SunTouch® Floor Heating Mat FAQ
Where is SunTouch® Manufactured?
In the U.S.A., in Springfield, MO. SunTouch is part of Watts Radiant, who specializes in the manufacture of Radiant Floor Heat Systems for all needs and applications. From Football stadium turf (I know, it seems strange, but it is TRUE) to your bathroom. Most other systems are made outside the USA, but I would rather keep the jobs here in America. SunTouch in floor heating systems carry a 25 Year warranty which is transferable and is backed by Watts Radiant.
Who is SunTouch?
SunTouch is part of Watts Radiant; Watts has been a US manufacturer for over 134 years with sales exceeding $1.4 Billion, and is listed on the NYSE. What other manufacturer of floor heating can say this? Award-winning SunTouch is the most requested electric radiant heat mat in North America. You'll find more options, more support and more satisfaction with SunTouch - the safest and easiest-to-install floor heating mat in the industry. Listed by UL for the U.S. and Canada and tested by The Tile Council of North America (TCNA). All mats have the "S-pattern" wire construction and produce 12 watts/sq.ft. A single power connection comes off one mat corner — no return leads, like other products.
SunTouch is made in America, by Americans, for American Homes.
What Makes SunTouch Unique?
SunTouch heats the floor making your home extremely comfortable and is constructed of extremely high quality materials. SunTouch emits Nearly Zero EMF (Electro Magnetic Field) and is extremely safe SunTouch is the ONLY product INDEPENDENTLY tested for EMF exposure which achieves a near-ZERO rating. SunTouch Floor Warming is UL listed for use in Wet areas — even the shower floor. The open mesh design allows a one-step installation. Compare the SunTouch wire construction to any competitor; our superior construction assures safety and long life.
Has Any Agency, Association or Regulatory Group Tested SunTouch?
Yes, and SunTouch PASSED the tests! And to our knowledge — No Other Manufacturer has!
SunTouch mats have been tested installed in a tile floor by the Tile Council of North America and COMPLY with ASTM C 627, officially known as “EVALUATING CERAMIC FLOOR TILE INSTALLATION SYSTEMS USING THE ROBINSON-TYPE FLOOR TESTER”. Whew, that's a mouthful. This test is designed to evaluate complete ceramic tile installations for failure under loads. It tests for deflection on various substrates, such as mortar for Portland cement installations, concrete for thin-bed installations, and plywood with a composition board or other sheeting material. Floors that pass the Robinson Test are rated for “heavy” use. SunTouch appears to improve the performance of tile floors by adding additional tensile strength to the tile and mortar sandwich. We recommend installing all tile and stone floors according to TCNA and ANSI (American National Standards Institute) specifications — they're the experts. SunTouch Mats are also U.L. Listed in both the U.S.A. and Canada.
Suntouch is the ONLY manufacturer that has undergone INDEPENDENT testing for EMF or Electro Magnetic Field emission. The results of this testing shows Suntouch Floor warming to be the SAFEST with the LOWEST emissions. See the results, don't just take a website's claims as truth or believe everything you read - look To Suntouch for Safety and testing to support our statements.
I've heard of some electric radiant products burning out prematurely. How is SunTouch better than others?
We Love this question! No one builds a better heating wire than SunTouch. The SunTouch Dual Element heating wire is insulated with DuPont® Tefzel®, which is a high temperature, chemically-resistant and abrasion-resistant polymer, like Teflon®. Competing products use cheaper polymers like Nylon or PVC. We also use the same DuPont Kevlar® that goes into bullet proof vests to reinforce our wire so it has greater pull-strength. Competing products use cheaper polyesters (like in a shirt) or no reinforcing at all. We use only oxygen-free copper alloys for the heating elements to make them more corrosion resistant. We use multiple heating elements inside each dual wire; most competitors use only one. We armor our dual wire construction with a braided and corrosion resistant tinned copper shield and then cover the whole cable with the water resistant polymer (the “Blue” you see) PEX. Our heating wire is lead-free so it's better for people and the environment. The Wire (in our case DUAL wire) is the key. That's what gives you Long Life! One competitor uses a carbon fiber - not even a metal copper wire like SunTouch uses to ensure durability and long life.
Is there any advantage to a “low voltage” electric radiant system?
There is no advantage to a low voltage system. SunTouch and competitors have to deliver about the same amount of energy to the floor to Warm Your Floor & satisfy you. Low voltage systems use fewer volts and more amperage and SunTouch uses more voltage and less amperage - Ask an Electrician or Car Mechanic about the dangers of High Amperage - A car battery can really hurt you, but it is only 12 volts, and Low Voltage systems draw the same amps as Line voltage. Low voltage systems use Large transformers (think small microwave oven size) that we have found to be noisy, hot and hard to hide and with special ventilation requirements; and what is the transformer warranty? All North American homes have access to 120 Volt service and by code, you must install your SunTouch system with GFCI or ALCI protection. Fortunately, GFCI protection is Built-In to our controls.
GFCI technology detects ground faults and they will disconnect the energy to your heating system within milliseconds if there is danger. Also, Low voltage systems are NOT low EMF systems and before you buy any product, you should ask for their policy on Electro Magnetic Field (EMF) shielding. Do not worry about SunTouch - Our products are engineered to eliminate EMF. SunTouch in floor radiant heat systems are either 120 or 240 VAC. The SunTouch line voltage systems are extremely safe, and have been tested and approved by the Underwriters Laboratory (UL). There is no improved efficiency if you choose 240V over 120V - larger mats can be manufactured if 240VAC wire is used (up to 160 SF per mat). Some manufacturers try to convince you Low Voltage systems are better or safer - they make low voltage systems because Low Voltage does not require a UL listing.
How far does the heat radiate from the Blue Wire?
The heat will only radiate about 1-1/2” from the Blue Heating Elements. Make certain to install SunTouch right up to the face of cabinets, sinks, vanities, and toilets (stay 4 inches away from the wax ring), if you want those areas warm. Especially important are the “Toekick” areas of cabinets so you are sure to have warm toes! If the wire is removed from the orange mesh carrier, space it 2.75 inches apart if you want to heat the area above.
