Can a DIYer install electric underfloor heating? How much will it cost?
Providing you are a competent DIYer fitting electric underfloor heating - or at least preparing the floor and laying the cable or matting - is a relatively straightforward process, far easier than a water-based underfloor heating system that will require a knowledge of central heating systems. However, you must get a fully-qualified electrician to connect the cable heating system to the household mains and sign the work off. Check the NICEIC website for more information about electrical hazards and regulations.
It depends on the type of underfloor heating required. A cable system to cover 5 sq metres would cost around £200. A cable mat, which is designed for use in larger rooms, would cost around £225 for 5 sq metres of covering. Handyheat carbon film, for use directly below laminate, would cost around £250 to cover 5 sq metres. Heat-Pak, for use under vinyl and carpet would cost around £350 for 5 sq metres of floor coverage.
There are a host of factors involved - such as general insulation and age of the building - that make it difficult to say with authority, but the radiant heat generated by underfloor heating is generally considered to be a very effective and cost effective way to heat a room, saving as much as 20% in annual running costs. Warmup has recently completed a series of extensive tests on their products, and say that their systems cost just 0.6p per sq metre per hour to run.
Yes, you can generate electricity from photovoltaic solar panels, or from a wind turbine, or a biomass boiler, for example. Naturally, you will need to ensure you have a back up provision (probably an existing link to the national grid) that kicks in should your renewable source not provide sufficient electricity for your underfloor heating needs.
The single biggest complain is the slower response time for a floor/room to heat up compared to a conventional central heating. By the same token, it takes an equally long time to cool down. Advocates of underfloor heating say you simply allow the extra 30 minutes warming time; indeed with a pre-programmed thermostat controlled system you simply set the system to come on as and when you wish. 'Ensuring proper insulation also helps to improve response times,' says Winnie Chua of Warmup. 'Used in conjunction with underfloor heating, our insulation boards can dramatically reduce heat-up times by 60% or more.'
Most electric underfloor systems come with a 10-year manufacturer's guarantee, and some come with lifetime warranties - check with your manufacturer before you buy. Should a system need replacing it is often easier and less problematic to replace an electric system rather than a water-based one. Check your contents insurance policy covers malfunctioning underfloor heating systems.
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