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Underfloor heating

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shero101 | 16:51 Wed 14th Feb 2007 | Home & Garden
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Hi, I am planning a new build and am considering modern underfoor heating. Can you advise please on pros and cons. For example is it easier(cheaper) to install than traditional radiator systems and what about efficiency/economy compared to radiators. TIA.

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My partner is an electrician and he fits underfloor heating sometimes. I think it is fairly easy to fit, although it is advisable to get it done by an electrician, cos with the new laws you'll need a part P certificate. Usually people tend to have it in bathrooms, or smaller areas such as flats. Although I have seen it put into larger rooms.
I don't think its any more or less expensive than say storage heaters to run. Put it this way, nobody's ever complained to us of enormous bills or anything
A friend of ours has electric underfloor heating in their two bathrooms - I had to sit down when hey told me their electric bill for a quarter - �400 - strewth !
I advised him to get her a pair of slippers and a mat for the floor.
I also advised them to get an electrician to check if it was working properly -it was and the bills are still high.
There are fundamentally 2 sorts of UFH - electric as above and water. (I have water).
Electric works like a large storage radiator using the floor as a thermal mass. Running costs are likely to be more than a storage rad system but the heat will be more even. Not very useful on the first floor of a normal house because the matting has to be fixed under ceramic tiles or screed. Don't see how this is compatible with carpets.
Water-based systems have a normal condensing boiler and feed a large thermal store that takes care of DHW. Water then gets piped through special plastic pipes underfloor in 'zones' - I have 5 downstairs, each with a thermostat. Water goes in at about 45 degrees C and comes out at about 27. The surface temperature of the floor is about 24 - nice and toasty on the feet.
It needs special controls and will cost about 30-50% more to install than conventional water. I have a conventional system upstairs because of the carpet issue - downstairs I have ceramic tiling and wood flooring with mats.
If you are planning a new build you will have to meet current insulation stds anyway - this is the main contributor to saving on running costs.
Part 2
My system is costing me 10% less in ENERGY consumption (not costs - which have gone up) than my old house (built to 1987 stds) for a 30% bigger house - but that's because of the insulation. On a like for like basis expect similar to water-based costs.
Upsides
Comfort temperatures equal across the rooms
Don't use wall space on ugly rads

Downsides
Installation costs
Probably more to go wrong (valves, pumps)
Have to plan in advance - takes four hours to heat up a room.

Talk to a specialist supplier like Robbens for more info.
Question Author
Thanks all for your answers, especially buildersmate for such comprehensive info.
In my non-professional opinion, underfloor heating is rubbish (I lived with it once) - the only way to get warm is to lie down on the floor and there's nowhere to put the washing to dry when it's pouring with rain outside.
And in my professional opinion - over many tens of years I have overseen literally acres of electric and water underfloor heating of all types (domestic and commercial), costs, systems and manufacture from various countries - I would not touch it for my own domestic use with a bargepole. It is a ghastly business. Forget it and go for a conventional system.

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