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Under Floor Heating good or not


BPot

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My first two questions asked have been answered and one discussion certainly took off in all directions.

So here I am again, and being controversial once again. Hope it doesn't create too much of a storm. it is being aimed mostly at those who do have under  floor heating..

How have you found it has it caused any problems with feet ankles as I once heard it could cause swelling in the feet and ankles. Do your feet get too hot?

Does it efficiently heat the boat. What types of under floor heating do you have fitted.?

I believe that when preparing to go into living on a boat ALL things need to be considered that will help with having the best and most comfortable way of living that  you are going to be happy with. I know what some people  may think of as unnecessary, others think of as being essential. I am also aware that many opinions are if you want these things classed as luxuries you get a house or an apartment but we are choosing a boat, we have  chance of fitting out the interior ourselves, as it will be an expensive adventure I want to make sure all things have been carefully considered . Thankfully we are no longer in the middle ages and technology has improved immensely,  as in solar power batteries and general off the grid living is becoming easier. Just because I am considering these things doesn't mean to say our boat will have all the mod cons because it wont I just want to choose what I feel are the best options for us. Taking into consideration the opinions and advice  of those who have already been there and done it

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Just remember, that with a narrow/wide boat, there is often only 100-150mm(4-6 inches) between your foot and the fish territory!

There is very little space for the necessary insulation, and heating pipes to go, without loosing headroom.

 

Bod

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8 minutes ago, Bod said:

Just remember, that with a narrow/wide boat, there is often only 100-150mm(4-6 inches) between your foot and the fish territory!

There is very little space for the necessary insulation, and heating pipes to go, without loosing headroom.

 

Bod

Ah i hadn't realized  that the space was so small hadn't given that any thought whatso ever. thanks for bringing that to my attention. So need to see how much depth the underfloor heating would take in all see how much that would make the headroom.

 

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9 minutes ago, Bod said:

Just remember, that with a narrow/wide boat, there is often only 100-150mm(4-6 inches) between your foot and the fish territory!

There is very little space for the necessary insulation, and heating pipes to go, without loosing headroom.

 

Bod

And without thick insulation, much of the heat will go in to warming up the water that the boat is sat in. There is a limit to how high the cabin can be as the boat will either end up with so deep a draft that it scrapes the bottom, or so high an air draft that it can't get through bridges and tunnels. If you and yours are short, then you can reduce the ceiling height inside. Don't skimp on ceiling insulation thickness as all your heat will just head out that way. Too low a ceiling height will mean that a tall person won't buy it when you come to sell.

A search of the forum will find this discussed many times before. It has been done I believe, but isn't common.

It is another heating arrangement that will require a pump running whenever it is on. Anything electrical running 24/7 is a big drain on batteries, which will need to be replaced at a time of year when solar is largely ineffective, so more engine/generator running. Anything mechanical can break. If this is a boat to live on, you won't simple systems that can be easily fixed and preferably back ups for when they go wrong.

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You can get wet systems in approx 20mm height these days. But that's without any significant insulation, so you'll be losing a load of heat to the canal. I don't think I'd bother personally. Plus it's another pump to run off the electricity, and the manifold takes up space.

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15 minutes ago, Bod said:

Just remember, that with a narrow/wide boat, there is often only 100-150mm(4-6 inches) between your foot and the fish territory!

There is very little space for the necessary insulation, and heating pipes to go, without loosing headroom.

 

Bod

 

And to add you still need a gap for several tons of ballast and to allow bilge water to drain back to the back of the cabin bilge. I doubt there is much more than half an inch gap between the floor and the ballast in many boats. It could well be less.

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In my view there is plenty of space under the typical NB floor to fit underfloor heating, but it isn't done routinely because 

 

1) It needs precious, expensively and noisily generated electric power to run it, all the time it is cold.

2) Occasionally and rarely, access to the bilge space is needed, which would be blocked by underfloor heating.

3) If damaged by for example, screwing something to the floor, access to fix it is a PITA.

4) It requires high quality insulation laying at the build stage so nit suitable for retro-fit.

5) It is very slow to respond to changes in air temp/weather, which is the opposite of what you want in a boat so not particularly cozy to live with.

6) Diesel is more expensive than solid fuel per unit of energy purchased. 

7) There is probably not enough floor area exposed in a NB to adequately heat the room volumes. This kills it for NBs but maybe not for WBs.

 

But basically yes, to answer your question it would help keep your feet warmer. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by MtB
Add No 7)
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Is it possible to run an underfloor system via a stove back boiler?  If electric is a problem, couldn't the pump operate via a Peltier system, like an ecofan?  Would help to even out the stove heat, keep feet warm and not take up valuable wall space.

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Floor covering is the key to warm feet in winter.

Tiles - no! My mistake in the bathroom and kitchen.

Wood/laminate. Seems OK from other peoples boats.

Flotex. Seems OK from other peoples boats.

