The functioning principle behind the underfloor heating concept, also known as radiant heating, goes back to the ancient Romans, who used the heat generated by wood-burning underground fires to warm up their marbles floors.
The underfloor heating system is not solely limited to keeping the floors warm during the cold season, but it is also an innovative way to enhance your property’s energy efficiency rate by up to 12%, securing a more equal distribution of warmth throughout the house and at the same time providing a more natural heating environment. It delivers a viable alternative to those who seek to get rid of their conventional radiators, traditional fireplaces or other heat generation devices, and at the same time are looking to install an air or ground source heat pump.
What is an Underfloor Heating System
Underfloor or radiant heating is an essential part of the central heating system, which generates heat through a system of interconnected pipes or electric wires, which are mounted beneath or within the floor coating. The underfloor heating occurs once electricity is passed through the wires, or hot fluids (which usually is a mix of water and antifreeze) are pumped into the tubes beneath the floor. Subsequently, the produced heat is transferred to the floor’s upper layer, which later sustains an upward heating effect which gradually warms the room space from bottom to top, creating a pleasing feeling of warmth that surrounds you.
As mentioned earlier, an underfloor heating system comes in two variants: electric and water underfloor heating. While the electric one is cheaper to install but more expensive in exploitation, the water-based heating performs better in the long run but requires some floor renovation works that do not come cheap. Choosing between these two comes down to your budget allowance and to the heat source that’s being used in your home’s central heating system.
Electric Underfloor Heating
An electric radiant heating system represents a web of electric non-corrosive cables arranged in a spiral type structure, that are connected to a power supply and a thermostat for the purpose of controlling the heat output. When installing an electric underfloor heating system you’ll have to consider the floor’s type, how well it is insulated and the size of the room your are looking to heat. A system like this is good for rooms with stone, tiled or even carpeted floors, since it does not require too much ground space and can be placed close to the surface, making it easier for those homeowners that do not foresee a major floor refurbishment. Although the costs of operating an electric underfloor heating can be somewhat higher compared to the ones of a water based system (due to its dependency on electricity as means of heating the metal spirals), it bears low installation costs and it is quite reliable during exploitation.
Water Underfloor Heating
If an electric underfloor heating uses a network of wires to generate heat, then the water underfloor heating uses a series of small pipes installed underneath the floor for the same purpose. These are connected to a boiler or central heating system and the functioning concept behind the water based system is similar to the one employed in the electric radiant system. Installing a water underfloor heating system will prove a challenging task in terms of the financial costs it implies and the floor renovation works that most probably will be required anyway. Despite the high initial costs supported at the time of installing the system, it will pay for itself during exploitation, whereas you’ll save on electricity bills.
In addition to heat generation properties, a water underfloor heating is also capable of cooling the floors if necessary. During the winter it pumps a combination of hot water and antifreeze in order to produce heat, and during the summer it can pump an amount of cold water instead, bringing down the room’s temperature. The reason to consider an underfloor heating system over the conventional radiators is conditional on the energy and cost efficiency it has to offer in terms of operational expenses, since the heating energy that is generated by an underfloor heating system costs less and is distributed more equally in comparison to the one provided by regular radiators.
Read More: Why Is a Heat Pump a Good Idea?