Heating a Conservatory

If you wish to use your conservatory throughout the year the same way you use your house, you will need a heating system of one kind or another.There are thousands of different specifications for all types of heating and it would be impossible to look at every one. But I think it would be useful for you to know the basics of the different types of systems that are frequently used in conservatories.

Under Floor Heating in Conservatories

There are some old under floor pipe systems which warm the air through grates in the floor, but today, under floor heating can generally be divided into two systems – Wet and Electric.

Wet under floor heating uses hot water circulated through plastic pipes inside the base; this hot water warms the floor and the residual heat warms the room.

Electric under floor heating is a mat system that is laid under the floor finish or in the base depending on which system you choose. Again, this warms the floor, and the residual heat warms the room.

There are several reasons that electric systems are often preferred over wet systems.

You may have to purchase a new boiler to achieve the power to heat a wet under floor system on top of your existing central heating. And whilst you may also need to upgrade your fuse board to accommodate an electrical system, it’s likely the cost will be far less.

On most conservatory designs, 2 or more, large roof openings should be designed in at the highest part of the roof. These ventilators only need to be opened a fraction to create a pressure release for all the hot air – with a couple of windows open at the bottom allowing the new fresher air into the conservatory.

There are thousands of different specifications for all types of heating and it would be impossible to look at every one. But I think it would be useful for you to know the basics of the different types of systems that are frequently used in conservatories.

Under Floor Heating in Conservatories

There are some old under floor pipe systems which warm the air through grates in the floor, but today, under floor heating can generally be divided into two systems – Wet and Electric.

Wet under floor heating uses hot water circulated through plastic pipes inside the base; this hot water warms the floor and the residual heat warms the room.

Electric under floor heating is a mat system that is laid under the floor finish or in the base depending on which system you choose. Again, this warms the floor, and the residual heat warms the room.

There are several reasons that electric systems are often preferred over wet systems.

You may have to purchase a new boiler to achieve the power to heat a wet under floor system on top of your existing central heating. And whilst you may also need to upgrade your fuse board to accommodate an electrical system, it’s likely the cost will be far less.

On most conservatory designs, 2 or more, large roof openings should be designed in at the highest part of the roof. These ventilators only need to be opened a fraction to create a pressure release for all the hot air – with a couple of windows open at the bottom allowing the new fresher air into the conservatory.

Roof Blinds can also be an effective way to prevent solar gain in a conservatory. There are thousands of materials and designs for blinds and some of them are very effective, although you may be surprised at how expensive they can be!

Also, an electrical system can easily be made independent from the house, so that if the rest of the project doesn’t require building regulations, the electrical system – because it is independent – maintains no building regulation requirement for the main build, although the electrics will have to conform to part P and be certified.

The electric systems tend to have a quicker warm up time and they are also easily controlled with a simple on/off switch with a control panel that has daily and weekly settings and thermostat. Also, as the system is independent, it is more flexible for use in the summer. For example, after a warm day and the doors in the conservatory have been open all day, if it turns chilly and you still wish to entertain in the conservatory, then you don’t have to switch the whole house’s heating system on just to warm the conservatory.

Radiators

Installing radiators in conservatories will not always give you the warmth where you need it.

Heat from a radiator at the side of a conservatory will rise up the side and into the vaulted roof space where it will slowly build up (whilst lots also escapes through the roof glass) until the air inside the room is warm. This is a massive waste of energy, and unless you have carpet flooring, your feet will remain cold!

Radiators in solid roof designs, like orangeries and garden rooms, do work well. However, I tend to specify radiators AND under-floor heating – the radiators offer a back up in Winter and the under floor heating can handle Spring, Summer and Autumn on its own.

Something you should know: If you do not seek building regulations approval for your conservatory, you are not allowed – by law – to put radiators in it, if they are powered by the existing heating system.

Any extension of the heating system in the house into a conservatory is not permitted without Building Regulation approval, as the conservatory is classed as an extension and would be subject to heat-loss calculations.

Plug In Heaters

May be useful in very, very small conservatories although they are more frequently used in Glasshouse and Botanical designs for keeping the frost away in Winter.

They can be considered as a back-up source of heating if the primary source was poorly specified and not warm enough.

Burners

They look beautiful inside conservatories, however they must be discussed at the very first design stage. Burners require external venting which must be at least 600mm away from anything combustible. You will need to consider having a solid wall in the design, or you can also use the existing house wall with the vent going through the roof, terminating a minimum 600mm above the roof. But either way, this will impact the design – sometimes to the point where the inclusion of the burner is not practical.

Personally, I would still specify one of the under-floor systems even with a burner. Burners generate a huge amount of heat, but do you always want to put it on.

Heating Summary

My advice is this. Whatever type of conservatory you are planning, if you want to use the room for more than just a few pot plants and you are hoping to spend quality time in your conservatory, install under-floor heating during construction.

Electric systems start from around £x60 per square metre, including full installation and a self levelling screed which is ready to tile straight on top of.


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“From concept to completion, you have been professional in every department.”

Mr & Mrs P. Norfolk

“We are absolutely delighted with our finished Conservatory but also have been delighted with the prompt courteous and efficient service, and attention to detail, follow up and excellent communication, from start to finish, and beyond, and would unreservedly highly recommend Morgan Bishop”

Mr & Mrs B. Hethersett, Norfolk.

“Throughout the build every member of your team demonstrated a very high skill level along with a desire to provide only the best.”

Peter & Elaine. North Norfolk

“You listened to us and took away our sketchy ideas, molded them into a workable design and built exactly what we hoped for.”

Mr & Mrs P. Heacham. Norfolk

“Thank you Matthew and your team for all your time, care and expertise, you could not have been more helpful… we are thrilled with our lovely new elegant room!”

Ali B. Harpenden, Herts.