Category Archives: Radiant Heating News

Keeping Warm in Your Basement

by Steve Bench

The summer was a warm, wonderful time for most of us in the beehive State. We swam in our pools, skied behind our new boats, and basked in the plentiful sunshine. But, now that our last barbeque has probably been lit and the last summer softball trophy has been handed out, it’s time for Utahns to start thinking about the coming cold season. Like it or not, it’s true: winter is just around the corner with its usual clouds, snow, ice and chilling temperatures in tow.

Before you start packing your bags for Scottsdale, visualize this inviting scene: You and your family watching movies in the basement family room, the wife and kids barefoot and smiling.

You’re smiling, too, because, even with a winter storm raging outside, you know that your driveway and sidewalks are being automatically thawed and cleared of snow and the eaves freed of roof-damaging icicles and ice dams—even before they can form. “But, how can this be?” you might ask.

“Because,” offers Steve Bench, managing member of Heatizon Systems, “radiant heating systems are more efficient, uniform heat that is distributed evenly, because the heat radiates from the floor.” And that’s why the above family is so happy.

Bench says that snowmelt and interior floor heating systems have been around for many years and are becoming more popular in and outside of Utah. Heatizon, which has been in business for ten years, manufactures a complete line of low-voltage radiant heating products that keep driveways clear and toes warm even on the snowiest winter mornings. So, you don’t have to pile on the blankets and suffer with cold feet.

Radiant heat systems offer a handful of other one-uppers to the traditional heating systems—one being that radiant heat is more efficient than forced air systems (the kind that most Utahns currently use to suffer through most cold weather.)

For example, Bob Zubke recently remodeled his basement. His well intentioned neighbored had warned him that his current forced-air system wouldn’t be able to keep his basement sufficiently warm. They were experts—each had remodeled his basement and neither family was happy with the way heat was distributed. Cold feet, cold everybody were standard complaints

Bob remembered that a friend had told him of a system that would keep everybody worm from the feet up—even in the basement. With a little inquiring, he hooked up with his local Heatizon dealer. The rest is history.

“The Z Mesh has exceeded my expectations…I am pleased to say with the Z Mesh installed, my basement floor is warmer than my upstairs floors. It has made my basement floor the center of activities for this cold winter.”

It’s never too late to install a Heatizon system, according to Bench. “The retrofit ability of a Heatizon radiant heat system has increased greatly. It doesn’t matter how new or old a person’s home is, you can always add one of our systems,” he says.

Heatizon’s radiant heat systems use one of two products, Tuff Cable or Z-Mesh. Either of these can be installed in new construction or retrofitted to existing applications.

For interior applications, as well as under-shingle roof systems, Heatizon uses Z-Mesh, a bronze wire mesh that’s no thicker than the fabric in a screen door. It’s placed over an existing concrete floor or on top of a wood sub floor and can be covered with tile, carpet or wood flooring. In roofing systems, the mesh is installed underneath the non-conductive roof-covering material making it virtually invisible.

Exterior applications, such as melting snow on driveways or sidewalks, require the copper Tuff Cable. In an existing driveway or walkway, technicians cut thin, inch-deep channels that are 5 inches apart into the pavement, which is where the cable is laid and then closed with a sealant. In new construction, the cable is installed just before the concrete is poured. The Tuff Cable is also used under metal roofing material for invisible ice dam used under metal roofing material for invisible ice dam protection from snow and ice on the roof.

In what is probably the most recognizable local project involving Heatizon, TRAX had the Tuff Cable snow-melting system installed on all passenger-access ramps to keep the areas free of snow. One of their largest projects includes installing cables under nearly 20,000 square feet of sidewalks and stairs at the LDS Conference Center.

As far as snowmelt is concerned, Heatizon is “absolutely the best value on the plane,” according to Bench. “It’s far less expensive to operate and maintain than hydronic systems,” he says. Also, Heatizon’s products are solid-state and are not comprised of moving parts. Paired with its unique and lengthy 25-year warranty and its ETL Listing, a national testing laboratory, Heatizon systems are arguably the most reliable in the industry.

On the rare chance that Tuff Cable or Z-Mesh is damaged, problem-solving is easy. “Our products are easy to repair,” says Bench. “Both the Tuff Cable and the Z-Mesh can be soldered with a relatively simple process.” Heatizon systems also feature a self-diagnosing control box that will essentially “tell you what’s wrong with it,” according to Bench. “They require very little, if any, annual maintenance and they last for years,” he says.

Heatizon’s technology is unique because it uses low-voltage electricity, ranging from 8 to 30 volts AC with Z-Mesh and 8 to 62 volts AC with Tuff Cable. This eliminates many safety concerns. Unlike forced air, radiant heat doesn’t need to cycle constantly, making it more cost-effective. Homeowners can program the system as they see fit.

The cost? Like Bob Zubke, you should find that costs only “about $1.50/day to keep my basement floor at 72 degrees.”

And when it comes to being a friend of the environment, radiant heat is the kindlier option because no pollen, dust or other particles are circulated. This also makes the system more comfortable for those with allergies or asthma.

UL vs ETL

The differences between UL and ETL Safety Listings by Heather Gwilliam

OSHA the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the US government’s enforcement arm for safety and health issues has been tasked with overseeing professional independent testing laboratories. The best known of all independent testing laboratories is Underwriters Laboratories, UL.

UL was established by insurance underwriters to find ways to reduce unsafe hazards in the marketplace, thereby reducing dramatic insurance claims. Since its inception, UL has, been involved with writing standards of safety acceptability in the United States. They have been one of the premier developers of safety standards but they have not been the only group to write standards. Groups like NEMA, IEEE, and ANSI have also contributed to the development of standards. Similarly UL is not the only independent testing laboratory.

