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Old 06-01-2022, 09:50 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: frederick md
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Year: 1995
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Engine: 8.3 Cummins mechanical injection
Flooring options for hydronic heating

I am in the planning stage of building my bus, and I think I want to have hydronic heat in addition to jegs heaters. However, I don’t know what the best flooring would be for the kitchen area. I will definitely be having carpet in the bedroom and living areas, and I really hate the look of that fake wood flooring stuff that is vinyl, linoleum, etc. I could do a real hardwood floor, but does anyone have any additional suggestions?

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Old 06-02-2022, 10:02 AM   #2
Bus Nut
 
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The tough part with a solid wood floor is that it wood is a decent insulator and it will not transfer heat very well. The most effective way to transfer heat in hydronic floors is with finned heat exchangers.

While I love the idea of radiant floor heating (hydronic), I'm not a huge fan of using it in a bus. I have radiant heat in my concrete slab for my shop although it is not hooked up completely yet. It makes sense due to its efficiency and ability to heat evenly and recover quickly.

In a bus, however, it will require a roof raise, room to plumb the manifold, a heat source, etc. Additionally, if you ever change the location of items in your bus you will run the risk of hitting a water line when you anchor to the floor.

In my opinion, hydronic heat through liquid to air heat exchangers is much more effective in bus. I chose to go this route via a diesel hydronic heater. I plan to run mine in conjunction with the stock bus heaters and add some auxiliary heaters if necessary. You'll already be going through the cost/trouble of installing a hydronic heater of some sort so I don't see the need to add to that headache by adding in-floor heat. Again, that's just my personal opinion. I think in-floor heat in a bus can work well when done correctly but I don't think the juice is worth the squeeze.
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Old 06-02-2022, 10:30 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
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I suppose that is true about the solid wood being more insulating, and I don’t want a roof raise. I will probably just do a heated floor in the bathroom, where it counts the most to me and the layout is unlikely to change.
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Old 06-15-2022, 11:04 AM   #4
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I think you need to have extremely good insulation underneath your in-floor hydronic heating installation. Residential building codes call for R30 under floors which are exposed to the exterior. That’s the equivalent of like 5 inches of foam or 8 inches of fiberglass batt. I have lived in my 40 foot bus for the last two winters in southeastern Wisconsin, so I know about these things.
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Old 06-15-2022, 07:06 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2020
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Hydronic floor heating ideas

We have installed the hydronic in the floor of our bus (without a roof raise). We put down a 1” polystyrene with foil side up. Then we put the pipe on top and used the metal reflectors to hold in place and foil taped those to the floor. Then we cut 5/4” decking boards for rib spacing and screwed the frames to the outside walls (not thru the floors to prevent rust and water drainage). Then we use 5/8” plywood and plan to put 1/4” laminate planking on top.

Be sure you clearly mark where your runs are and stay away from areas you know are going to get screws (like where you attach cabinets and framing to the floor). We nicked our piping so I gotta go back and fix that section.

I would also recommend that you zone it. Like a front, middle, and back zone. This is nice depending on where you want to focus the heating and if you nick your line, you can shut that zone off and still have heat. You can run your piping under the bus too if you use an antifreeze type of fluid.

Under the shower area, I routered a track in the foam so it sits flush with the foam. The return to the heater runs under the bus where we don’t care if it cools off. Still wrap the pipe with insulation.

What I do different is I’d use 1 1/2” foam and router the tracks in the foam (use the metal reflectors in the straight tracks to reflect the heat upward). I would lay a wood frame around the outside edge of the bus and on the seams where the 1/2” plywood meets. That’s it. No other wood. I think that would give you the greatest return of heat for your effort.

As one YouTube guy put it, “Pex tubing is angry and it doesn’t want to cooperate with you.” You will get smacked in the face a few times before you’re finished. Hang in there!
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Old 06-17-2022, 02:40 PM   #6
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Y’all got me thinking about this.

I had considered it, then dropped it. Now I am weighing what all of you have said, and seeing the pics (thanks for posting!) and a couple things come to mind.

First and foremost, above a threshold of craftsmanship, most things work on a basic level. I know that math works, and that there are formulas for most everything, and sometimes they are absolutely critical, and sometimes they put you so far to the right of the decimal point, that the benefits are only on paper.

The KISS principle is always a good place to start.

But creativity, experimentation, and failure are avenues to learning and occasional wins, with some fun and or challenging disasters.

We take risks, and we pay the price sometimes.and sit it is terrible, sometimes we can blame others, sometimes we do anyway.

