There are two main types of underfloor heating, electric underfloor heating, which is sometimes known as a dry system, and hydronic underfloor heating, which is also known as a wet system. Dry and wet underfloor heating systems are similar, both having their own pros and cons.
The main drawback of electric underfloor heating is the running cost. The cost of heating up an entire floor area with electric underfloor heating will be significantly more expensive than the running costs of wet underfloor heating.
The advantage of electric underfloor heating are the ease of installation, hence it is often used in smaller areas or DIY projects. Electric underfloor heating may seem like an economical option when you see the initial cost compared to wet underfloor heating but in the long run it will most likely end up costing you more. Investing in a quality wet underfloor heating system ensures longevity, efficiency, reliable performance and low running costs. See our guide to underfloor heating pricing to learn more.
While electric underfloor has an excellent heat output and a quick heating response time, it is critical to make sure that the heating output is controlled properly to avoid over-heating and potentially causing damage to floor coverings.
Advantages of wet underfloor heating
Wet underfloor heating is very efficient, it’s around 25% more efficient than radiators when paired with a modern condensing boiler and up to 40% more efficient when running from a heat pump. Unlike a gas or oil boiler, which heats water to between 65 and 85°C, a heat pump generates hot water at around 40°C.
Hydronic underfloor heating can be coupled with renewable heating sources such as solar thermal and air source heat pumps, which works on lower flow temperatures than traditional heating methods – this is due to the large surface area created by the UFH pipework in the floor, compared to the relatively small surface area of a radiator.
According to energy saving experts First Utility UK, air source heat pumps have 300% efficiency. For every unit of energy they use, they produce three units of heat making them three times more efficient than traditional electric and gas heating systems.
You may not be aware that wet underfloor heating doesn’t have to be installed at the new build stage. Just like electric underfloor heating, it can also be installed during a renovation.
The Ambilowboard (SRB) system is a grooved cement board system that’s part of our low-profile range and is ideal for retrofit scenarios.
The AmbiLowboard (SRB) system was selected for the underfloor heating throughout the entirety of ten apartments on St Annes Road, Harrow, an excellent example of how commercial space can be converted into quality residential dwellings. AmbiLowboard SRB was the perfect solution for this refurbishment as the system boasts minimal floor height build-up, and with tiles able to be laid directly over the system the total build up was just 18mm. With no radiators, the interior designer had complete flexibility of design and the heating is zoned individually in each room, allowing the future owners the ability to programme the heating for each room and maximise efficiency.
Other advantages for both electric and hydronic underfloor heating include:
- Freedom of interior design – Because underfloor heating is completely hidden under the floor, interior designers have complete freedom to design the building without worrying about the placement of radiators and there is more freedom for the building to be decorated as there will be much more wall space for placing furniture against the walls and wall decorations.
- The most healthy form of heating – This is a factor that is often overlooked when researching the different types of heating, the biggest health benefit of underfloor heating is a reduction of respiratory problems. Traditional convection heating from radiators moves warm air in a circular motion, capturing and redistributing dust particles. Whereas the radiant heat created by underfloor heating warms the room gently from the floor upwards, meaning that there is far less movement for the dust particles to get caught up in. UFH can also decrease the number of dust mites in your home by as much as 80% and it helps relieve pain for people suffering from arthritis.
- The most comfortable form of heating – Underfloor heating works by circulating warm water through a series of continuous loops that are fitted underneath your floor, creating a large radiant surface that heats your room from the floor upwards. This radiant form of heating is much more comfortable than the convected heat provided by radiators, which draws cold air across the floor, heating it and then convecting it upwards towards the ceiling.
- Safety – Radiators can cause safety issues, especially for young children, mainly because when radiators are operating at a high temperature they can become scalding hot so there is a risk that a child or even a vulnerable adult could burn themselves by touching the radiator. Many care homes are making the switch to underfloor heating to protect residents with dementia. Some parts of a radiator can also be sharp, so there is also the risk of a person cutting themselves on one during a fall.
Screeded wet underfloor heating systems are the most popular and effective type of underfloor heating. Pipes are clipped or stapled onto an insulation layer, then the screed is laid on top. The warm pipes effectively heat up the whole slab, giving even and consistent heat output.
The AmbiClip system is one of the most common underfloor heating systems, providing a quick, flexible and effective form of heating within a screeded floor build up, making it perfect for new build situations.
Our AmbiClip system was installed throughout a unique and luxurious property in Hampstead, North London. A minimalistic and modern design specification meant that underfloor heating was the natural choice for the heating system.
Are you considering whether to choose electric or wet underfloor heating for your next project?
Get in touch with our team today to discuss your underfloor heating requirements. Simply call us on 01707 649 118 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Did you find this article useful? Check out UFH Pricing – How much does wet underfloor heating cost? Or The advantages of underfloor heating.
This article was written by Robert Tuffin.
Robert is the General Manager at Ambiente and has been working in the underfloor heating industry since 2012.