Electric radiant floor heating is one of the quietest and energy efficient ways of keeping your room warm. With radiant floor heating, you can heat the whole house or supplement your primary heating source to heat one or two rooms.
These types of heaters use electric resistance cables to produce heat. Unlike forced air systems that depend on a fan to blow the warm air across the room, the heated air from underfloor heaters automatically rises from below and evenly distributed across the room. And that means less stirred up dust and allergens.
Here are some of the best electric underfloor heating systems currently on the market:
8 Best Electric Underfloor Heating Reviews
The Heat Tech 120V Electric Radiant Floor Heating System is suitable for both new construction and retrofits. It can be installed in a variety of places such as residential homes and apartment buildings. It complements a variety of floor types including ceramic and porcelain tile, stone, granite and marble, so you can install it in bathrooms, mud rooms, or even sauna rooms as well as more centralized locations within the home.
The mat is installed using the adhesive backing, so you don’t have to staple it or reinforce it in any way. It will lay flat and stay flat, so won’t make your floor look strange or bumpy underneath.
Installation is easy and quick, it’s energy efficient, and once you purchase the mat, you don’t have to worry about purchasing any additional equipment. For this reason, the running costs of this floor heating system are affordable.
This mat is best suited for a standard rectangular-shaped area with minimal or no unusual curves or angles. If you have a room that has an irregular shape, the standalone cable system is more suitable.
- 25-year warranty
- Easy installation
- Mat system better for rooms with no strange angles
The Warming Systems 15 Square Feet Electric Radiant Floor Heating System is both UL and CSA listed. ‘UL’ is short for Underwriters Laboratories, a third-party organization that tests products for consumer safety. This company has no financial interest in the products they test, so when they certify a product, you can rest assured its an objective process. CSA is the Canadian Standards Association, which also has no vested interest in the products it verifies as being safe. Thus, the fact that this product is listed with both ensures it has met in-depth quality and safety testing.
It also includes a 25-year warranty, so you know it’s made to last. This is a great advantage because if you’re redoing the floor in a room in your house and decide you want to install electric underfloor heating, you don’t have to worry that it’s going to break down any time soon.
The dimensions of this mat are 20 feet wide by 9 feet long, which could be better to suit standard square-shaped rooms. You might have to buy extra to cater for the lack of length this mat provides.
- UL and CSA listed
- 25-year warranty
- Dimensions could be better
The Heatizon’s Heatwave Electric Radiant Floor Heating System is a fully embedded. This means it can be embedded in various types of cement-like material. This allows you to have more options where your floor covering is concerned as you don’t have to be limited by the placing of the mat.
It’s made by a USA manufacturer with over 20 years of expertise in this area. It includes an impressive limited lifetime warranty, proving how exception the quality of the product truly is. It claims to be the highest quality USA floor warming cable and has been specifically designed for longevity.
This Heatwave mat should not be placed in certain areas, so you need to be extra careful and accurate when measuring your floor space. For example, it should not be placed under vanities, within 6 inches of the toilet, or underneath other permanent fixtures in the space. You can, however, install it in a shower, as long as it is fully embedded in the mortar first.
- USA manufacturer
- Listed and safe for wet locations
- Cannot be placed in certain areas
The Warming Systems 20 Square Feet Electric Radiant Floor Heating System can be installed under the flooring in any room in your house. It will supply radiant heat, meaning that it will warm the floor and the objects inside the room too. Thus, it will make your environment very warm and cozy, particularly tile floors which are known to be cold.
This is a mat heating system, and the wires for heating the room are placed 3 inches apart. They are attached to a commercial-grade mesh material with adhesive backing. Thus, installing this underfloor heating system should be relatively easy as you just peel back the adhesive and attach it underneath the floor covering.
First, unroll and lay it on the floor. You can cut the mesh to create the corners or angles of the room so you can heat a room of pretty much any shape. Be careful not to cut the wires, of course.
You install the mortar and tile on top of the heating system, so this system is best for rooms that are being completely renovated from the floor up. You can also use this in a new home. If you want to install it in a room in your current home, you will have to completely redo the flooring area to make it suitable for installing the heating system.