If I endeavor to heat a bus floor with water, I am going to only heat the person, not the area. As they do with rocket stoves.

I would run it everywhere I might walk or sit, maybe into the box spring of a bed, wher your feet land next to the commode, the shower, the floor around the gas and break pedals, etc.

I would not run it under everything, not under my fridge or sink, or closet.

Since my arrangement is probably going to have a hall right down the middle, it would be easier. I could rearrange stuff on the perimeter and not have to worry.

I might also run a loop through all my hot water lines if I run a tanked heater so that the water comes out hot right from the start.

Just some thoughts.

But my guess is that that in cold climates there would be a need for more than 2” of foam underneath.

You want enough insulation not to be able to feel the warmth of the water from underneath. If you can, you are spending fuel heating the outside. That might fit someone’s budget, and principals, maybe not others.

But even if it leaks heat out the bottom, IT WILL PROBABLY STILL WORK!

As long as the last foot of line is not unpleasant to stand on… you did it.

If only the first foot is hot, and the last half is freezing, then…. Crank up the heat, and put down wool rugs.
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Old 06-17-2022, 05:55 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Has anyone used copper tubing instead of pex? I think it would transfer heat better and might be more cooperative to install. It would also be easier to make sharp corners using fittings
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Old 06-18-2022, 07:13 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackula View Post
Has anyone used copper tubing instead of pex? I think it would transfer heat better and might be more cooperative to install. It would also be easier to make sharp corners using fittings

I think the risks outweigh the benefits with copper. Price will be insane compared to pex and there’s no chance I would want sharkbite fittings under my floor so that means you’re left with sweating all of your fittings and pressure testing.

Typically, pex is used because you can bend it and avoid any connections (places for possible leaks) in an area that won’t be accessible again once the floor is down.
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Old 06-18-2022, 01:22 PM   #9
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the longer the bends the better the flow.
for pump flow/gpm requirements each hard elbow depending on size of pipe equates out to around an extra foot of pipe.
basically the more hard turns the more restriction in the system the bigger the pump.
the cost would be the difference?
either one i would not like any joints in the floor.
i have not done radiant flooring in a house or a bus but i have done it in commercial construction in dog kennels for the govt. and that was the only time other than test rigs that i have ever used and was allowed to use pex.
no joints allowed in the slab.
it went smooth until the masons came in and set up there batter boards and anchored to the floor?
7 kennels in before we ever put glycol in them and found everywhere that they punctured the tubing.
my experience says pressure test it before you cover it joints or not and leave the test pressure on it the entire time you are closing the floor up and you will know if and what area you hit it or have a problem in from that days worth of work.
but over the years i have seen some mind boggling stuff?
for example. at the time barracks still used a tub shower combo and tiled surround.
got called back to one i had done for a water leak/damage in a first floor bathroom ceiling and all the bathrooms are stacked so a first floor problem is from the second floor.
long story short?
after days of looking for the problem and couldnt find it i opened a finished wall up at the shower valve and the sheetrocker had put a screw right into the shower goose neck piping.
so it only leaked when the shower was used.
my advice for radiant flooring especially if you have help on install of it and flooring is to document with pictures and paper of exactly where things are at so you dont end up with a screw in it somewhere
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Old 06-25-2022, 10:59 AM   #10
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There is no escaping the laws of thermodynamics. Without good insulation you will be heating the outdoors. My Wisconsin based bus has 1-1/2” inches of rigid foam board insulation held down with with 1” x 3” wooden sleepers every 2’, plus one inch foam between the sleepers. After two winters spent living full time in the bus, I can report that itt doesn’t perform nearly as well as I hoped. I am now considering putting in extra insulation on top of what I’ve already got, but leaving an aisle down the middle to retain headroom clearance.

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Old 01-28-2024, 10:08 AM   #11
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There is no escaping the laws of thermodynamics. Without good insulation you will be heating the outdoors. My Wisconsin based bus has 1-1/2” inches of rigid foam board insulation held down with with 1” x 3” wooden sleepers every 2’, plus one inch foam between the sleepers. After two winters spent living full time in the bus, I can report that itt doesn’t perform nearly as well as I hoped. I am now considering putting in extra insulation on top of what I’ve already got, but leaving an aisle down the middle to retain headroom clearance.

I would rather waste 50% of my heat and have the floors warm enough for the dog’s water to not be an ice cube. I agree that it is not the most efficient use of energy, but some things are just necessary expenses. I find I get to sleep a lot better when my wife is comfortable…
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