What’s the difference between hydronic and electric underfloor heating?
There are two major kinds of radiant heat that can be installed beneath the floors of your rooms: electric and hydronic. In electric underfloor heating systems, cables are installed underneath the floor. These cables are heated by electricity, which warms the floor, and then the room. In hydronic underfloor heating systems, a series of tubes is used instead of electric cables. Heated water flows through these tubes providing effective heating to your rooms.
The heating coils used in electric underfloor heating systems are different from the ones in a space heater or other electric heating device. Instead, they’re resistance wires. In many systems, these wires are embedded in a mat, which is then laid out in the area to be heated. Flooring material, like tile or carpet, is installed over top. Electricity is run through these coils, and they heat up. That heat is transferred to the flooring in the room above, and from there, it dissipates into the room, warming it.
In hydronic underfloor heating systems, tubes or small pipes beneath the floor are used to circulate heated water throughout the area. As the water flows through the system, the heat is released. Water can be heated in a number of different ways, which means that you’ll have many energy options when choosing hydronic radiant heat, such as gas fired boilers or electric heat pumps.
Choose electric underfloor heating if the area you want to heat is relatively small – like a single master bathroom – or you prefer a simple installation that can be performed alongside flooring renovations.
Choose hydronic underfloor heating if you want to heat your entire home and like the idea of being able to choose the energy source for your home’s heat. It’s also a good choice if you don’t mind significant renovations in order to benefit from the increased consistency and efficiency of radiant heat.