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Electric or Water Underfloor Heating?

Find out the best underfloor heating solution for your next project!

Electric underfloor heating or water underfloor heating? It's a question that many ask when thinking about installing underfloor heating. As the number one underfloor heating experts, we know the ins and outs of everything underfloor heating and are best placed to lay out the differences, allowing you to come to right conclusion as to what's best for you.

Underfloor heating has been around in many forms since around 5000BC, in which people of the time would bake warm rocks and stones to keep both their feet and the room warm. Many millenia later, the Ancient Romans and Greeks used a hypocaust form of underfloor heating, raising the floor with pillars and pushing hot air through the space beneath the floor to heat the room. Whilst time has definitely moved on from then, and the use of heating stones and pushing hot air through empty space is non-existent in modern underfloor heating, what is certain is underfloor heating is still a powerful force and a good way to heat your room.

Nowadays, there are two different ways to heat your room through the floor and these are electric underfloor heating or water underfloor heating. Electric underfloor heating uses a ultra-thin heating wire that through using mains electric generates heat, whilst water underfloor heating works by distributing warm water through connected pipes. With both of these solutions, they work to radiate heat up through the floor covering, warming both the floor and the room above to the selected temperature set on your connected thermostat.

Electric Underfloor Heating Benefits
Affordable Underfloor Heating
Quick & easy to install
Minimal disruption retrofitting
Low as 2mm thickness
Low increase in floor height
Fast heat-up time
Quick & easy installation
  • Quick and easy installation: Electric underfloor heating offers a swift and hassle-free installation process when compared with its counterpart. With the ability for smaller installations to be completed in less than 30 minutes, electric provides a straightforward installation process. Lay the electric mat atop insulation, tile over it, and then have an electrician finalize the connection to your mains electricity. It couldn't be any more simple!
  • Cost-effective for smaller areas: Particularly advantageous for smaller spaces, electric underfloor heating proves to be a highly cost-effective solution. With 1m2 mats starting from around £50, this presents an affordable option for many homeowners.
  • Minimal disruption retrofitting: Retrofitting existing rooms could not be any easier with electric underfloor heating. There's no need to break ground on the base floor beneath your existing floor covering with this solution, making it a convenient choice for renovations.
  • Low increase in floor height: Unlike water underfloor heating systems that may require significant adjustments to floor height, electric underfloor heating will only add a minimal increase, sometimes as little as 2mm. This ensures a seamless integration with your existing flooring and other non underfloor heated rooms.
Water Underfloor Heating Benefits
Cost-effective Water Underfloor Heating
Cost-efficient for new builds
Durable & reliable water underfloor heating
Economical operation
Energy Efficient Water Underfloor Heating
Compatible with heat pumps
Maximise Space with Water Underfloor Heating
Ideal for large areas & multi-room
  • Economical operation: Water underfloor heating is a very cost-effective solution in the long run, as it typically requires less energy to operate compared to electric systems. With gas also costing less than electric, this translates to lower energy bills and reduced energy consumption over time.
  • Cost-efficient for new builds and refurbishments: Particularly advantageous for new builds and full-scale refurbishments, water underfloor heating presents a cost-efficient option. Its installation costs are generally lower in such projects, making it an attractive choice for developers and homeowners alike.
  • Compatible with air source heat pumps: Leveraging air source heat pumps, water underfloor heating systems can achieve exceptional energy efficiency. By harnessing this renewable energy, you won't have to pay for the gas that would normally heat the water to circulate the water underfloor heating system, significantly reducing your environmental footprint.
  • Ideal for large areas and multi-room applications: Suited for expansive spaces and multi-room setups, water underfloor heating offers consistent warmth throughout the entire area. Whether it's a spacious living room or a sprawling open-plan layout, this heating solution ensures uniform comfort without the need for additional heating sources such as radiators.
Which underfloor heating system suits my space best?

Electric systems

Electric underfloor heating presents a versatile option, seamlessly adaptable to any room with little to no concern. Electric systems are best used in smaller spaces such as bathrooms and kitchens, due to the high cost of energy in electric to power electric systems, when compared to the gas powering warm-water systems. However, if your system will be powered by renewable energy or electricity costs are not a consideration, electric underfloor heating is the perfect flexible solution for your next project.

Nevertheless, in all instances, the simplicity of installation makes electric underfloor heating a viable choice for any room of your preference.

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Water systems

Water underfloor heating, on the other hand, thrives in new builds and comprehensive refurbishments as construction is more involved. While suitable for all rooms throughout your home, it's essential to assess whether any potential increase in floor height that a water underfloor heating system may bring will align with your room's requirements. For spaces that require a low-profile water underfloor heating solution, consider our specialized package, LoFlo.

In certain scenarios, pairing water underfloor heating with skirting board heating can prove advantageous, with underfloor heating on the ground floor complemented by skirting board heating upstairs, facilitating a seamless integration across your home.

Shop water underfloor heating


In conclusion, the decision between electric underfloor heating and water underfloor heating ultimately depends on your specific needs and circumstances. Electric systems offer unparalleled flexibility and ease of installation, making them ideal for smaller spaces like bathrooms and kitchens. However, considerations regarding electricity costs may influence your choice. Conversely, water underfloor heating excels in new builds and extensive refurbishments, providing cost-efficiency and compatibility with renewable energy sources. Regardless of your preference, both options offer efficient heating solutions that enhance the comfort and functionality of your home.

At The Underfloor Heating Store, we're dedicated to helping you make the right choice for your space, ensuring warmth and comfort for years to come. If you need any assistance, reach out to our team on 01268 567016 or get a free underfloor heating quote and design.

Need help? Talk to our product experts!

Our highly experienced technical team are happy to assist you throughout your journey. Message the team on live chat or call 01268 567016

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