Response To Warmboard’s Attack of Ecowarm RadiantBoard
The owner of Warmboard has created and widely distributed a negative video specifically targeting Ecowarm. Warmboard’s staff repeats the claims below to prospective clients on a daily basis – going so far as to mail them intentionally broken panels. It sure feels to us like bullying, and we feel compelled to respond.
Warmboard Claims Refuted: A Quick Guide
Intentionally damaged panels mailed by Warmboard to prospective clients.
Ecowarm RadiantBoard Principles: Ecowarm RadiantBoard partners have a combined 90 years of experience in the radiant heating industry, with two of them formerly serving on the founding Board of Directors of our industry’s association (including on the Ethics Committee and Technical Standards Committee).
Our managing partner has written design and installation manuals for multiple manufacturers and published an industry magazine on the best application of flooring goods over radiant heating systems. In terms of design and layout, Ecowarm RadiantBoard has partnered with an established mechanical engineering firm that designs more than 400 radiant systems per year.
Warmboard Claim: Breakage
Warmboard photos indicate Ecowarm panels peel and break easily. However the panels appear to be intentionally damaged prior to filming including delaminated soaking to loosen the glue and pre-cutting the plywood.
Warmboard intentionally damaged product prior to filming. See video evidence.
Warmboard displays an Ecowarm panel that appears to be intentionally mangled next to a sample of their structural product Warmboard S, instead of their actual competing non-structural product made from much lower quality OSB.
Claims of lower quality are simply untrue. Our panels are constructed from the highest quality 7-Ply FSC Certified Plywood and 100% recycled aluminum. Warmboard R is made from lower quality OSB.
Our videos below demonstrate our attempts to break the panels with a mallet and peel up the aluminum. As you can see Warmboard’s claims are simply false.
Attempt at breaking panel.
Attempt at peeling glue.
This is the proper method for cutting the aluminum on the end combo panels.
Quotes below are exact claims by Warmboard. Ecowarm has provided responses and corrections.
Warmboard Claim: Inferior Product
(Ecowarm RadiantBoard is) an inferior product that tries to imitate Warmboard. – Warmboard Claim
Ecowarm was awarded a patent in 2000. Warmboard R, a similar non structural radiant board product, directly mimics our product design and was developed in 2012.
Ecowarm RadiantBoard is not inferior and imitators do not receive U.S. Patents. Ecowarm RadiantBoard is a product with different features and a different value proposition. We have made design decisions that we think provide the optimum combination of quality, performance, and cost. Warmboard bases its prime value proposition (fast response) on a performance metric of limited scope using outdated testing criteria and makes inaccurate claims about the quality of Ecowarm RadiantBoard including the use of selectively manipulated product photos.
Ecowarm RadiantBoard was awarded a patent for a nonstructural radiant board product in 2000. Warmboard patented and originally made a structural subfloor product called Warmboard S – and Ecowarm did not copy any patented features. Around 2012 Warmboard introduced a new product, Warmboard R, which directly mimics our product design and competes directly with Ecowarm RadiantBoard.
Warmboard Claim: Photo Comparison
WarmBoard comes in two panel types: WarmBoard-S (Left) is a 1 1/8-inch-thick structural plywood subfloor that doubles as the radiant panel. WarmBoard-R (Right) is a thinner, OSB product for use as an overlay to an existing floor.
Ecowarm Response to Photo Comparison
The photograph shown in Warmboard’s product comparison is a product called Warmboard S that is not comparable to Ecowarm. It’s a very expensive structural product that’s installed over joists as the subfloor and requires an extra protective ½” temporary plywood floor installed to protect the tubing from damage during construction. This temporary floor must then be uninstalled, resulting in much higher installation costs and a difficult project flow.
Warmboard S uses the same superior-grade plywood we use in Ecowarm RadiantBoard – although it is not Forest Stewardship Counsel (FSC) Certified. However, Warmboard R, their product that is comparable to Ecowarm RadiantBoard, uses lower quality, less desirable OSB.
Showing a side-by-side photo of our product next to Warmboard S, and not showing a photo of the actual product that competes with Ecowarm is very disingenuous.