Why Does SunTouch have only one connection at the beginning of the mat and other products have connections at each end of their product?
We use a dual wire construction that electricians and tile installers really appreciate. At the end of our mat, you'll notice a small black factory assembly where the heating wires are crimped, soldered, and wrapped with shrink-tube. Other products make you figure out how to get both ends of the heating element back to point you started from. SunTouch gives you a single connection to make: at the control where you started laying out your mat. Floor warming mats with two power leads are a big hassle... and we've eliminated that hassle and made it easier to install a floor heating system.
Your Power Lead has thicker wires than some competing products I've seen. Why?
The SunTouch Power lead is 10 Feet long and has a braided metal cover, which costs more money... but it's worth it. It helps protect the wires against jobsite abuse. It's also joined to the green ground wire, so your SunTouch mat is fully grounded from the start of the Power Lead and through the heating wires to the very end of the mat - Safety from End-to-End using 14 gauge (AWG), green-white-black wire that is color coded to Conform to the National Electric Code (green-blue-black for 240V). Some competitors use odd colors or smaller size wire, but SunTouch is built to a higher quality standard. This power lead only runs a short distance on the floor before entering a wall to reach the thermostat. If necessary, take a few minutes to lower the lead profile into the subfloor.
How does a SunTouch electric radiant floor compare to a hydronic (water based) system?
In general, hydronic radiant systems are most often installed in New Construction, not remodels, especially whole houses. You need space in your floor (up to 1-1/2” thick) for the tubes and a Boiler or water heating appliance and the pumps, valves, manifolds, expansion tank and fittings that accompany it; plus a mechanical room to hold this equipment. Hydronic systems allow you to choose the lowest cost fuel, which might be natural gas, oil, propane, solar, or electric. SunTouch is an electric system. SunTouch mats are used most often in smaller (less than 1500 Sq Ft) remodel environments, although we have done a Large project of almost 8,000 Sq Ft under Carpet. SunTouch is simpler than hydronic, takes up less space, goes in faster and for smaller areas, the per square foot cost is much lower. Once the system is installed, your floors will feel wonderful regardless of the approach you choose. Radiant Floor Heat is the best!
What is EMF and what relevance does it have to electric floor warming?
EMF stands for Electro Magnetic Field and is a byproduct of alternating electric current passing through wires and appliances. Human exposure to ambient levels of EMF is the subject of continuing scientific scrutiny and the results are a matter of public record. For those who are concerned, the Federal Government recommends minimizing exposure to EMF in the home and workplace. Elevated EMF levels can also interfere with electronic devices including computer screens and audio equipment and is usually included on lists of causes for “sick building syndrome” and sources of interference.
There is no practical technology to completely shield an electric heating element in order to minimize EMF. The only viable approach is to spiral two wires side by side so the fields cancel each other. SunTouch innovated this approach years ago and was granted U.S. patent number 6,303,905. The EMF generated at floor level by radiant floor heating systems that use only one wire is many times normal ambient levels. Using dual wires for EMF cancellation is more expensive, but it is the safest choice. Any single wire heating element used in radiant floor heating is a compromise and should, in our opinion, be avoided.
Safer electronic emission practices have been adopted by manufacturers of microwave ovens, video monitors and cell phones to name a few. SunTouch has already taken this important step and is another reason why it is your safest and best choice for Floor Warming. Other Manufacturers minimize the importance of EMF…Could this be because they do NOT meet the same superior standard SunTouch meets? Is it worth the risk to you and your family? We do not think so.
Is SunTouch an efficient way to heat?
All the electricity used by the SunTouch wires is converted to useful heat; that makes it 99%+ efficient. Gas appliances only convert a percentage to heat; the rest is lost up the stack. Of course, for many people, gas or oil is more economical per BTU than electricity, even considering the conversion loss. A lot depends on the price you pay for these energy sources and how careful you are with insulation. Generally speaking, SunTouch systems are used to warm fairly small areas and most people use programmable controls or timers so they are not warming the floor all the time. Radiant floor heating is a much more efficient way to warm a space than forced air or baseboard (which works by mostly warming the air). Radiant systems broadcast energy at the speed of light from the floor to warm all the surfaces of the room. The air temperature stays lower so there is less heat loss through windows and air infiltration, yet your comfort is greater. In other words, you Feel warmer.
What's the warranty on SunTouch and how long do you think it will last?
We offer an Industry Leading 25 year warranty that is unusual in our industry. We think the product will last a great deal longer because of several design decisions we made years ago. The great danger to any heating cable in a bathroom floor is oxidation caused by moisture. So, we use a very expensive wire insulation called Tefzel by DuPont. The physical properties of this polymer are unmatched for the application, notably its water resistance, dielectric properties and long-term temperature aging. We also use oxygen-free alloys in our heating elements to give them greater longevity. No one builds a better heating element wire than SunTouch. Compare our wire construction to other systems - your choice will be clear. Furthermore, Watts is a 130 year old USA manufacturer, with $1.4 Billion in sales. So there's a Real USA manufacturer standing behind the warranty. Not an importer or offshore manufacturer. SunTouch is made in America, by Americans, for American homes. One competitor uses offshore labor to produce their layouts - even their drawings are not American!
Planning Your SunTouch Floor Warming Project
Are Custom Sizes Available from SunTouch?
SunTouch is not made in custom sizes, because our 67 different standard mats can fit ANY space. Start with the right sized mat (We will help if you want!) and then cut the orange weave to make right or left turns, 90 degree turns and U-turns. You can install around any obstacle in your room - a Column, heat vent, kitchen island, etc. But, Never cut the blue heating wire. By making these turns, and sometimes pulling out the blue heating wire from the orange mat to fill small, curved or angled areas, you can precisely heat any size or shape room. You can see hundreds of example room drawings in our Design Library. The Design library can help you choose a layout that closely matches your floor plan, and you can order right away!
Is SunTouch a primary heat source or is it supplemental heat?
