floor Heating, gives an even temperature profile - unlike traditional central heating - and creates a comfortable room, with lower air temperatures than conventional central heating. The warmth generated is radiated uniformly over the whole area of the room, and conditions are perfect for a cosy life - snug feet, and a cool head. I'll bet Stone Age wives would have loved it.

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