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Heating Your Kitchen

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 9 Apr 2013 | comments*Discuss
Kitchen Heating Radiator Radiators

If a kitchen redesign is part of your renovation project you will at some point have to consider kitchen heating. No problem, you might be thinking, we're just leaving the radiator where it is.

Why Get Rid of Radiators?

If you're not changing the layout a great deal and the kitchen is warm enough as it is then that may be exactly the right thing to do. But increasingly a modern home renovation will be creating an open plan cooking, eating and living space. What if you could do away with the radiators?

Think of all the wall space that would suddenly be freed to use for cupboards, shelves or floor units with an extra run of worktop. Or you could completely redesign the layout to make it work much better for you and your family. The kitchen is the one room where getting rid of radiators or storage heaters can really reap dividends.

Underfloor and Under Cupboard Heating

So what are the options? In a nutshell, it's underfloor heating or plinth heaters under the base units. Underfloor heating is self-explanatory really but there are two main types and the one you pick will depend on your house and the extent of your renovation.

The under-unit heaters are electric fan heaters or electrically-assisted small radiators which fit in the space underneath the cupboards. They are installed with vents in the kick-plates to allow the warmth out to circulate. The kick-plates beneath the base units are often called plinths, hence the name plinth heaters.

Underfloor Heating

The problem with underfloor heating is fitting it. It's great if it's being installed as part of a new build or total restoration but installing it, particularly the hot water variety, in just one room is difficult and expensive. Essentially the floor has to come up and special hose-pipe coiled across the ground. Then a floor substrate, usually concrete, is put in place and overlaid with screed.

Apart from all that, the pipes supplying the kitchen floor have to be run separately to the boiler and the boiler modified to supply both the ordinary radiators and the kitchen. The water for an underfloor heating system needs to be around 45-50 degrees as opposed to the 85-90 degrees used for radiators. So you can see why putting underfloor heating in a new build, or a renovation where the whole house has been gutted, is a lot easier than doing just one room.

Electrical Underfloor Heating

There is another option that's becoming increasingly popular in this situation and that's electric underfloor heating. This is flat, flexible mat or cable laid on top of the screed with the flooring laid on top. If the base isn't concrete then suitable insulating boards or tiles may need to be laid down first, but it's still a lot easier than laying water-based underfloor heating.

The electric connection must only supply the heating mat or cable and should go to the consumer unit with an RCD in the system. This has to be done by a qualified electrician but the job is still easier and cheaper than connecting up a water-based system to conventional central heating.

Plinth Heaters

The under-cupboard plinth heaters essentially blow hot air out through a grill at your feet and are either electric or water-based. The water-based ones are like small, dense radiators with electric fan heaters to push the air out. The electric ones are just like ordinary electric fan heaters. Possibly the best option is the combination plinth heaters.

These are radiators with a fan but they also have an electric fan heater built-in. They can use the heat from the ordinary household central heating system when it's available. But they can also use just the electric heater when the kitchen is a little chilly and it's not worth heating the whole house.

Plan for Heating

So that's a comprehensive run-down of the options available to those who want to get rid of the radiators in their kitchens, but remain nice and toasty. Just select the right one for your house and build it into your renovation project plan.

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