For most homes, SunTouch serves as a floor warming supplement to your existing heating system. However, the mat does generate over 40 BTUs per square foot of heated area, which is as much as any hydronic heating system. Because SunTouch is not installed under built-ins, cabinets, or walls, the mat may not be able to match the heating load of the room. If you plan to use SunTouch as the primary heat for your space, send us a floor plan, noting exposed walls, windows, ceiling, etc and all the associated R-values. If you do not know the R-values, just tell us the thickness of the walls and ceiling and whether the windows are single- or double-pane. We will calculate the heat load of the room and select a mat that meets that load or comes as close as possible. Click here to get our Heat Load Form
Will SunTouch warm carpet or a floating wood floor? How about Laminate?
Yes. Install & attach SunTouch mats to your subfloor and cover with a thin layer of self leveling mortar on top. This will add only slightly more than a quarter inch rise to your floor. The mortar spreads the heat evenly and helps protect the heating wires from sharp objects that might penetrate the floor. This installation is UL Approved. Be wary of systems that install directly under carpet - check for a UL Listing and assess their ability to withstand furniture placement and safety in the event the carpet gets wet by a spill or accident.
We know of one manufacturer of a mat for directly under carpet; but we will not sell it. We simply do NOT believe it is safe. It has a short warranty and is made offshore. What happens if you put a heavy piece of furniture right on a wire with this mat? We'll stick with our quality products that get encased in a thin layer of mortar for YOUR protection.
How about SunTouch & heating my sunroom?
YES! These areas can be hard to heat, but SunTouch Electric Radiant often costs less than the alternatives. Compare the easy to install & invisible SunTouch to bulky baseboard units that take up valuable space and heat the air, which then immediately moves to the top of the room where it is wasted. Forced air systems are even worse, and they blow pollutants and dust around as well. With a SunTouch system, you will have warm feet in your room during virtually any weather, day or night. A programmable thermostat will allow you to heat on your schedule. If the heat loss from your room is more than SunTouch mats can provide, we will recommend supplementary heat. Sunrooms and SunTouch are a natural combination and we have many successful installations.
240V vs. 120V - Are 120 volt SunTouch mats more efficient than 240 volt?
No. Both have the same efficiency and both mats use 12 watts per square foot. 240 volt mats operate with half the amperage (current) of 120 volt models. The 240 volt models are more popular for larger installations of over 150 Sq Ft, for rooms where you want a lower amperage service, or for rooms where 240V is already in place. Once again, SunTouch has thought of all the options!
Thick Stone - Is 3/4" granite too thick or too heavy for SunTouch mats?
Stone is a great conductor of heat. 3/4" thickness is not a problem for heat transfer or weight. As with all Radiant Floor Heating systems, a thicker floor will mean a slower response time than 5/16” tile. But once a thicker floor is warm, it stays warmer longer, using its stored energy.
Are ALL Types & Sizes of tiles suitable for a SunTouch warm floor?
Glass, ceramic, porcelain, stone, marble, granite and slate floors are all excellent choices with SunTouch. 1”x1” Mosaic to 4' x 4' slabs of Limestone You’re only limited by your creativity – see our complete installation instructions for details on tiles smaller than 6”. If you're not sure – call us toll free 866-558-3369.
Mat Sizes For the Smallest to Largest spaces. Need to warm a small 10 Sq Ft. area? We have 3 mats choices to help! If you have a little mat left over, you can always use up a square foot of mat by pulling out the blue wire and laying it along the side and behind the toilet. But, you can Never cut the blue wire to shorten the mat. We stock 67 sizes to help you fit any shape or size room - that is how flexible SunTouch is. Our largest job is almost 8,000 Sq feet UNDER CARPET right here in Sunny Southern Calif! And we have helped do thousands in between - Let yours be next!
How close can I put my SunTouch mat to a wall, a toilet or other objects?
We recommend you stay 3 to 6 inches away from walls to make sure trim nails or screws do not penetrate the wire during construction after you have installed the Mat. Do not melt that Wax Ring on the toilet flange - stay 4-6 inches away. Cabinets, toekicks, etc. You do not want warm heels and cold toes, so get right up into the toekick space. Remember, the floor will only heat 1-1/2 inches away from the edge of the wire, so use care to not stop short.
Do I need a drawing showing how SunTouch mats lay out in my bathroom?
No. You don't NEED one, but we'll be pleased to provide you with one. It is very easy to use our SunTouch Mat Project Calculator you can enter your project specifications to get an estimate for the mat size you need. Then use our Design Library to find similar projects and look at all the layouts on file there. We believe you'll find a design that is very similar to yours. Use these actual examples as a guide to shaping the mat to your space and watch the installation video that comes in every installation kit. Or, send us your sketch and we'll do it for you at no cost!
Besides baths and kitchens, what are other popular places for SunTouch?
Mudrooms and Sunrooms are excellent choices for floor warming. Warm floors help moisture dry and sunrooms are often added after the primary heating systems have been completed, so adding radiant floor heat can be a major improvement. We hear frequent stories from people who have bathrooms over garages. Regardless of the insulation level in the floor, the temperature in the room is going to approach the temperature in the garage. While that might be OK for a car, your feet will be ice cold. Similarly, any room that is cantilevered over an open area or illuminated with big north facing windows is going to be a comfort problem. SunTouch mats can make a wonderful improvement in those rooms. Warm bathroom floors of any size - and SunTouch Radiant Floor Heat is not just for the bathroom - use it almost anywhere - its even UL approved for use In the Shower Floor.
Does it make sense to put SunTouch under carpet, Laminate or Wood?
In some cases, yes. It is all about your comfort. The largest SunTouch installation was almost 8,000 Sq feet under carpet, right here in Sunny Southern Calif. Pad and carpet will insulate your SunTouch mat while an un-insulated slab below carries warmth away from the room. So, it is important to choose Pad and carpet best suited for a radiant floor. Take a look at this R-Value Chart from the Radiant Panel Association which shows the R-Value for many common flooring choices and construction materials.
