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Don't Forget to Insulate the Ground!

Amvic Systems VS Insta-Panels

At first glance the Ampex Insulation Panel seems like the quicker installation for radiant in floor heating but it is not. With over a decade of Insta- Panels used as the primary insulation in radiant floor heat applications, installers have learned that stapling pex pipe to an Insta-Panel is as easy and even easier then installing Pex pipe to Ampex or comparable products like Hot Rocks or Heat Sheet.  Due to the fact that Insta-Panels do not have a preformed track or nubs makes them more versatile and flexible for accommodating the radiant Pex pipe. It actually creates an efficiency that is unmatched to any other radiant floor system insulation on the market today.  In conjunction with the fact that radiant tubing is stapled to the panel allows more concrete to be in intimate contact with the radiant hot water pipe, making it more energy efficient then form fit Pex holders.  Combine that with the cost and durability factors of Insta-Panels, it becomes the clear choice for radiant floor heat contractors and homeowners alike.  Insta-Panels should be considered the first and least expensive choice over products like Ampex, Heat Sheet, Hot Rocks and other push in pipe; formed insulators.

Pipe Spacing for a radiant floor is dictated by a thermal design typically made by an engineer familiar with radiant floor heat. The heat loss calculations for the floor heat system will need to take into account many things including, size of the room, window area, and insulation values of the walls and attic.   Windows have a tremendous effect on occupant comfort even if you have radiant floor heat. Heat follows cold and the floors around windows will lose more heat then the middle of the room because of its proximity to the glass. Techniques like strategic radiant tube spacing in front of windows can overcome the amount of heat escaping.   Extra radiant floor piping around windows can also help increase the temperature of the window glass which in turn can increase the dew point and decrease the chance of condensation on the window.  This is the same principle as putting heat registers on the floor under the window or at the ceiling over a window. Spacing of these radiant tubes is easy when using Insta-Panels as there is no groove you need to follow.  Simply put the tube where you want it and staple it down.  When terminating the hot water heat tubing at the header, the Pex pipes can be easily placed by stapling the radiant Pex to the Insta-Panels. This is where the professional in floor heat contractor will save the most time and money. Most radiant heat pipe loops can not exceed a maximum length but the way preformed grooved insulation systems are manufactured they cannot be flexible like Insta-Panels to quickly get the line back to the header. Many times, loops are shortened, or worse lengthened to make a run work because the of inability of the formed grooved insulations to be flexible to meet the thermal design requirements.  This situation is unfortunate as homeowners suffer as they receive an inferior install.  Installers of radiant tubing will do what is easy; lengthen lines beyond recommended specifications or design.  Unfortunately inspectors do not know or measure the length of the radiant tube runs, creating an inefficient radiant heating system with potential cold spots.  Products like Insta-Panels, Silverboard, StyroFoam  SM, or other board foams allow the installer of the radiant tube the flexibility to not make the radiant loops too long. The use of wire mesh, plywood, spacers and other items used to secure Pex pipes at headers is not required with Insta-Panels., simply staple and secure the pipe to the Insta-Panel at any spacing or place including the header.

Insulating and heating concrete is important as you do not want to break out the concrete and radiant floor heat only to do it again.  Do your research and be sure the product you are using is flexible to meet your radiant heat applications.