Getting under your feet

The considerable benefits of underfloor heating are now widely understood but should you install a wet or electric system? Sales Director Steven Rooney weighs up the options.

While many people now appreciate the benefits an underfloor heating (UFH) system can bring, the question still asked is which is better – a wet or electric system?

Choosing any underfloor heating solution has to meet Building Regulations. Until recently, electric underfloor heating was widely used, but SAP calculations tend to weigh against the sole use of electricity heating in residential new builds.  As gas and oil reserves dwindle, prices rise, and electricity becomes less reliant on fossil fuels, it seems likely that electricity may be the preferred form of heating once again.

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The Wet Underfloor heating system

Wet underfloor heating systems are a clear winner where air or ground source heat pumps or district heating systems are used as it requires water temperatures of only 45- 50 degrees celsius; much lower than radiators.

We have two systems to help you find the perfect wet underfloor heating solution. We offer the full Gaia system which can fit perfectly into screed, aluminium plates or grooved overlay; or a comprehensive Polypipe system, fitted onto an overlay board.

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The Electric Underfloor heating system

Electric underfloor heating systems are frequently the first choice because of the availability of mat systems that are less than 4 mm thick, so can be laid on top of existing floors.

Comfort for the end user will be the same whichever system is chosen, it is worth remembering that electric mats installed near the surface offer a much shorter reaction time.  This can be useful in situations where ‘instant’ heat is required.

The costs explained

Supply and installation cost comparisons typically bring both wet and electric systems in at a very similar figure of around £12-14 per m2.  While the pipe used with wet systems is relatively cheap, overall installation costs are higher and the cost of a boiler or heat pump must be added. With an electric underfloor heating system the installation costs are less but the cable is more expensive.

When it comes to running costs, electric systems are slightly more expensive but maintenance is greater with wet systems.  There are also moving parts that require annual safety checks. Taking these factors into account, the running costs for heating a two bedroom, new build, semi-detached house over 20 years are around £17,804 for a wet system running off a gas boiler and £12,623 for electric system.

Both wet and electric systems generally come with a 10 year insurance backed warranty, while the pipe for wet systems frequently carry a 50 year manufacturer’s warranty. The associated controls tend to be backed by a 2 year warranty. Realistically, the underfloor elements of both systems are usually considered to last the lifetime of the building.

Benefits

Both systems have benefited from considerable research and development. This has made underfloor heating more efficient as it allows systems to operate only when needed and to the exact level of heat required. Wireless systems offer further flexibility and can link to building management systems with touch screen control or even control from a mobile phone.

Wet and electric systems may be installed in a single building.  This allows for the highest levels of user comfort while achieving exceptional energy efficiency. In tiled areas, an electric system may be installed to take the chill off the floor in the summer without needing to fire up a boiler or heat pump. Meanwhile, a wet system is installed in those areas where heating is only required during colder periods.

When it comes to answering the question of ‘which is better’, wet and electric systems have almost equal merit.  Click here to view our full range of products.

This article was published on selfbuilder + homemaker – www.sbhonline.co.uk/news/getting-under-your-feet

Contact our Projects team today on 01359 242 400 or email info@gaia.co.uk