Strangely, caravan underfloor heating isn’t something that’s all that common, the preferred options generally being a blown-air system or a ‘wet’ system with radiators much akin to your central heating system at home.
Whilst blown-air systems from Propex and Whale are common in top-end caravans from the likes of Bailey, we felt that there were a number of inherent problems with them:-
So, let’s move on to ‘wet’ central heating, with a boiler heating both radiators and warm water – the most popular of which is made by the Scandinavian company Alde, and again fitted to a number of premium caravan makes – including in fact modern Airstreams. As this produces a nice type of heat like you have at home, combines room heating with water heating, and can be left on permanently and controlled via a thermostat (just like you have at home), we initially felt this would be the ideal solution. BUT, again, we could see some downsides:-
In spite of these negatives though, we would probably have gone for the Alde Compact system, as it does provide good heat and a plentiful supply of hot water. However, having taken the decision not to have a shower in the trailer, this was probably a luxury we didn’t need, and therefore not worth paying the weight (and cost) penalty. It’s also a bit “normal”, and not desperately ground-breaking, since lots of people have already done it!
Hence, underfloor heating, which is silent (so can be left on all the time), unobtrusive once installed, lightweight (although obviously there’ll be some extra weight due to needing a separate water heater), controllable via a thermostat – and produces a lovely type of cosy heat, so warm toes in the mornings! It is also a lot more EXCITING!! The only question really is whether you can fit enough of it in there to provide sufficient heat!
As we described in a previous post though, adequate insulation plays a big part in how much heating capacity you need, so with a good thick layer of Celotex closed-cell insulation underneath the floor, and both Thinsulate and Airtek bubble insulation between the internal and external skin, we’re hoping to keep heat loss to a minimum.
In order to get as much heating capacity in the trailer though, we also decided to go for underfloor heating wires rather than the more commonly-used heating pads. These are somewhat thicker than the pads, but allow greater flexibility in terms of fitting them around seating areas / cupboards etc, whereas the pads tend to be in fixed shapes and sizes. The photo below illustrates how we have used this to get the maximum length of heating wires on the floor, by fitting round obstacles such as the table leg, seating areas and the bathroom, where we have fitted some wires though, as nobody likes a cold bathroom!