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Last updated: 27 March 2024

Learn All About Solar Powered Underfloor Heating in the UK

solar powered underfloor heating

Both underfloor heating and solar panels have been increasing in popularity amongst smart homeowners in recent years. In 2019, underfloor heating accounted for 7.7% of heating systems in the UK and is continuing to grow. The demand for solar panels has especially increased in the last year and about 1 million homes in the UK currently have them installed.

This popularity is because of solar powered underfloor heating systems’ high efficiency, low running costs, and available government grants.

If you feel like you’re missing out and want to know how the addition of underfloor heating can benefit your home and pocket, simply click the button below to receive free quotes. You’re under no obligation to accept any of the quotes and can discuss your needs with a professional local installer to find the best fit for your home.

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What is Solar Underfloor Heating?

A solar underfloor heating system is exactly what the name suggests – using solar panels in the UK to heat your home through heating elements embedded in your floor.

There are two types of solar panels, namely solar thermal panels and solar PV (photovoltaic) panels. Furthermore, there are two types of underfloor heating systems, usually referred to as wet underfloor heating and electric underfloor heating (we’ll explain how each system works in the next section).

This means that no matter whether you have a solar thermal or solar PV system you can use the generated energy to power your underfloor heating system.

How Solar Powered Underfloor Heating Works

Underfloor heating systems use the entire floor area to emit heat to warm up a room. Furthermore, they primarily depend on radiant heat transfer, as opposed to radiators which work by means of convection heat. Radiant heating directly warms up the surfaces of objects (including people), whereas convection heating increases the temperature of the surrounding air.

As mentioned earlier, there are two types of underfloor heating systems: wet and electric.

solar powered electric vs wet underfloor heating systems

Solar Powered Wet Underfloor Heating System

Wet systems, also known as water or hydronic underfloor heating systems, involve heating water through a heat source which is then pumped through underfloor heating pipes.

These pipes are also referred to as circuits and are laid within or on top of the subfloor. They are laid down in a shape that ensures the heat is distributed evenly.

The heat source in this case would be solar panels (either thermal or PV alongside a water cylinder), however, other potential heat sources could be a traditional boiler or a heat pump. A manifold and pump mixing unit are installed between the underfloor heating system and the heat source so that the water enters the pipes at a suitable temperature.

It is recommended to use a wet underfloor heating system in conjunction with either a stone or tiled floor, however, carpeted floors are still suitable as long as the underlay is no more than a 1.5 tog (a tog is a unit of measurement to show a material’s insulating property).

Wet underfloor heating systems are generally recommended for new builds, as for existing buildings the floor may need to be raised so that the pipes can fit underneath.

Solar Powered Electric Underfloor Heating System

Electric systems, also sometimes referred to as dry underfloor heating systems, can come in the form of either electric heating mats or electric heating cables.

Heating mats use ultra-thin electric heating wires pre-attached to a ready-sized mat which can be attached to the subfloor. Electric heating cables are made up of free-form electric wires which can be installed within or onto the subfloor.

You can generate electricity through solar PV panels and use the grid as a backup source if need be. Then the electric mat or wires convert this electricity into radiant warmth.

This type of heating system is generally recommended for smaller projects in existing buildings, for example, if you only want underfloor heating in your bathroom. This is because electric underfloor heating systems are associated with higher running costs compared to wet systems, however, if you are mainly using free solar energy this will of course be less of an issue.

Furthermore, as with wet underfloor heating systems, it is most suitable to have either a stone or tiled floor. This is because these floor types have a high thermal conductivity, meaning that the heat is able to transfer to the floor surface quickly. These materials also retain heat well, increasing efficiency.

Laminate flooring can also be used with both types of underfloor heating systems, however, it is advised to heat the floor only to a maximum of 27˚C, in order to avoid damaging the laminate.

Both types of underfloor heating systems use a thermostat to control the temperature.

Benefits of Underfloor Heating with Solar Panels

Underfloor heating together with solar panels is the perfect heating solution for modern homeowners in the UK. This type of heating system comes with a range of benefits that are worth taking into consideration when comparing to other heating systems.

solar underfloor heating benefits
    • Extra Space: As we all know, radiators can be rather bulky and take up a decent amount of space in a room. They can get in the way of where we want to place our furniture and on top of that, they aren’t the most aesthetically-pleasing objects. Underfloor heating eliminates both of these problems, letting you decorate your home however you wish.

 

    • Comfort: As mentioned earlier, underfloor heating consists of primarily radiant heat. One of the stand-out features of underfloor heating compared to using radiators is how it distributes heat evenly. We tend to feel most comfortable when heat is evenly distributed throughout a room – we don’t want our head to feel hot while our feet feel cold.

