STEP WARMFLOOR® NEWS ARCHIVE AND COMPANY BLOG
Nanotechnology: The Future of Proven, Efficient Home Heating and Comfort
Monday, May 30, 2017 (Thanks to ProudGreenHome.com)
Home heating has gone through substantial transformation in recent decades. Most of the change involved the energy source. Combustibles such as wood, coal, fuel oil, propane and natural gas were used in most homes to heat the circulating air in very inefficient manners. The heated air rises to the unoccupied ceiling area above the thermostat and soon the thermostat calls for more costly heat.
Radiant heating was introduced with various methods of heat transfer including water or electric cables with marginal efficiency. In 1981, inventor and senior engineer Stephan Irgens, got involved in a research project as a sideline to his Norwegian engineering and fluid power company. It involved electrically conductive polymers based on nanotechnology. At that particular time, conductive plastics already existed but the technology for them to provide even, stable heat did not exist. Irgens changed that by developing a polymer that allowed the nanoparticles to disseminate heat evenly and efficiently on a larger surface.
The new technology was first used for car seats, mattresses and medical applications. In 1994, Stephan and Monica Irgens moved their business from Norway to Saint Louis, Missouri. Electro Plastics, Inc. (EPI) (dba STEP Warmfloor) grew in to a research and development firm with a mission to improve the existing polymer product and erect a production line to manufacture a new generation of electro plastic heating elements. Monica, being active in the radiant heating industry for over two decades, served on the Radiant Professional Alliance (RPA) Boards of Directors and as chairperson of the Electric Committee and the Green Committee. She is a member and on the work group for the UL and CSA standard committee involved in electric radiant heating. In addition, Monica is a member of the USGBC and has been involved in the design of their company-owned building which is LEED registered.
Nanotechnology research is rapidly intensifying in several fields such as biomedical, optical and electronics. Nanoparticles have a very high surface area to volume ratio, providing a tremendous driving force for diffusion. This, in a nutshell, is the critical advantage over other radiant heating options.
The most unique characteristic of the nanoparticle polymer heating element is its ability to self-regulate due to the Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) properties of the bonding between nanoparticles. As the temperature of the element rises, the resistance increases, meaning as the temperature of the room increases, the system will use less energy to maintain the targeted, ambient temperature. This also means the system will not waste energy overheating due to added heat sources outside of the heating system such as body temperature orsolar heat gain. The heating element acts as a floor sensor over its whole surface. This is the only heating system on the market today that utilizes this technology.
Today, EPI’s Self-regulating Technology of Electro Plastics (STEP) is installed in thousands of homes, commercial buildings, hospitals, RV’s, and watercrafts, as well as roof de-icing and snowmelt applications.
How efficient is the STEP system? Francesco Schiavone, PhD, BEng (Mech) – University of Florence, Italy, Senior Research Associate – Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia, conducted a study comparing the efficiency of thermal heat transfer using the STEP system versus a water tubing system and an electric cable system. It was proven that the STEP system was two to two and a half times more efficient in its thermal heat transfer. And while this study and other submissions to local and national government departments show that the STEP system meets energy codes, an independent third party study is needed and being sought.
The recognition of EPI’s effectiveness is somewhat stymied by current Energy Star and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) protocols in that Energy Star products, for example, are focused on individual components of a heating system and not the entire system. The EPA has no program available for radiant and electric heating systems. The EPI STEP system is not only the heater but is the distributor of heat and controls the heat as well.
A comparative analysis to current state-of-the-art heating options is impressive. The STEP system is 68 percent more efficient than forced air (100% when using renewable energy). Labor cost is reduced due to the ease of installing the STEP system and there is no equipment maintenance.
The future of home heating with PTC properties of nanoparticle polymer will bring substantial energy savings, reduced gashouse emissions and increased performance. For more information, or to download this and other white papers, visit Proud Green Home’s website.
Electro Plastics, Inc. Introduces a Line Voltage System – STEP® Heat Trace
- SATURDAY, AUGUST 22 2015 16:08
Electro Plastics, Inc. released a brand new product to its offering of radiant heat systems. The new STEP® Heat Trace Line Voltage is a line voltage system used for radiant heat, snow melt and deicing in industrial and commercial buildings. STEP® Heat Trace Line Voltage is a heating solution for interior and exterior applications, specifically in large concrete installations, including manufacturing facilities, warehouses and garages.
STEP® Heat Trace Line Voltage is available in different widths and lengths, and if applicable, can be grounded with an optional STEP® Sheath. Unlike other STEP® heating elements, the STEP® Heat Trace Line Voltage is designed for larger projects and does not require a transformer. The STEP® Heat Trace Line Voltage system connects to the STEP® AC Controller, available in 230V, and can be used with the STEP Touch® thermostat and external sensor.
“Customers love our self-regulating technology, and we knew we had to look into another offering for those larger projects,” says Monica Irgens, president, Electro Plastics, Inc. “Instead of needing dozens of transformers in a large warehouse, STEP® Heat Trace Line Voltage doesn’t require any. It operates right from the STEP® AC Controller.”
The STEP® Heat Trace Line Voltage elements are made of homogeneous, semi-conductive polymer. This self-regulating PTC nanotechnology allows the element to heat with maximum power in cold environments and uses less electricity as the temperature increases. This minimizes power consumption and reduces operating costs compared to conventional electric cable systems.
