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Underfloor heating hits the heat sweet spot

Installers are very aware of the benefits of water-based underfloor heating (UFH) over electric systems or traditional radiators. Cheaper to run, better at distributing heat and offering complete design freedom, water-based UFH has been the heating solution of choice for over the past 15 years.

How can we be sure that we are selecting the most appropriate products for each project? Andy Coy, Product Manager at Polypipe Underfloor Heating, explains how it is important to approach each job individually and specify the perfect system for every installation.

UFH manufacturers understand that every project is different and should offer systems to work in almost any scenario, this means giving installers more ways to provide customers with a suitable home heating solution, whether it be for a new build, renovation or home extension.

If UFH is specified while a building is in the design stage, solid underfloor screeded systems are usually the most efficient choice. For new builds, the piping is fitted directly into the floor and covered with screed, before finally laying the chosen floor covering on top. These systems are perfect for heavyweight floor coverings like ceramic tiles, or where the floor covering needs to be secured directly to the panel, such as with solid wood flooring. A maximum UFH circuit length of 120m means one pipe run can be used to heat a whole room, with no joins within the floor meaning no opportunities for leaks.

Suspended UFH
Where floor is timber suspended or battened, a suspended UFH system provides the best solution. Spreader plates are fixed to the joist using small nails or staples and the pipe is then fitted to the pre-formed grooves of the panels. Adding a layer of insulation below the panels will ensure that almost all of the heat generated passes up into the room. This system is also perfect for ‘sprung’ flooring systems used in gyms and sports halls.

Overlay UFH
Sometimes, such as in refurb projects, it is not possible to excavate the floor to install a screeded system. In this instance, overlay systems are ideal. Fitted over the existing floor, overlay UFH is well suited to renovations, or as a later addition to a new build project.

These systems require water to be heated to temperatures of around 45˚C, much lower than that required of radiators, whilst maintaining a heat output of approximately 100W/m² to make the systems more environmentally friendly and, potentially, more cost effective.

Upper floors
Sometimes, floor joists make installing UFH on upper floors slightly more difficult, however modular heating panels (MHP) can make this a quick and simple job. MHPs deliver a pre-configured solution that can be easily fitted and connected on-site. They can be placed in areas that require heat the most, while avoiding areas that do not require additional heat, such as under baths and fitted units.

The beauty of specifying and installing UFH is that whether the project is a retrofit, new build or refurb, there is a system to suit. Help is also at hand, for example, by joining reputable industry groups such as Polypipe’s Registered Installer Network, where in-house teams of design engineers can take the hassle out of planning projects, including recommending which products to use, helping with all the required calculations and specifications so you can get on with the job.

Polypipe is a CIPHE Industrial Associate.
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