- 25-year warranty
- Installation monitor included
- Best for renovations and new homes
The Warming Systems 50 Square Feet Electric Radiant Floor Heating System, Cable Set is different from the mat sets we’ve reviewed so far. Cable sets are usually suitable for a greater variety of spaces than mats and are perfect for those unusually shaped corners and crevices. Cable sets are essentially large spools of cable and do have the mesh mat backing of other underfloor heating.
Thus, they have both advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that you do not have to worry so much about accurate measuring because you’re not limited by the shape of the mesh mat backing. On the other hand, looping the cable underneath the floor at regular intervals with no roll of mat can make installation a bit trickier.
With this cable set, lay out the wires at 3 inches apart for even and consistent heating of the entire floor area. The kit also includes a digital floor sensing thermostat with floor sensor. This allows you to customize the settings of the cable kit.
The pack also includes an installation monitor to ensure it’s being done correctly, as well as plastic cable guides for attaching the wire to the floor.
- Fits irregular areas
- Includes thermostat
- Standalone cable without mat
The SunTouch WarmWire 70 Square Feet Floor Heat Kit is a cable that is adaptable to any layout. You measure out the wire yourself at regular intervals, and you can amend its shape to suit any room, even a room with immovable fixtures in it. The key to getting this process right is to remove any current flooring before measurement begins. This is standard for any electric underfloor heating, so it’s best reserved for big renovation jobs and new homes.
However, it’s also suitable for older rooms that need a complete revamp where the floor is concerned. Thus, you don’t have to renovate your entire home just to add this system to a particular room. You do need to think carefully about the cost and effort involved in such a big job, however.
This particular kit offers a thin, durable, and energy-efficient cable that has an input of 120V and output of 12W per square foot. It can heat an area of up to 70 square feet, and the spool has 274 feet of wire with a 10ft armored power lead.
The kit includes several additional items such as a touchscreen programmable thermostat, floor sensor, and install accessories. All of these items will help make the installation process a lot easier and will reduce the running costs of the system. The touchscreen programmable thermostat, for example, will make it easy to set the desired temperature, thereby saving you money on utility bills.
- Suitable for irregular shapes
- Touchscreen programmable thermostat
- Loose cable without mat backing
The Pentair F1509 Floor Heating Mat can be used on a wide variety of floor surfaces, including tile, marble, and laminate floors. This heating mat kit comes in a standard size of 60 inches by 36-inch rectangles, so you simply use these measurements to correspond with the area of the room you intend to install it in.
Each rectangle is lightweight at only 1.65 pounds, making it easy to roll out and attach to the flooring for a nice even layer of heat. It uses a standard AC power source and has a voltage of 120V and wattage of 180 watts, so it has sufficient power to be a durable and effective product.
Mat kits like this tend to have pretty inflexible placement patterns in comparison to cable kits. However, this doesn’t cause too much of an inconvenience for regularly shaped rooms as the mesh can be cut to size as long as you make sure you don’t cut a wire accidentally. The mesh is simply the holder for the wires, so don’t be afraid to shape it according to the specifications of your room.
This product is easy to install and simply needs to be rolled out to match the dimensions of your room, so it’s a good quality product that will add luxury and comfort to any renovation you undertake.
- Easy installation
- Usable on different floor surfaces
- Inflexible placement patterns
The Heatwave 120V Floor Heating Cable is the final example of one of the best electric underfloor heating products currently available on the market. This kit has an impressive cable length of 362 feet, so you have a lot of leeway with regards to measurements and accuracy. If you make a mistake, you will still have enough to work with, so you don’t have to worry too much about having to go out and buy more.
You can choose how closely you secure the wire together. The closer the intervals, the more effective the heating output will be. At 2 inch spacing, it will be 15 watts per square foot, at 3-inch spacing, it will be 10 watts per square foot, and at 4-inch spacing, it will be 8 N-durable, evident by the fact that it is manufactured in the USA and includes an impressive limited lifetime warranty.
All in all, if you’re confident that you can install a cable kit correctly without the ease of a mat backing, this is a solid all-around example of modern heating technology.
