What is STEP Warmfloor™? How safe is the product?
STEP Warmfloor™ is a strong, flexible, thin plastic heating mat. It is made of an innovative polymer blend that heats when electricity is passed through the material. Unlike other types of radiant floor heating, STEP Warmfloor™ has the unique ability to self-regulate. So by design it cannot overheat. STEP Warmfloor™ operates on low-voltage and is normally connected to a 24-volt power supply, but can also be run by solar or wind-power source. To provide power continuously along its length, a flat bus braid is embedded in the plastic sheet heater along each edge. Our system is energy efficient when continuously energized, allowing the self-regulating nature of the heating elements to control the floor temperature.
STEP Warmfloor™ is a very safe product and ideally suited for bathrooms and other wet environments. Because it is mainly a polymer it is unaffected by moisture. STEP Warmfloor™ is a low voltage system (24 V). Further the product has met the stringent international ETL listing protocol and conforms to the ANSI/UL-1693 standard.
How long has STEP Warmfloor™ been used?
The self-regulating polymer technology was developed in 1981 and first used to provide heated seats for automobiles. Since then the technology has been used in a variety of applications, including the floor covering area. Hundreds of thousands of square feet of STEP Warmfloor™ have been installed globally.
Where else in the house can STEP Warmfloor™ be used?
- STEP Warmfloor™ is great under sidewalks and driveways to prevent snow and ice build-up. No more shoveling walks or using salt to melt the ice.
- STEP Warmfloor™ is ideal for those hard to heat places such as basements, 3 and 4 season sunrooms, and living spaces above garages.
- STEP Warmfloor™ can be used as radiant wall heating.
- STEP Warmfloor™ can be placed behind mirrors to keep them from fog-up.
- STEP Warmfloor™ can help plants grow in greenhouses.
How do I purchase STEP Warmfloor™?
You can either contact:
- Local Distributor
- International Distributor
- STEP Warmfloor™ Directly
What should I do if my installer is not familiar with STEP Warmfloor™?
Please ask your installer to give us (or one of our distributors) a call, or give us your installer's name and phone number so we may contact them.
- Toll-Free Phone: 877-783-7832
- Toll-Free Fax: 877-781-1982
- Phone: 314-426-3555 (from outside US)
- Fax: 314-426-3556 (from outside US)
Can STEP Warmfloor™ overheat?
Because of its polymer design, STEP Warmfloor™ cannot overheat. As the material gets warmer, less amount of electricity passes through the plastic and therefore less heat is generated. It is as if you had a sensor over the entire floor.
STEP Warmfloor™ is even approved to be used in hospital beds, as it adapts to the temperature generated by the body heat.
What does "self-regulating" mean?
All materials expand and contract with temperature. We take full advantage of this basic law of physics to create the "self-regulating" nature of the STEP Warmfloor™ heating element.
When the STEP Warmfloor™ heating element is exposed to a cold temperature, on a molecular level, the conductive particles embedded in the plastic get shoved together. This creates many current paths between the bus braids, the current flows through the semi-conductive plastic, and heat is generated.
When the temperature warms up, on a molecular level, the conductive particles get spread apart. This reduces the amount of current paths between the bus braids, causing the current flow to decrease, and less heat is generated.
This "self-regulating" nature allows our heaters to respond to local conditions at the floor, providing a much more comfortable environment. The heaters will self-regulate up in heat output in front an exterior door that has been opened and closed. The heat output will decrease in locations where sunlight is warming the floor.
How does the STEP Warmfloor™ heating element generate heat?
The STEP Warmfloor™ heating elements are unique in that they DO NOT use metal heating elements. Our heating element is constructed primarily of a plastic that becomes semi-conductive. It is the electricity passing from bus braid to bus braid through this semi-conductive plastic that generates the heat.
Is STEP Warmfloor™ a patented technology?
STEP Warmfloor™ was granted it's first US patent in 1999 and has other European and US patents.