For many people, carpet is a way to avoid the discomfort of cold floors, which is a problem that SunTouch can solve for any type of floor covering. If carpet is your preferred floor covering and you want radiant below, we recommend you secure the mat to the subfloor and then cover with a minimum 1/4” self leveling masonry before installing carpet and pad. Leave an unheated area at the perimeter of the room to allow for nail strips. Before you begin however, consider a more popular option: install SunTouch under ceramic tile, stone or slate and then use area rugs. Tile or Stone is much more durable than carpet. Why pay $3-6 per Sq Foot for carpet that stains and “Uglies out” after a few years, just to have a comfortable surface to walk on. Get a lifetime floor with tile, and heat it with SunTouch for the ultimate combination of comfort and durability. The other popular option is to install floating laminate or wood flooring over SunTouch mats that are covered with a minimum 1/4 inch layer of self leveling masonry. The hardwood strips vs. laminate decision is yours, but both options will feel warmer with a SunTouch system below.
Flooring choices & SunTouch summary
Tile, Stone, Concrete Overlay
SunTouch right on subfloor, spread thinset & lay tile
Carpet & Pad
SunTouch on Subfloor, pour self-leveler, install pad& carpet using Glue Down tack strip
Vinyl & Linoleum
SunTouch on Subfloor, pour self-leveler, Glue down material
Glue-Down Engineered Wood
SunTouch on Subfloor, pour self-leveler, Glue down wood
Floating Laminate / Wood Floor
SunTouch on Subfloor, pour self-leveler, Float that floor. A thinner rather than thicker underlayment foam will be better suited to a radiant floor. **Of course, you should always check with the manufacturer of the floor covering to verify compatibility. Because radiant floor heating is widely used worldwide, most flooring products are compatible. Check the manufacturer's instructions or website for more info. Our Favorite Self Leveling manufacturer is ARDEX.
If I install SunTouch in only part of my room, will I notice the cold areas?
Yes, so plan ahead. If your floor is 5 feet wide, and you only heat the 3 feet in front of the sink, the rest of the floor will be cold and stay cold. The heat will only radiate 1-1/2 inches. Consider heating all the areas you walk or stand. Install the mat right up the face of vanities and into the kick space where your toes will be. Install 4-6 inches from the wax ring of the toilet and 3-4 inches from where you emerge from a shower or bath - OR, better yet, heat your shower floor too! Any walkways or doorways are good choices for SunTouch. A radiant floor feels so good that adjoining areas without mats FEEL colder and are quite noticeable. Once you try SunTouch, you will be addicted to heated floors!
How far will heat travel from each blue heating wire?
1-1/2 inches We weave our wires 2.75 inches apart because people can not feel any cold area between the blue wires at this optimal spacing. If your tile extends three inches past the wire, you will feel a temperature difference.
Can I use SunTouch mat for snow melting on outside concrete steps?
Our mat is Underwriter Laboratory (UL) Listed for interior floor heating. We are not UL Listed for snow melting because the wire is not designed to give off enough heat for that purpose. SunTouch mats do work great for heating steps around spas and tubs. You simply need more wattage to melt snow. If you want to melt snow or heat outside areas, consider NEXANS cables.
How do I size electrical service for my SunTouch system?
All sizes & voltages of SunTouch mats are designed to output the same 12 watts per square foot. For every 10 square feet of 120 VAC (Volts Alternating Current) mat, you need 1 amp of electrical service. Each square foot of mat puts out almost 40 BTUs (British Thermal Units. One BTU is about the same amount of energy that is released if you completely burn one wooden kitchen match). A typical SunTouch system with 50 square feet of mat would use 600 watts (6 light bulbs) of energy and would require a 5 amp service. This 50 sq. ft. system would deliver 2000 BTUs per hour of heating to your space under optimal conditions and less when you take into account heat loss below or to the edge of your floor. The SunTouch 240 volt mats put out the amount of BTUs, but they do it with half the amperage. The formula for electrical energy is Voltage x Amperage = Watts. Using the 240 VAC mats allow you to reduce the amperage requirement for that space by 1/2.
Is SunTouch Floor Heat Easy to Install?
There is a SunTouch Electric Floor Warming mat sized exactly for your project. Roll out the mat on your subfloor and secure it in place with a hot glue gun, tape or staples. When you need to make a turn, cut the orange fabric between the blue heating elements (NEVER cut the blue wire) and fill in the area to be heated. Our installation videos, manuals and our website www.WarmYourFloor.com will show you the details. Use the SunTouch LoudMouth Monitor when you install your mats, The Loud-Mouth monitors the heating elements and sets off an alarm if they are ever damaged, before the floor is finished! This small investment can give you peace of mind and it 95%+ effective. The installation must follow local building and electrical codes. An Electric Radiant Floor Heating System should be installed in a professional manner, following all instructions. Using our Installation DVD and other materials, over 50% of SunTouch Mats are successfully installed by first-time installers.
The Electrical portion is typically performed by an electrician. It is as simple as installing a new lighting fixture. Choose a location for your control (acts as a switch to turn mats on & off), install an electrical box and bring power to the box. Then bring the leads from the mat and floor sensor through conduit up to the box. Install the FloorStat control between the 2 sets of wires (as indicated by the instructions) and test the system for a few minutes. Do not leave the system on until the grout and mortar have cured, typically 1 - 4 weeks. SunTouch is the safest electric floor warming mat in the world and is Engineered for Safety and Long Life. The power leads & heating elements are fully grounded from one end of the mat to the other. They are also armored against jobsite abuse. The blue heating elements are reinforced with DuPont Kevlar & insulated with DuPont Tefzel. SunTouch is the only tile-warming product manufactured in America that registers virtually no measurable electromagnetic field (EMF). SunTouch Electric Heat Mats are UL listed, protected by a Thermostat with GFCI protection built-in, and can be used in wet areas, including inside a shower floor. No other product offers this combination of safety features. Safety is built-in to SunTouch.
What do I need for my SunTouch Floor Warming project?
