Underfloor Heating - Types, Cost & Benefits

Underfloor heating is a way of heating the home using electrical heating elements that are embedded in a floor. The heat is, achieved by conduction, radiation, and convection. 


Underfloor heating is one of the most popular ways of heating homes. It is a luxury facility to the building and one of the most effective ways of space heating.

Types of Underfloor Heating Systems for Buildings

The two main types of modern underfloor heating systems, used in buildings are:

  1. Electric system or dry system
  2. Hydronic system or wet system

1. Electric Underfloor Heating System

This makes a dry system that makes use of electric coils placed under the floor, that heats up when the system is on. They are only used for heating. The electric underfloor system makes use of flexible and non-corrosive heating elements, including cables, carbon films, etc. 
Underfloor heating is a method of space heating that makes use of a thin heating wire that is installed under the surface of the floor. It is often installed in kitchens and bathrooms as these rooms are often felt cold, especially when barefoot.

Image Credits

Compared to wet underfloor systems, the electric underfloor heating system is fast and is controlled mainly at the time of use.
Electricity costs about 15p per unit and a unit is 1 kilowatt (kW) for one hour so it is referred to as a kilowatt per hour (kWh).
Therefore if your electric underfloor heating is 125W per square meter then for every eight square meters of floor you will use 15p per hour that the system is on.

Benefits of Electric Underfloor Heating for Buildings
  1. Consumes less space than the wet underfloor heating system
  2. Quick heating system as they are attached closely to the floor
  3. For a small amount of heat for a short period of time, this is a good option

Drawbacks of Electric Underfloor Heating for Buildings
  1. Improper management of electric underfloor system makes it expensive to maintain.
  2. It can create hot spots if there is any second heat generator like a range cooker or log burner.
  3. A system failure is very difficult to determine.

Cost of Electric Underfloor Heating System

There are many types of electric underfloor heating, all of which have different costs for systems and installation:
  • Thin mesh systems: £45/m2 to £50/m2
  • Quick matting system: £55/m2 to £60/m2
  • Budget systems: £15/m2
  • Foil systems suited under the carpet: £40/m2 to £50/m2
  • Loose wire system: £50/m2 to £55/m2

2. Hydronic or Wet Underfloor Heating System

Hydronic systems use a mix of water and anti-freeze (propylene glycol) as the heat transfer fluid in a "closed-loop" that is recirculated between the floor and the boiler.  This underfloor wet heating system features pipes filled with warm water and powered by a boiler or heat pump that is concealed within the floor. The system is typically embedded within a floor screed.

Image Credits

A wet underfloor heating system is the best for buildings from scratch or for a new building. 

Benefits of Hydronic Underfloor Heating System
  1. Cost less than an electric system
  2. Can be connected to a solar-powered system, to reduce the running cost
  3. The failure is easily determined by a solar-powered online electric system, water leaks are identified easily.

Drawbacks of Hydronic Underfloor Heating System
  1. Regular maintenance is required
  2. Initial cost of installation is high
  3. Only suitable for new construction

Cost of Hydronic Underfloor Heating System

  1. $68 per square metre for a hydronic in-slab underfloor heating system
  2. $105 per square metre for a hydronic in-screed underfloor heating system

Also Read

Anre A

I am a structural engineering professional who is passionate about researching new content in the construction industry and bringing to people around the world.

Previous Post Next Post