Underfloor heating

Underfloor heating is very often the first choice for kitchen designers today. Its main advantage is that it is concealed and so does not interfere in any way with the kitchen color scheme or design, yet it is practical and can be economical too, if you opt for the 'wet' water pipe version.


Underfloor heating (UFH) is, in most cases, straightforward to install, as the vast majority of kitchen refurbishments involve new flooring. It can be installed with all types of flooring and provides a gentle, even heat - effectively turning the floor surface into a large heat emitter that feels comfortable underfoot and allows the heat to rise gently.

Kitchen designers involved in a whole-room refurbishment will specify underfloor heating almost as standard; it's now considered to be an integral part of the project.

Make sure that the system is chosen in partnership with the flooring - some flooring manufacturers and suppliers have specific types of UFH which they recommend with their floor coverings.

Likewise it's important the position of appliances is finalized before the UFH is planned - there's little point in UFH being specified for the inside of the larder, under the fridge-freezer or cooker, or beneath an island unit where it's not needed.  

There are two types of UFH, wet systems and dry or electric systems. A wet system is more complex to install and is more appropriate for new structures, such as kitchen extensions or kitchen-conservatories where new floors are built from scratch.

Wet UFH systems consist of seamless polythene pipes, thermostat controls and a pump system connected to the normal domestic hot-water supply. Because of the efficiency of the plastic pipes, water need only be used at around 55°C or less to achieve the same heat output as standard radiators.

Rooms can be 'zoned' so that particular areas can be controlled - there will be a control panel, thermostatic settings and manifold tucked away in a cupboard/utility room. Once the pipes are down, a screed is laid over, then the final floor surface is laid on top.

Most manufacturers give long guarantees for the pipes - Nu-Heat gives a 25-year guarantee on the pipework for its wet systems. Worcester's new Greenfloor wet system has been designed for maximum energy efficiency and to work in tandem with its Greenstar boilers and Greenstore ground-source heat pumps. It requires water temperatures of around 45°C, which uses less energy than standard radiators.  


Dry electric UFH systems use a cable/mat/mesh system that is rolled out to cover the floor and connected to a thermostat and timer. It works with all kinds of flooring - including carpet, provided the right kind of underlay is used. It will heat up from 'cold' quicker than wet systems, as the heat does not need to penetrate a layer of screed. Simple mat systems, such as those from Cosyfloor and Ecofloor by R&D Marketing, are very straightforward to install, and it's well within the capabilities of anyone with a bit of DIY experience. Electric systems cost more to run than wet systems, but have the advantages of often being cheaper to buy and fast heating-up times - so they can be used more easily to give a quick heat boost.  


For larger spaces, trench and perimeter heating are a good option Although it's more commonly specified for offices and public buildings with large expanses of glazing, it can also be used for large-scale modern homes with lots of folding/sliding doors and windows. Have a look at products from Jaga and Fraser Engineering UK, and always take professional advice when making a decision. These systems comprise of water pipes set into a channel around the edge of the room and are most conveniently installed into newly built kitchens, where the floor level and depth can be constructed to the necessary specification.
Copyright © 2012 Modern Home Design Ideas by Honoriag.