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Underfloor Heating



Underfloor heat works on radiant heat from the floor into the room. This is ideal for humans as we feel comfortable if our feet are warmer than our head. So heating the floor makes people feel warm easier. Underfloor heating works very effectively if there is adequate insulation below and on the sides of the heated slab (floor) and is ideal for large open plan areas that need to be heated constantly.

Underfloor heating is basically “hidden” away under the floor and would not form part of the aesthetic of the room and therefore gives only a functional addition to a room. The down side to this is this system first has to heat up the concrete slab underneath before sufficient heat is radiated into the room.

We South Africans are relatively familiar with the electric underfloor heating where electric cables are placed under carpets or tiles to heat up the floor. One of the draw backs of electric underfloor heating is a magnetic field is created by the cables when it is on. Of course this is not ideal for healthy home living conditions

With hydronic underfloor heating the same principle of radiant heat is used but with hot water pipes on the floor with insulation between the pipes and the slab in order to have the heat radiated in to the room better as opposed to the slab. This eliminates the electro-magnetic field as well.

Underfloor heating is one of the most luxurious forms of central heating; however the response of under floor to change temperature is extremely slow. Therefore the heating system needs to be on all winter 24/7 so it cannot be turned off when it is not needed because it won’t be up to temperature when it is needed – in winter. This can result in high operational costs.

In South Africa underfloor heating can become uncomfortable at midday if the outside temperature becomes warm and then the inside tends to overheat, as the under floor heating is still running at full capacity. This makes underfloor heating very suitable for continuous cold days and nights e.g. Lesotho.

It should be noted that underfloor heating is not recommended for retro fits of existing structures as it will result in higher installation costs. One of the major contributions to the higher installation cost is because the existing floor must be removed and reinstalled.


underfloor1Left & Right: Installation of t he under floor heating pipe in the slab and the control manifold for each room

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