Influence of Wood Properties and Building Construction on Energy Demand, Thermal Comfort and Start-Up Lag Time of Radiant Floor Heating Systems
Metrics and citations
MetadataShow full item record
DepartmentMáquinas y Motores Térmicos
SourceAppl. Sci. 2022, 12(5), 2335
Radiant floor heating is becoming increasingly popular in cold climates because it delivers higher comfort levels more efficiently than conventional systems. Wood is one of the surface coverings most frequently used in radiant flooring, despite the widely held belief that in terms of thermal performance it is no match for higher conductivity materials if a high energy performance is intended. Given that the highest admissible thermal resistance for flooring finishes or coverings is generally accepted to be 0.15 m(2)K/W, wood would appear to be a scantly appropriate choice. Nonetheless, the evaluation of the thermal performance of wooden radiant floor heating systems in conjunction with the building in terms of energy demand, thermal comfort, and start-up period, has been insufficiently explored in research. This has led to the present knowledge gap around its potential to deliver lower energy consumption and higher thermal comfort than high-thermal-conductivity materials, depending on building characteristics. This article studies the thermal performance of wood radiant floors in terms of three parameters: energy demand, thermal comfort, and start-up lag time, analysing the effect of wood properties in conjunction with building construction on each. An experimentally validated radiant floor model was coupled to a simplified building thermal model to simulate the performance of 60 wood coverings and one reference granite covering in 216 urban dwellings differing in construction features. The average energy demand was observed to be lower in the wood than in the granite coverings in 25% of the dwellings simulated. Similarly, on average, wood lagged behind granite in thermal comfort by less than 1 h/day in 50% of the dwellings. The energy demand was minimised in a significant 18% and thermal comfort maximised in 14% of the simulations at the lowest thermal conductivity value. The vast majority of the wooden floors lengthened the start-up lag time relative to granite in only 30 min or less in all the dwellings. Wood flooring with the highest thermal resistance (even over the 0.15 m(2)K/W cited in standard EN 1264-2) did not significantly affect the energy demand or thermal comfort. On average, wood flooring lowered energy demand by 6.4% and daily hours of thermal comfort by a mere 1.6% relative to granite coverings. The findings showed that wood-finished flooring may deliver comparable or, in some cases, higher thermal performance than high-conductivity material coverings, even when their thermal resistance is over 0.15 m(2)K/W. The suggestion is that the aforementioned value, presently deemed the maximum admissible thermal resistance, may need to be revised.