Traditional underfloor heating systems in South Africa have been electrical in nature which was relatively inexpensive to install and efficient when the price of electricity was low but now massive increases in the price of electricity has made electrical underfloor heating an expensive option despite its lower installation cost.
In countries with colder climates and more expensive energy, alternative water based methods of centralised or surface heating are widely used.
These tried and tested water based systems are now available in this country through Viega, the German based company that pioneered the use of press fitting pipe technology solutions for wet services, drainage and gas systems as well as a range of innovative sanitary systems for the modern bathroom.
The advantage of Viega Fonterra water-based under floor, ceiling and wall heating systems is that the energy used to heat the water can be sourced from low or no electrical consumption devices - a high efficiency gas or oil fired boiler, solar / PV panels or a heat pump. Where a reversible heat pump is installed, the system can provide a cooling effect of up to 4°C during the summer months.
Energy savings reduce heating and cooling costs
Research has shown that the optimum comfort level temperature to be 20°C in underfloor heated areas as opposed to 22°C where radiators are installed. This equates to 10 – 12% saving in annual heating costs.
Although more costly to install than electrical underfloor heating, recent studies have shown that in a typical home environment Viega Fonterra underfloor heating can pay for itselfwithin three years due to the savings in energy and thereafter the saving in annual electricity costs can be more than 60% compared with electrical underfloor heating.
Underfloor and wall heating systems supply radiant heat as opposed to radiators or a/c units in heating mode which use convection to heat the air. As air movement caused by radiant heaters is far less than with convection heating, dust and air-borne bacteria turbulence is largely avoided – an important consideration in medical centres, hospitals, care homes and public meeting places.
Wide range of polybutylene piping for domestic, commercial and industrial applications
In addition to residential heating, Viega Fonterra underfloor heating systems are available in a wide range of piping configurations and snap-in panels to suit all types of buildings whether residential, commercial or industrial, single or multi-storey, warehouses, factories, public buildings and healthcare facilities.
The Viega Fonterra PB polybutylene highly flexible pipes come in rolls in sizes ranging from 12mm – 25mm and an additional range is available for large scale areas such as factories and warehouses. Leak-proof pipe jointing is accomplished using the Viega patented SC Contur press technology which guarantees 100% joint integrity.
Also for renovations and redevelopments
The same piping systems can be employed for wall and ceiling heating as well as floor, and Viega even offer a Fonterra low profile system for retrofitting to renovated buildings with minimum compromise of floor to ceiling dimensions.
These systems will appeal to property owners considering renovations and building upgrades for tenants, particularly with the impending introduction of energy efficiency certification for government buildings.
Fully automated systems available
Every underfloor and wall heating system requires individual room control systems to work efficiently. A particularly convenient option is the Viega Fonterra Smart Control which continually adjusts all heating circuits automatically and makes energy savings of up to 20% possible, without compromising comfort.
The Viega Fonterra Smart Control works reliably and completely independently of floor coverings, screed levels and heating circuit lengths. It automatically takes into consideration the existing conditions and efficiently adjusts the level of radiant heating and cooling accordingly. In addition to new builds, the Viega Fonterra Smart Control can be retrofitted as part of renovations even when there is no technical information available about existing underfloor heating.