- Suitable for irregular room shapes
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Cable without the mat backing
Radiant Floor Heating Buyer’s Guide
Deciding to invest in radiant floor heating is one thing, finding the right heating system and correctly installing it is another. This guide should help you understand a few details about radiant floor heating, such as how it works and the different types of radiant floor heating, as you weigh your options.
What is Radiant Heat?
Radiant heat is heat transmitted through radiation. Radiation is a method of heat transfer that doesn’t rely on the contact between the heat source and the heated object, as is the case with convection and conduction. Instead, heat travels through space to reach the heated item.
Put differently, both convection and conduction require a medium/matter to transfer heat. Radiation doesn’t.
An excellent example of radiation is how the sun’s heat reaches us. No one has ever touched the sun. But, we feel the warmth every day.
In home heating, radiation is often contrasted with forced air heating. Forced air heating involves the use of fans to push air through the space being heated. Radiant heating is different. Instead of blowing air through vents or an open room, the air generated from the heating element is allowed to travel on its own through space, heating any items on its path.
How Do Heated Floors Work?
Heated floors employ heat radiation to warm your floors and the rest of your home. A radiant floor heating system is installed in the subfloor, warming your house from the bottom up.
The heat circulates through flexible tubing installed under the floor. These tubes allow the flooring material to absorb heat as heated air/fluids pass underneath. The floors, as a result, become warm and, in turn, release some of the heat into the air into your home, making the entire house warm and cozy.
The warming of the air in the home happens through radiation; no need for a furnace to kick in and blow air throughout the house. The floors, being warmer than the surrounding air, pass on some of the heat into the colder air.
Advantages of using Radiant Floor Heatings
Radiant floor heating comes with a ton of benefits over other home heating mechanisms. These include;
- Even heat distribution: If your primary motivation is to warm the entire house evenly, there’s no better technology out there – radiant floor heating is your best option.
- Silent: Radiant floor heating is also one of the most silent home heating technologies out there. You won’t hear a single hiss, let alone the loud noises often associated with fans blowing air around the home.
- You don’t have to worry about placement: Since the heating system sits under the floor, you don’t have to worry about things like keeping the curtains out of the way or where to put the furniture.
- Floor heaters heat where people are: The heat is radiated from the floor up, meaning the heat is concentrated close to the ground – where people are. By the time the strength of the heat diminishes, you’ll be warm already!
- The heaters retain heat for long periods: All radiant heaters retain heat much longer than convective heaters, and radiant floor heating is no different. Your rooms will still feel warm even a whole hour after shutting down the heater.
- No dust or allergens: Since there’s no blowing of air, your family is safe from dust particles, a significant departure from convective heaters that work primarily by blowing air (including dust particles) around the home. This quality makes radiant floor heaters ideal for people with allergies.
Types of Radiant Floor Heating
There are two main types of radiant floor heating – electric and hydronic. Here’s what you need to know about each option.
Electric Radiant Floor Heaters
In electric radiant heaters, electrical cables, usually woven into a mat, are installed above the subfloor, in thin set mortar. The mats are used in conjunction with insulation to minimize the loss of heat. Typically, the mats are stapled to the subfloor, and a layer of concrete poured over them. Then, the final floor is laid on top of the concrete.
One of the advantages of electric radiant floor heating is that it is cheaper than hydronic heating. Also, electrically heated mats heat up very quickly. Within seconds of turning up the thermostat, you’ll have the desired room temperatures.
A significant downside, however, is that due to the high cost of heating with electricity, electric radiant heat is only practical in small rooms or for supplementing primary heating units. This partly explains why most people only use them in bathrooms and kitchens.
Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating
The more popular of the two heating options, hydronic radiant heating, make use of water to warm the floors. A series of tubes are installed underneath the floors. The tubes can be set above the subfloor in grooves, buried in the concrete, or clipped to the underside of the floor.
Once the tubing network is in place, hot water from a boiler is passed through the tubes. The system is designed in such a way that hot water runs the length of the tubing network and then back into the boiler for re-heating before jetting out again.