Observe the greater contact between tubing and aluminum than other products
Ecowarm RadiantBoard has a patented overbite groove design that gives a larger and tighter surface connection of the tubing to the aluminum resulting in better performance. Good design has a tight, complete connection between the aluminum and the tubing carrying warm water.
With our patented overbite design, tough PEX tubing is snapped or whacked into the groove with a small mallet. When warm water flows through the tubing it expands into the space, making a very tight heat transfer connection. The result is excellent performance.
Warmboard has a U shaped groove design. They recommend malleable Pex Al Pex, because it will stay in place during installation. Notice above that the tight connection stops about half way up the side of the groove. Less surface contact.
Warmboard Claim: Thicker Aluminum = Higher Efficiency
“Warmboard’s aluminum is 1/40 of an inch thick, theirs is 1/100 of an inch. Warmboard is 2.5 times thicker and so far more efficient as a result.”
Untrue. Thicker aluminum does not affect efficiency.
The thicker aluminum on Warmboard provides greater response time not higher efficiency. They are different. The Ecowarm design compensates for this difference in aluminum thickness by having more and a better heat exchange surface contact, a critical factor in designing a heat exchanger and a better value proposition. Surface contact is a pivotal component of any heat exchanger design.
Warmboard Claim: 0.3% Difference in aluminum purity results in nearly 30% increase in efficiency.
“Warmboard’s 99.7% pure aluminum alloy is 28% more efficient than Ecowarm’s 100% recycled aluminum.”
1. Aluminum effectiveness is about acceleration, not efficiency, as claimed.
2. Can anyone really believe that a tiny difference in aluminum alloys will affect system performance by 28%? Magical thinking.
A 0.3% difference in aluminum purity does not produce 28% better efficiency. No data supports this absurd claim.
Warmboard Claim: Hardwood Flooring Warranties
“No hard wood company will warranty their product over Ecowarm.”
Misleading. Virtually all hardwood floor manufacturers provide recommendations regarding hardwoods, but not warranties.
Misleading. Virtually all hardwood floor manufacturers provide recommendations regarding hardwoods, but not warranties. That would be asking for a contingent liability. Ecowarm Principal Hoyt Corbett is an industry expert on flooring goods having written the “Radiant Flooring Guide” distributed by the Radiant Industry Association. If you want in depth information on application of hardwood over Ecowarm visit Flooring Goods Over Ecowarm.
Warmboard Claim: You can’t glue down hardwood to Ecowarm
“Ecowarm’s glue is not strong; the aluminum can be easily removed either purposely, or accidentally. Their low glue strength also means you cannot glue down hardwood over Ecowarm.”
Yes, you can. Ecowarm RadiantBoard is approved for glue-down hardwood floors.
Yes, you can. Ecowarm RadiantBoard is approved for glue-down hardwood floors. Refer to our installation manual.
We have conducted tests of multiple brands of hardwood glue and on the bond of the aluminum to the plywood. Testing included hanging weights equivalent to 50lbs per square foot upside down attached to the aluminum and repeatedly alternating between heating the product to 180°F for 8 hours and then freezing the board for an additional 8 hours. We have also tested and approved 3 different types of glue for gluing wood flooring.
Warmboard Claim: Installing Plywood over Ecowarm
“You must install plywood over Ecowarm.”
We do not recommend using plywood over Ecowarm RadiantBoard generally except as something for a designer to consider in rare specific high point load applications.
Warmboard Claim: Steady-State Performance
Warmboard requires lower water temperatures than Ecowarm – generally between 10-30ºF.
Untrue. Both systems have essentially the same steady state efficiency as verified by independent testing.
1. Warmboard and Ecowarm have essentially the same steady state efficiency according to Warmboard data and independent testing.
2. Warmboard does have hyper responsiveness. How important is responsiveness in modern radiant systems? Take a Deep Dive into performance differences between Ecowarm and Warmboard.
According to Warmboard’s own published water temperature performance chart, Warmboard can use lower temperatures than Ecowarm by 3–5F – not by the 10-30F they’ve claimed. There are reasons to believe their in-house efficiency performance charts are optimistic.
Warmboard is a good product, but it is not significantly more efficient than other products of similar construction to Ecowarm RadiantBoard. Warmboard’s efficiency claims of superiority were not confirmed in the Virginia Tech study.
