Operation and Energy Consumption
I installed a system based on “Watts per square foot/meter” but not the Prestyl calculator. The panels stay on all the time when it is cold. Did I do something wrong?
Do you use a thermostat and is it set too high? If so, turn it to a comfortable level; setting it too high does not speed up the heating process (it should be left at the same temperature year ‘round). In order to properly design a system you must use the Prestyl sizing calculator and consider all cautions and recommendations. If you did not follow the sizing calculator and the room has any windows, you probably under-installed the system (too few panels). In this case, the panels have to work harder than designed and are not able to cycle (thermostat will not reach set-point). When too few panels are installed the energy usage will be much higher than when the correct number or more than the correct number of panels are installed. Please recalculate and add the required panels.
I have installed the hybrid relays; it seems that they are not working. Are they defective?
Most likely, the relays are installed wrong. Unlike traditional relays or contactors, a hybrid relay has a defined supply and control input. Make sure the power supply is connected to pins-1 and 3, and the heaters are connected to pins-2 and 4, A1 is getting positive voltage from the thermostat and A2 goes to the negative terminal of the power supply. (See system wiring diagrams for more information).
My system was designed according to the sizing calculator with the correct climate factor and I have a perfectly insulated home. I am using a thermostat per room and most of the year everything works fine. However, during cold winters, I cannot reach the desired room temperature. Is there a problem with the heaters?
Close all open vents or windows in unoccupied rooms. Keep the thermostats in unoccupied rooms at a minimum setting, not off! Check to see if all panels on the same zone are active; if not, check the breakers or fuses (one may be switched off). Make sure the wiring is connected correctly; ensure that panels in the space are all connected to the same zone (if not, the thermostat for the second or third zone may be off; in this case, switch-on the thermostats, or change the wiring so that the desired thermostat controls all desired panels.
Is there a difference in energy consumption between a stand-alone panel and a thermostatically controlled Prestyl Heating System?
Yes, stand-alone panels consume significantly more than regulated panels (Unregulated panels are always on when power is applied; panels in regulated systems will emit IR-light only when the thermostat calls for heat). Unregulated panels will generally cause a slight increase in surface temperatures over thermostatically controlled panels. This is wasting energy since there is no need to heat a room past the “comfort-level”. Energy consumption will typically vary between 1,625 and 2,438 kWh per year depending on the desired room temperature, the exterior temperature and whether you use a room thermostat or not.
I have a mountain cabin and I have an existing heating system. Can I configure the panels as a hybrid system using my old propane heater and the Prestyl panels? I want to save on energy but don’t have much money to spend on a full installation.
An occasional-use building such as a mountain cabin or summer home is actually a good candidate for a hybrid system. If the building is only used on weekends a hybrid system would be ideal, otherwise in a continuously occupied space you would have to leave the IR system on all the time (you may want still to leave the IR system on low to prevent the pipes from freezing). If your existing heater is capable of supporting the entire structure, a hybrid system can work for you. We know of people who have installed a very minimal IR system aided by their old propane heaters. When you arrive at the cabin, you switch on both systems and allow the propane system to quickly elevate the temperature. When the cabin is warm, the IR system takes over and the propane unit shuts down. If the number of panels installed is below what the calculator recommends, the propane heater would take over (run in parallel with) the IR system during very cold days. This type of system allows for significant cost savings (fewer panels) but yet can reduce the energy bills by 80 or 90%.
Is there a difference in energy consumption between ceiling and wall placement?
Yes, the difference occurs because the surface of panels placed on the wall cools down more rapidly than that of ceiling-mounted panels. This is due to airflow past the panels; electricity is required to overcome these losses, hence, the panel will consume a little more energy. Place the panel on the ceiling wherever possible for an optimal heat distribution and lower energy consumption. In a radiant ceiling system 80% of the energy is converted to IR, 60% for radiant wall-mounted systems and 50% for radiant in-floor systems (the dynamic efficiency of hot air systems, for instance, is only around 35%).