Loading... Please wait...

Mats vs. Cables

matsvscablesmain.jpg

2013-03-04-cable-pic.jpg Cable System
The cable type of electric floor heating system is a heating cable rolled on a spool that is laid out by the installer 3” apart across the area to heat. The wire is run back and forth across the area to heat, using the included aluminum tape to secure it to the floor. These heating systems will allow you to easily heat any shaped area including odd angles and turns.
element-layout.jpg
mat-photo.jpg Mat System
The mat type of electric floor heating system consists of a mat with the cable heating elements pre-spaced 3" within the mat. Simply unroll the floor heating mat making sure the power leads reach the electrical box. You can manipulate the mat to fit the desired heating area by using the turning techniques as shown below. The white fiberglass mesh may be cut to flip and turn the mat.
presentation1.jpg

With either system you CAN NOT CUT THE RED HEATING ELEMENT, so it is important to accurately measure the area you want to heat.

The only difference between a mat and a cable warming system is the pre-spaced layout of the heating elements within the mat. Therefore a mat should take less installation time and for a room several hundred square feet with a mat you will save multiple hours, but does a mat always equate to less labor? Consider a 30 square foot bathroom with a shower stall tucked in the corner and the tub sits upon a curved marble slab. You’ll spend extra effort to work a mat around the curves or run flush to non right angles. It involves multiple cuts with a steady hand and several attempts to work the sewn heating elements free. Why bother when a cable is a coiled spool of loose heating wire? Not only would you save time, there is zero risk for an accidental slip of the knife and damage to the heating element. Avoid the headaches and stick with cable for tight corners and unusually shaped rooms.

Another consideration is cost. Cable ranges from 20%-30% less in price for the same size mat. The percentage is relative to the volume of mat material. The larger the room the more you save on the purchase price with cable. There is the trade off for labor. It's infinitely easier to roll out a mat for a 20' x 12' basement rec. room than to string along 224 square feet of loose cable.

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, who doesn't mind one Saturday on hands and knees to save $200 (about the difference between 200 sq. ft. of cable vs. mat) then choose cable. However, if you’re a general contractor who needs the crew in, out, and on to the next hot project sooner rather than later then figure on mats when the layout is all right angles. Finally, if you’re an independent tradesman a lot depends on a judgment call. How price conscious is the home owner? How much time can you afford on the job and still make money? It’s not a perfect science, but as with any trade, the more experience you gain the better your estimates will become.