Underfloor heating - wet system or electric?

(32 Posts)
Daisybell1 Tue 15-Oct-13 16:06:28

I really don't know which to go for sad

We have an old boiler which I fear is reaching its capacity. Its inefficient but reliable and we're on oil. I'd always planned to have electric underfloor heating to try and reduce our reliance on oil, but now both the builder and plumber are trying to push us towards a wet system.

I realise they're better long term, but oil prices are only going up and the house is likely to be rented out in 6 or 7 years anyway.

The room is 4 x 8m, with a log burner going in the other end, and we'll be hanging on to at least one radiator too.

Can anyone advise? And while I'm here, which thickness under floor insulation do I need?

Thank you!

PigletJohn Tue 15-Oct-13 16:50:17

what are the floors made of?

have you got lots of money?

Do you want to switch to UFH because you don't like the look of radiators, or because you hope to spend less on fuel?

Helspopje Tue 15-Oct-13 16:53:19

we have mixed wood/stone under the ufh and tiling on top. we went for electric because i didnt want too much of a step up into the kitchen from the rest of the ground floor to accomodate the additional height of a wet system

Daisybell1 Tue 15-Oct-13 18:37:24

The floor will be poured concrete with insulation added (the wooden floor has had to come out as it was rotten). So we've got a clean slate as far as the floor is concerned.

We're thinking of the UFH as we haven't got spare wall space in the kitchen but need some form of heating in there. The other half of the room is the family living space and will have the log burner.

And no, the budget is already up to its max...

CuthbertDibble Tue 15-Oct-13 19:03:50

What about vertical radiators? UFH always worries me in case anything goes wrong and you need to dig up the floor.

PigletJohn Tue 15-Oct-13 19:12:41

Installing UFH is generally much more expensive than other systems. However if you are going to have to pour a new concrete floor this is a good time to add DPM, insulation and wet pipes. I am not keen on plinth heaters, but they do fit in kitchens without taling up room.

Electric UFH is very expensive to run, as energy from electricity costs about three times as much as energy from gas. However, I am not familiar with the costs of running oil boilers. If you have a wet system, you have the opportunity of running it off a multifuel or other system if things change in future. Instaling electric UFH is not so expensive as it can be laid on top of an old floor. The thick, modern insulation layer underneath will improve efficiency and speed of heating.

Daisybell1 Tue 15-Oct-13 19:21:31

Cuthbert, we haven't got much space for vertical radiators either unfortunately...

PigletJohn - I know we get about 3 oil deliveries a year, if they're 1000l each then that's about £1500 a year on oil. The electric costs about £1000 a year but that includes the lights etc on the farm...

I take your point about running a wet system off a multifuel, but we might get a turbine at some point which would help with electric.

It may come down to capital cost which may drive us towards the electric...

OldRoan Tue 15-Oct-13 19:28:56

Can I ask a question rather than answer one?

If you have a 'solid' floor (eg. poured concrete) and there is a problem with the pipes, do you have to break the floor up to fix it? Is a wet system more likely to have problems (eg. leaking/pipes bursting) than an electric one?

I don't have UFH, but every so often I toy with the idea but the above puts me off and might be something you want to consider.

Cataline Tue 15-Oct-13 19:37:01

Never electric!!! We made this mistake in our old house. Spent a month enjoying toasty toes and the got the electricity bill shock. Never switched it on again. Cost to run was astronomical!!!

PigletJohn Tue 15-Oct-13 19:41:51

the pipes are flexible, and very unlikely to leak or burst, unless someone puts a drill or nail into the floor. The electric ones are nearer the surface so more easily damaged.

If there is damage, you can often see where it is with a heat-detecting camera (or by spraying with water, which will evaporate faster where hot)

PigletJohn Tue 15-Oct-13 19:44:56

p.s.

I had an aunt who had electric UFH embedded in her concrete floors when the house was built, and heated overnight on Economy 7. It is slow to respond, but the concrete slab gives out a gentle and continuous heat. The electricity cost will be around half daytime price. I don't know if this installation method is still used as GCH is now ubiquitous.

SidandAndyssextoy Tue 15-Oct-13 19:47:13

I'm interested in this thread. We're just getting our kitchen done and will have quarry slate tiles. We've been told by our builder that electric UFH will be cheaper to install and run than GCH. Is this rubbish then? Also that electric is better as it is guaranteed so the cost of a new floor with any problems occurring is covered. Quoted cost to install is £500. This is a very reputable builder by the way.

Daisybell1 Tue 15-Oct-13 19:52:52

Cataline - do you know what insulation there was around the electric system?