OSHA has become the certification agency for independent testing laboratories in the United States. A group of engineers who decide to do testing as a business must qualify through OSHA to function as an independent test facility. Further-more, they must show competence in specific areas, fire testing, for instance. Once they have demonstrated competence in the area of fire testing and have shown that they possess the facilities and equipment to do fire testing, OSHA will certify them as a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) to do fire testing. Factory Mutual, FM, is one such NRTL for fire testing, Southwest Laboratories is another.

Many independent testing laboratories have NRTL status. Most are relatively specialized and limited in their scope. The three major testing laboratories that operate in the United states that have a wide scope of testing qualification are, UL, CSA, and ETL. They are certified by OSHA as NRTLs.

NRTL status tells all customers that the services performed by these companies, to list or to label products, is reliable and legally binding throughout the United States. ETL, originally known as Edison Testing Laboratories, is an old, respected, nationwide testing group with credibility equal to UL or CSA. Therefore an ETL listing label is legally binding nationwide and should instill equal consumer confidence in the manufacturer that they have cared enough to submit their products to the rigorous safety compliance process and achieved the right to apply a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory label that certifies compliance assurance.

Below-surface heat winning Utahns over

by Greg Katz (Deseret Morning News)

Wouldn’t it be nice to go all winter without shoveling? To glance out the window during a storm and watch the snowflakes melt as they hit the driveway and sidewalk?

This back-saving dream can be a reality, thanks to products marketed by Heatizon Systems of Murray.

Heatizon (pronounced “heat is on”) has been part of the Salt Lake business landscape since the early 1990s, but its low-voltage, radiant heating products were invented in the 1970s in the mountains of Colorado, according to Cannon Kuch, the company’s sales and marketing manager.

The business has grown to the point that Heatizon will move next month from its current location at 4403 S. 500 West in Murray to a bigger building at 4137 S. 500 West.

“It’s pretty popular,” Kuch said of radiant heating. “Our demographic is typically a homeowner with a house value of $400,000-plus. It’s a medium to higher-end product. . . . But we’re anywhere (people face) high snow loads.”

Heatizon has two primary products, Kuch said. The first is the Tuff Cable, which is designed to go under interior floors or beneath a driveway, pavers — even roofing. It warms the surface and, outdoors, melts snow and ice.

“Our cable is in all of the light rail wheelchair access ramps for TRAX,” Kuch said. “We did 20,000-some feet of snowmelting under the granite pavers at (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’) Conference Center. We’ve done lots of stuff in Park City.”

The company’s other product is a low-voltage bronze mesh material called Z Mesh. Kuch said it is ideal for in-floor heating and, in Utah, for helping to heat basements through placement in the ceiling.

“It looks like 12-inch-wide screen door material,” he said. “You can put carpet pad and carpet, or hardwood . . . floor on top of it and get radiant heating. Anything non-conductive. And because it’s low voltage and mesh, you can drive a nail or staples through it without damaging it.”

He said Tuff Cable and Z Mesh compete with products from companies that sell hot-water or higher-voltage radiant heating systems, but he is not concerned that they will slow Heatizon’s growth.

“Radiant heat is getting more and more popular all the time in the United States,” Kuch said. “It’s been popular in Europe and other places for a long time.

“Natural gas and fossil fuels are getting more expensive, so people are considering electricity more. . . . For snowmelting, it’s very inexpensive to melt snow. For a 300-square-foot system, you’re looking at a couple dollars a storm. In the valley, we rarely get a storm that would be cold enough and have enough snow per hour for (a Heatizon system) to not be able to keep up.”

The company’s 13 full-time employees make the products here, he said, and they are sold throughout the United States by local distributors. (More information is available online at www.Heatizon.com.) In Utah, the primary distributor is WarmQuest.

“The majority of our business already is coming from the Northeast and the Midwest, and then the Northwest, and of course California,” Kuch said. “We do quite a bit of floor warming in the Bay area. . . . We have good distribution in the Northeast, and we’re hoping to add to it this year.”

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Line Voltage vs Tuff Cable

by Steven D. Bench

Anyone interested in snow melting, floor warming, roof de-icing and/or in-floor space heating deserves to understand the differences between the two electric technologies that compete for your business. You might say “I know the difference, one technology is low voltage and the other is a high voltage, other than that distinction, they are all the same”. But to truly appreciate the differences between these two technologies and to select the product which is best for you, I suggest that it is necessary to learn the answers to a few additional questions.

First, is the product listed by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (“NRTL”), approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, such as ETL or UL? If the answer to this question is “yes”, then the manufacturer has spent a great deal of effort, time and money testing the product to the standards appropriate for its applications. Once a product has earned the right to be listed by a NRTL, quarterly monitoring and evaluation make certain that the product is designed and manufactured in a manner consistent with its listing. If on the other hand the answer is “no the product is not listed” then it is very important that you understand why. Remember, never underestimate the possibility that it may have been tested and failed to qualify, and always understand the risks that non-listed products may pose!

Second, how do the heating elements differ? The low voltage heating element has a real advantage, because it is simplistic yet durable. The fact that the heating element is made of stranded copper wire with two protective insulators makes it very easy to repair, with readily available materials, in the event it is damaged during or after the installation process. In addition, copper wire has proven its durability and longevity

Third, how long is the heating element warranted? Most companies offer 5, 7, or 10 year warranties while a couple offer up to 25 years. Generally, the longer the warranty the better, unless the warranty is prorated. The bottom line is, if you intend to enjoy the benefits of a snow melting, floor warming, in floor space heating, or roof de-icing product for years to come, only consider products with the best warranties.

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