Floor heating in front of the church altar

S-MAT heating mats from FENIX Jeseník were successfully tested while employed for the protection of users against the negative influence of very cold floors at St. Gotthard´s church in Bouzov.

At the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014, ECOSUN radiant heating panels were supplied by FENIX for the heating of pews in St. Gotthard´s Church in Bouzov – you can find a whole article about this application here. During the trial operation period, a representative of the investor – the Roman Catholic parish of Bouzov – expressed his regret that conditions could not be improved in a similar way for the pastor, who has to stand on the very cold floor by the altar during the church service. He explained that it isn´t only a matter of significant discomfort but also of the negative influence on human health of spending long periods of time on a literally "icy" floor.

Fenix already has experience with solving such a problem – a partner company in Italy had already fitted several church buildings with a set of portable floor segments in which ECOFILM heating foils were placed - see ECOFILM reference sheets. The first option was simply to manufacture several sets for the church in Bouzov. However, the weather conditions in Italy are somewhat different from those in the Czech Republic and there were worries that the wattage/m² of the heating foil wouldn´t be sufficient here. However, Fenix introduced a new product not a long time ago – S-MAT heated rubber mats, which are intended for the protection of entrance areas against snow and frost. The idea arose to test the capability of this particular mat to create a more comfortable zone near the altar. The easy installation without any need to alter current structures was a great advantage – the mat only needs to be laid and connected to an electrical socket. At the end of the heating season, it can be simply rolled up and put away until next winter. Safety is guaranteed by a residual current device which is integrated into the socket of the S-MAT heating mat.

After an agreement was reached, an S-MAT heating mat was lent to the parish for testing. This option was trialled for 14 days and it became apparent that a significant increase in thermal comfort is perceived when an S-MAT heating mat is used. The Bouzov parish thus expressed an interest in purchasing this mat and also agreed that additional measurements using an infrared camera could be carried out in order to record the real surface temperatures on the heating mat and surrounding floor.

The introductory image shows the heating mat before it was brought into operation; the surface temperature of the mat was the same as the temperature of the surrounding floor, i.e. approximately 2°C. The next picture shows the temperatures in the area after 5 minutes of operation – in the warmest place, the temperature of the mat had increased to 14°C. However, the carpet which the mat was lying on had a significant influence on the temperatures recorded, as it acted as thermal insulation and lowered the undesired transfer of heat into the stone floor efficiently.   

The following pictures show the situation after 15 minutes of operation – the temperature of the mat had increased to 22.4°C, and 30 minutes after it had been switched on – the surface temperature of the S-MAT had risen to 27°C. In contrast with the initial pictures, it is clear that the increase in the mat’s surface temperature was slowing down.   

After a further 15 minutes (45 minutes after switching on), the surface temperature of the mat was 28.1°C, and a further 15 minutes later, 28.3°C was measured. It can be stated that after 1 hour of operation, the temperature of the mat had stabilised at approximately 28°C (with an ambient temperature of approx. +2°C) and there was no further increase in temperature.   

It can be concluded that even though the surface temperature of the mat – almost 30°C – may appear to be relatively high, it doesn´t create a subjective feeling of warmth – particularly if the user is wearing standard shoes. The main purpose of this solution, though, is not to heat or warm the user who is standing on the heating mat, but rather to combat the negative influence of the very cold stone floor. The difference between standing on a floor with a temperature of 2°C and on a floor with a temperature of 28°C is really very significant, particularly when it is for tens of minutes and the user moves around only a little.