Our Comparison – Underfloor Heating vs Radiators
Radiator systems are the 20th century equivalent of a fireplace. They need your boiler or heat pump to supply very hot water, up to 80°C, to emit heat into the room and warm your home
Underfloor heating is more like having a huge radiator spread out beneath your floor and can cover the entire floor space. This means it can operate at much lower temperatures, 35-45°C, to transmit heat throughout the room.
Both systems have their benefits, and choosing the right one depends on various factors ranging from energy efficiency to design, and the specific needs of your home. We have compared the two, and you should find some useful information below to help you decide on the next heating system for your home.
Comfort and Efficiency:
- No cold spots or draughts: UFH provides even heating from the floor up, eliminating cold spots and draughts, and creating a comfortable environment throughout the room.
- Thermostat control: UFH allows for individual room or zone control, providing precise temperature settings and increased controllability
- Energy efficiency: UFH is up to 25% more energy-efficient than radiators even when used on a boilers standard UK settings, thanks to its large surface area coverage, lower water temperatures, and compatibility with heat pump systems – meaning they cost much less in the long run versus radiators.
- Further savings: when used in conjunction with a heat pump that is making low temperature water, or even just dropping the temperature of the boiler so that it is working at a higher efficiency.
- Quick blasts of heat: Radiators offer high heat output and fast response times, making them suitable for heating specific areas without the need for extensive insulation upgrades.
- Familiarity: Radiators are a well-known and widely-used heating system, which means users are familiar with their limitations and know how to operate them.
- Circular air flow: In the room that they are heating. The heat rises, collects at the ceiling and then is pushed down the other side of the room. Anyone who has had a room heated by radiators has experienced hot ceilings and cold floors. This creates draughts and increases circulation of dust in the room.
Design and Space Utilisation:
- Invisible heating: UFH remains hidden under the floor, allowing for complete design freedom and no obstructions on walls, creating a sleek and uncluttered aesthetic.
- 15% more usable space in each room: With no radiators occupying wall space, you have greater freedom to place furniture and decorate your home without limitations.
- Range of styles and sizes: Radiators come in various styles and sizes, allowing you to choose options that complement your decor and provide the desired heat output.
- Existing installation: Radiators are already installed in most homes, making them a convenient choice for upgrades or minor renovations without major disruptions.
Compatibility and Installation:
- Compatible with renewable heat sources: UFH works perfectly with renewable heat sources like heat pumps, maximising energy efficiency and reducing carbon footprint.
- Suitable for various properties: UFH can be installed in all types of properties, including existing buildings, new builds, extensions, and renovations.
- Modern Overfloor systems are easy to install: Most of the installation can be done by any competent DIY’er, just needing a professional to connect to your heat source.
- Easy installation: Radiators are relatively easy to install, with many installers experienced in their fitting.
- Retrofit options: In some cases, underfloor heating can be added alongside an existing radiator system, allowing for a combination of both heating systems within the same property.
Installation Cost and Lifespan
- Initial Outlay: While there is a higher initial outlay in components and install time in comparison to radiators, you should see large savings over time with underfloor heating as the system produces the same room temperature using lower temperature water than radiators. Modern overfloor heating systems are easier to install, and a competent DIY’er should have no issues.
- Long Lasting: When compared to radiators, you should enjoy a longer lifespan. An underfloor heating system should be expected to last for 50 years or longer.
- Cheap and familiar: We have all become accustomed to radiators over the years, they are readily available at most DIY stores and reasonably priced.
- Shorter Lifespan: Consider that a radiator may only last for around 12 years before it requires replacing
- Regulation Changes: With the introduction of low temperature heat sources and lower flow temperature of 55 degrees as outlined by the UK governments new ‘part L’ regulations, larger radiators will be necessary for rooms, with a higher cost and taking up more usable space in a room.
By evaluating these factors, we hope you can make an informed decision that aligns with your heating needs and overall vision for your home. Whether you prioritise comfort, energy efficiency, or design, both underfloor heating and radiators have their place in creating a warm and inviting space for you and your family and a combination of the two is likely the best option for most homes.
Can you use radiators and underfloor heating together?
