What is Trench Heating and what are the benefits of Trench Heating?

7 March 2023 Trench Grilles

As we negotiate a cost of living crisis, how we heat our homes has become a hot topic (pun intended). More than ever, we’re looking for low cost, energy efficient heating solutions for our spaces so we can stick to budgets whilst also being comfortable. Trench heating is an excellent heating system to consider, compared to other heating systems like central heating or radiators. So, let’s take an in depth look as to why that may be.

What is Trench Heating?

Trench Heating is a type of heating in which trenches are dug into the floor and a simple ‘convector unit’ is connected up to the heating system. It’s then finished with the key design feature, which is the grille. Trench heating can either be electrical or water-based. The water pipes or electrical elements are encased in conduit (a tube used to protect and route electrical wiring which can be made of metal, plastic, fibre or fired clay), then run through the trenches that have been dug beneath the floor.

Trench heating can be used as an independent source of heat, or work collaboratively with other sources like underfloor heating or radiators. It’s highly adaptable depending on your specific needs or the space in question. The type of space the system is being installed in is rarely a hindrance as it can be used in both commercial and domestic buildings. This makes it a very versatile method of heating.

Currently, you’ll find the majority of trench heating systems in offices, shops, public buildings and large conservatories. However, it’s now becoming a lot more popular in apartment blocks and new houses. Modern properties that may have a larger or more modern style of windows are more likely to have trench heating than older properties.

However, trench heating systems are not just limited to larger spaces. With smaller spaces there is also the option of the Micro Canal. This is simply a smaller and shallower unit that is only 60mm deep and 140mm wide. With its exceptionally quiet fans and low profile grilles, it works to give you the benefit of the strong heat source without having to dig as deep a trench as you would with the standard trench heating system.

How does Trench Heating work?

Trench heating works simply but incredibly effectively. It starts by pulling the cold air through the grilles and into the trench. Once in the trench, the cold air is warmed and then rises to heat the room by convection. Thanks to this natural convection, the whole room is evenly heated from floor to ceiling. The system can be designed so that the grilles and the heat occur exactly where you want them to, when you want them to.

The water-based system can run off a standard boiler, however it’s important to double check that your boiler has sufficient capacity to support the system. Thermostatic valves are fitted in each room to maintain the desired temperature so the user has full control.

The size of the trench will also change the output of this particular type of heating system. It determines the amount of heat expected to be generated. The width and depth of the trench determines the size of the heating element that it contains, as well as the amount of cooler air that can be drawn in through the grilles, warmed and then naturally convected back out into the room. Greater airflow and heat can be achieved with the installation of a simple and subtle fan system within the trench.

Types of Trench Heating systems

You will need to decide on whether to make your trench heating system water or electrical based, as well as the size of the trench and unit. Most trench heating systems tend to operate in a similar way, so the internal workings do not differ too much.

However, when choosing the right trench heating system, you should consider the type of grille you desire as this element is the part that will be visible. The different coloured steel or natural woods available can be used as a statement element or blend in seamlessly with the rest of the floor. It’s up to you.

The ideal Trench Grille for you

Our linear, stainless steel products are very versatile due to the material they’re made from as well as the simplicity of the aesthetic. Stainless steel will work in both modern and traditional spaces.

The Linear T-bar profile grilles have two material options to choose from: natural aluminium, and satin stainless steel. Both work well for their designed purpose.

Next up on the list are the Natural Wood Roll-Ups. This product line has four natural wood materials to choose from:

  • For a light brown colour, consider Ash Wood.
  • If you’re looking for a light orange colour with a finer grain than most wood types, Beech Wood is a great option.
  • Considered one of the most popular woods for wooden grilles, Oak is always a great choice.
  • Sharing similar characteristics to Mahogany because of its golden to dark reddish brown colouring, Sapeli is a durable material to select for your trench heating grille.

Similarly to the Linear T-bar Profile, our Roll-Up Closed Profile product line is offered in both natural aluminium and satin stainless steel. The wonderful part of this product line is that the standard 13mm spacers being made of black PVC; however, the spacers are also available in four alternative colours: grey, beige, light brown and dark brown. This can add a customised feel to your trench grille heating system as you can adapt the aesthetic to best match the space.

Finally, there is the Roll-Up Double T-Bar. Much like the Linear T-bar Profile, the spacers are made of black PVC and are available upon request in the same four alternative colours: grey, beige, light brown and dark brown. The difference between the two being that this product’s spacers are 17mm, rather than 13mm. The grilles themselves are available in anodized black, which can easily be used to stand out or blend in, depending on the space and your design choices. There is also a gold colour which is a cost-effective alternative to brass and can offer a touch of class. The grilles are also available in natural aluminium, and lastly satin stainless steel for a noticeably higher sheen.

