Radiant made really, really easy

New products are easy to sell, easy to install, and make it easy to save energy

To many people, the idea of radiant heating is like Lasik - a great idea for other people, but too complicated, expensive, and scary to consider for themselves. According to Jack Boesch, that veiwpoint might be a bit short-sighted& for radiant flooring, at least. Boesch, who serves as Marketing Manager for MP Global, argues that his company's QuietWarmth is actually pretty easy to work with.  "If I'm dealing with a floating floor, I can install everything except the final electrical hook-up myself," he told us.

In today's market, a pretty high percentage of flooring goes down over an underlayment without adhesives. Since MP Global already manufactured a sound-buffering underlayment named QuietWalk for that market, their radiant product was designed using the same recycled material.
Installation can be handled by a flooring contractor, but since the panels float, a competent do-it-yourselfer is capable of doing most of the work himself. "You just lay the panels out side-by-side," Boesch described. "Each panel comes with about 20 feet of lead wire pre-attached, and you just route those wires along the floor to your electric source." Completing the installation requires a licensed electrician to make the final hook-ups to AC power.

Key to the system is an innovative heating element called FiberThermics, which Boesch describes as an electro-conductive fiber. "It was originally developed and used in the electric blanket industry," said Boesch. "The system is designed to max out at about 84 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the maximum temperature most laminate floor manufacturers suggest. That's what makes our product so safe for laminates and wood," he added. "And since the heating elements can go right up against the flooring, there's no need to bury our system in a concrete or mortar bed in order to be safe and non-combustible."
The pad is an integral asset to the product. "It started out as an acoustical pad anyway, so it will quiet the floor," said Boesch. "And it actually acts as an insulator in itself, so if you lay it over a concrete slab it helps keep the heat going up instead of going down."

The product is usually promoted as a secondary heat source. "It is perfect for rooms that have a crawl space underneath, or floors that get really cold," said Boesch. "Depending on how high your ceilings are and how many windows and doors you have, you could potentially use this as a sole source of heat," Boesch noted. "But that's not how we market it." Based on the national average of kilowatt hour cost, MP Global has estimated that their system costs less than a penny per square foot to use per day.
The retail-friendly system is supplied in a variety of merchandising options. The product can be private label packaged as it is at Home Depot, where it's called Heated Underlayment.' Other dealers may prefer to use the bright red QuietWarmth packaging, since the QuietWalk name is already well known within the flooring industry. "It's designed to be an easy cash-and-carry product," said Boesch, adding that the system does not require a complicated list of materials. "There are electrical systems out there where you buy linear feet of wire and you have to weave it back and forth and attach it to the floor, and then follow up by laying a mortar bed or self-leveling compound on the top. By the time you add the cost of those systems up, it can get pretty costly."

And complicated. "Our goal was to keep things down to a limited number of SKUs and make it easier for the retailer to just put our box on the shelf, where it will move out a lot quicker," said Boesch.

LEED-friendly. Quiet Walk and Quiet Warmth pads are fibers that are largely recycled from the carpet industry. The products have been third-party certified for recycled content and also for indoor air quality. "We've achieved the Indoor Advantage Gold certification from Scientific Certification Systems," said Boesch, "and we achieved the highest level of approval so we can be used in hospitals and schools." The products, which are manufactured in Nebraska, have contributed points to LEED certified projects.


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