Imagine being able to walk downstairs after a cold night and not having to walk into a freezing cold kitchen to make your morning coffee, or being able to have a shower and not have cold feed on tiles. This is called underfloor heating. We will be discussing the various uses of heating, the money that can be saved by its proper application, the different types, pro’s and cons and the method of installation.
What is underfloor heating?
Underfloor heating is a reasonably new and efficient way of heating up rooms without the need for sometimes long and space consuming radiators, it is commonly used in new builds or added when putting in a new kitchen or bathroom. Typically pipes are put into different circuits depending on the size of the area underneath tiles or flooring to give efficient and even heat to a room or surface. Rooms are described to have a much more pleasant temperature when underfloor heating is a applied.
Many customers who use underfloor heating tend to dislike radiators, or see them as a waste of space where additional shelves or units could be installed. Its popularity is massively growing due to the constantly improving technology and specialist firms who deal with it.
Types of underfloor heating
There are two different types of underfloor heating, we will discuss the pros and cons of both but we will first give a quick overview:
Electric – The best way to imagine electric underfloor heating is to imagine a mat with an electric wire running through, these look similar to electric blankets. They are usually installed by a builder or an electrician. This method of heating is more common in bathrooms, or kitchens with an extreme budget constraint due to them being a lot cheaper than wet underfloor heating. However, it will not last as long and problems can occur which can be hard to rectify. The electric wires are connected to a stat and the heating can be turned on and off when needed.
Wet – Wet underfloor heating is installed by a plumber. This includes putting in seperate circuits to a room/ rooms working to dimensions set out by the pipe manufacture. Pipes are typically spaced evenly apart and give the room a great and even heat. Wet underfloor heating systems are connected to a manifold which is controlled by a separate stat. These systems are much more expensive but have a life expectancy of around twenty five to fifty years depending on the company installing. It is also typically much more labour intensive to install so therefore a lot more expensive.
Pros and cons of electric underfloor heating –
A lot cheaper to install – Typically floors are not needed to be taken up therefore the heating mats can be installed without an extra layer of cement being poured down, thus massively reducing the installation costs.
Electric and no water – With there being no plumbing connections, you will not have to worry about pipes bursting or leaks once a floor has been put down.
No manifold – With the exception to a small stat which is usually quite aesthetically pleasing, you will not have to have a large and unsightly manifold.
Shorter life expectancy – With heavy use, electric underfloor heating will last a very maximum of ten years, this is ideal in a bathroom but in a kitchen this can be a problem.
Expensive when goes wrong – Despite been much cheaper, in many cases when it goes wrong floors need to be took up to replace the mats which can cost a large amount of money and cause a lot on inconvenience.
Less energy efficient – Electric heating over the long run will add a considerable amount to your electricity bill, in comparison to wet underfloor systems which typically replaces the need for radiators.
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Pros and cons of wet underfloor heating –
Replaces need for radiators, so will save on heating bills – Typically wet underfloor heating will replace the need for radiators, as the heat from underneath the floor will sufficiently heat the room. This will save a lot of money in heating bills.
Long life expectancy – Typically, this type of heating system will last a lot longer, once the pipes are in the floor you can forget about them and the only things that will go wrong due to ‘wear and tear’ are the above surface stats and controls. Unless there is a leak you will not need to take up floors. The pipes are usually guaranteed to last anywhere from twenty five to fifty years before problems start occurring.
Expensive – In the U.K wet underfloor heating systems can cost anywhere from three to five thousand pounds to install. This is de to the planning needed, plus the plumbers labour, then paying a firm to screed or cement over. Builders will also have to be paid to install the insulation underneath.
Chance of leaks – Once the system is pressure tested by the plumber you should not have to worry, however it is not unknown for pipes to pinhole causing damage and the only way to repair these would be to take the floor up.
In conclusion we believe that you should choose you method of underfloor heating in alignment of your budget, both have pros and cons, but if you can stretch the extra money we think that a wet system is much better and efficient.