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Electric Underfloor Heating Installation: Everything You Need to Know

Electric underfloor heating is more popular now than it was a few years ago. Numerous technological advances have allowed manufacturers to create underfloor heating (UFH) that is so fine it is hardly noticeable.

Another reason for the rise in electric underfloor heating installations is that they are more affordable. However, the biggest reason for its surge in popularity comes down to how easy electric underfloor heating is to install.

This type of underfloor heating is now available in the style of an electric underfloor heating mat, which can be purchased rolled up, complete with the underfloor heating elements in place. This makes investing and installing electric UFH extremely easy!

Keep reading our handy guide to discover everything you need to know about electric underfloor heating installation.

Electric underfloor

How does electric underfloor heating work?

Electric underfloor heating systems work through the introduction of a slim-line heating wire, which is placed just under your existing floor area. When you turn the system on, the wire begins to heat up.

The system warms the floor and can be applied to everything from timber floors to tiled floor coverings.

Types of electric underfloor heating systems

There are a total of four heating systems in place today. These include:

  • Carpet, underwood and vinyl foil heating mats, often crafted out of aluminium
  • Standard underfloor heating mats
  • Inscreed systems
  • An underfloor loose wire system

How easy is it to fit electric underfloor heating?

Most amateurs will opt for underfloor heating cables stuck to a mat to ensure a speedy installation. They can also be laid down loose and placed around the room. This tends to be the case when working with a larger room.

In certain situations, such as installing underfloor heating in a room prone to high heat loss, cables will need to be laid individually, with each able to withstand a total of 200W per square metre. Areas of high heat loss can include spaces with tiled floors.

In this scenario, you will likely need to invest in a qualified electrician to help you install the underfloor heating, particularly when administering the final mains connection of the floor covering.

It is also worth noting planning may be required if working on a larger area; this is down to additional safety measures concerning the load calculations of the underfloor heating installation boards. An additional power supply is often required to heat the floor for extremely large projects.

Can I install electric underfloor heating myself?

Install Electric Underfloor Heating

Yes, in most cases, you can. Simply invest in an electric underfloor heating kit, follow the installation instructions, and you are good to go.

You may require the expertise of a qualified electrician or underfloor heating expert to assist or finish the job. This is dependent on the type of system you choose, your floor height and the floor space (the more significant the area per square meter, the more complex the installation).

Hiring a professional vs installing an electric underfloor heating system yourself

This is dependent on the type of heating you choose to install, the space in which you intend to install it and your level of skill. If you’re unsure how to install an electric UFH system or wish to do so in a larger area, it is wise to invest in the services of a professional to assist with the installation process.

Aside from having all the right tools to hand to complete the job, they will tackle any tricky areas. A professional will also fully understand any electrical regulations that need to be complied with.

What you need to install an electric underfloor heating system

First things first, you must decide on floor levels. For best results, invest in a handful of insulation backer boards before starting the process. These are assets to those wishing to prevent any wastage of floor heat.

Next, you will need to measure the floor area where the heat is to be applied. A simple sketch will do as long as it showcases the necessary measurements of the underfloor heating mat and indicates where the heating mat should be placed.

You will also need to mark on this sketch the location of the power supply, insulation boards, heating cables and any other elements necessitated. For best results, avoid placing UFH under washing machines or kitchen units.

Materials

A generic electric underfloor heating kit comprises wires (or a heating cable), which are usually attached to the matting. This does differ between kits.

Most kits also come complete with a primer and tape. This allows those preparing for installation to create a substrate or tile adhesive, which the matting can be stuck to.

Finally, a thermostat and power cables will enable full control of the system. Some systems also have backing boards to lay the loose wire onto.

Tools

There are five key tools required to install UFH. These include:

  • Scissors or a Stanley knife
  • Tape measure
  • Tile adhesive
  • Levelling compound
  • Joint tape
  • A score and snap knife

You can also find a range of underfloor heating accessories which may be of use.

Do I need insulation under my electric underfloor heating mat?

As a rule of thumb, all UFH systems necessitate adequate insulation below the floor screed or beneath the mats or heating cables.

How to install electric underfloor heating systems

How to install

Here’s our step-by-step guide to take you through the process of installing an electric underfloor heating system.

