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An Introduction to
Trench Heaters 

This guide dives deep into the world of trench heaters, explaining what they are, how they function, and their advantages. It also covers factors to consider during installation and common applications. 


What are Trench Heaters?

Trench heaters, also known as trench heating systems or floor convectors, are heating devices embedded within a trench in the floor. These units typically house a heating element, like a finned tube heat exchanger (except with a fan), enclosed within a casing or grille. Strategically positioned along the perimeter of a room or under windows, trench heaters combat cold downdrafts, heat loss, and ensure comfortable indoor temperatures. 

How Do Trench Heaters Work? 

SoHo-w_Airflow_V180724-1Trench heaters draw in cool air at floor level. This air flows through the heating element and is released back into the room as warm air. As warm air naturally rises, convection currents circulate warm air throughout the space. Trench heating systems are equipped with cross-flow fans to enhance air circulation, increase capacity, and provide a more comfortable warm air temperature. AirFixture SoHo Trench Heaters are available in either hydronic or electric configurations, and heating+cooling/heating-only/cooling-only systems. 

Benefits of Trench Heaters 

There are several advantages to using trench heaters: 

  • Space-saving design: Installed flush with the floor, trench heaters offer unobstructed views and maximize usable space. 
  • Even heat distribution: They deliver consistent heating throughout a room, eliminating cold spots and ensuring occupant comfort. 
  • Quiet: With trench heaters, there is none of the "AC kicking on" or the rattling of vents that we've grown accustomed to with traditional HVAC units. 
  • Energy efficiency:  Fan Assist allows for lower-temperature hot water throughout the building, which leads to significant energy savings. Trench heaters efficiently target heat to occupied zones, increasing effectiveness. 
  • Discreet appearance: The low-profile design makes them virtually invisible, seamlessly blending into the surroundings. 
  • Flexible installation: Trench heaters can be customized to fit various architectural and design requirements, offering flexibility in placement and configuration. 
  • Minimal maintenance: Unlike traditional HVAC units that require regular inspections, trench heaters require minimal maintenance. 

Installation Considerations 

Here are some key factors to consider during trench heater installation: 

  • Location: Trench heaters are typically installed along the perimeter of a room or under windows to address cold downdrafts. 
  • Floor construction: Proper installation requires ensuring compatibility with the SoHo-W_V160517 building's floor construction (including finished height) to accommodate the trench and maintain structural integrity.  
  • HVAC system integration: Trench heaters can be integrated with existing HVAC systems or used as standalone heating units, depending on the building's needs. 
  • Grille design: The design and material of the trench cover (grille) can impact both aesthetics and performance. A good rule of thumb is to use a linear grille, which can be tailor-made to match a range of interior designs.  
soho 1 diagram


Common Applications 

Trench heaters offer a versatile heating solution for various applications: 

  • Residential buildings: Trench heaters are commonly used in houses, apartments, and condominiums for efficient and discreet space heating. 
  • Commercial spaces: These heaters are popular in commercial spaces like offices, retail stores, multi-story buildings, conservatories, art galleries, museums, and hotels where space-saving design, quiet operation, and comfort are important. 
  • New builds: Trench heaters are poised to become the standard replacement for traditional HVAC systems as they use less energy, are more discreet and efficient, and offer a comprehensive climate control solution. 



SoHo EditTrench heaters provide a versatile and efficient heating solution for a wide range of applications. Their space-saving design, even heat distribution, and discreet appearance make them an attractive option for both residential and commercial buildings. By understanding how trench heaters work, their benefits, and installation considerations, building owners and HVAC professionals can make informed decisions when selecting and installing heating systems. 

AirFixture Resources 

More information about Trench heaters. 

SoHo Hydronic Trench Heaters 

SoHo Electric Trench Heaters 

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