Warmboard Claim: Striping
“While Ecowarm would have you believe that striping is not an issue; we disagree. Again, when a steady-state is reached, temperatures across the panel even out. But as the system turns up and down numerous times a day, striping becomes a noticeable issue you will feel.”
Warmboard sales videos highlight this issue by using a high temperature simulating a very rare startup condition that will indeed create striping.
In reality Ecowarm has a very modest 2.8°F difference between the high and low temperatures across the panel.
Misleading. Our testing indicates this is a very small issue in well-designed radiant heating systems. Warmboard sales videos highlight this issue by using a high temperature simulating a very rare startup condition that will indeed create stripping. Something of a red herring related to how a radiant system should to be designed.
Left: Temperature of warmest area. Right:Temperature of coolest area.
Note the very modest 2.8° F difference between the high and low temperatures across the Ecowarm board.
Warmboard’s promotional videos test at a higher than recommended supply water temperature of 120° F to deliver about 20 btu/sq/ft. To deliver 15 btu/sq/ft, which is a high maximum output requirement in modern homes, would require 108F under the carpet, which is a temperature that will not create a meaningful striping condition for any radiant system.
Warmboard Claim: Substrate Quality and Sustainability
“Warmboard-R is made of high-quality OSB and is much stronger and more durable than Ecowarm. It is sustainably harvested in Canada from young trees which are continually planted and harvested – like crops on a farm. Ecowarm’s wood is harvested from larger, older trees, having a more detrimental impact on old-growth forests.”
It is true that OSB has become more popular recently, but that popularity is largely driven by a lower cost, not a higher quality. The wood strands and chips used in making Warmboard OSB are not sustainably certified.
Ecowarm Response: Substrate Quality and Sustainability
You will find many and varying opinions about the quality of OSB (Oriented Strand Board). Historically, plywood has been considered the superior product, and hardwood flooring contractors have preferred a plywood substrate. It is true that OSB has become more popular recently, but that popularity is largely driven by a lower cost, not a higher quality.
The use of plywood permits us to offer a 3rd party sustainably certified FSC product (thus the name ECOwarm). The wood strands and chips used in making Warmboard OSB are not sustainably certified; they are covered by general sustainable statements created by the Canadian government and forestry industry. We have not been able to substantiate the Warmboard opinion that harvesting young trees are preferable to older trees from a carbon sequestration perspective. FSC wood comes from forests practicing certified sustainable forestry, not from the destruction of old-growth forests.
Ecowarm is the only FSC Certified radiant floor heating system.
Warmboard Claim: Poor Service
“Ecowarm claims we have ‘expensive staff’ members. Our staff is highly trained, very knowledgeable and we provide assistance through every aspect of their project – management, on-site support, design, logistics, shipping, troubleshooting, and technical help. Ecowarm offers no such support. Give them a call, there’s a good chance they won’t pick up. If you do get someone on the phone, they’ll refer you to their website. If you ask for pricing, you’ll be referred to a lumberyard who in turn will ask for your contractor’s license.”
Ecowarm Response: Quality Customer Service is at the foundation of our company.
Our staff offers personal support every step of the way, from initial inquiry to quotes, order placement, design, shipping, and installation support. In fact, a former Warmboard employee is likely to answer. We do refer people to our website while in conversation, because it does a good job of explaining the product. We’ve worked hard to add as many resources here as possible to help returning and prospective customers fully explore Ecowarm’s advantages and learn more about radiant floor heating in the process.
We let our product speak for itself, as well as our customer service, and our pricing remains a good value. We love to talk with people about their projects! Just give us a call at (877) 570-6478.
In the US and Canada, we sell factory direct to contractors – as does Warmboard. We support our sales with consultation, design, logistics, and follow-up – as does Warmboard. We execute system board layouts and also offer full mechanical system design by an affiliated licensed mechanical engineering firm upon request.
We do not, nor have we ever, sold through lumberyards anywhere in the United States or Canada, as claimed by Warmboard.
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Ecowarm RadiantBoard incorporates the best balance of high performance, material quality, environmental responsibility, and cost. In short, Ecowarm RadiantBoard represents the best value in radiant board heating systems.