Carpet, with insulating underlay. Rugs etc. Works well.

Slippers!

Jen

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1 minute ago, doratheexplorer said:

Is it possible to run an underfloor system via a stove back boiler?  If electric is a problem, couldn't the pump operate via a Peltier system, like an ecofan?  Would help to even out the stove heat, keep feet warm and not take up valuable wall space.

I did look in to thermoelectric generation from stove heat Unlikely to get enough electricity out of thermoelectric generators for the sort of power to drive a pump, without basically covering the stove with them, which would be very expensive. They are not at all efficient. They rely on temperature gradient across the device, so you'd end up with a cold stove to get a good current. They have a maximum temperature that can easily be exceeded by a stove surface, meaning that you need to have a method of automatically safeguarding the generator. More complication. I decided that it wasn't worth it.

Jen

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3 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

Is it possible to run an underfloor system via a stove back boiler?  If electric is a problem, couldn't the pump operate via a Peltier system, like an ecofan?  Would help to even out the stove heat, keep feet warm and not take up valuable wall space.

 

The underfloor heating has no idea what heat source you have connected to it so yes, it could run from a back boiler. But like when connected to a pumped radiator system the stove would need constant low level human monitoring to keep it from boiling. 

 

Regarding a Peltier-powered pump, I'd say no chance. UFH needs quite a bit of energy to push the water through small diameter pipes many tens of meters long, and the Ecofan only really works at all as moving trivial amounts of air takes very little energy. 

 

Yes it would help even out the stove heat.

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I think you could do it with one of those systems where the pipes sit in the floor rather than underneath it, you would lose a certain amount of headroom but not much.  I think it could work but you would have to carefully examine the power requirements.

 

My personal objection would be that having more plumbing than absolutely necessary on a boat is a bad idea.

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2 minutes ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

I did look in to thermoelectric generation from stove heat Unlikely to get enough electricity out of thermoelectric generators for the sort of power to drive a pump, without basically covering the stove with them, which would be very expensive. They are not at all efficient. They rely on temperature gradient across the device, so you'd end up with a cold stove to get a good current. They have a maximum temperature that can easily be exceeded by a stove surface, meaning that you need to have a method of automatically safeguarding the generator. More complication. I decided that it wasn't worth it.

Jen

Ok, one of these then:

image.png.79f4fb216201b9c26868ac46152a6325.png

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The first principle of boat design, especially a narrow boat is KISS.

 

You seem to be going too far down the "modern" and "complicated" routes. Home comforts are OK but systems on a boat need to be simple and easy to control and monitor.

Your idea of underfloor heating has beet tried, guess why it is not universally adopted?

Using a solid fuel boiler that relies on a pump to work and  to keep it from boiling is a dangerous and bad idea.

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6 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

The first principle of boat design, especially a narrow boat is KISS.

 

You seem to be going too far down the "modern" and "complicated" routes. Home comforts are OK but systems on a boat need to be simple and easy to control and monitor.

Your idea of underfloor heating has beet tried, guess why it is not universally adopted?

Using a solid fuel boiler that relies on a pump to work and  to keep it from boiling is a dangerous and bad idea.

Yet many boats have this exact set up.  The risk is fairly easily solved with some kind of gravity fed heat sink.  But that's even more complicated I suppose.

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4 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

Yet many boats have this exact set up.  The risk is fairly easily solved with some kind of gravity fed heat sink.  But that's even more complicated I suppose.

Partially true. The heat sink would need to be able to absorb at least 50% of the boiler maximum output continuously to be anywhere near safe in my opinion. Which would detract somewhat from the output of the underfloor circuit.

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Some / many / mebe even - all  systems that work well in a house / aren't translatable to a boat for technincal / practical reasons.

In the OP's case - how about putting panel radiators under the gunnels where there is  4 inches or so of unisable space. If you don't mind having the metal panel visible it becomes a useful device for drying 'things'.

You can't do that with underfloor or blown air heating. Another advantage of separate radiators is that you can control the heat of each unit (if installed 'properly') so that it's cool in the bedroom (etc).

 

Looking at the two posts added before I had finished this - on thing makes me wonder - why use a stove to heat the whole boat via complicated water safety sten when - if you've designed the accommodatation 'properly' - the stove heats the daily living area which is all you need (?)  to be comfortable (I was brought up with no heating in the bedrooms and My Management likes the bedroon cool cold.....

Edited by OldGoat
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36 minutes ago, MtB said:

In my view there is plenty of space under the typical NB floor to fit underfloor heating, but it isn't done routinely because 

 

1) It needs precious, expensively and noisily generated electric power to run it, all the time it is cold.

2) Occasionally and rarely, access to the bilge space is needed, which would be blocked by underfloor heating.

3) If damaged by for example, screwing something to the floor, access to fix it is a PITA.

