Underfloor Heating vs Radiators – Which is Better for Your Home?


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  • E For decades, radiators have been chosen as the heat sink in the home. However, in recent years this traditional solution has faced fierce competition in the form of underfloor heating (UFH). Which is better – underfloor heating or radiators? We explore the pros and cons of both.

    In the war of underfloor heating and radiators, there are additional considerations to keep in mind, including ease of installation and practicality of the design. It’s also important to understand that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to home heating.

    ‘There are a lot of benefits to moving to a properly specified UFH system,’ says Tom Edmunds, general manager of . cry. ‘The key benefit and determinant of the transition is efficiency, which in turn leads to cost savings.’

    Underfloor Heating vs Radiator – Which is Better?

    tall radiators in the greenhouse

    Image Credit: Radiator Center

    Here we classify what you need to know when updating your heating system. Should I choose underfloor heating or a radiator?

    What is underfloor heating?

    This type of heating converts the floor of the house into a radiant heat emitter. There are two types of underfloor heating. Water-based (circulating water) and electric underfloor heating systems. Hot water systems feature a network of tubes laid below the floor surface. When the heating is turned on, warm water circulates through the pipes to warm the floor above.

    An electric (or ‘dry’) setup runs through your home’s household electricity supply. Heating cables in the form of loose wires or embedded in mats are laid under the floor. When switched on, the wires warm the floor above.

    What is a radiator?

    Most modern radiators, usually made of cast iron, steel or aluminum, consist of two panels connected by a top grille and a side panel. Convection fins are mounted between the two floors to create an airflow that spreads heat throughout the room.

    ;This type of emitter warms the surrounding air through convection,’ says Sarah Wazir, marketing executive. warm up. ‘The air heated by the radiator rises towards the ceiling. As the air cools, it moves down again and is reheated by convection in the radiator. This creates a stream of warm and cool air around the room.’

    Underfloor heating or radiators: how to match

    Tidy living room with oak coffee table

    Image Credit: Future PLC

    initial installation

    Installation is simple as all you need to do is fasten the new radiator to the wall. When converting an existing unit for a similar replacement, the task should not take more than a few hours by a professional. Also, when all connections are fixed, the new radiator is ready for use.

    If you are installing a completely different device (such as a vertical device instead of a traditional horizontal design), additional consideration may be required in terms of planning the room layout around the radiator location and making sure it’s in the best position to warm the space. .

    Depending on your scenario, installing underfloor heating can be more tricky. ‘Installing underfloor heating in a new building is relatively straightforward. Because it can be added before the final floor or screed level goes in.’ radiator center. ‘But retrofitting a UFH to an existing floor can be expensive, messy and time consuming as the floor may have to be dug.’

    Electric UFH systems are easier to install than underwater installations. A competent DIY worker can install it in some scenarios. For waterborne installations, sufficient space must be allowed for the piping to be installed without increasing the height too much. A variety of slim, low-profile circulating water systems are available for retrofit scenarios.

    But the basement still needs to be properly prepared. In some cases, you may have to wait several weeks for the screed layer to dry before placing the floor finish on top. At this time, the underfloor heating should be turned on gradually and the temperature should be raised gradually so that the flooring material above can adapt.

    • verdict: Radiators have the upper hand in terms of speed and ease of installation.


    Green panel bathroom wall with traditional radiator

    Image Credit: Future PLC/ David Giles

    When comparing the efficiency of radiators to underfloor heating, there are several key factors to note. One is that underfloor heating operates at a lower flow temperature (about 35°C) than a radiator (70°C -90°C). Wunda’s Tom Edmunds said, ‘This means that the underfloor heating system can run on existing boilers and save money due to the lower water temperature required.

    Underfloor heating can be used in conjunction with a heat pump (which works most efficiently even at low flow temperatures and is ideal for UFHs) to further increase the efficiency of your underfloor heating system.