Warm your Floor makes it easy for you! Email or Fax (1 — 866 — 558 — 2010 ) us a dimensioned sketch of the area that needs floor heat. We'll usually have a quote back to you within 1 day. If necessary, we can draw your layout on a CAD system, providing you with an exact map of how to install your SunTouch Floor Warming System. We recommend covering most of the floor area - anywhere you will walk or stand. A warm floor is wonderful and cold areas will be a harsh contrast - so cover as much as you can!
How can I make the power leads (Cold Leads) longer?
You can extend your Power Leads by routing them to an electrical junction box in the wall where you can connect them to standard 14-gauge electrical wire. Then you can run 14 gage AWG electrical wires through the wall to your Thermostat Control. Most local codes require you to make these connections in the junction box and to provide access to the box when the wall is finished. Check your local code for details.
If you need to extend the Power Leads in the floor, simply "pull" the blue heating wire from the mat to get the end of the Power Lead closer to the wall. Hold down the free blue wire with plastic clips (in the installation kit) or hot glue. There is approximately 52 inches of blue wire per square foot of mat. If you need to extend farther than a few inches, Cut the orange mesh away and free up as much blue wire as you need. Remember, NEVER run the blue wire anywhere except IN THE FINISHED FLOOR. Do not put the splice or blue wire in the wall or outside the mortar bed. 1 foot Wide mat = 4.33 Linear feet of blue wire per Linear foot of mat 2 foot Wide mat = 8.66 Linear feet of blue wire per Linear foot of mat 3 foot Wide mat = 13 Linear feet of blue wire per Linear foot of mat
What gauge wire is appropriate if I decide to extend my Power Leads?
14 gauge AWG electrical wire is appropriate for a load of 15 amps in most city electrical codes, but in all cases, follow your local code.
Can I put the sensor wire and the Power Leads in the same electrical conduit?
Yes, if you are using the SunStat Controls (500670 or 500675) since these superior controls use a Class 1 sensor wire, which is approved for use in the same conduit as the power lead. If you are using any other control, you must run the sensor and power leads separately.
Installing the sensor Wire
The Sensor wire is included with each thermostat control. Install it between the heating elements at an equal distance from each. Place the end approximately 1 foot into the floor. You can shorten the thermostat end of the wire (not the end with the thermistor), or just leave the extra wire in the wall.
Do I need Conduit?
The SunTouch UL Listing allows for the ColdLead to be run inside the wall without conduit. But, conduit makes it very easy to pull the ColdLead from the floor to the Thermostat’s Electric box if the walls are closed. Check your local code! We suggest installing conduit if the walls are open (before drywall).
Will residual dried glue from previous floor covering interfere with my SunTouch installation?
Your SunTouch will be embedded in latex modified thin set mortar. The SunTouch will not be affected by the residual glue.
Can I install vinyl flooring and adhesive in direct contact over SunTouch?
We do not recommend the use of flooring adhesives with SunTouch. They are not designed to withstand the operating temperatures of a radiant floor. Self leveling mortars or latex modified mortars are the preferred bonding coat. Check with the manufacturer of your vinyl floor to see if the product is temperature rated for use with a radiant floor before you begin installing.
Can SunTouch be installed over an isolation membrane or sound control membrane?
Yes. We recommend using our double-sided tape to hold the SunTouch mat to the membrane, then thin-set as you normally would. Many customers have had success with our Premium Cork underlayment or WEDI board as well.
If I am using Schluter Ditra®as an underlayment, does the SunTouch go over or underneath?
Schluter recommends SunTouch (or any other heating products) to be installed below the Ditra. SunTouch mats are approved for this product/installation. The warm-up time is ever-so-slightly longer due to the air pockets that result when you install the Ditra mat. This allows Schluter Ditra® to effectively isolate the tile covering from the heated substrate, thus preventing thermal stresses from damaging the tile surface. Schluter Ditra® will not inhibit heat transfer or reduce the efficiency of the heating system. You can read the specifics of installation or contact Schluter
Can SunTouch be installed directly over old Linoleum or Vinyl and then covered with a ceramic tile floor?
Yes, but we recommend installing a "crack isolation membrane" over the linoleum first. For more information check with a manufacturer of isolation membranes. After installing this membrane, lay out the SunTouch, then apply thinset mortar and new tile. The Noble Company makes membrane systems.
Can I install SunTouch mats on top of an old ceramic tile floor?
Normally, we recommend you consider a “crack isolation membrane” when installing SunTouch over an old floor, especially if the old tile is broken, cracked, or has other symptoms of slab or tile failure. If the old floor looks good (and has been there for several years), then make sure the mortar you use is recommended by the manufacturer for bonding to existing tile.
Can I install SunTouch under vinyl flooring?
SunTouch radiant mats are UL listed for use with any type of finished floor if you embed it in at least a quarter inch of masonry. But, first make sure the vinyl flooring manufacturer rates their product for use with a radiant floor. The #1 & #2 manufacturers of Resilient Flooring, Mannington & Armstrong approve radiant heat under their products, as long as the Surface temperature is 85 Degrees F or below. Please check with the manufacturers instructions.
Can I install SunTouch mat directly over masonry?
Yes. Simply tape the mat to the mortar with the double sided tape in our installation kit and lay your tile or stone as you normally would. When in doubt, apply more tape. Thinset spreads easier when the mat is thoroughly attached. You can also use a hot glue gun and put drops onto the mesh joints and masonry from above.
Can you Recommend a self leveling cement for my concrete floor before installing SunTouch?
Several major companies make self leveling mortar products. These are mixed with water to a pancake batter consistency and are designed to be poured over uneven spaces to level a floor. SunTouch has been tested with these products and is compatible. You can apply SunTouch to the existing floor and pour self leveling on top and then apply your finished floor, but the deeper the mat is below the surface, the longer it takes to respond from a cold start. You might consider pouring the masonry first, allow it to harden and then use double sided tape to secure the SunTouch mat on top. Then you could apply a thinset and tile/stone finish to the floor. Our Favorite Self Leveling manufacturer is ARDEX.