4) It requires high quality insulation laying at the build stage so nit suitable for retro-fit.

5) It is very slow to respond to changes in air temp/weather, which is the opposite of what you want in a boat so not particularly cozy to live with.

6) Diesel is more expensive than solid fuel per unit of energy purchased. 

7) There is probably not enough floor area exposed in a NB to adequately heat the room volumes. This kills it for NBs but maybe not for WBs.

 

But basically yes, to answer your question it would help keep your feet warmer. 

 

 

 

 

Thank you very valid points 

 

29 minutes ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

Floor covering is the key to warm feet in winter.

Tiles - no! My mistake in the bathroom and kitchen.

Wood/laminate. Seems OK from other peoples boats.

Flotex. Seems OK from other peoples boats.

Carpet, with insulating underlay. Rugs etc. Works well.

Slippers!

Jen

Thanks good information. I agree no tiles we have tiles all through our property down stairs and although the house is warm in winter the floor can still be cold

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11 minutes ago, OldGoat said:

Some / many / mebe even - all  systems that work well in a house / aren't translatable to a boat for technincal / practical reasons.

In the OP's case - how about putting panel radiators under the gunnels where there is  4 inches or so of unisable space. If you don't mind having the metal panel visible it becomes a useful device for drying 'things'.

You can't do that with underfloor or blown air heating. Another advantage of separate radiators is that you can control the heat of each unit (if installed 'properly') so that it's cool in the bedroom (etc).

Thanks valid point there. I am just starting to look at radiators now see what's available.

I allotted myself two two hours a day to search boating  ideas equipment specs etc, but so far, have been at it well over 8 hrs. a day. It is getting a bit of an obsession now.🤪

Edited by BPot
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The golden rule for a contented boating life is KISS. Keep It Simple Stu***, if it can go wrong it will.  It is't easy to get a 'man' to come and fix it, a mile down a muddy towpath, from the nearest car park. Most boats use coal wood or diesel in a stove to provide heat because the alternatives use electric power to drive fans or pumps (except the rare good gravity back boiler systems). Electric power in the months of December and January is like gold dust very scarce, unless you are in a marina on shorepower.  February, March and October November are not a lot better. Even with the roof covered with Solar panels in winter you can only get enough electricity for lighting and pumps, even a 12 volt fridge is questionable, and 240 volt anything will really strain any solar charge. So you are left with petrol/diesel generation and that works out about 5 times as expensive as mains power, per unit.

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Just to expand on the pump thing. 

 

In a house an underfloor system uses a 90W 230Vac pump, in a typical small system. Lets say 50W of power is enough for an even smaller boat system. A 50W 12V pump will be drawing a little over 4A all the time it is cold outside. Underfloor systems don't respond quickly to being turned on and off, so a conventional room thermostat won't work. You'll either end up running it all the time or need some sort of electronic weather compensation system to control it. More unwanted complexity to go wrong. 

 

Point being, with an underfloor system you'll be needing the generate that 4A drain on the batts, unless you park up in a marina.

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What MtB above has writ.....

On land based systems the heating coils are (AFAIK) are embedded in the cocrete floor - acting as a heat reservoir and I guess the systems run 24/7.

My neighbour opposite me had a system installed and the next owner had to rip it out as it didn't kee the house warm....

Now very unfashionable - but were the only (affordable) and practical types available at the time were steel panel radiators - not hugely pretty but had to be large to heat the space. I painted them in cream to soften the visual aspect...

The Ebersplutter type (Mikuni) heater pump circulates the hot water well and has worked for 20+ years without any problems.    

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44 minutes ago, MtB said:

Just to expand on the pump thing. 

 

In a house an underfloor system uses a 90W 230Vac pump, in a typical small system. Lets say 50W of power is enough for an even smaller boat system. A 50W 12V pump will be drawing a little over 4A all the time it is cold outside. Underfloor systems don't respond quickly to being turned on and off, so a conventional room thermostat won't work. You'll either end up running it all the time or need some sort of electronic weather compensation system to control it. More unwanted complexity to go wrong. 

 

Point being, with an underfloor system you'll be needing the generate that 4A drain on the batts, unless you park up in a marina.

I'm not saying you're wrong, but does the pump really need to be 4a?  The pump that circulates the water round my radiators is part of my Alde boiler and draws 0.2a.  Why is an underfloor system so much more?

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20 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

I'm not saying you're wrong, but does the pump really need to be 4a?  The pump that circulates the water round my radiators is part of my Alde boiler and draws 0.2a.  Why is an underfloor system so much more?

 

I think people make this assumption because domestic systems use microbore pipe which does need a powerful circulating pump.  But there's no reason why, on a boat, the pipework shouldn't be sized to keep the power requirements low. 

 

I do wonder though if you actually have enough floor space in the typical narrowboat, with a high proportion of floor taken up with storage, furniture etc.  It would definitely work in a widebeam I think.   

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