    “The way the emitter dissipates heat also affects the efficiency and comfort of the system,” says Warmup’s Sarah Wazir. ‘Warm warmth [ie from UFH] Directly heat the object and maintain the room’s natural humidity to distribute the heat evenly. conventional heating [ie radiators]On the other hand, it takes time to first warm up one area and then cycle through for the temperature to reach the desired level.’

    Another important factor to keep in mind here is the thermal performance of the building fabric. If valuable heat is leaking through uninsulated walls, floors and roofs, it doesn’t matter whether that heat is generated by the radiator or the UFH.

    • verdict: If your home is well insulated, underfloor heating (especially when used with a heat pump) is the most efficient option. Thanks to the low flow temperature and the spread of warmth.

    upkeep expenses

    How much you spend on utility bills per month all depends on your efficiency. This means that the thermal performance of your home is just as important as the type of heating system you are using.

    Nu-Heat suggests that the operating costs of radiators and underfloor heating are generally comparable. A UFH system running at a higher level of efficiency can be 25% more efficient than a radiator. This of course means saving energy (and money!).

    Your monthly spending for UFH will depend on the type of system you are installing. Waterborne systems cost more than electric UFHs for initial installation, but electric systems have much higher operating costs. Compared to fueling with a gas boiler, so is an electric radiator. This is simply because the cost of electricity per unit is higher than the cost of gas. To learn more about electric underfloor heating, see our guide to all the pros and cons.

    • verdict: The initial installation cost of underfloor heating can be more expensive, and an efficient system can save you in the long run. Installing a water-based system in a well-insulated home can provide the greatest savings. Check out the UFH and Operating Costs Guide for more details.

    life span

    A solid and reliable radiator should provide a service life of at least 8 to 10 years. A high-quality, well-maintained unit will not even need to be replaced for more than 15 years. However, with frequent use it wears out and over time the radiator may not operate at its most efficient level. Regular cleaning of the system will help prevent the build-up of substances such as rust.

    Plumbing in waterborne underfloor heating systems must last at least 50 years. Installation is well maintained and regular professional service ensures that everything is working properly.

    • verdict: There seems to be a clear winner here, but maintenance is a key issue to consider when it comes to longevity. ‘If the UFH is installed incorrectly, it can cause serious upheaval on the floor and can cause problems to repair,’ says Nigh. ‘The radiator is more readily accessible by chance, and can be upgraded and fixed if problems arise.’

    Underfloor heating vs radiators: which one is best for your home?

    radiator in the hallway

    Image Credit: Radiator Center

    Ask yourself the following questions:

    Is your house thermally efficient?

    If you don’t have enough insulation and heat leaks through the building fabric in your home, whether it’s a floor heating or a radiator, you’re wasting energy and therefore money. If you’re planning to upgrade your heating system as part of a renovation, it’s always a good idea to check if there are ways you can increase the thermal performance of your home by packing more insulation into your walls, roof, or floor.

    Are there any benefits to using both a UFH and a radiator?

    Just because you want to install underfloor heating in your new kitchen-dining extension and bathroom, don’t feel like you need to install heating throughout your home. In fact, the hybrid setup works very well and is economical because it adapts to your lifestyle. For example, the radiant heat provided by UFH is perfect for living rooms where you spend a lot of time. In a space such as a bedroom, you can install a radiator to dissipate heat for 45 minutes before going to bed.

    Are you allergic?

    Underfloor heating provides radiant heat to minimize the movement of dust around the room. Radiators, on the other hand, use convection to circulate heat in a room, often moving dust particles simultaneously. If you have allergies or asthma, minimizing the movement of dust and allergens throughout your home can be a huge benefit.

    Underfloor Heating vs. Radiators: The Final Verdict


    If you own a modern home that is well insulated, underfloor heating can give you an efficiency advantage. However, if you live in an older, more ventilated home, the higher output temperature of your radiator system may be best for you. Either way, your operating costs will vary greatly depending on how well your home is insulated.

    Your lifestyle also plays an important role in determining which heating solution is best for you. For personalized guidance, always turn to a professional heating engineer who can help you create a custom setup based on the unique characteristics of your property.

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