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How Does Underfloor Heating Work?
Underfloor heating is becoming more and more popular all the time, and with good reason.
Underfloor heating systems are convenient and extremely efficient, not to mention much more convenient than having a standard floor heater sticking out like a sore thumb in your living room.
Because the heating system is literally underneath your floor, it won’t impact where you place your furniture or how you’re able to set up the rooms in your home.
Even better, you can use any one of a number of fuel sources in these heating systems, giving you some flexibility when deciding how much you’d like your utility bill to be.
There are three main types of underfloor heating systems: electric, radiator, and “wet” underfloor heating.
Let’s take a look at each of them.
Electric Underfloor Heating
Underfloor heating systems that are electric use wires that fit underneath the floor and which heat up whenever your electricity is turned on.
If you have a new home, a screed finish is usually what is used, while tiles or matting are used with existing homes.
There are numerous things to consider when deciding if electric underfloor heating is what you want.
First, electric underfloor heating systems are easy to install and usually more responsive than wet systems.
What does this mean in practical terms? It means that the room will warm up much more quickly than other types of underfloor heating systems.
That being said, you also have to factor in the cost of electricity.
Electricity can be a lot more expensive than gas is, which is one thing to remember when deciding between the various types of underfloor heating systems.
One of the reasons why electric underfloor heating is easy to install is because it is often used alongside retrofitted underfloor heating, which means that no water pipes need to be installed.
Radiators are cost-effective and very efficient. They are made out of metal and the warmth rises from that metal and heats up the room.
These are very popular types of heating systems all throughout Europe.
They work because hot water is circulated through the panels of the radiator, where it is then emitted from the radiator itself.
If you have no crawl space or your home is small, radiator heating is a great option.
They heat and cool very quickly and even come with various controls that allow a radiator in one room to be one temperature and a radiator in another room to be something else.
These controls make it a very efficient system because you can change the temperature depending on whether the house faces north or south. It is also relatively inexpensive to heat your home this way.
“Wet” Underfloor Heating
Wet underfloor heating involves heated water that is circulated along circuits. There are separate circuits for the many rooms and areas in your home.
Wet underfloor heating uses piping made out of reinforced polythene to circulate the water, and each room has a thermostat and regulating valves.
Because of this, different rooms can be heated to different temperatures, making energy usage more efficient.
The water is distributed to the circuits at temperatures of 35 to 60 degrees Celsius, which enables the floors to be between 18 and 29 degrees Celsius.
Each time a room reaches a pre-set temperature, the circuit in that room is closed to save on utilities.
Below are the three main types of wet underfloor heating systems:
- Floating floors. Super easy and fast to install, they are perfect for existing homes because they can utilise an existing wooden or solid floor. Your floor levels are raised a bit when you choose this type of underfloor heating.
- Solid floors. For newer homes, this is often what is chosen. The heating system is built into screed or concrete floors and is therefore permanent. Best of all, after the screed or concrete is poured, you can place nearly any type of floor finish above it, including carpet, wood, tiles, or vinyl.
- Suspended floors. This type of underfloor heating system is installed in between the battens or joists in the suspended floor. Insulation is usually placed below the system. As with solid floors, you have the option of choosing from among many types of flooring.
One thing you’ll want to keep in mind with both solid and suspended floors is the consideration that must be given to the type of flooring you place over the heating system.
You always have to make sure that the flooring is able to accommodate the type of fuel or heating source you’re using for the underfloor heating system.
If you have any questions or concerns about this, you can contact one of the many heating companies that know exactly how to guide you and help you make the right decision in the end.
A Few Things to Remember
A few things to keep in mind if you’re considering getting underfloor heating include the following:
- It usually takes a lot longer to heat up and cool down than other types of central heating
- If you want to retrofit your home, make sure that your property is well insulated first
- If you’re away from home during the bulk of the day, this might not be the best heating system for you simply because of how long it takes to heat up and cool down
The good news about underfloor heating systems is that they can be used with a variety of heating sources.
Wet systems can use a conventional gas boiler, or a solid-fuel or oil boiler, while heat pumps can also be used.
Underfloor heating systems can also use electricity or even a biomass boiler that is supplemented by a solar thermal panel.
In other words, you really do have many options for the heat source you’ll use when you choose an underfloor heating system for your home.
Keep in mind that underfloor heating systems do not have to be run at high temperatures, meaning they can save you money on your monthly utility bills.
They will warm a large area and therefore don’t need those high temperatures.
And the more you’ll learn about these heating systems, the more you’ll probably want one.