Do I Need Radiators With Underfloor Heating?

Matt Keane
July 3, 2023

When it comes to heating options, the decision can be challenging for many homeowners. Underfloor heating is increasingly becoming popular in many Irish homes, yet a common question arises, "Do I Need Radiators With Underfloor Heating?" In this comprehensive guide, we aim to provide you with all the relevant details to help you make an informed decision. By the end of this guide, you'll have a deep understanding of both radiators and underfloor heating and how they can work together or separately. Let's explore.

What is Underfloor Heating?

Underfloor heating, often referred to as radiant heating, is a modern and high-efficiency system that heats your home from the floor up. It is an alternative to conventional heating systems like radiators or forced air. The system uses a series of pipes or wires running underneath your floor surface, distributing heat across the entire floor area, thereby providing consistent and comfortable heat.

There are two main types of underfloor heating systems: water-based (or wet) and electric (or dry). Water-based underfloor heating utilises pipes to carry hot water underneath the floor. On the other hand, electric underfloor heating uses heating mats or cables installed beneath your floor.

As a leading provider of underfloor heating systems, BuildPro can provide you with both types of systems tailored to your home’s requirements.

How Does Underfloor Heating Work?

To better understand whether you need radiators with underfloor heating, it's important to understand how underfloor heating works.

In a water-based system, warm water from your boiler circulates through a series of pipes laid beneath the floor, effectively turning your entire floor into a heat-emitting surface. The heat radiates upwards, warming the room evenly and efficiently.

Electric underfloor heating, on the other hand, uses electrically heated wires or heat mats to distribute heat across the floor surface. The heat is then transferred from the floor into the room.

An underfloor heating system can be installed beneath almost any type of floor, including tile, stone, wood, or carpet, though the heat output and efficiency may vary depending on the floor covering.

What Are Radiators?

Radiators are one of the most common heating methods used in homes. They are part of a central heating system that uses a boiler to heat water, which is then pumped through pipes to the radiators placed in various rooms.

Radiators work by convective and radiant heat. The heated water in the radiator warms the surrounding air, causing it to rise and circulate around the room while cooler air is drawn into the bottom of the radiator. This process distributes heat around the room.

There are various types of radiators, including traditional hot-water radiators, steam radiators, and newer energy-efficient designs. BuildPro offers a wide range of radiator solutions to suit every home's needs.

Do You Need Radiators With Underfloor Heating?

The answer to the question, "Do I need radiators with underfloor heating?" is not straightforward. It depends on various factors, such as the type of your property, the level of insulation, the local climate, and your heating requirements.

If your home is well-insulated and built according to modern standards, underfloor heating alone may be sufficient to keep your home warm. Underfloor heating offers a more consistent temperature across the room and can be more energy-efficient than traditional radiators.

However, if your home is older and less well-insulated, or you live in a particularly cold region, you might benefit from having radiators as a backup or supplemental heating source. Radiators heat up more quickly than underfloor heating and can be beneficial in rooms where quick heat is needed, such as bathrooms.

Advantages of Underfloor Heating Without Radiators

Choosing underfloor heating without radiators presents several advantages:

  • Uniform Heat Distribution: Underfloor heating provides an even distribution of heat from the floor upwards, resulting in a more uniform room temperature.
  • Space Saving: Without the need for radiators, you’ll have more freedom to design your rooms without considering wall space for radiators.
  • Aesthetics: Underfloor heating systems are completely hidden, creating a sleek, modern look in your home.
  • Energy Efficiency: Underfloor heating can be more energy-efficient than radiators as it operates at lower temperatures while still providing high levels of comfort.
  • Reduced Dust Circulation: Underfloor heating minimises the circulation of dust and allergens, making it a great option for those with allergies.

Disadvantages of Underfloor Heating Without Radiators

Despite the benefits, there are some drawbacks to consider when using underfloor heating without radiators:

  • Installation Cost: The initial cost of installing an underfloor heating system can be high, particularly if you’re retrofitting it into an existing property.
  • Installation Time: It takes longer to install an underfloor heating system compared to radiators, and it might require floor heights to be adjusted.
  • Heat-Up Time: Underfloor heating systems take longer to heat up than radiators, which could be a disadvantage in colder climates or during winter months.

