Understanding the basics of underfloor heating isn’t always easy due to the numerous factors that need to be considered for each individual project.
Tile and stone protection specialist Schlüter-Systems offers various products, and has put together a brief overview to help in selecting the suitable options for each individual specification.
Hydronic (or wet) systems are suitable for large scale coverage and whole house scenarios.
Designed to heat the air within a room as well as the surface covering, they are a primary heat source and can replace radiators, connecting directly to a boiler. While installation is more expensive than an electric system, running costs are cheaper. Hydronic systems can be powered by several different fuel sources, including ground source heat pumps, and as well as warming a space, can also be used for gentle passive cooling during the summer months.
Schlüter’s BEKOTEC-THERM is a hydronic underfloor heating solution with an ultra-low construction height. A screed height of 8mm above the studs of the panels is all that is required, which results in quicker warm-up times as well as material and weight savings in comparison to other wet systems, the company says. A building can also be put into use quickly, as there is no need to wait weeks for the screed to cure before tiles are installed.
Electric systems are more suited for providing additional comfort in specific areas or rooms. There are a couple of reasons why electric systems are best used in this way, Schlüter says: namely the cost of electricity and the characteristics of the heating experience. An electric system is designed to raise the temperature of the surface rather than the room, making it an enhancement as opposed to a replacement for a primary heat source. They are generally cheap to install, quick to warm up and easy to retrofit.
The company’s DITRA-HEAT-E is an integrated electric solution for the heating and protection of tile and stone coverings. The uncoupling matting prevents cracks in the finished installation and reportedly eliminates the need for self-levelling, while its studded design means the cable is easily pressed into place with no need for tape, glue or measurement. Provision of the mat and cable as separate elements means the system can be custom designed around the features of a room with the aim of ensuring more efficient use of materials and saving on running costs.