Underfloor heating (sometimes referred to as hydronic heating) is a system where your floors are heated using water or electricity.
Underfloor heating comes in two varieties: radiant floor heating and forced-air systems.
Fast becoming a popular home heating solution in the UK, underfloor heating has actually been around for thousands of years.
The Romans used a type of radiant floor heating called a hypocaust, which circulated air under the floors and through hollow clay pipes.
How Does Underfloor Heating Work?
Radiant floor heating is the most common type of underfloor heating. It works by circulating hot water through pipes in your floor. The heat from the water radiates up through the floor, warming the room.
Forced air systems are less common, but they work by circulating hot air through ducts in your floor. The heat from the air warms the room.
Underfloor heating is a great way to keep your home warm, but it can also be used to cool your home in the summer.
By circulating cold water or air through the floor, you can keep your home cool and comfortable during the hot summer months.
Why is it So Efficient?
Since underfloor heating warms the whole area equally, it is more efficient than other types of home heating.
With a traditional radiator, the heat is concentrated in one spot, which can make the rest of the room feel cold.
With underfloor heating, the entire floor is heated evenly. This means that you won’t have any cold spots in the room, and the heat will be more comfortable.
Underfloor heating is also more efficient because it doesn’t require as much energy to heat the room.
Radiators have to work harder to heat a room, which means they use more energy. Underfloor heating uses less energy because it works by circulating hot water or air, which is already a more efficient way to heat a room.
Types of Underfloor Heating
The two most common types of underfloor heating are electric and hydronic. Electric-based installations, sometimes known as a dry systems, and hydronic systems, often called wet systems, are the two main kinds of underfloor heating.
Both electric and hydronic floor heating systems have their own set of benefits and drawbacks.
Here’s a closer look at both types of systems:
Electric Underfloor Heating
Since they are more convenient to install than hydronic systems, electric underfloor heating systems are an excellent choice for DIYers.
Electric systems can be used with nearly any type of flooring, including carpet, tile, wood, and laminate.
Electric underfloor heating systems work by circulating electricity through wires embedded in your floor. The heat generated by the electricity warms the floor and the room.
Electric systems are less expensive to operate than hydronic systems because they use less energy. However, electric systems can be more expensive to install because they require special wiring.
The Components That Make Up an Electric Underfloor Heating System
An electric underfloor heating system contains several key components:
- A control panel: This is used to set the temperature and schedule the heating system.
- A thermostat: This is used to monitor the room’s temperature and turn the system on and off as needed.
- Heating mats or cables: These are embedded in your floor and generate heat when electricity is passed through them.
- A floor sensor: This is used to monitor the floor’s temperature and turn the system off if the floor gets too hot.
Hydronic Underfloor Heating
Hydronic underfloor heating systems use hot water to heat your floor and the room. Hydronic systems are more energy-efficient than electric systems, but they can be more expensive to install.
Hydronic systems are typically used with concrete or stone floors. The hot water pipes are embedded in the floor, and the heat radiates up through the flooring.
Hydronic systems can also be used with radiant heat floors, which are made of special materials that conduct heat well. Radiant heat floors are often made of concrete or stone, but they can also be made of wood or laminate.
The Components That Make Up a Water Underfloor Heating System
- Pump – The pump circulates the water around the system
- Underfloor heating manifold – The manifold distributes the hot water to the various parts of the system.
- Thermostat – The thermostat is used to control the temperature of the system.
- Floor sensor – The floor sensor is used to monitor the floor’s temperature and turn the system off if the floor gets too hot.
- Pipes – The pipes are used to circulate the hot water through the floor.
Types of Floors That Can Be Used With Underfloor Heating
Underfloor heating systems can be used with nearly any type of flooring, including Carpet, Tile, Wood, Laminate, and Radiant Heat Floors.
Carpet: Carpet is a good insulator, so it helps to keep the heat in the room. However, carpets can absorb moisture, so it’s important to make sure that the room is well-ventilated.
Tile: Tile is a good conductor of heat, so it transfers heat well. However, tile can be cold to the touch, so it’s important to make sure that the room is well-insulated.
Wood: Wood is a good conductor of heat, so it transfers heat well. However, wood can be damaged by moisture, so it’s important to make sure that the room is well-ventilated.
Laminate: Laminate is a good conductor of heat, so it transfers heat well. However, laminate can be damaged by moisture, so it’s important to make sure that the room is well-ventilated.
Radiant Heat Floors: Radiant heat floors are made of special materials that conduct heat well. Radiant heat floors are often made of concrete or stone, but they can also be made of wood or laminate.
Underfloor Heating Pipes
Underfloor heating pipes are made of a variety of materials, including copper, plastic, and aluminum.
They’re made of sturdy five-layer cross-linked polyethylene with a solid aluminum core that keeps its form after being bent, making them perfect for one-person installation.
They’re sturdy and tough, functioning between -44 degrees Fahrenheit and 95 degrees Fahrenheit at 10 bars of pressure.
Copper: Copper is a good conductor of heat, so it’s often used in underfloor heating systems. Copper pipes are also durable and resistant to corrosion.
Plastic: Plastic is a good insulator, so it helps to keep the heat in the room. Plastic pipes are also lightweight and easy to install.
Aluminum: Aluminum is a good conductor of heat, so it’s often used in underfloor heating systems. Aluminum pipes are also lightweight and easy to install.
There are also PEX-A, PE-RT, and PE-RT/AL/PE-RT pipes, which are made of a special type of plastic that’s designed for underfloor heating systems. These pipes are durable and resistant to corrosion.
Underfloor Heating Mats
Underfloor heating mats are designed to be used with specific types of flooring, including carpet, tile, wood, and laminate.
They incorporate an etched foil heating element that’s laminated between two layers of insulation.
The mats are easy to install and don’t require any special tools or training.
They are generally sold in kit form, with everything you need to install the mat included.
- Easy to install
- Resistant to corrosion
- Can be used with nearly any type of flooring
- Monitors the floor’s temperature
- Copper, plastic, and aluminum pipes are available
- The kit form is generally sold which includes everything needed for installation
- Underfloor heating mats are available for use with specific types of flooring as well.
- Only raises the floor height by 3 millimeters or less.
- Output wattage options may be selected for various conditions.
- In smaller areas, such as kitchens and bathrooms, it is cheaper to install.
- Installing it in a new or full refurbishment is less expensive.
- PC/ipad/mobile phone can be used to remotely control systems.
How much does underfloor heating cost?
The cost of underfloor heating depends on the type of system you choose and the size of your home. Electric systems are typically less expensive to install than hydronic systems. However, hydronic systems are more energy-efficient and can be used with nearly any type of flooring.
What is the best heat source for underfloor heating?
Heat pumps are the most common heat source for underfloor heating. Heat pumps are more energy-efficient than electric resistance heaters and can be used with nearly any type of flooring. Air source heat pumps are more suitable for homes with limited space, while ground source heat pumps are more suitable for homes with plenty of space.
Is underfloor heating worth it?
Underfloor heating can be a great way to save money on your energy bills. Underfloor heating is also more comfortable than traditional forced-air heating systems because it evenly distributes heat throughout the room.