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Electric or Wet Underfloor Heating System for Wood Flooring?

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Your home is your sanctuary. It is where you should feel the most comfortable with. Since the home is where everything and everyone you love is, it should be prepared for anything including season changes.

You’re preparing for the cold and you’ve decided to put underfloor heating under your wooden floor, the next question is do you go for electric or water heating?

 

Underfloor heating 101

The main thing to remember when combining wood floor with underfloor heating is that the maximum floor surface temperature should not exceed 27 C (80.6F).

Ensuring thermal conductivity is best when you are using a denser wood. Thinner flooring material with higher density is more responsive to the system and has a shorter heat-up time.

To help you decide on which type of underfloor heating is appropriate for your home, let’s compare electric and water-based heating; listed are the pros and cons of each to help you decided which heating system might suit your home better:

  1. How It Works

Electric: Network of wires installed under your floor. You can choose loose-fit wiring or easy-made mats for larger areas.

Water: a series of pipes linked to your boiler or solar panels that pump hot water under the floor

  1. Installation

Electric: The electric heating system is easier than water based. Although usually installed by an electrician, this system can also be a DIY project.

Water: The water-based system needs an expert (professional plumber) to install them

  1. In-house structural changes

Electric – you need to place a layer of insulation below the mats or wiring so you don’t lose heat into the ground

Water – if there’s not enough room below your floors, you may need to raise the floor levels

 

Points of consideration:

1. Type of Installation

One of the major things you should consider is the type of installation. Are you considering to renovate or are you working on a new build? The building will give you more flexibility in the sense that your floor heights have not been established yet.

You have the freedom to choose whether you’ll go for a wet underfloor heating or an electric system beneath your final flooring.

Electric underfloor heating may be more suitable if you are renovating as it does not significantly alter or increase the floor height.

2. Location

 

Where you will install the underfloor heating will also have an impact on the type of system you should get. Usually, water-based underfloor heating is recommended on the ground floor with good insulation. If you’re renovating and using a low-profile system though, it may be difficult to reach enough heat output from a low build water-based system especially if the subfloor is uninsulated.

On the other hand, most energy efficiencies are achieved in large areas with water underfloor heating combined with an air or ground source heat pump. It is advisable to conduct a heat loss calculation to know which underfloor heating system provides more heat output than the maximum heat loss.

3. Plumber vs Electrician

When considering which system to use, it’s worth researching the cost difference between a qualified electrician wiring the electrical system versus a professional plumber installing and connecting a wet system. The architecture of your house will help you determine which is more preferable.

 

Post heating system installation notes:

  1. Leave an expansion gap

There should be an expansion gap left around edges of the room. A 10 mm minimum gap is recommended but it’s always best to check with the manufacturer and their installation instructions for the expansion gap width.

  1. Ensure correct moisture content

Making sure that you have the correct moisture content is important since wood is a natural material which absorbs humidity. Laying a new wood floor with too high moisture in a dry house will result in shrinking and opening gaps between the floorboards. On the other hand, installing wood floor to a humid house would expand the width of the planks.

  1. Let the floor acclimate

Post installation, the floor should be acclimated for at least 48 hours before turning the system on. You should also check with the flooring manufacturer the suitability of the flooring with the heating system that you have chosen.

 

Conclusion

Heating your home especially during the cold season is important for your health, comfort, and well-being. You should invest in a heating system that is suitable for your design, budget, and lifestyle.

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