MrsDavidBowie Tue 15-Oct-13 20:00:18

We've had electric ufh for 7 years in a huge kitchen/diner..it's wonderful. We have stone flooring, and it's never been any trouble.

We also have a vertical radiator.

PigletJohn Tue 15-Oct-13 21:26:50

Soxtoy

Have a look at the price per kWh on your gas bill and on your electricity bill.

You will find that energy from electricity costs about three times as much as energy from gas.

Electrical heating is cheap to install but expensive to run.

SidandAndyssextoy Wed 16-Oct-13 09:45:05

I will quiz my builder today. Surely it partly depends on how long the system is on each day. Is there any difference between the two? I see the reference to economy 7, but that can't still be a thing?!

SidandAndyssextoy Wed 16-Oct-13 09:46:06

Sorry, pressed post too soon. We only have our GCH on for 2/3 hours a day unless it's absolutely bitter. Does heat linger with UFH?

beachyhead Wed 16-Oct-13 10:25:07

I'm in the same position as you Daisybell, in that we are considering ufh for a kitchen extension and we have an old oil boiler. I'm so worried about fiddling around with the oil source pipe, that I'm more tempted by electric ufh. Also, I'm in the same position in that it's very hard to equate the cost of oil to the cost of gas. As you are paying about £1500 for three deliveries of 1000 litres each (which means you are averaging 50p a litre, which is very good grin), then you are running about £125 a month for heating. This sounds cheaper than a similar amount paid on heating through gas.

Could you offset any additional electricity through solar panels? Our proposed extensions points the right way so we are planning to install some to help with the cost.

PigletJohn Wed 16-Oct-13 11:41:39

soxtoy

partly depends on how long the system is on each day

'mmmmm, if it takes 3kW to heat a room, heating it with gas will cost about 11p per hour, and heating it with electricity will cost about 34p an hour. So yes, if you heated it with electricity for 15 minutes, it would be cheaper than heating it with gas for an hour.

But heating it for (say) 4 hours a day, electricity would cost you about three times as much as gas.

PigletJohn Wed 16-Oct-13 11:47:07

I can't guarantee it is accurate and up to date, but this chart compares the cost per kWh of various fuels.

You have to compare cost per kWh to get a sensible cost comparison, it's no good saying person A spends £1000 a year more than person B therefore their fuel must be more expensive; they may be using more energy or may even be paying a dd based on inaccurate estimates.

SidandAndyssextoy Wed 16-Oct-13 12:36:47

Yes, I get the simple maths side! But do the two systems provide the same heat, I suppose is what I'm asking. Are they equitable other than in cost?

PigletJohn Wed 16-Oct-13 13:56:48

If you have a room that requires (e.g.) 3kW of heat to maintain it at 20C when the outside temp is 0C, then 3kW is what you have to put in, whatever the source.

Thermal mass of (e.g.) a concrete floor is a bit of a red herring. It takes longer to cool down, but it takes longer to warm up. The amount of energy (heat) out is always equal to the amount in.

Slow heat release e.g. from large hot water radiators or UFH gives a more even and comfortable temperature than, say, an electric convector or fan that switches on and off.

Piglet has explained the physics behind the price.
So - gas powered wet UFH is cheaper to run than electric.

Oil powered will (probably) also be cheaper - especially given that you have an oil boiler anyway.

In my house I do have electric UFH in some rooms and the financial advantages are that it (can be) much cheaper to install with a lifetime warrnaty. I have not found my electric bills too scary! But our UFH does have a thermostat so it so not on constantly it turns off when at temperature. And I have that thermostat low (about 19c). So mostly we do not have toasty toes. When the floor is warm the room gets too hot.
I think UFH is better with well insulated homes and I would always recommend looking at whether you need more insulation.

Liara Wed 16-Oct-13 22:00:15

I've had both electric and gas ufh.

Electric was stunningly expensive, but faster to heat up. Gas less expensive, but took ages to heat up.

But in the end, I don't like either system. It is just too slow to respond, so you either have it on all the time, which seems to me to be a waste of fuel (whichever fuel that is), or you end up being either chilly or too hot, as you turn the thermostat up and down to try and manage the temperature.

If you have a log burner and a radiator in that room, do you really need any extra heating? I have a room about that size, with a log burner and a radiator and, despite having no floor insulation the room is warm enough usually just with the log burner. Are your windows and doors well insulated?

Daisybell1 Thu 17-Oct-13 07:23:35

IuThanks all, the maths/physics behind it are interesting and I need to get my calculator out.

We're putting additional insulation in - thermaboarding the walls and we've already got double-glazing.

The idea with the log burner is that we'd like to be able to use it, but not HAVE to use it, if you see what I mean.

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