Electric Heated Floors: The EMF Issue

An emerging issue in the electric radiant heat industry is EMF (electromagnetic field) radiation. Some electric radiant floor heating companies sell only single-wire systems that release very high levels of EMF. Other radiant heat flooring companies have pioneered and sell only dual wire EMF-canceling technology.

Electromagnetic fields (EMF) come from all electrical appliances, but studies show an average American's daily exposure is less than 1 unit (mG) of EMF. When you sit on an unshielded electric radiant floor, you may be exposed to 20, 40, or more times the average daily exposure. Shockingly, some electric floor heating products expose homeowners to about the same electromagnetic field radiation as if you put your face directly against the door of a microwave oven, and left it there.

Electric Radiant Floor Heating Systems: Know Your Exposure

REET - Radiant Electric Emisions Test

Today, there is only one scientific and independent third party test to measure electromagnetic fields produced by electric radiant floor heating systems, known as "REET" or Radiant Electric Emissions Test. Unlike unverifiable claims made by some companies, the REET test measures each company's electric heated floor products according to standard procedures.

REET Test Procedures for Warming Floors

The REET test procedures specify twenty standard points of measurement across a four foot by four foot area of warm tile floor. Unlike some companies that measure EMF two or three feet above the floor, ETL makes each measurement at an exact height of 1/2" above the electric cable or mats. Those point measurements are averaged together to yield an average radiation value for each product for both electric and magnetic field radiation. Calibrated, laboratory grade test equipment is defined in the REET procedures and used by ETL Semco technicians to conduct these tests. Health care concerns have focused on the magnetic, or H-field, measured in milligauss or mG.

Watts Radiant and the ETL Semko division of Intertek, the global leader in the testing, inspection, and certification of products for manufacturers used REET to test Watts Radiant products and those of competitors. The first series of test results for Watts Radiant electric radiant floor heating products and for other manufacturers showed a startling variation in H-field exposure. In one notable head-to-head comparison of electric mats of similar size and amp rating, a competitive product emitted over 700 times the H-field radiation of the Watts Radiant mat.

Electric Heated Floors: The Difference is in the Wire

There is no practical technology for passively shielding a heating element to virtually eliminate H-field EMF. The only effective approach is "active shielding". This means canceling the H-field of one heating element with the H-field of another parallel element. Watts Radiant electric heated floors use this approach with a complex wire made of two sets of heating element constructions; running them in parallel with a patented helical twist.

The prestigious ETL Semko Laboratory recently tested Watts Radiant’s SunTouch floor warming product along with four competing products according to the rigorously defined REET procedures. Each heating product covered about 35-40 square feet. This is the most common coverage for residential bathroom installations. The results speak for themselves:

Comparison chart of REET test results.

If you are concerned about EMF exposure, insist that any electrical floor warming products be tested by ETL Semko, and that the true EMF output, according to the REET test, be published and made available to you.

Electric Floor Heating: Where to Get Started?

Check out the design section of our electric radiant floor heating product pages, or call us toll-free at 1-888-432-8932 for free design assistance. We will help you in any way possible to make your next floor warming home improvement project a success!

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