Underfloor heating (UFH) has become a viable method of space heating due to significant advances in heating technology and the increase in raw material costs of copper and steel used in radiator heating systems. When considering your underfloor heating options, it is important to bear in mind the advantages and disadvantages of the various options available.
The Advantages of Underfloor Heating
- Clears rooms of ineffective, impractical, unsightly wall-hung radiators
- Saves from 15% to 50% on heating bills
- Carries virtually no maintenance costs
- Prevents dust gathering behind radiators and circulating around the room – ideal for sufferers of asthma or other respiratory issues
- Eliminates dust mites from carpets
- Underfloor heating provides 70% radiating heat, offering a more comfortable climate than radiators
- The thermal mass of an underfloor heating systems provides warmth for longer after switching off than would traditional radiators
- Evaporates dangerous water spillages quickly from bathroom and kitchen tiles
- Underfloor heating runs quietly, with none of the creaks and groans of old copper pipes
- Can be used with almost any flooring type including stone, laminate, hardwood, lino, and carpet (below 1.5 Tog)
The disadvantages of underfloor heating
- Underfloor heating can take longer to heat up than traditional radiators
- Care must be taken with certain furniture with underfloor heating, it is recommended to place pianos on insulation
- Retro-fitting underfloor heating can be expensive and impractical
- Underfloor heating must be well designed, it is difficult to change or adapt the system once installed.
Underfloor heating systems – Electric vs Wet
Underfloor heating is available as an Electric underfloor heating or Wet underfloor heating (Water) system. The best option for you is entirely dependent upon the unique requirements of your project.
Electric Underfloor Heating System
Electrical underfloor heating systems are comprised of cables and mats lain beneath the floor. Generally, the installation of an electric under floor heating system is considerably cheaper than the installation of a wet/water system, although running an electric underfloor heating costs more per KW of heat produced to run, possibly making it more expensive long-term. The use of flexible electrical cables normally makes the laying of the system beneath the floor much less time-consuming and troublesome than the fitting of water pipes, and although a competent DIY-er should be able to fit the electrical mats and wires without assistance, the aid of a professional electrician should be sought to connect the system to the mains electricity supply, fit a sensor to the thermostat, and sign off the project.
Wet Underfloor Heating System
A wet UFH system supplies heat via a series of pipes set beneath the floor, which circulate water from the heat source. Wet systems are particularly suited to new floor constructions, which provide the room for the necessary pipe work and cement screed. Wet systems are ‘thicker’ and require more space than their electrical equivalent, and so the retro-fitting of a wet system could prove difficult if there is little room beneath the pre-laid floor. Raising the floor into the room can solve the problem, but does so at the cost of a lot of work and a loss of room space. In this case the low profile (3mm) of electrical heating cables might be preferable. The installation of a wet system does require the knowledge of a professional with proper understanding of central heating systems, which may require a new boiler to be fitted if the current one is incompatible, and the overall underfloor heating costs of installation can be expensive. However, the running costs of a wet underfloor heating system powered by gas-heated boilers or a heat pump are lower per KW of heat output than the running costs of an electrical UFH system. The initial investment in a wet system is higher, but will be cost effective in the long term.