When building or renovating a house, we wonder about choosing the best heating method: underfloor heating or radiator heating? Each of these solutions has both advantages and disadvantages. It is also not necessary to decide on one type of installation. If it makes sense, it is practiced to combine underfloor and radiator heating. Today we will talk about all this. We will also advise how to pay less for heating.
The way a house is heated affects the thermal comfort of the occupants and – which is crucial for landlords – the amount of monthly bills during the winter season. Underfloor heating is low-temperature, which means that it operates at low, economical, supply temperatures. It gives off heat on the principle of radiation, that is, direct penetration of heat energy into the interior. As a result, it does not dry out the air and does not cause annoying dust floating, which will be appreciated by people with sensitive respiratory systems. Underfloor heating guarantees optimal temperature distribution – heating evenly, from below. This method of heating promotes well-being, because we do not feel the heat hitting us, as with radiators, and the temperature in the room is similar. However, there is a need to be careful that the temperature of the heating surface is not too high. Since the floor is in contact with your feet, it should be gently warm, but not hot. This could cause swelling and contribute to circulation problems. The comfort of warm feet as much as possible! But with caution.
Radiators heat unevenly. This is due to the fact that they have a limited thermal range, creating so-called local zones of warm air – the farther away from them, the colder it is. They work on the principle of convection, i.e. heating the air, which results in dryness, movement and more pollutants in the air.
Convection heaters, on the other hand, are easier to install and service. This is a traditional heating method, and we know how to handle it. In case of failure, it is easier to discover the problem and fix it. With underfloor heating, the matter is more complicated.
However, radiator heating is a high-temperature type of installation. That is, it requires a high supply temperature, so the heating medium heats up to high values (55-80℃). Radiators heat up quickly and then cool down quickly. This has its advantages – you can quickly heat a room to higher temperatures or quickly cool it down.
Underfloor heating is a good choice if you want to reduce heating costs and increase the thermal comfort of the household. It’s also a much better idea in rooms with high ceilings – it doesn’t cause heat to accumulate under the ceiling, that is, outside the occupied area. Underfloor heating also provides freedom in arranging modern and spacious interiors.
Despite all the advantages, underfloor heating is not a universal solution. It will not work in every room or in all circumstances. In a building full of carpets on the floors, windows and glazing (heat loss), this type of installation will not work. If you like intimate, cozy interiors, you may also have a problem heating them with underfloor heating. A larger closet, bed, bedding box is enough to interfere with the heat transfer through the heating loops. Similarly, underfloor heating will not work in a summer cottage, where we want to quickly heat up the interior immediately after arrival. Then it is better to bet on the installation of radiators (unless you decide to control the underfloor heating online, in which case you can remotely prepare the temperature for your arrival). Underfloor heating requires thoughtful control, based on automatic schedules. In its case, it is difficult to do without a control system.
Radiators are great for all places where the temperature needs to be adjusted as quickly as possible to changing needs. Their work is also worth supporting with temperature thermostats that will see to the economic consumption of the heating medium and reduce bills. Modern thermostats can be programmed to suit our lifestyle – setting individual cycles of the heating system depending on the days of the week or times of the day.
Radiators go much better with insulating materials and finishes on the floor – for example, wood parquet or the carpets. If we have an underfloor heating, any such decoration or more magnificent furniture can interfere with its work. It is necessary to know all the limitations and keep an eye on them.
It all depends on your needs. The two heating solutions do not necessarily compete with each other either. In many cases, it is worth combining them. This is done by installing the underfloor on the first floor, and radiators on the upper floors. The practice of combining both forms of heating in domestic bathrooms is also well established. Thus, underfloor heating gives the comfort of a warm floor, while the radiator ladder instantly heats up the room and serves as a handy dryer for laundry. The bathroom is a very humid place, additional radiator heating helps to get rid of steam after a shower or a relaxing bath.
But remember that the combination of underfloor and radiators requires proper regulation and temperature control. As we mentioned, these are solutions that require water at different temperatures – underfloor is low-temperature, radiators are high-temperature. So it is necessary to heat the heating medium (water) to the temperature required by the radiators, and then cool it to a temperature suitable for underfloor heating. Alternatively, run two separate circuits (high and low temperature). Any solutions on this topic will be provided by an experienced installer.
Regardless of whether you decide on underfloor or radiator heating and whatever heat source you use (gas boiler, electric boiler, solid fuel boiler, heat pump), remember that achieving its maximum efficiency depends on proper control of the intake of the heating medium. We need an energy-saving automatic control system. Such as you can find in the offer of ENGO Controls.
In the case of underfloor heating, this is an absolute necessity, but radiators will also work more efficiently with a control system. Why?
Although controllers and temperature thermostats do not affect on the price of heating energy, they „keep an eye” on energy consumption by automatically controlling the temperature in each room – in each heating zone (so-called zone control). They make it possible to avoid overdriving (overheating, overcooling) and wasting money. They also give more comfort to householders. This brings savings – up to 30% lower bills during the heating season.
With the control system we can implement our own savings program not only in homes, but also in public premises, offices, hotels and other living buildings.