Advantages of trench heating:

There are many advantages to using a trench heating system. Here are just a few of them:

  • Energy efficiency – An energy-efficient heating source such as this one can lower your overall energy costs. With a trench heating system, the heat goes exactly where it’s told to go which helps to eliminate cold spots, condensation and draughts in the room.
  • No noise – The system is designed to operate silently, which is a huge plus!
  • Moisture reduction – The trench heating system limits condensation with floor to ceiling glazing thanks to the natural convection. This is especially important when it comes to rooms like conservatories but also with design elements such as bifold or French doors.
  • Space saving – Trench Grille heating gives you all the benefits of a radiator heating system, but without any extra space being taken up. Due to the grille fitting seamlessly into the floor, you won’t even notice it’s there… unless you choose a grille specifically to make a bold interior design statement!
  • Flexible design – Each trench heating system is carefully designed to your home to ensure it fits the space as perfectly as possible. Curves are no issue as it has the ability to be easily customised.
  • Health benefits – When your trench heating system is properly cleaned and maintained, there will be less dust and allergens in circulation due to its low air turbulence. For individuals suffering with asthma or other types of allergies, this is a massive advantage compared to other heating system types like radiators.
  • Easy to clean and maintain – The entire system has been designed to be easy to clean and maintain to ensure it is always running smoothly and at peak condition.

Disadvantages of trench heating:

With so many advantages to a trench heating system, you may find it difficult to envisage any disadvantages. And to be fair, there really aren’t any major cons to the trench heating system. However, if you don’t pay attention to the maintenance and cleanliness of the trench space in particular, you could be faced with a build up of dust particles.

However, this issue is easily rectified by simply keeping on top of it! If it’s looking more dusty than it should, a quick clean will bring it back to its impeccable quality and keep any build up of dust and allergens at bay. The cleaning process is made to be fairly straightforward – you’ll be provided with a hook to help remove the grille so you can vacuum the trench, and the grille itself can be cleaned using a damp cloth. Nice and easy!

Health and safety considerations for trench heating

The main health and safety element you should take into consideration is: can the grille sustain heavy weight or any sudden impact? With the grilles being installed seamlessly into the floor, they will be stood on and walked across on a regular basis. People may also drop a heavy bag or parcel on it, for example, and the last thing you want is for someone to break the grille and fall down into the trench below.

At The Trench Grille Centre, all our grilles are tested for strength and have a manufacturer’s guarantee. This varies from supplier to supplier but it is usually a minimum of 5 years on all manufacturer’s defects.

As mentioned before, you should ensure the trench heating system and grille is regularly cleaned and maintained. This is so that people with respiratory or allergy health issues do not become triggered by dust or allergens being pushed around the room. A health consideration that could be overlooked quite easily, but is entirely necessary.

Finally, there is also the small consideration of the trench being monitored or supervised whilst being cleaned. Due to the grille needing to be removed in order to vacuum the trench, plus the cleaning of the grille itself, there may be a small period of time where there is, to put it simply, a big hole in the floor. Especially in busy office buildings, this can be a safety concern as if people aren’t being vigilant about where they’re walking. This could cause injury and, in a work situation, open yourself up to compensation claims that could easily be avoided.

Therefore, if for any reason an open trench has to be left momentarily unsupervised, which we really don’t recommend, you should at the very least put up a sign to raise awareness of the hazardous area. If possible, rope off the area entirely to deter people going near it.

Installation of trench heating

The building of the trenches and installing the heaters may seem like a daunting process, however it’s not as tricky as you might think. The most complicated part of the installation is the construction of the trench itself. Once this part is out of the way, it’s a simple process.

The grilles might appear to be fairly complicated. However, they’re usually supplied as single roll-up parts. This makes laying them down nice and easy and ensures they can be easily removed to perform general maintenance and cleaning of the trench and element whenever required. It also means they’re easy to replace if you want to change the colour to fit in with a new interior design.

If there are bespoke space requirements like, for example, a bay window with a distinct curve to it, we can commission the manufacturer to build the trench heater that will fit into the space in question.

Our trench heating systems are pressure tested and pre-assembled at the point of manufacture for maximum convenience. So if you’re planning on installing yourself, you shouldn’t hit too many, if any, issues along the way.

Choosing an experienced UK trench heating manufacturer

If you now feel you would benefit from a trench heating system, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us at The Trench Grille Centre to find out how you can get the process started today. Alternatively, complete the order process online via our website. If you’re looking for UK trench heating manufacturers, look no further!

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