Should I install aluminized radiant barriers under my SunTouch floor? Will that direct the radiant energy upwards?
We do not think so. To reflect radiant energy upward, you need an air gap. If you install that barrier below the floor (like in the joist bay) and allow for an air gap between it and the subfloor above, then the radiant barrier will help insulate your warm floor. When you install thinset over the SunTouch mat, that masonry bonds to the layer below through the gaps in the orange weave. If you put in a barrier below the mat, you can compromise that bond and actually make your finished floor more subject to cracking.
Can you put SunTouch right on a plywood subfloor without backerboard?
Yes you can. We have the UL listing for direct application on plywood. But, consider using a cement based backerboard on top of the plywood, as recommended by the Tile Council of America. It costs a little more money, but the TCA likes it because the thinset bonds better to a cement surface than to a wooden surface. It also stiffens the floor and reduces flexing. Backerboard means less chance of cracked tile over the lifetime of your floor. SunTouch Does Not require backerboard.
What is the overall thickness of a SunTouch installation over an existing plywood floor?
Here are a few rules of thumb:
1. 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch of thinset over the plywood
2. Then, 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch backerboard
3. Then, the SunTouch mat.
4. Then 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch thinset over the SunTouch.
5. Finally, 1/4 to 5/16 inch tile.
So, the overall thickness of your completed SunTouch tile floor will be about 7/8" - 1" thick. This is only about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thicker than a cold floor without heat.
If I install SunTouch in a portion of my floor, how do I spread thinset to make sure the finished tile is the same height everywhere?
Use a 3/8 inch x1/4 inch notched trowel, not a conventional 1/4 inch x1/4 inch version. When applying thinset over the backerboard, hold the trowel up at a steep angle to apply more thinset. When working over the mat, drop the angle of the trowel somewhat to apply less thinset.
Why do you recommend a 4 to 6 inch space between walls and the edge of the SunTouch mat?
This space next to walls reduces the chance of damage to the mat by in new construction or future remodeling. If these issues are not relevant in your case, it is OK to put mats within 3 inches of the wall. Definitely stay at least 4" from the toilet ring. Another good reason for the gap is to save you money. In most cases, you do not stand closer than 6” to a wall so you can use less mat by leaving a space.
How close to Windows, Doors, or room openings?
In these cases, you should be closer than 6 inches. Thinks about your room, and where you walk or stand. With French doors to the back yard, you might stand and watch the kids play. Or, at a bathroom or bay window you might stand and look out. In these cases, you would want to get the mat closer to the wall or window.
No. The mat may go through a doorway but never through a wall. UL requires the heating wire to ALWAYS be embedded in mortar.
How do I shape the mat to fit my custom bathroom?
Warm Your Floor stocks all SunTouch mat sizes (that is over 61, more than ANY distributor) and there is one mat or a combination that will fit your room exactly. Refer to the design library to see how the mat begins at the control location and then rolls out until it needs to be turned or comes to the edge of the area you want to heat. Use ordinary household scissors and carefully cut the orange mat between the blue heating wires. Never cut the blue heating wire. The blue wire acts as a hinge so the mat can swivel to make a right turn, a left turn or a u-turn. Proceed in the new direction until you come to a turning point or the edge of the area you want to heat. Repeat the process until you have used the entire mat. At this point, you go back and secure the mat to what's below. On the off-chance you have a little mat left over, free the blue wire and use it up next to the toilet or wall.
Why do I need to use a LoudMouth and an ohm meter to check the blue wire during installation?
Although the wire is extremely tough, it can be damaged during installation. The culprit is often another trade, but it can be the sharp edge of a trowel. When you open your SunTouch box, there is a label that shows the resistance of the mat wire (each length is different). You need to measure this value with a digital ohm meter before you begin work and when you are finished, and log the readings in your installation manual. During the job, however, you should hook up the LoudMouth which does not give you a resistance value, but does sound an alarm if that value changes suddenly. These two devices work very well together and give you peace of mind during the entire installation. Warm Your Floor offers a low cost Digital Ohm meter if you do not own one.
Why do you recommend I wait up to 28 days to use my new SunTouch system after the thinset, tile and grout are installed?
This is based on the recommendation of thinset and grout manufacturers. Their products require a curing period before the masonry reaches its full strength. This process cannot be rushed by heating and apparently, the process can be adversely affected by the modest temperatures of the heating wires if they are turned on before 28 days (according to the thinset manufacturers).
If I have extra SunTouch mat at the end, can I cut the mat to a shorter size?
No. The orange mat can be cut and rearranged to fit your room, but you must never cut the blue heating wire. If you find that you have a few feet of mat left over, you can free some of the blue heating wire from the mat and install it around the perimeter of the room or the side or rear of the toilet. Normally this area is not heated, but it is a good place to use up extra wire.
Can I cut the blue heating element if I have too much?
No. That will ruin the mat. Each mat uses a different wire size and is built with a specific ohm (resistance) value, so the length must remain as it came from the factory.
Why Can’t I shorten the Heating Wire?
If you shorten the heating element you risk premature failure and overheating. You may shorten ONLY the power lead wire or the sensor wire.
Why can’t I splice mats together or otherwise extend the heating wire?
Since each mat uses a specific wire size, extending a wire will risk premature failure and provide too little heat to the floor.
Can I supply the incorrect voltage to a Mat?
No. This also is dangerous and should never be done. The mat voltage must match the Line voltage supplied to the thermostat.
Since many of the thermostats are “dual Voltage” do they convert the power for me and allow me to mix mats?
No. All mat voltages must match incoming Line voltage. 240v circuit must be used with only 240v mats. Combining mats of different voltages on a circuit or supplying the incorrect voltage to a mat cannot be done under any circumstances.
Can you recommend a thinset mortar?
Any of the popular water-based latex modified thin-sets will work fine, manufactured by Custom Building Products, Mapei or others. Buy only dry thinset mortar in bags and mix it up like the pros, into a thick blend that holds to the stirring stick. If you have a big enough job, buy a paddle that inserts into a drill to make mixing easy. The pros use light color thin-set for light color grout and darker thin-set for dark grouts. Avoid all glue-type adhesives meant for vinyl tile or ceramic wall tile. Avoid the pre-mixed mortars, usually sold in buckets at home centers - stick with the powders like a pro.
