Underfloor Heating: A Comprehensive Guide to History, Types, and Installation

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 17, 2022
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Underfloor heating is a type of radiant heating in which heat is transferred by conduction through thin metal pipes embedded in the floor.

In this article, I’ll explain what it is, how it works, and why it’s so great.

What is underfloor heating

Why Underfloor Heating is a Game-Changer for Your Home

UFH achieves thermal comfort through a combination of conduction, radiation, and convection. The heat is conducted through the floor, which then radiates heat waves that warm up the room. As the air in the room is warmed up, it rises, creating a convection current that helps distribute the heat evenly.

What are the Key Components of a UFH System?

The key components of a UFH system are the pipes or heating elements embedded in the floor, a secondary piping system that connects to a boiler or heat pump, and a control system that regulates the temperature. In conjunction with furnaces, UFH can also be used for cooling by circulating cool water through the pipes.

Why is UFH a Good Option?

UFH has several advantages over traditional radiator systems, including:

  • UFH provides more even heat distribution, eliminating hot and cold spots in a room.
  • UFH is particularly well-suited for open-plan spaces, where radiators may not be practical.
  • UFH can be installed as part of a new build or retrofit, with comparable costs to traditional heating systems.
  • UFH is a self-contained system that doesn’t require digging or excavation, making it a good option for those who don’t want to disrupt their existing flooring.

What are the Downsides of UFH?

While UFH has many benefits, there are also some downsides to consider:

  • UFH can be more expensive to install than traditional radiators, particularly in retrofit situations where the height of the floor may need to be raised.
  • UFH can take longer to warm up a room than radiators, which can be a problem if you need heat quickly.
  • UFH can be more difficult to repair if something goes wrong, as the pipes are embedded in the floor.

Overall, UFH is a great option for those looking for a more efficient and comfortable way to heat their homes. With its even heat distribution and flexibility, it’s no wonder that more and more homeowners are choosing UFH as their go-to heating system.

Underfloor heating is now a significant part of modern building design, and there are specific products and expert companies dedicated to its installation. It is a true luxury, keeping homes warm and comfortable without the need for bulky radiators. In particular, it is popular in small spaces where radiators can take up valuable room.

Choosing the Best Underfloor Heating System for Your Home

When deciding which type of underfloor heating to choose, there are a few factors to consider:

  • Energy efficiency: Wet underfloor heating is generally more energy efficient than electric systems, but it may not be worth the initial cost if you’re only looking to heat a small area.
  • Safety: Both electric and wet underfloor heating systems are safe to use, but it’s important to have an expert install the system to ensure that it’s done correctly.
  • Cost: Electric underfloor heating is generally cheaper to install than wet systems, but wet systems may be more cost-effective in the long run because they are more energy efficient.
  • Construction: If you’re building a new home, it may be easier to install wet underfloor heating because it can be combined with the main heating system. If you’re adding underfloor heating to an existing home, electric underfloor heating may be the best option because it doesn’t require any additional construction work.

How Underfloor Heating Works: The Key System Components

The heat source is responsible for producing hot water that will flow through the piping system beneath the finished floor. It is usually a boiler or a heat pump that works by heating water to the desired temperature. Conventional boilers are often used, but renewable heat sources like heat pumps are becoming more popular due to their energy efficiency.

The Distribution System: Pipes and Manifold

The distribution system consists of a network of pipes that connect to a manifold, which acts as the brain of the system. The manifold is responsible for distributing the hot water to each individual circuit that connects to the floor. The piping system is typically made of flexible piping, which allows for easy installation and simplifying the connection process.

The Control System: Thermostats and Programmable Times

The control system is responsible for maintaining a consistent temperature throughout the property. It consists of thermostats that are connected to individual circuits and allow for the temperature to be monitored and controlled. Programmable times can be set to ensure that the heating is only on when needed, which can lower energy bills.

The Intelligent Connection: UFHs and Thermostat

The intelligent connection between the underfloor heating system and the thermostat allows for easy control of the temperature in each room. The thermostat is responsible for taking readings from the temperature sensors and adjusting the flow of hot water to maintain the desired temperature. This ensures that the property is always warm and comfortable.