Advantages of Using Radiators With Underfloor Heating

Combining radiators with underfloor heating also comes with several benefits:

  • Quick Heat-Up Time: Radiators heat up quicker than underfloor heating, providing fast warmth when needed.
  • Flexibility: Having both systems means you can use your underfloor heating for consistent, lower-temperature heating while radiators can provide extra heat on particularly cold days.
  • Room-by-Room Control: Radiators allow for individual temperature control in each room, giving you more flexibility in managing your home’s heating.

Disadvantages of Using Radiators With Underfloor Heating

However, there are a few downsides to having both systems:

  • Increased Costs: Installing and maintaining two separate heating systems can be more expensive than having just one.
  • More Maintenance: With more components involved, there’s a higher likelihood of requiring maintenance or repairs.
  • Energy Usage: While you have the flexibility of two systems, if not managed carefully, it can lead to higher energy usage and bills.

How to Choose Between Radiators and Underfloor Heating?

Choosing between radiators and underfloor heating depends on numerous factors, including your budget, property type, aesthetic preferences, and heating requirements. It's essential to consider both the installation and running costs and the impact on your home’s interior design.

Remember that underfloor heating provides a luxurious, even warmth but may come with higher upfront costs. In contrast, radiators are a cost-effective solution and provide quick heat but can take up wall space and might not distribute heat as evenly.

At BuildPro, we recommend having a professional energy assessment of your home before making a decision. This can provide a clear understanding of your home's heating needs, allowing you to make the most cost-effective and energy-efficient choice.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Radiators and Underfloor Heating

When choosing between radiators and underfloor heating, consider the following factors:

  • Home Design: If you prefer a clean, modern design without visible heating devices, underfloor heating would be the better choice.
  • Installation Costs: While radiators are usually cheaper and quicker to install, underfloor heating could be a more cost-effective solution in the long run due to its energy efficiency.
  • Room Usage: For rooms that need quick heating, such as bathrooms, radiators might be more efficient. Underfloor heating could be the best option in living areas where you want consistent warmth.
  • Insulation: Homes with good insulation will get the best out of underfloor heating. Radiators might be the better option if your home isn’t well insulated.

Cost Comparison Between Radiators and Underfloor Heating

The cost of installing underfloor heating varies depending on whether you choose an electric or water-based system. Generally, electric underfloor heating systems are cheaper to install but more expensive to run, while water-based systems are more costly to install but cheaper to run.

Radiators, on the other hand, are usually cheaper to install than underfloor heating, particularly in existing properties where no major construction work is required. However, the running costs may be higher, especially if you're heating a large space.

Keep in mind that while underfloor heating may have higher upfront costs, it can potentially save you money in the long run due to its higher energy efficiency. It's also likely to add more value to your property than traditional radiators.

Installation Process for Radiators and Underfloor Heating

Installing underfloor heating can be a complex process, particularly for water-based systems. It involves laying heating cables or pipes beneath the floor surface, which may require raising the floor level. This can be a major project if you're retrofitting underfloor heating in an existing property.

The installation of radiators is usually less invasive. It involves installing the radiator units, connecting them to the central heating system, and ensuring they're securely fixed to the wall.

BuildPro offers professional installation services for both radiators and underfloor heating, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free process for our customers.

Maintenance of Radiators and Underfloor Heating

The maintenance requirements for underfloor heating and radiators differ. Underfloor heating systems typically require little to no maintenance once installed. However, if a problem does occur, it can be more difficult and costly to access the system under the floor.

Radiators require regular maintenance to ensure they're working efficiently. This includes bleeding them to remove trapped air and having them serviced regularly. However, repairs are typically easier and cheaper as the system is easily accessible.

Ready to Upgrade Your Home with Underfloor Heating and Radiators? Call BuildPro Now!

When it comes to heating your home, both underfloor heating and radiators have advantages. Whether you decide on one or the other, or a combination of both, depends largely on your needs and circumstances.

At BuildPro, we specialise in customised heating solutions to meet our client's needs. We offer both underfloor heating and radiator installation, backed by expert advice to help you make the right choice for your home. Call us now to schedule a consultation and start enjoying the comfort of a perfectly heated home.

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*FYI, parts of this blog post were drafted by artificial technlogy. But rest assured, it's been thoroughly researched, edited, reviewed and me & my team.

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