If I put SunTouch over an existing Concrete slab should I Insulate?
For Concrete floors, we always recommend insulation to act as a thermal break. Concrete slabs absorb part of the heat generated by the floor warming system so less heat is transferred to the flooring. Heat always moves toward colder surfaces, so it goes both up & down when the floor warming system is in direct contact with a slab. Slabs can be quite a drain on floor heating systems depending on the thickness, the subgrade below slab, moisture content, and heat loss from the room or outside temperatures. But, adding a simple layer of cork between the slab & floor heating provides a “thermal break” reducing the flow of heat into the slab and allowing MORE HEAT transfer into the flooring. Installing insulation on top of slab translates into more heat, faster response times and less energy used; a wise investment. And OUR cork is Engineered, Tested and Approved for use under tile and wood floors.
There are a few other insulation materials available, but Cork is our favorite, since it is a natural product and a renewable resource, unlike other insulating products. And you can buy this specially engineered Cork insulation directly from us.
Can the LoudMouth monitor several mats at a time?
Yes. Look Here to see how to connect up to three mats together in series to the LoudMouth. Remember to disconnect them before connecting to the FloorStat.
I've covered SunTouch mats with masonry. What adhesive do I use to adhere a cork floor?
Contact the cork manufacturer and ask for an adhesive appropriate for radiant floors. The surface temperature of your finished floor should not exceed 85°F. Or, use a “floating” type cork floor.
What is the recommended procedure to apply thinset over the SunTouch mat?
Start with a good quality latex-modified thinset. Use the flat edge of a 3/8 inch x 1/4 inch notched trowel to push the thinset over and into the mat. Then reverse the trowel and use the “comb” side to rake the mortar over the mat in straight parallel lines. Work in small areas.
How do I secure SunTouch to cement backerboard before applying thinset?
Our super-sticky double sided tape is your best bet when working over a slab, but backerboard can be penetrated by staples. Use a small finish staple gun and air compressor to staple a lot of mat in a very short time, using short leg staples. Remember: Never staple the blue wire or you will damage it. If you find yourself making a lot of cuts to the orange mat to shape it to your room, go back and staple down loose mat so it does not interfere with your trowel later on. When in doubt, apply more staples. The tighter the mat is to the subfloor, the easier it will be to trowel the thinset.
Can I apply a skim coat of thinset over my SunTouch, let it dry and then apply another coat before setting the tile?
Yes. Some tile installers would rather work over very flat surfaces and they prefer this two step method. First they cover the SunTouch mat with a self leveling mortar or they apply a level skim coat of thinset over the mat. Once dry, they spread thinset while applying tile. Many installers secure the mat to the backerboard and immediately apply thinset and tile. This is a one-step method. Both work fine, so it's a matter of personal preference. In both cases, we recommend using the Loudmouth monitor during the entire installation.
What is the total height of the mat and thinset below a 1/2” thick stone floor?
We recommend using a 3/8 inch x 1/4 inch trowel to apply the thinset over the mat and by the time you have finished, you will be approximately 1/4 inch over the backerboard which is usually 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. For perimeter areas where there is no SunTouch mat, you will simply apply a slightly thicker layer of thinset.
Can I put SunTouch under the tub in my bathroom?
We do not recommend it because the heat transfer will be poor below the tub. If it is a Claw foot or other free standing tub, it is acceptable to use up extra mat under this open type of tub.
Can SunTouch be installed under wood floors, laminate flooring or under carpet?
SunTouch radiant mats are UL Listed for use with any type of finished floor if you embed it in at least a quarter inch of masonry. As always, start with a strong subfloor, secure the SunTouch, and cover with a self leveling mortar of your choice. Once this mortar is in place, follow the manufacturer instructions for cure time and then cover with laminate or carpet. Our Favorite Self Leveling manufacturer is ARDEX. Other Manufacturers are Custom Building Products and Mapei.
How close to a toilet can SunTouch be installed?
SunTouch can be installed within 4 to 6 inches of the wax ring and can slightly underlay the foot of the toilet if needed.
Can a damaged heating wire be repaired on the jobsite?
Yes. Ideally, get a licensed electrician to make the repair. Call us toll free and we'll send your electrician a repair kit. A detailed instruction sheet is also available for direct download. If the mat has not been installed, return it to Warm Your Floor for replacement. If the mat is damaged after installation and it is not feasible to take it up and return it, it can be repaired in the field with a SunTouch Repair Kit.
If a break in the wire is suspected after the tile is installed, it will be necessary to obtain a “Fault Finder” detector, which can help determine the location of a break, typically within 2 SF. A good tile setter can carefully remove the tile and expose the wire. Once you find the break, the electrician will separate the elements of the wire and splice the two sections back together again. The connections are tested and then covered with a section of shrink tube that provides waterproofing. Then an ohm reading is taken again. The repaired assembly is then re-embedded below the tile in fresh thinset. Call our toll free number with any questions you have at any part of the process: 866-558-3369 or the factory @ 888-432-8932.
Do I need an extra sensor?
Sometimes a customer will order an extra sensor for peace of mind. Although it's extremely rare for a sensor to fail, we think it is a reasonable precaution. Run both sensors from the control box to the floor below and then weave them into the mat 6 to 12 inches from the wall. You can put them side by side, but connect only one to the thermostatic control. If you ever need to replace a faulty sensor, you will have one at your fingertips.
I forgot to put the sensor in my floor - what do I do?
