Last updated on 24 November 2020
There are two main types of underfloor heating: the hydraulic (water) system and the electrical system.
More efficient and environmentally friendly, the hydraulic system is the one currently recommended. It is also the one usually installed in new builds.
Connected to the central heating system (boiler, heat pump, etc.), water underfloor heating consists of a network of pipes embedded in the floor (cast in the screed or laid on the concrete slab) in which hot water circulates in a closed circuit.
The heat from the pipes spreads evenly throughout the room from the floor.
Water underfloor heating is ideal for new-build projects. In renovation, it is sometimes harder to install because it means raising the floor by about 10 to 15 cm.
The electrical system does not require a boiler: it simply needs to be connected to the power grid. It consists of a lattice of electrical cables that simply unroll on the screed or concrete slab under the floor covering, like a carpet.
Cables work like resistors: they heat and transmit their heat by radiation to the different rooms in the house.
Electric underfloor heating uses much more energy than its hydraulic cousin, and is therefore much less eco-friendly and less economical to use. And since we mostly heat during the day, we can't rely on night-time electricity rates to reduce costs.
This is why electric underfloor heating is not often recommended, and not favoured by the increasingly strict regulations in Belgium.
|The electric underfloor heating system is not recommended, so the rest of the explanation mainly concerns the hydraulic system.|
The main obstacle to the installation of a floor heating system is that the pipes must be laid under the floor covering. In the case of a renovation, the floor must therefore be raised by 10 to 15 cm (and therefore, in an old building, demolished).
Moreover, to have a good output, underfloor heating must be paired with a floor finish with good conduction abilities: tile, stone, terracotta, etc.
Floors and parquet, laminate, carpet, PVC or linoleum can be used, but only under certain conditions. Check on the packaging or with the seller that they are compatible with your underfloor heating system..
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