Underfloor heating is a form of radiant floor heating, and while it doesn’t use the traditional firebox system, it does a much better job of providing heat than an open-top radiant system. What is it that makes this different from other radiant heating systems?
The first thing to note is that there are several differences between the two systems. The most significant difference is the actual location of the heat exchanger. In a traditional radiant system, the heat exchanger is contained within the floor itself. This system is the reason that it is one of the most inefficient types of heating method, since the heat exchanger needs to be constantly open in order to work.
In an underfloor heating system, however, the heat exchanger is situated outside the floor, and thus, in areas where heat loss is minimal, this isn’t as much of an issue. Because the heat exchanger is outside the floor, there is less heat loss than there would be if the heat exchanger were actually inside the floor. This helps to improve efficiency, as the heat loss is also less than what you would experience if the heat exchanger were located inside the floor. The greater the surface area that is exposed to the heated air, the more efficient the system will be.
Another difference is that the heat transfer efficiency is far greater when the system is closed in, than when it is open. With an open-top radiant system, the heat exchanger is either put directly into contact with the floor, or placed directly above the floor. When the heat exchanger is put directly into contact with the floor, the entire system is open to the environment, which has the same effect as having your house heating system run continuously. With an underfloor heating system, though, because the heat exchanger is positioned outside the floor, the system operates at a far lower efficiency level than it would if it were located inside the floor.
Finally, another difference is that an underfloor heating system has effective results without having to be installed by a professional. With an open-top radiant system, the installation process is messy, and often times involves putting something under the floor and then wiring something to the heating box. With an underfloor heating system, all you have to do is install the heat exchanger in the right location, add a vent to vent out the heat and a fan to blow the hot air around the house.
Because the heat exchanger is not placed directly into contact with the floor, it requires less work to install. This reduces the costs of heating your home significantly and reduces the amount of time the heat exchanger will be running. In fact, it is possible to run a simple underfloor heating system with very little maintenance, and so the benefits are just tremendous.
These differences between the two systems help to explain why underfloor heating is such a much more cost effective solution than a conventional radiant floor heating system. This is not to say that they are not effective.