Now that energy prices are skyrocketing and we are looking for greater efficiency and savings at home, it is normal to search for an air conditioning system that fits our needs.
In addition, water underfloor heating can be combined with condensing boilers or aerothermal energy, a renewable energy that offers many advantages in terms of efficiency and savings.
- 1 Types of underfloor heating: difference between electric underfloor heating and water underfloor heating
- 2 Advantages of underfloor heating: comfort, efficiency and minimalism
- 3 Types of floors are compatible with underfloor heating
Types of underfloor heating: difference between electric underfloor heating and water underfloor heating
Underfloor heating is the generic name given to certain air-conditioning systems that operate from a network of pipes installed under the floor, under the mortar layer or screed.
These pipes are covered with a material that allows heat to pass through, making the entire floor a large emitter that dissipates and distributes heat.
There are two types of radiant floors on the market:
- Electric underfloor heating, which is used for heating.
- Water underfloor heating, which can be used for both heating and cooling.
Electric underfloor heating
In the case of electric underfloor heating, heat is generated using only electricity. Basically, it is an electrical resistance that is placed under the floor and heats up when electricity is passed through it.
This system is very thin, and hardly requires any additional floor height. Depending on the type of resistance, it can be radiant wire, radiant mesh or radiant foil.
Water underfloor heating
Water underfloor heating is the most popular and widespread, but also the most complex in terms of installation.
In short, water underfloor heating consists of a circuit of tubes through which water is passed at different temperatures. This temperature will be transmitted to the floor and dissipated to the rest of the house.
To heat the water, different technologies can be used, the most common being gas boilers, pellet boilers or aerothermics. The latter, working with a heat pump, can do the reverse cycle, i.e. cool the water, which allows the floor to have the dual function of heating and cooling.
In any case, underfloor cooling is very peculiar, as the physical behavior of heat and cold is not the same. Therefore, it is only recommended in areas with hot climates and low humidity.
Advantages of underfloor heating: comfort, efficiency and minimalism
Underfloor heating is the only heating system recommended by the WHO (World Health Organization), which ensures its comfort, safety and well-being for people’s health. This system is worth it since it is energy efficient, effective, and invisible.
One of the great benefits of underfloor heating is that it heats uniformly and provides a stable temperature over the entire surface, reducing air currents that can cause heat loss.
It is also considered a very comfortable system, since feet temperature should be slightly higher than head temperature.
Along the same lines, it is worth remembering that underfloor heating has a high thermal inertia. This means that it heats up gradually. The fact that it takes longer to reach the right temperature may seem inconvenient. However, when the heating is switched off, the floor will store the heat and dissipate it gradually, which is beneficial in terms of savings.
On the other hand, water underfloor heating is considered highly efficient because it works with low temperatures: the water is passed through the circuit at 40 °C, a temperature lower than the 70 °C usually used in heating systems with radiators and which results in energy savings of around 30%.
Likewise, underfloor heating is “elegant” as it is invisible to the eye: being hidden and not having external elements such as radiators, allows us to have more useful space to distribute rooms or place furniture.
Types of floors are compatible with underfloor heating
There are two key aspects to optimize the efficiency of underfloor heating: the design of the system and the choice of materials.
In the first case, the most important thing is the distance between the pipes, which must be calculated according to how the room is used, the points of heat loss, the insulation and the orientation of the room. The natural range is between 50 and 100 meters, with a length of 85 meters being perfect.
Moreover, the tubes can be distributed in the form of a coil, double coil or double spiral. The last two are the ones that guarantee that the ground temperature is uniform.
Choice of materials
In terms of materials, underfloor heating has different parts: subfloor, cement layer, circuits, insulating panel, expansion absorber elements, mortar and screed/floor.
Underfloor heating can be used under any screed. However, the best choice is tiles and natural stone floors, as they have a higher thermal conductivity. This means that heat is transferred to the surface faster.
If you want to lay wood over your underfloor heating, the best alternative is laminate floors, as it usually has a good response to changes in floor temperature and adapts to humidity. In addition, in case of failure, they are much easier to lift or replace.
Even so, and although almost all laminates are suitable for use with underfloor heating, it is advisable to consult with the manufacturer before installing the system.