Absolutely! It is possible to combine radiators and underfloor heating (UFH) systems in the same property, allowing for a flexible and efficient heating solution. This can be particularly useful when you want to upgrade your heating system but still want to keep some of your existing radiators or if you are undertaking a renovation on a budget.
With modern retrofit UFH systems, this is easier than ever, underfloor heating systems can be installed alongside your existing radiators in different areas of your property, creating a more efficient hybrid system. With Wunda smart radiator heads and UFH manifolds, you can use zoning to independently control the temperature of your radiators and your underfloor heating to suit your needs, all from the handy WundaSmart app.
Zoning a central heating system allows you to regulate the heat output and temperature of each room in your house separately, catering to the different heat-up times and specific heating needs of different areas in your home.
Combining radiators and underfloor heating systems allows for a flexible and efficient heating set up in your home. It is common practise to have a type of system per floor. We often see customers installing a water underfloor heating system downstairs, while keeping their existing radiators upstairs.The even heat distribution downstairs from underfloor heating can be enough to heat your house during the milder winter months.
Additionally, if you are considering a heat pump, underfloor heating is an ideal companion, offering increased energy efficiency and cost savings. By integrating both radiators and underfloor heating, you can create a comfortable and versatile heating system that meets your heating preferences and requirements.
The Efficiency of Underfloor Heating: Embracing Comfort and Energy Savings
When it comes to heating your home, efficiency plays a vital role. Not only does it impact your energy consumption and monthly bills, but it also affects your overall comfort and the sustainability of your living space. Water underfloor heating systems have gained popularity for their efficiency, providing homeowners with a cost-effective and environmentally friendly heating solution. Let’s explore the key factors that make underfloor heating an efficient choice.
Even Heat Distribution: One of the primary reasons why underfloor heating is highly efficient is its ability to provide even heat distribution throughout the entire room. Heat is evenly dispersed, eliminating cold spots and creating a comfortable environment from floor to ceiling.
Lower Operating Temperatures: Underfloor heating systems operate at lower water temperatures compared to radiators which typically require higher water temperatures to heat a room effectively.
Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings: The combination of even heat distribution and lower operating temperatures contributes to the energy efficiency of underfloor heating. UFH systems require less energy to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the living space. Studies have shown that underfloor heating can be up to 25% more energy efficient than traditional radiator systems when used with a boiler, allowing you to reduce your carbon footprint while enjoying a warm and cosy home.
Zoning and Individual Room Control: while it’s not advisable to let each room go totally cold in the winter (as this can bring on all sorts of other problems such as damp, mould and will suck warm air from warmer spaces) this level of control ensures that energy is only directed to the rooms that require heating, avoiding wasteful energy consumption in unoccupied or less frequently used spaces.
Quick Response Times: Modern Underfloor heating systems, especially modern overfloor water based systems offer quick response times. This means that once the heating is activated, the room heats up rapidly, providing a comfortable environment in a shorter period. Quick response times allow you to achieve desired temperatures quickly and efficiently, eliminating the need to keep the heating system running for extended periods.
The Heat Loss Calculation – Can UFH be an alternative to radiators?
As a general rule, if your room is effectively heated by radiators then an underfloor heating system will have no problem heating your room.
If not then some further investigation may be required – in comes the heat loss calculation. This is a figure of how much heat loss you expect to occur in your home based on each room. Depending on the installation, this can be based on a single room or as an entire sum for the whole house.
The heat loss calculation will be performed before an installation takes place as it finds out how energy efficient the system would be and how well insulated your home is.
An underfloor heating system is generally considered to be a gentle heat that is evenly distributed across the floor. For the system to work effectively, your home needs to help retain the heat and this is performed by various means of insulation. The floor itself should also help to transmit the heat and tile has a high thermal conductivity rating compared to carpet which does not rank that highly.
With all the insulation taken into consideration, the heat loss calculation is made by adding conduction to infiltration. The infiltration will be how much of that heated air is escaping to be replaced by the cold air coming in from outside. That conduction is another form of heat loss, specifically the heat that is lost through your home’s walls, floor, windows, and roof.
From this calculation you can accurately decide on how to approach an underfloor heating installation, and whether you can get rid of your radiators completely.