Step 1: Measure the area

Remember to subtract any points where fixtures sit and allow for a space of between 40 to 50mm around the outside of the room.

Step 2: Insulate the floor

To ensure an efficient system, correctly laying down the insulation is a must and will save you time and money on the whole.

Step 3: Pinpoint the power source

Locate the power source for your UFH mat and cut a hole in the wall for the cables. You may need an electrician to assist you with this part.

Step 4: Test the area

Before beginning the full installation and laying the mat in place, you’ll need to run a resistance test using a multimeter.

Step 5: Lay the matting

This is the easy part and doesn’t require any explanations, providing you avoid obstacles!

Step 6: Put the probe in place

Now the mat has been laid, the next step involves putting the sensor in position. For best results, position the probe as near to the element’s centre as possible using tape to secure it in place.

Step 7: Run final tests

Now your UFH system is in place, all that is required is to test again.

How much does it cost to install electric underfloor heating?

Cost of underfloor heating

The overall electric underfloor heating cost is dependent on the type of system you choose and the size of the floor. On top of these factors, you should also consider the running costs.

How to choose a qualified electric underfloor heating installer

For best results, shop around. Think about the type of installation you want, the floor area you’re focusing on, the floor material, and your budget and timescale.

Most installers will offer a no-obligation quote, which allows you to compare the services and prices of several specialists.

Another thing to note is to ensure they have the correct qualifications required to complete the job!

What type of flooring is best for electric underfloor heating systems?

As a rule, the more solid the surface or floor finish, the easier it is to install UFH and the better the result.

Flooring like ceramic tiles and polished concrete are great options, as are engineered floorboards. Carpets are trickier and if attempting this type of installation, opt for a tog of less than 2.5.

Other flooring options include timber and suspended floors, providing a bespoke backing board is used in the process, as this will prevent the wires from burning the timber.

Additional factors to consider for installing underfloor heating systems

Getting UFH right the first time around is important to avoid a costly project. With this in mind, there are many factors to take into consideration – both throughout the design and installation process.

Electric underfloor heating consists of a heating mat or a number of heating cable components. If you wish to fit underfloor heating that considers the environment, you may want to look into air source or ground source heat pumps, or even better, solar panels.

Whichever you opt to use, an electricity source is a necessity. Depending on the size, you may need to invest in an additional source or even an electrician to help you.

Quality underfloor heating systems should boast radiant heat. In a nutshell, this means the system will heat the room in an even manner instead of heating only part of the room as radiators would.

When it comes to floor finishes, this is another essential factor to consider. The best finish to place such a heat system under is stone. This material boasts higher thermal conductivity, which means it will heat up quickly and more efficiently!

If using with carpet, make sure the tog total doesn’t go above 1.5. This is a great system to put in place if you wish to prevent dust mites.

If you have or wish to install a wooden floor in your home and want underfloor heating, opt for engineered wood for best results. Other good flooring options that can work alongside UFH include vinyl, laminate and even concrete.

FAQs about electric underfloor heating

Are electric underfloor heating mats and cables available in different sizes?

The majority of UFH thermostats necessitate a 1.5 mm, 3-core + Earth cable. This is for a thermostat measuring 230V. For a 12V thermostat, a screened network cable will be needed. Multimeter cable extensions are available if required.

Is it possible to cut electric underfloor heating mats to fit a certain area?

This isn’t recommended as you could damage the floor heating wire by doing so. This will cause a malfunction and, in most cases, make the product’s warranty void.

Is an electric underfloor heating system expensive to run?

Although most expect these systems to be extremely expensive, it tends to cost under 10 pence to run one metre squared of generic underfloor heating for six hours when on full power.

How long does an electric underfloor heating system last?

When installed correctly and looked after, a good quality UFH system can last between 30 and 40 years and adds value to your home.

Final thoughts

Laying electric matting, when you follow the correct installation instructions, is easy to do and one that can really make a space cosy, especially in the cooler winter months.

The ease of installation and many benefits make UFH so popular today. Whether you need heating supplies for your underfloor heating project or advice, contact our team at PlumbNation.

For more information, you can also read our guides on underfloor heating boiler requirements and electric vs water underfloor heating.