Underfloor Heating is widely used throughout homes as the most efficient and comfortable heating method. The heat from the floor radiates, efficiently heating the room without any drafts. The two systems that can be used to create this luxury are electric and hydronic systems. This results in the question commonly asked by renovators, builders and home owners ‘Is Electric or Hydronic Underfloor Heating Better?’

Both Electric and Hydronic Underfloor Heating systems have their benefits and suitable applications.

Hydronic floor heating needs to be installed in the slab during building. In remodelling instances where you have an existing slab an Inslab hydronic system is not an option. An above slab hydronic system tends to be more expensive and adds additional height build up. Electric systems are available in as thin as 3-4mm making it more versatile as it is ideal for retro fit options as well as new builds.

Electric underfloor heating systems are also more flexible, and are widely used for smaller areas such as bathrooms and ensuites. They are an affordable option for heating, with a small bathroom costing around $750 for an electric matting system as compared to hydronic systems which have high initial costs due to the boiler and pumps required.

Electric systems are less complex, not requiring any boilers or valves, and are therefore less expensive to install than a hydronic system due to minimal labour costs. Many of these electric systems are suitable for DIY installation, only requiring a licensed electrician to wire up the thermostat to control the heating. The systems are maintenance free as there are no boilers or valves and have no risk of leaks, making them a reliable source of heating.

Electric systems are used for on demand heating due to their rapid response times. In as little as an hour the floor will start to feel warm. This means the system can save energy by running for shorter heating periods and maintaining the same temperature. For further energy savings insulation can be used under the system to stop downwards heat loss.

As hydronic systems are typically in slab the heat up times are greater than that of an electric system installed directly below the floor finish. The Inslab system will heat the slab creating a heat bank which then radiates upwards in the dwelling. To fully heat up a slab and create a heat bank it can take up to 3 days. It will take the same for the slab to cool back down when the heating is switched off.

With the typical Australian climate being cold nights and warmer days hydronic is not recommended, as the Inslab heat bank continues to generate heat during the day when it is not required, often resulting in the need for a cooling system to be used making it inefficient and costly.