The Monitoring System: Monitored and Controlled

The system is monitored and controlled to ensure that it is working efficiently. The temperature sensors and thermostats allow for the temperature to be monitored and controlled, while the manifold ensures that the hot water is distributed evenly throughout the property. This ensures that the system is working as it should and that any issues can be quickly identified and resolved.

In summary, underfloor heating systems typically consist of three main components: the heat source, the distribution system, and the control system. The heat source produces hot water that is circulated through a network of pipes by the distribution system, and the control system maintains a consistent temperature throughout the property. The intelligent connection between the underfloor heating system and the thermostat allows for easy control of the temperature in each room, while the monitoring system ensures that the system is working efficiently.

Designing and Installing Your Underfloor Heating System

The Economics of Underfloor Heating

Underfloor heating is a highly efficient way to heat a space, as it uses natural convection to spread heat evenly and directly across the floor. This means that the heat is applied where it is required, rather than being wasted by heating the air at ceiling level. As a result, underfloor heating can significantly reduce energy consumption and electricity bills, especially when compared to traditional radiators.

Market Position and Price Range

While underfloor heating was once considered a luxury product, it has become increasingly affordable in recent years. As the market for underfloor heating has grown, so too has the range of products available, with a variety of different setups and wiring options to suit specific needs and budgets. While the initial cost of installation may be higher than that of traditional radiators, the long-term cost savings and energy efficiency make underfloor heating a solid alternative.

Technical Setup and Control

Underfloor heating can be either passive or active, depending on the specific setup and control system used. Passive underfloor heating relies on natural convection to spread heat, while active underfloor heating uses a dedicated electrical system to achieve more precise control over the flow of heat. Advanced control systems can be used to maintain a specific temperature level, and some systems can even be wired into a smart home setup for even greater control.

Research and Development

As the demand for underfloor heating has increased, so too has the level of research and development in the area. Companies are constantly working to create new and more effective products, with a focus on improving energy efficiency and overall quality. This has led to the development of highly advanced underfloor heating systems that can effectively substitute traditional radiators in any space.

Experienced Companies and Wiring Requirements

When it comes to installing underfloor heating, it’s important to work with experienced companies who can ensure that the wiring requirements are met and that the setup is done correctly. While underfloor heating is similar to traditional wiring in many ways, there are some key differences that require specific expertise. Additionally, the wiring required for underfloor heating can be highly technical, so it’s important to work with a company that has a solid understanding of the requirements.

Overall, underfloor heating is a highly effective and efficient way to heat any space, with significant cost savings and energy efficiency benefits. While the initial cost may be higher than that of traditional radiators, the long-term savings and benefits make it a highly attractive alternative.

Why Underfloor Heating is the Perfect Choice for Your Home

Underfloor heating is designed to provide a consistent and even level of heat throughout your home. Unlike traditional radiators that produce hot and cool spots, underfloor heating gently warms the people and objects in the room from the ground up, providing a more comfortable and consistent temperature.

Energy Efficient

Underfloor heating is a low-energy way to heat your home. It uses radiant heat technology, which is more energy-efficient than other heating methods. This means that you can save money on your energy bills while still keeping your home warm and comfortable.

Low Maintenance

Underfloor heating requires very little maintenance once it is installed. Unlike radiators, which can become clogged with dirt and debris, underfloor heating is built into the floor and is solid and dry. This means that it rarely needs to be cleaned or maintained, making it a convenient and hassle-free choice for homeowners.

Increased Property Value

Installing underfloor heating is a simple improvement that can add significant value to your property. Many homebuyers are looking for properties that offer underfloor heating, and adding it to your home can make it more attractive to potential buyers.

Expert Installation

Underfloor heating requires expert installation, but once it is installed, it is worth the initial investment. Companies that perform underfloor heating installations typically offer a lifetime guarantee on their work, giving you peace of mind that your system will perform at its best for years to come.

Choice of Types

Underfloor heating comes in two types: water and electric. Water underfloor heating uses pipes to circulate warm water throughout your home, while electric underfloor heating uses electrical wires to produce heat. Both types have their own particular benefits, and the choice of which to use depends on your individual needs and the design of your home.

