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Understanding the Differences: Water vs. Electric Underfloor Heating Systems

by Jimmy Acton 04 Feb 2024
SoleHeat Underfloor Heating


Welcome to SoleHeat's blog, where we dive deep into the cozy world of underfloor heating (UFH) systems. If you're considering making the switch to underfloor heating, you may find yourself caught between two popular types: water-based (hydronic) and electric underfloor heating systems. Both have their unique advantages, applications, and misconceptions. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the key differences, debunk common myths, and help you decide which system best suits your needs.

What is Underfloor Heating?

Underfloor heating is a form of central heating that achieves indoor climate control for thermal comfort using conduction, radiation, and convection. The two main types of underfloor heating systems are water-based and electric, each with distinct mechanisms and benefits.

Water Underfloor Heating Systems

Water-based underfloor heating, also known as hydronic heating, circulates warm water through a series of pipes installed beneath the floor. A boiler or a heat pump typically heats the water. This system is highly efficient for heating large areas and is often considered for new constructions or major renovations due to its integration into the building's structure.


  • Cost-effective for large areas
  • Energy-efficient, especially when combined with renewable energy sources
  • Provides a consistent and uniform heat distribution


  • Higher initial installation cost
  • Requires more floor height clearance
  • Longer installation time

Electric Underfloor Heating Systems

Electric underfloor heating involves running electric cables or mats beneath the floor surface. It's simpler to install than water-based systems, making it an attractive option for retrofitting in existing homes without significant disruption.


  • Lower initial cost and easier to install
  • Ideal for small areas, like bathrooms or kitchens
  • Quick to heat up


  • More expensive to operate than water-based systems
  • Not as cost-effective for heating large spaces

Myth Busting

Myth 1: Underfloor Heating is Only for New Buildings While it's true that installing a water-based system is easier in new constructions, electric underfloor heating can be easily integrated into existing rooms without major renovations.

Myth 2: Underfloor Heating Can't be Used with Carpet Both systems can work with various flooring types, including carpet, provided the carpet's thermal tog rating is suitable for underfloor heating.

Myth 3: Underfloor Heating is Expensive to Run Water-based systems are incredibly efficient, especially when powered by renewable energy sources. Electric systems, while more costly, are efficient in small spaces and can be used selectively, reducing overall heating costs.

Choosing the Right System for Your Home

When deciding between water and electric underfloor heating systems, consider the size of the area, the type of construction, your budget, and energy efficiency needs. For large-scale projects or new constructions, a water-based system may offer long-term savings and efficiency. Electric systems, on the other hand, are ideal for smaller areas or where quick installation is preferred.

In Conclusion

At SoleHeat, we understand the importance of making an informed decision when it comes to your home heating solutions. Whether you opt for a water underfloor heating system or an electric one, both will provide the comfort of warm floors and efficient heating throughout your home. Remember, the best choice depends on your specific needs, preferences, and the specifics of your project.

For more guidance on underfloor heating systems and to explore our range of solutions, visit our website or contact our team at SoleHeat. Let us help you create a warm and welcoming home environment with the right underfloor heating system.

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