Has STEP Warmfloor™ won any awards?
STEP Warmfloor™ has won several awards including:
- Flooring Magazine Top 10 Products, 1996
- 1st place Most Innovative Product for the New Home Show, 1997
- Innovation Award Silver Medal at Batimat/Interclima, 1997
- Editors Top 50 Popular Home Automation, 1998
- 11th International Construction Award, 1999
- Radiant Panel Assoc. Electric Commercial and Residential Award, 2000
- 1st place for Electric Residential - RPA, 2003
- 1st place for Electric Commercial - RPA, 2003
- Building Products Top 100 Products Award, 2003
What are some of the other areas STEP Warmfloor's™ technology has been used?
The technology has been used in a variety of areas:
- On Alaskan tug boat decks to prevent ice and snow build-up in -40°F weather
- In the Antarctic to help keep delicate electronics working
- By veterinarians to keep animals warm
- In the North Sea to keep living areas on oil platforms (100 feet above the ice cold ocean) warm and comfortable
These are only a few of the applications that the product has been used for. To see more, please visit our parent company, Electro Plastics, Inc.
How rugged is a STEP Warmfloor™ system?
During shipping, handling and installation of the STEP Warmfloor™ system, care must be taken to ensure that the heating elements are not damaged. With that said, our heating elements are a rigged plastic sheet. Once placed on the floor, they can be walked on without fear of damage. Just don't drag equipment or construction supplies over the exposed elements.
With the other electric systems that are on the market, their heaters are fragile thin wires and cables that can be easily damaged. Because of that, extreme care and caution must be taken to ensure that damage does not occur.
- Floor heating
Can STEP Warmfloor™ heat my whole house?
STEP Warmfloor™ can easily be used as the only heat source. It is used in extreme cold areas such as Alaska, Norway and Ushuaia. Using this heating system eliminates the need for a forced air furnace, which blows dust and particles around. Each room can be individually controlled.
Can I use STEP Warmfloor™ to just take the chill out of my floor?
Yes, floor warming is a perfect fit for STEP Warmfloor™. Bathroom floors will be pleasantly comfortable on your bare feet in the morning. The system can be used for floor warming in a single room while a different heat source is used to heat the whole house. Remember that other rooms can also benefit from a warm floor - kitchens, foyers, dens, family rooms - really, any room!
Can STEP Warmfloor™ be used for renovation?
STEP Warmfloor™ is ideal for renovation and new construction. Because the product is so thin 1.2 mm (3/64") and flexible it can be installed without needing to change the height of molding, doors or cabinets. Additionally, each room can be individually controlled.
Can STEP Warmfloor™ be installed under an existing floor?
Yes - as long as you have access to the sub-floor. STEP Warmfloor™ can be installed between floor joists without altering your existing floors.
We highly recommend insulation below the elements.
Can STEP Warmfloor™ be used to heat my addition?
Many residential addition projects become expensive when the size of the forced air furnace has to be increased to handle the heating requirements for an addition. Instead, install the STEP Warmfloor™ system in the addition as the primary heat source and leave the existing furnace alone.
Is it difficult to install STEP Warmfloor™?
STEP Warmfloor™ is very easy to install. It was designed with simplicity and the installer in mind. Cut the elements with scissors to length, connect the wires and secure in position on the floor.
Check out our Installation Manual for more information.
What type of floors can STEP Warmfloor™ be used under?
STEP Warmfloor™ provides such even and gentle heating that it can be used under almost any flooring including carpet, vinyl, laminate, marble, stone, tile and even under wood.
Please see our Flooring Options guide for additional information.
How is STEP Warmfloor™ regulated? Can a thermostat be used?
Floor warming in a small room such as a bath or foyer can be turned on and operated without controls by solely using the self-regulating nature of STEP Warmfloor™. If some control is desired, STEP Warmfloor™ does offer the MICRO-PROG, a 7-day programmable timer switch (120V only). Alternatively, a two-pole on/off switch can be used on the 120V or 240V side of the power supply. Make sure that the switch is rated for the wattage load of the system.