You have a couple of options. If your drywall is already in, and your grout lines are at least 1/4” wide, you may run your sensor wire from the control location behind the wall and fish it out through a hole near the floor by using a fish tape or a nail on a string. Use a cutting tool and gently remove the grout from between the tiles for a distance of 6-9 inches into the heated floor. Be careful not to cut too deep and damage a heating wire. Locate the sensor between the tiles, but make sure not to put it directly on top of a blue heating wire. Re-apply grout and then cover the sensor hole in the wall with trim. If your grout lines are not wide enough, or if you are uncomfortable with cutting the grout, you may be able to fish the sensor wire below the subfloor. Use a 1/4” drill bit to carefully drill a pocket under the heated floor in the subfloor up to the underlayment (stop before you get to the mat!). Secure the sensor in the pocket with adhesive and then insulate. Your FloorStat will read the floor sensor and you can adjust the temperature to your liking.
Why SunTouch Mats?
What is the typical operating temperature range for a SunTouch floor?
Radiant floors should not exceed 85 degrees F at the surface. 85 degrees is our skin temperature, so anything warmer starts too feel too warm. Floor coverings other than stone or tile REQUIRE a maximum temperature below 85 F. Most people are very comfortable between 75-80 degrees F.
Can the SunTouch system in my sunroom keep up with sudden temperature changes outside?
All slab-type radiant systems work best if you do not use an “on or off” strategy to control the temperature. Instead, use a modern, programmable, floor sensing control that turns the temperature down (called a “setback”) to a preset temperature when the floor is satisfied, but keeps residual heat in the slab to respond quickly when the floor starts to cool off. Each home is different, but start with a 5 degree F setback to see if the room responds the way you want. If not, you can adjust the floor temperature, setback temperature and lead time features of the programmable thermostat to get the performance you want. Try the SunTouch Programmable FloorStat and we think you will be very pleased. For smaller areas, say under 30 square feet, you might just want to install a non-programmable control and leave it on throughout the heating season.
What objects can I put on top of my SunTouch warmed tile?
SunTouch cannot be installed below built-ins, cabinets or walls, but rugs, hampers, scales and waste cans are OK when your finished floor is stone or ceramic. The area under the rug or other objects will get warmer, but will not cause any damage to the SunTouch or masonry floors. If you use any other type of flooring other than ceramic however, check with the floor manufacturer to make sure their product is suitable for a radiant floor and the objects commonly found on them.
Can one Thermostat control 2 or more separate SunTouch mats?
You can connect up to 3 mats totalling 150 Sq Ft of 120V and 300 Sq Feet of 240V SunTouch mat to one SunStat (15 Amp Load). More than 3 mats makes for an unsafe wire connection in the electrical box and violates most electric codes. So, keep it to 3 mats or less — simply choose larger mats from our selection of 67 sizes in 4 widths. You could also use a series of junction boxes to connect more mats to one SunStat, but this is seldom necessary or cost effective when you can simply choose the right mats for your project. Or, let us help you choose the correct mats.
How important is insulation to the performance of my radiant system?
It can be very important. If you are installing SunTouch in a bathroom over a frame floor, you would be smart to make sure the joists below the tile floor are insulated with fiberglass batts. Your floor will respond faster and you will waste less energy. If you are putting SunTouch on an existing slab, make sure you insulate any exposed edges with extruded polystyrene insulation. Or, place cork underlayment over the slab before you secure the SunTouch. If you are installing SunTouch in new construction, put insulation below the slab and at the perimeter.
We highly recommend the use of our cork insulation between a slab and the SunTouch Mats. This thermal break will allow your SunTouch floor warming system to warm up your floor quicker and be more efficient.
If I use SunTouch mats under a ceramic floor without a thermostat control, is there danger of fire?
SunTouch mats are Listed by Underwriters Laboratory and the focus of U.L. testing is fire and shock prevention. Of course, you must install your system according to SunTouch installation instructions as well as all local building and electrical codes. If you operate your system without a thermostat, your floor could become uncomfortably warm and your operating costs could be higher than necessary, but it would not have a risk of fire if otherwise installed correctly. Your best option is a SunTouch Programmable SunStat PRO. This solid state control has several safety features built-in; floor sensor and air temperature sensors, clock and timer functions, GFCI for safety and a relay that allows control of up to 150 square feet of 120vac mat or 300 square feet of 240vac mat.
How long does it take to warm my SunTouch floor from a cold start?
In a new installation, the mat is working to warm the entire cold mass of the floor. Framed floors (raised) heat up quickly-- usually it takes about 30-60 minutes. A slab can take a day or longer to come up to temperature, depending on the conductivity and moisture content of the slab and the material below the slab. If your radiant floor is over a heated space and there is not much heat loss from the room, these times are reduced significantly. Once you program your Programmable SunStat PRO control however, you will not worry about timing issues. The SunStat has the ability to learn how long the floor takes to reach the comfort temperature, and will automatically start the control early to reach this temperature at the programmed time using state-of-the-art “Fuzzy Logic”.
Will the heated area below SunTouch mat behave differently than the unheated area around it?
The temperature difference between your heated areas and non-heated area will not cause a problem. SunTouch floors should not be operated above a surface temperature of 85 degrees F. This setting is perfect for warming your feet and warming your space, but not enough to damage your floor.
How much does my SunTouch system cost to operate?
Install the floor sensing SunTouch control so you use only enough energy to do the job and nothing more. When your floor is warm, the control turns off the floor warming system. On average, the electricity to the floor is on about 1/3 of the time. You can also use a SunTouch programmable control to make sure your floor system is off when you are at work or asleep. And, it contains a manual override and a Vacation setting.
How warm does my SunTouch floor get when it's operating?
Most people prefer about 75 to 80 degrees F. but 85 degrees is the suggested upper limit. The SunStat will accept a temperature setting of up to 99 F, but that is much too warm for the system. Using a SunTouch floor sensing thermostat you can set the temperature to your liking and set an upper limit of 85 F so you do not Warm Your Floor too high.
How much electricity does my SunTouch mat use?
A 10 Sq. Foot mat uses only 120 watts, the same amount of electricity as two 60 watt light bulbs. As an example, an average 100 square foot bathroom with 50 square feet of SunTouch uses about 10 cents per day if it operates 6-8 hours each day at a utility rate of 10 cents per kilowatt/hour. If you operate the floor more than a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening, then your cost will be more.