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Electric Underfloor Heating Or Water Based Underfloor Heating

Jul 5, 2008
Increasingly in our modern homes we are choosing 'hard' floor coverings over traditional carpets. That is; natural stones, ceramic floor tiles, natural or engineered timbers and laminates. Not only are these floor types clean and attractive but they are the perfect surfaces for underfloor heating, so open another possibility when considering the heating method for the room - one that fits well with the modern style of living.

There are several factors that you may wish to reflect on if you are considering an underfloor heating system. Perhaps the biggest consideration will be; 'should I fit a wet underfloor heating system or an electric one'? Like most things in life the answer is not a simple one - but with a bit of thought and planning the choice should become evident.

The first thing to consider is increase in floor height or build-up height as it is sometimes known. Water based underfloor heating systems typically consist of a pipe of 15mm - 20mm diameter in a floor screed of 65mm or greater.

Because of this increase in floor height, water based systems really need to be considered for new-build applications and planned in to the general building works. If you are converting an existing property and don't want to be lifting the floors then wet underfloor heating is not really an option.

Electric underfloor heating really comes into its own when you are either renovating a single room, have an existing floor that you do not want to build up any more than absolutely necessary, or if you wished to increase your existing water based installation you would have to upgrade your boiler to cope with the increased demand.

Electric underfloor heating systems can come in several different forms; there are small diameter (typically 3 or 4mm) heating cables that can be fitted under tiles in the tile cement - these can be either loose cables or mat-based systems.

There are also carbon-based electric underfloor heating foils that are designed to be fitted under natural timber, engineered wood or laminates. All these electric underfloor heating systems have one thing in common - they are extremely thin.

Whichever type of system you choose you will be installing a system with proven advantages over a conventional central heating radiator system. The running costs can be up to 30% less with underfloor heating compared to radiators; there are two key reasons for this:

1. Underfloor heating is a low temperature system, with a floor temperature typically 22 degrees celsius - 25 degrees celsius, compared with a radiator surface temperature of around 50 degrees celsius - 60 degrees celsius. With radiators, the heat generated rapidly rises to the ceiling, precisely where it is not needed.

2. The lower temperature associated with underfloor heating means that there is less heat loss through the fabric of the building. This is reflected in the energy consumption.

Other benefits are total flexibility of furniture layout within the room; also underfloor heating is the best type of heating for personal comfort when compared to any other type of heating design.

In Europe, particularly Germany, Denmark and Spain underfloor heating is the preferred choice for most new buildings. The benefits are being recognised in many other countries. Underfloor heating, whether electric or water based can help to reduce your energy usage and at the same time improve the quality of your life.
About the Author
Anna Stenning has recently installed new electric underfloor heating system in her home, which has proven to be worth it in the end.
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