Underfloor heating systems can be built using three different methods, forced air, electric radiant and wet. Which method is used depends on the design and nature of the building that the system will be installed in and the proprietors’ personal tastes, but in the whole the most common installations are electric radiant or wet.
Forced Air Underfloor Heating Systems
The oldest form of underfloor heating system is the forced air method and this can be traced back to the Roman times. The air is heated by a furnace and then forced through a network of pipes and ducts under the floor.
Systems of this nature carry a few problems:
- Allergens are forced into the atmosphere
- The system requires the burning of fossil fuel
- Regular inspection and maintenance required
For these and other reasons, forced air heating systems are very rarely used nowadays as the two other methods provide much better benefits at a vastly reduced financial outlay.
Wet Underfloor System
Wet heating systems (also known as hydronic) use a continuous loop of pipes that are embedded into the floor and circulate a nonstop flow of hot water. This method can be employed to heat most wooden flooring and is a very popular method of underfloor heating due to its efficiency and comfort. A central heating boiler provides the systems hot water and although they can be installed anywhere in a building, wet underfloor systems are usually fitted on the ground floor when the building is being constructed or when major renovations are being carried out.
Electric Radiant Underfloor Systems
Electric radiant systems are essentially electric cables that are run underneath the floor and heated by the use of a thermostat. These underfloor systems are available in three different formats: electric heating mats, electric heating cables or floor warming systems. Electric radiant underfloor systems are extremely easy to install and the heat zones are even easier to create and regulate.
Hydronic & Electric Radiant System Advantages
Electric radiant and hydronic underfloor systems have both got some very advantageous characteristics for the home owner or corporate business. The hydronic system can be heated from a variety of sources and if, for instance, oil becomes too expensive the system can be switched to another heat source such as solar panelling very easily. The water remains warm for longer so is very economical to run compared to other room heating systems. The hydronic system is much quieter than the forced air method and does not emit dust or allergens into the air. It is ideal solution for heating an entire building or room as the piping required does not carry a high cost.
Electric underfloor heat systems allow for zonal heating and the ability to easily regulate the heating throughout the building. This will reduce energy consumption of up to 52% over other conventional central heating systems. An electric radiant underfloor heating system can be installed very easily and will utilise existing edifices and heating zones.
Underfloor Systems – Which One?
So, what is the best underfloor heat system to have installed? The answer to this question is both simple and complex. A major factor is the type of the building you intend installing the heating system into. The affordability of the project also counts heavily and whether the building is an established structure or a new build. But what matters over all else is the requirements and tastes of the customer.