Safe and Convenient

Underfloor heating is a safe and convenient way to heat your home. Unlike radiators, which can become hot to the touch and pose a safety risk, underfloor heating is built into the floor and is never too hot to touch. This makes it a safer choice for homes with children and pets.

Superior Performance

Underfloor heating is able to maintain a consistent temperature throughout your home, providing a better performance than traditional radiators. It is also able to heat your home more efficiently, making it a cheaper and more energy-efficient choice in the long run.

Adding Value to Your Home

Underfloor heating is a popular choice for homeowners who are looking to add value to their property. It is a simple improvement that can make a big difference in the quality of your home, providing a more comfortable and convenient living space for you and your family.

Perfect for All Types of Homes

Underfloor heating is designed to be used in all types of homes, from single-family homes to apartments and condos. It is a versatile and flexible heating solution that can be designed to meet the specific needs of your home, providing a comfortable and consistent temperature throughout the year.

The Drawbacks of Underfloor Heating: What You Need to Know

  • Underfloor heating systems require complex installation work, which can take several days to complete, making it a more time-consuming process than traditional heating systems.
  • The size of the system can also be a concern, as it requires more space than traditional heating systems. This means that you may need to make some changes to your home’s layout to accommodate it.
  • Maintenance is also a primary concern, as regular maintenance is required to ensure that the system is working correctly. This entails checking the electrical connections, ensuring that the edges and finishes are properly placed, and preventing any compound or wet areas from developing.

Energy Consumption and Cost

  • Despite the benefits of underfloor heating, the initial cost of installing it can be higher than traditional heating systems. This is due to the complex nature of the installation process and the technical expertise required to connect the system to the power supply.
  • Additionally, underfloor heating typically requires a higher degree of energy consumption than traditional heating systems, meaning that your energy bills may be slightly higher.
  • Depending on the type of underfloor heating you choose, the running costs can vary. Electric underfloor heating is usually more expensive to run than water-based systems, which can be a more cost-effective choice in the long run.

Heating Time and Temperature Control

  • Underfloor heating achieves the desired temperature gently and gradually, meaning that it takes longer to heat up the room than traditional heating systems. This can be a concern if you need a quick blast of hot air to warm up the area.
  • Unlike traditional heating systems, underfloor heating requires a particular technique to control the temperature. This means that you need to learn how to use the system to achieve the desired temperature.
  • Despite the differences in heating time, underfloor heating offers a more comfortable and fresh feel to the room, making it a popular choice for those who want to create a comfortable living space.

Safety Concerns

  • Safety is a primary concern when it comes to underfloor heating, as the cables are located directly beneath the floor. This means that you need to ensure that the system is installed correctly to prevent any electrical faults from occurring.
  • Despite the safety concerns, underfloor heating is generally considered safe to use, provided that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and take the necessary precautions.

Price and Choice

  • The price of underfloor heating can vary depending on the type of system you choose and the area you want to heat. Electric underfloor heating is typically cheaper to install than water-based systems, but it can be more expensive to run.
  • Despite the price differences, underfloor heating offers a range of benefits that make it a popular choice for many homeowners. Whether you want to achieve a comfortable living space or increase the value of your home, underfloor heating is a choice worth considering.

Is Underfloor Heating Worth the Cost Compared to Radiators?

When it comes to heating your home, there are two main options: underfloor heating and radiators. While radiators have been the go-to option for decades, underfloor heating is becoming increasingly popular due to its eco-friendliness and energy efficiency. But is it worth the cost compared to radiators? Let’s take a closer look.

The Eco-Friendliness of Underfloor Heating vs Radiators

Underfloor heating is more eco-friendly than radiators. This is because underfloor heating uses less energy to heat a room, which means it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, underfloor heating can be powered by renewable energy sources, such as solar panels or heat pumps.


So there you have it, underfloor heating is a great way to keep your home warm and comfortable without radiators. It’s a modern building design and specific products have made it a reality for many homeowners nowadays. It’s a great option looking to efficient and comfortable way to heat your home. So don’t be afraid to take the plunge and make the decision to go with underfloor heating.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.