For Total or Room Heat applications, STEP Warmfloor™ offers a programmable (EPI-LX-THPR) and non-programmable (EPI-LX-TH) thermostat. These devices provide a digital display and set-point controls that pulse the supply voltage of the EPI-LX-R power supply in a manner to help closely match the system heat output with the heating needs for that zone and to prevent temperature overshoot typical with other heating systems. This allows the customer to add zone controls to individual areas of the residence while still taking advantage of the self-regulating nature of STEP Warmfloor™.
A thermostat is not required with our system. Our system is energy efficient when continuously energized, allowing the self-regulating nature of the heating elements to control the floor temperature. An on/off thermostat would interfere with normal operation of our system and could result in a floor that is colder than desired.
Are there other radiant floor heating alternatives?
Yes, there are.
One method is to use hot water pipes placed below the floor. The water tubing is connected to a water boiler. The hot water from the boiler is then circulated through the tubing to generate the radiant heat. Hydronic systems require maintenance for pumps and valves, are difficult to use for smaller areas and for retrofits in an existing home.
Another alternative is the use of electric cables. These systems are fixed wattage and carry higher voltage (100V - 230V). They require thermostats, sensors and ground fault switches.
What are the benefits of STEP Warmfloor™ heating system over forced air heat?
Using STEP Warmfloor™ heating elements eliminates the need for a forced air furnace, which blows dust and particles around. Studies have shown that dust and particles aggravate asthma and other respiratory aliments. Even better each room can be individually controlled.
What temperature does it take for us to feel comfortable? Do you know that if your feet are warm and your head is cool, you will feel perfectly comfortable? If you look at forced air heat, we are heating our living space from the ceiling down to the floor because heat rises. This means to get our feet moderately comfortable, the temperature at the ceiling may wind up very high. It takes a significant amount of energy to create and maintain that comfortable temperature at our feet in a forced air system.
With radiant heat, we flip that temperature profile. The entire floor becomes the radiator. The temperature at the floor level is at that comfortable range while the temperature at our head is lower but still at a very comfortable temperature. The heat radiates up from the floor, warming all the objects in the room. Everything in the room will gain a nice, warm, comfortable feel to it. Even your bare feet propped up on the table will be comfortable from the warmed coffee table surface. The amount of energy required to create and maintain this comfortable temperature at our feet is significantly less than compared to forced air.
What are the benefits of STEP Warmfloor™ over other electric heat systems?
These other electric systems carry higher voltage (100V - 230V). They require thermostats, sensors and ground fault switches.
With the other electric systems that are on the market, their heaters are fragile wires and cables that can be easily damaged. Because of that, extreme care and caution must be taken to ensure that damage does not occur.
STEP Warmfloor™ operates on 24V, cutting your energy consumption in half when compared to other electric radiant systems.
STEP Warmfloor™ is self-regulating, and only draws the energy needed to maintain it's ideal temperature. While thermostats and floor sensors can be added for additional control, only a simple two-pole on/off switch is required to operate the system.
In addition to being low voltage and self-regulating, STEP Warmfloor™ is also very durable and can be walked on during installation, and the plastic can be nailed or stapled through with no effect, provided the conductive flat bus braids running along either side are not damaged.
Why do my STEP Warmfloor™ elements not heat up before the finished floor is installed?
Based on the self-regulating nature of our heating elements, the surface temperature of an element will not be warmer than the skin on your hand until it is embedded in some thermal mass and the generated heat can accumulate.
The true test of heater operation before placement of the finished floor is through current measurements of the individual elements. A more simple test is to place a rug or blanket over the elements until the heat can accumulate and be noticeable to the touch. Please note that the normal skin temperature is 86°F and even when generating heat, the elements run cooler than this.