ThinKing November 2021: This heating system has several lives



Heating panels made by Lofec GmbH are not only extremely light and thin. They can also be used several times over and even relaid in a new property.

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Another reason why it has earned the ThinKing Award for the month of November is its extremely low CO2 footprint. It causes only one tenth of the grey energy embodied by conventional heating systems, the minimisation of which is of decisive importance for climate-neutral building construction.

The State Agency for Lightweight Technology Baden-Württemberg is pleased to present this innovation with its ThinKing Award for the month of November 2021. Every month, Leichtbau BW GmbH promotes innovative lightweight technology products and services in Baden-Württemberg under this label.

At a glance:

  • Material efficiency: Not only do the wafer-thin panels themselves consume little material, they also reduce the material consumption of the building’s supporting structures.
  • Low CO2 footprint: The manufacture of this system incurs only one tenth of the grey energy embodied by a conventional heating system.
  • Reusability: There is no need for recycling, since the heating panels can be reused multiple times with no drop in performance.
  • Fast and easy construction: Low weight and ease of handling reduce the construction time, ease urban densification, and reduce CO2 emissions in the building logistics.

If the person laying the floor is also the one installing the heating, then it can only be a panel heating system made by Lofec GmbH. Because the heating panels are not just impressively light in their handling and use. Rather, the ThinKing award was given in recognition of the lightness of its CO2 footprint, not to mention its weight and maintenance requirements.

One step ahead in terms of energy and material efficiency

Lofec heating panels evolved out of simpler panel designs and feature carbon fibres integrated in a PET film, which allows them to be installed beneath plaster or tiles, among many other examples. The variant described here enables rapid floating installation when used as underfloor heating; it is laminated on both sides with plastic, along with a non-woven fabric for better adhesion. Even then, it remains an absolute lightweight. It weighs in at no more than 200 g/m2. This is little more than the weight of thick paper.

It gives this heating system virtually unbeatable energy and material efficiency, since it contains only a fraction of the materials - with carbon fibres and plastic replacing the metal of a radiator and its associated piping.

Low CO2 footprint

A more decisive factor for the future is the fact that Lofec heating panels are not only lighter but they embody only a fraction of the so-called grey energy. This refers to the proportion of energy consumption - and in turn the CO2 emissions - incurred before a product or building is actually put to use.

„According to calculations made using the Öko-Baudat, the building database of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi), a heat pump and 800-metre pipe used to heat an average single-family house causes around 1.2-1.4 t of CO2 emissions prior to their installation. This corresponds approximately to a VW Golf. Our heating panels cause only about one tenth of that,” says Jürgen Schneider, managing director of Lofec GmbH, underlining what is a very significant difference.

Lightweight heating, lightweight building

“Taking a 60 square-metre flat as an example, we calculate the weight of a conventional heating system comprising a gas boiler, radiators and pipes to be 800 kg. In contrast, our panel heating system including transformer and wiring for the apartment weighs just under 100 kg,” says Jürgen Schneider, referring to another project.

Clearly, electric heating at only an eighth of the weight is not just a good idea in tiny houses. A secondary effect of using this lightweight technology in traditional construction is that less supporting, structural material is generally needed for the walls and ceilings. The use of panel heating therefore has additional climate protection benefits resulting from the easier and quicker construction method, which also simplifies the densification of inner cities.

Invisible heating with high energy utilisation

Panel heating can be invisibly integrated in a building; in the case of heating panels by Lofec GmbH, the best place is under the floor covering. “Our product is the only electric panel heating system to be approved by the floor covering industry, because its temperature cannot exceed 28 °C when controlled by our sensors. Indeed, this represents an innovation on the market,” is how Jürgen Schneider explains the most important factor behind the product's acceptance.

Panel heating is ideal for floating installations, for example beneath laminated, parquet or designer flooring. Despite the relatively poor heat conductivity of these types of flooring, energy utilisation still reaches levels of 90-95 percent, as there are no further components that need to be heated by the electric carbon fibre heating mats.

Menance-free and reusable

Heating panels require no maintenance. They are fast and simple to install. And they are virtually indestructible, because the carbon fibre netting continues to provide unimpaired heating even if holes have been drilled into the fabric or small areas up to a maximum diameter of seven centimetres have been cut out. “Because the heating panels are not fixed to the floor, they can be removed and reinstalled in your new home should you move house, says Jürgen Schneider. Recycling is unnecessary, because this non-wearing and maintenance-free heating system has several lives and can simply be used again.

About Lofec GmbH

The Lofec company produces heating panels and supplies painters, stucco plasterers, floor layers, interior fitters and relevant wholesalers with its heating systems, including the accessories needed for their safe operation.