The element is protected by a chemically, inherently inert and dielectric insulation. This liner protects against physical damages and aggressive materials to allow the heating element to be installed under concrete or other non-combustible material in industrial and commercial applications. Other features of STEP® Heat Trace Line Voltage include:
- Durable, flat, thin and flexible line voltage heating element
- Factory-wired with two extension wires, ten feet each; wire lengths can be made to fit customer specifications
- Energy efficient, self-regulating PTC technology – as the material gets warmer, less electricity passes through the plastic
- The element acts as a sensor and cannot overheat
Also, STEP® Heat Trace Line Voltage may be used for snow melt and/or deicing. In addition to being used under concrete to eliminate the need for shoveling snow, this product could be used in bridges and overpasses to prevent accidents due to slippery roads.
“We designed this based on the feedback from our customers,” says Irgens. “We are so proud to continue developing elements and STEP® systems that help our customers solve problems.”
Electro Plastics, Inc. offers a range of radiant heating solutions. All products are ETL listed, have the CE marking and conform to ANSI/UL. For further information, contact Monica Irgens at 1-314-426-3555 or visit www.electroplastics.com.
Electro Plastics is a proud sponsor at the “Proud Green Home of St. Louis”
- SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21 2015 18:05
Maryland Heights, Missouri – February 21, 2015
Hibbs Homes, a nationally renowned green construction company in St Louis, announced the completion of their “Proud Green Home” construction project, located in the Wildwood area of St. Louis County, Missouri.
The high performance five-bedroom, 3,700-square-foot Prairie-style home – built in partnership with Verdatek Solutions, Curtiss W. Byrne Architect, and the High Performance Buildings Research Center (part of the Midwest Energy Efficiency Research Consortium at the University of Missouri-Columbia) – is the third high performance showcase home Hibbs Homes has built in the St. Louis area. It was constructed to provide the homeowners with better indoor air quality, lower energy costs, and better durability. This “Proud Green Home” will also educate and inspire building professionals and consumers about the benefits of building and living green.
This “Proud Green Home” features many green-inspired products throughout the home, including STEP Warmfloor. This electric radiant heating system is installed in the master bathroom.
“We are so thrilled to be a part of this project,” says Monica Irgens, president of STEP Warmfloor. “Not only does this home represent our same living green values, it’s right here in St. Louis, home of our headquarters. To see St. Louis adopting more and more of these practices is truly gratifying.”
In conjunction with the home’s completion, Hibbs Homes hosted a two-day open house at the new “Proud Green Home” of St. Louis for professionals and consumers on Friday and Saturday, February 20 and 21, 2015. Despite freezing rain and snow, more than 100 interested parties attended the open house over the weekend to learn more.
Electro Plastics, Inc. is an engineering and design company manufacturer of a unique and efficient electric radiant heating system – STEP Warmfloor®.
Our main product STEP Warmfloor® is a strong, flexible, homogeneous, flat and thin polymer heating element. The plastic is electrically conductive and because of resistance in the material, heat develops. Most important, the element is self-regulating, which means that when the ambient temperature increases, the electrical resistance increases and the consumption of electricity decreases. For these reasons the heating element is safe, cannot overheat and is very energy efficient.
All products are designed and manufactured in the USA with quality and durability in mind. Our mission is to provide value to our customers through delivery of sustainable, safe and energy efficient heating solutions.
St. Louis Welcomes Proud Green Home
- SATURDAY, JANUARY 10 2015 14:04
Going green isn’t just a trend anymore. Building a sustainable home is becoming a more common practice, and they are starting to sprout in St. Louis.
Proud Green Home partnered with us and other contracting companies to build a five-bedroom, 3,700 sq.-ft. home in Wildwood, Mo., that is expected to meet a number of green building standards.
“We’re so excited not just to be a part of such an environmentally-friendly project, but to do it right here in our hometown,” says Monica Irgens, STEP Warmfloor president. “Our projects bring us all over the world, from the South Pole to Norway, and I couldn’t be happier to bring this green solution right next door.”
The house will feature the STEP Warmfloor heating elements in the master bathroom. “This is a common place for our product,” Monica says. “Who wants to get out of a warm shower and step onto cold tile? With STEP Warmfloor, this new house will offer heated floors so this lucky home owner doesn’t have to face that.”
This project is expected to be complete this year. Stay updated at ProudGreenHome.com.
Free AEC Course
- SUNDAY, MARCH 30 2014 16:15
STEP Warmfloor Offers Free AEC Daily Online Course
STEP Warmfloor is pleased to offer a free online learning course, brought to you by AEC Daily. This course provides one hour/credit for the state and the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and it qualifies for the Health, Safety and Welfare (HSW) training.
“We partnered with the AEC in order to provide architects a better understanding of the radiant heat market, as well as the installation techniques and customer benefits of our PTC [positive temperature coefficient] technology,” says Monica Irgens, STEP Warmfloor president.
The green market is heating up, and more and more new construction projects are looking for LEED certification. STEP Warmfloor is a certified Greener Product, complying with the LEED, LEED for Homes and NAHB standards.
“I don’t know of any radiant heat providers who offer a truly green product like ours,” says Monica. “When the AEC Daily approached us, we were eager to partner because the architects weren’t aware of any options for electric radiant heat that are as energy efficient.”
The course, “Floor Warming, Primary Heating, Snow Melting & Roof De-icing with PTC Heaters” outlines the following objectives:
- discuss the underlying principles of heat transfer and the advantages of radiant heat
- compare the operation and installation of radiant heating systems
- explain how self-regulating polymer technology works and identify specific applicationsacross a variety of construction sectors
- discuss the energy efficiency and performance of PTC (positive temperature coefficient)heaters, and
- discuss the advantages of using PTC heaters for floor warming, primary heating, snowmelting and roof de-icing.