 

    • Cheaper running costs: Underfloor heating is highly efficient due to its even heat distribution and ability to run at a lower temperature. Whilst solar panels are able to generate free energy from the sun. Therefore, this combination can reduce your energy bills. On top of this, the maintenance costs are also low for both solar panels and underfloor heating.

 

    • Reduce your carbon footprint: Solar energy reduces CO2 emissions as it is truly a clean and renewable energy source. Underfloor heating has also been shown to be 15-20% more efficient compared to traditional heating systems, meaning less energy is needed to get the same results.

 

    • Health: Underfloor heating actually reduces the risk of developing respiratory problems. This is because convection heating from radiators captures and redistributes significantly more dust particles compared to radiant heating. Underfloor heating can also decrease the number of dust mites by 80%.

 

    • Safety: This is another important aspect to take into consideration, especially for those of you with young children. Radiators can become scalding hot, meaning there is a risk of someone burning themselves on it. Therefore, installing an underfloor heating system eliminates this safety hazard.

As you can see, there are a lot of benefits to combining your solar power with underfloor heating. Something else you can benefit from is comparing quotes from different local installers to make sure you aren’t missing out on the best price.

Comparing quotes is free, quick, and easy, and there is absolutely no obligation to choose any of the quotes you receive. Click the button below to get started.

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What are the Costs of Solar Powered Underfloor Heating?

When calculating the costs of underfloor heating with solar panels there’s a lot to take into consideration. The initial material and installation costs of setting up an underfloor heating system, especially with the addition of solar panels, can be quite expensive. However, the cheaper running and maintenance costs make it worthwhile.

cost of solar powered underfloor heating

Material Costs

The material costs will obviously depend on whether you decide to go with a wet or electric underfloor heating system. Electric systems are usually cheaper. For example, for a 60m² home the price tends to start at £2,100 for new builds and £3,600 for renovations.

Wet systems, on the other hand, are quite a bit more expensive, starting at £4,800 for new builds and £9,000 for renovations of 60m². This is because the materials used, such as a manifold, circulation pump and pipes, add up and thus the overall cost is more expensive.

Installation Costs

When it comes to installation costs, wet underfloor heating systems are generally more expensive than electric systems. Again, for a 60m² home, you can expect electric systems to cost roughly £240 – £480 for new builds and £480 – £720 for renovations.

Whereas wet systems cost roughly £960 – £1440 for new builds and £1,200 – £1,680 for renovations of 60m². This is because of the materials used and the amount of time it takes to install a wet system compared to an electric system.

For example, with wet systems more time is needed to test the flow and pressure of the water and to wait for the layer of screed to dry before your floor finish can be fitted.

Therefore, the type of underfloor heating system and the type of property alongside the type of floor cover, the amount of space that needs to be covered, and where you live, can all affect the total installation cost.

This means it’s a good idea to first check with a professional how much underfloor heating will cost for your specific situation. You can click the button below to compare accurate prices of what installers in your area are currently offering, completely free of charge and with no obligation.

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Running Costs

Typically, this is where you can really benefit from having a wet underfloor heating system. As electricity from the grid is more expensive, with an average price of 28.3p/kWh. However, if you use solar panels this is less of a concern, as you can use free solar energy to heat your home and become less reliant on the grid.

Therefore, with the addition of solar panels both a wet and electronic system can be much cheaper to run compared to traditional central heating. Another advantage of both of these systems is that they can easily be regulated in order to avoid unnecessary heat usage.

Underfloor heating is typically 10–20% more efficient than radiators, as it directly warms the objects in the room from the ground up. Furthermore, underfloor heating requires a lower temperature to produce the same level of warmth in a room, meaning you don’t need as much energy.

The running costs of course will depend on factors such as the size of your home and how much energy you use during the day when your solar panels can generate energy. In order to save even more it’s advisable to use appliances like your washing machine and dishwasher during daylight hours. Alternatively, you could also install a solar battery so that you have unlimited access to solar energy.

If you still need to install solar panels on your home as well, then you should take into account their total cost in addition to this. Thankfully, there are also solar grants available that can help you make up for these upfront costs.

As you can see, underfloor heating is a great option if you want to increase the efficiency of your home and reduce your energy bills. To make sure you’re getting the best deal on the overall price it’s essential to compare quotes from different local installers. This way you can save money on material and installation costs as well as running costs.​

Click the button below to get your free quotes and start comparing prices now.

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FAQ

Bronte McClelland
Written by Bronte McClelland, Writer

Brontë is an experienced writer and editor for GreenMatch. Her passion for sustainability and renewable energy drives her to stay at the forefront of green-energy trends.

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