Underfloor heating seems to be the new ‘wood flooring’ of the building and home improvement world. Barely a day goes by when you can’t turn on the tv and see someone fitting it, having it fitted or talking about having it fitted on diy and home improvement programmes. There are two types of underfloor heating systems: electric and water heated.
Undefloor heating is certainly not the cheapest heating option available, but it does have certain advantages. And despite what you might think, it does not cost very much to run. This is because underfloor heating produces heat over a large surface (i.e. the whole floor) and so can be at a much lower temperature than radiators which have a small surface area and therefore need to be much hotter. Typically, underfloor heating systems run at about 50 degrees C, compared to 80 degrees C for a radiator.
Underfloor Heating Advantages
– Underfloor heating is unobtrusive and means that walls are not cluttered up with radiators. Great for a minimalist look.
– It is also quiet and surprisingly efficient.
– It is certainly safer than traditional radiators as there is no hot surface with which to come in contact.
– The electric system is very easy to install, being widely available in kit form.
– There is an even distribution of heat in the room, so no more huddling around the single radiator. Perfect for large rooms.
Undefloor Heating Disadvantages
– Underfloor heating systems typically have much longer heat up and cool down times than radiators. This means it is less able to respond to quick temperature changes.
– It can be very disruptive to install in existing properties. So in this sense, it is better suited to new builds and complete renovations.
– You will need to carefully consider the type of floor finish you want, as this can very much effect the efficiency of the system.
– It is fairly expensive when compared to fitting radiators (although prices are coming down all the time).
An electric underfloor heating system is the simpler of the two types and much more suited for the diy-er to fit. An mat, which is threaded with the heating elements is laid on the subfloor and your chosen floor covering is laid over the top of it. Thats just about all there is to it. Most suppliers of electric diy kits have tech support departments and should always supply detailed instructions in any case. As with any electrical systems, take the proper precautions and make sure you isolate the electrical circuits you are working on.
Water Heated Systems
As the name suggests water heated systems use warm water, taken from the central heating system, which is pumped through narrow pipes that are laid in loops and waves across the subfloor. In a new build or in some renovations, the pipes can be laid and then covered in a screed of cement. Insulation below the pipes will ensure that the heat generated by the system is directed up into the room, rather than down into the floor. Water heated systems can also be laid beneath suspended wooden floor, running between the joists. Again, a layer of insulation below the pipes will direct the heat up into the room above rather than the room (or cavity) below. Consider very carefully before attempting to fit a water heated system yourself, as this is really a job for a qualified contractor.