Underfloor heating (UFH) is a modern heating solution designed to warm your house economically and effectively, whilst also dispensing with bulky, unsightly central heating radiators. The theory is that having low wattage energy dispersed evenly through a large surface area makes a very effective radiator which then warms everything else around it, requiring a lower energy input than central heating. Depending on the floor construction, the ideal is also to create “thermal mass” and therefore keep temperatures more even and more stable and minimise energy input over time.

Electric underfloor heating schematic Installation considerations:A damp-proof membrane is required as the first layer (to prevent damp and condensation issues caused between the warm heating surface of the floor and the cold lower surface).The surface underneath the electric filament must then be insulated in order to stop heat-loss downwards into the floor / ground as opposed to upwards into the building. The thickness of this layer needs to be determined according to the nature of the floor underneath (ie. if it is already an insulated intermediate floor of a building, or a cold concrete floor) and this will also influence the wattage of the heater.A screed or similar conductive material is then required in order to conduct the produced heat evenly across the surface of the floor and to prevent uneven hot and cold spots. In some instances too, this material will also prevent frottage (wear) on the element from the upper surface.

The floor finishing surface should then be put down. Ideally this surface would be a brick or ceramic tile in order to become a “thermal mass” and store and release the produced heat evenly over time, giving the maximum energy-saving benefits of the installation.

Clearly the above layering will have other knock-on impacts to your existing room including:

– In the ground floor, the likely requirement to excavate downwards and re-lay the floor.

– On all floors, the possibility that doors and skirting boards will have to be raised.

Advantages of Underfloor heating:

  • More efficient when proper insulation is installed underneath and thermal mass installed on top;
  • Underfloor heating is warm;
  • Eliminates unsightly and space-consuming radiators from walls;
  • Possible to install in new builds and as retrofit;
  • Off-the-shelf-products are available for competent DIYers.

Disadvantages of Underfloor heating:

  • Efficiency benefits drop-off significantly without underlying insulation or “thermal mass”. In the first instance (no insulation) too much energy is wasted downwards and in the second instance (no thermal mass) when the thermostat shuts the current off, the room cools down very quickly;
  • Properly installed underfloor heating systems can feel hot and stuffy and are difficult to cool down. Some people find the sense of heat rising from the floor (as opposed to from above) unnatural;
  • You cannot zone your heating effectively within a room without leaving permanent hot & cold spots. The whole floor is either on or off;
  • Retrofit installation in a floor is an upheaval and may imply other structural changes and expense;
  • UFH Systems together with all the other required items are expensive.

UFH purchase and operating cost comparisons with Herschel Infrared:

Living room area: 4m x 5.60m = 22.4m2

Wattage (kW) Purchase (Pounds) Operating Cost in Pounds
(5 hours / day; 120 days/winter)
Underfloor 100W/m2 2.2 1410* 1.54 / day; 184 / winter
Underfloor 200W/m2 4.4 1612* 3.08 / day; 369 / winter
Herschel Infrared 1.2 – 1.4 687 0.94 / day; 113 / winter

*This price excludes insulation & substrate layers required for underfloor heating.

Herschel Far Infrared Heating as an alternative to underfloor electric heating:

  • Herschel Infrared gives a natural, fresh feeling of warmth. Underfloor heating can feel stuffy;
  • Herschel Infrared is significantly cheaper to purchase;
  • Herschel Infrared is significantly easier and cheaper to install than UFH which can be very disruptive due to the extent of building works required;
  • Herschel Infrared is cheaper to run;
  • Herschel Infrared is easier to zone – underfloor heating cannot be zoned within a room;
  • Herschel Far Infrared provides excellent comfort levels by warming all the surfaces of a room, including the floor. Underfloor heating just heats the floor, leaving other surfaces disproportionately cooler.

 

Publisher: Herschel Far Infrared