Underfloor heating systems offer some clear benefits over more traditional heating systems such as oil or water filled radiators, and warm air convection systems. The single largest benefit, of course, is that heat rises. This means that an underfloor system extracts every bit of warmth from the energy used to create it. They are the most energy efficient heating systems available.
But how do the different types of underfloor heating systems compare with each other? Which comes out ahead in a straight comparison? Wet or electric based underfloor heating?
The Two Main Types of Underfloor Heating Systems
Before we launch into a full comparison, it might be a good idea to cover just what each of the two types of underfloor heating systems are, wet (or water) and electric, and also how they differ.
Wet underfloor heating systems use hot water pumped through special in-screed heat pipes that carry the hot water around the property. Because the heat pipes are within the screed (usually a layer of cement) this is a very efficient way to store heat, as the water system heats the entire solid floor.
Electric underfloor heating systems rely on a matrix of electrical heating elements to achieve the same results. However, these are usually laid on top of the concrete floor, and a false floor of some kind is installed over the top.
A Basic Comparison of Wet and Electric Underfloor Heating
So, now we know what each type of underfloor heating system is, and how it works, let’s talk about how they differ in usage.
Wet systems are well suited to heating the bottom floor of a property, where the screed is thick and able to absorb and store heat from the hot water pipes. Using a water-based system on upper floors requires a thick screed, which can add to build costs and complicate construction.
That being said, there are ways around this problem using special low-profile water underfloor heating. Wet heating systems are also usually more efficient at heating large rooms, due to the way the screed stores heat and releases it over time.
Electric systems, on the other hand, are much better at warming small spaces very quickly. It can also be fitted in rooms that do not have enough headroom to allow for a thick screed layer being added to install water underfloor heating.
Electric systems take up much less of the available headroom. They are generally easier to install in properties that are being renovated, as they are more flexible to install, and do not require the addition of the screed layer as water-based systems do.
An In-Depth Comparison of Wet and Electric Underfloor Heating
Now we have a basic idea of how the two different types of underfloor heating systems compare, we can begin to be a little more specific, with a pros and cons style comparison.
Wet Underfloor Heating Systems:
- Water-based systems are very energy efficient, especially when used to keep large rooms warm for an extended period.
- Combined with a heat pump setup, water-based systems can move significant volumes of hot water, providing enough heat to keep properties in even the coldest places warm.
- Wet underfloor heating is more expensive to fit.
- In some cases, it can be difficult to achieve a cost-effective heating solution, due to the higher cost of ownership.
- Maintenance can be a problem, as the water pipes are sealed in the concrete floor.
Electric Underfloor Heating Systems:
- Electric underfloor is the cheapest of the two to install.
- Installation is far simpler, due to there being no need to embed the heating elements within the floor.
- Electric systems can be used to heat upper floors where wet systems cannot be used due to construction limitations.
- When it comes to a running costs comparison, electric underfloor heating systems are significantly more expensive to run than wet systems.
- Electric systems can be damaged by heavy furniture, or other heavy items crushing it.
Which Underfloor Heating System Should You Choose?
Now we know the facts, we can begin to understand just which type of underfloor heating is best used in certain circumstances:
Wet systems are best used in the following circumstances:
- In newly constructed buildings where the heating system can be planned as part of the build.
- On ground floors, with a thick creed that the heating pipes can be embedded into.
- In properties where large spaces need to be kept warm for extended periods.
- In environments where heavy furniture or other items might damage electric systems.
Electric systems are best used in the following circumstances:
- As part of a renovation project, where electric systems are easier to install.
- On upper floors, where there is no way to embed water pipes into the screed.
- In properties that have smaller rooms, that need to be heated quickly.
- As a direct budget restriction, where water-based underfloor heating is deemed too expensive.
The Underfloor Heating Company London and their engineers are specialists in installing both electric and wet underfloor heating systems in residential and commercial properties. We pride ourselves on providing an exceptional service at a great price.