What makes hydronic floor heating a lot more popular than electric heating is cost. It is much cheaper than heating with electricity, making hydronic heaters a much better choice for whole-home heating. The major downside, however, is installation costs. Installing a hydronic heating system is a bit expensive.
Air-heated Radiant Floors
Aside from electric and hydronic heating, air-heated radiant flooring is another floor heating technology you might come across. This type of floor heating is neither popular nor recommendable because of air’s low capacity to hold heat. Air particles lose heat rather fast. By the time the air from a heating source reaches the other end of the tube, you’ll have lost at least half of the heat energy in that air. For this reason, air-heating should only be used where electric and hydronic heating isn’t possible.
How Much Do Heated Floors Cost?
The cost of radiant floor heating varies depending on several factors, especially the type of heating system chosen and the size of the area to be heated.
If you’re looking for industry estimates, though, then be prepared to pay between $4 and $9 per square foot. This is just the cost of buying the heating system, including mat, boiler (in the case of hydronic heaters), and tubes. Many companies have online calculators to help consumers do the calculations, so don’t hesitate to visit the manufacturer’s website.
Beyond the cost of buying the heating system, it’s also imperative that you budget for installation and energy costs.
If you’ve already browsed through a few floor heaters online, you might have noticed that every manufacturer is keen to mention how easy it is to install their system. Don’t be fooled. Often, floor heating installation requires the knowledge of a professional, which would add to the costs. Most professionals charge $55 to $70 an hour. And, even if you decided to attempt the installation on your own, you’d still need special tools that would cost money. Always include these costs in your budget.
The majority of people who install under-floor heating do so hoping to save on total heating costs. That’s because, with the floor heating system in place, you may not have to depend on the furnace so much. This is partly true. Just remember that floor heating systems themselves consume energy when running. They might be more energy-efficient, but they too require electricity, gas, or other forms of energy to operate.
What Types of Flooring is Best for Radiant Heating?
Radiant floor heating can be installed under most floors, including carpets, hardwood, tile, laminate, stone, and concrete. The only challenge is that you can’t just install any heating system under any floor as some floors cannot handle some heating systems.
The following are a few considerations to help you make the right decision in this step;
- Tile floors are excellent for heating: Tile tends to become extremely cold, not just during the cold season but also on regular nights when atmospheric temperatures drop. Fortunately, the flooring is also the best option if you’re considering under-floor heating. You’ll notice the most significant difference.
- Wood floors are also a great candidate: For rooms where you don’t want tile, the first alternative should be wood. Though the material doesn’t conduct heat as well as tile, you’ll still notice a significant difference. Wood has a habit of shrinking and expanding under extreme temperatures though, so acclimatization is recommended before installation.
- Laminate is an average conductor: If both tile and wood aren’t options, then laminate wouldn’t be a terrible idea. The good thing is that laminate is less expensive than the first two materials. Acclimatization is necessary here too.
- Carpets vary, so choose wisely: If you decide to install carpet over your under-floor heating system, the most important thing you need to check is the tog number. Tog number refers to a textile material’s insulation and heat retention capacity. The higher the tog number, the more the amount of heat the material can retain. As such, you want a carpet with a high tog number.
- Concrete presents a few challenges: Concrete floors are mostly recommendable in permanent situations where you won’t be removing the floor to maintain underneath components. If you choose to go with concrete anyway, consider slabs and leave a crawl space for access purposes.
Is Radiant Floor Heating Efficient?
Absolutely! Compared to convectional systems, radiant floor heating is at the top of the list. These systems evenly heat the entire space, and there are no air ducts to leak heat energy. Moreover, they require very little maintenance.
Many experts agree that if you can pair an excellent floor heating system with a high conducting floor type such as ceramic tile, you won’t need to put too much pressure on the furnace because;
- Floor heating eliminates cold spots: Based on where the central heating system is based, there’ll be a few cold spots in the home. Radiant floor heating does a great job of removing any cold spots for more even home heating.
- Ensures better heating in rooms with high ceilings: Since most central heating systems are convective heaters, hot air is often pushed to the ceiling, leaving the space closer to the floors cold. A complementary floor heating system can help bridge this gap for more even heating throughout the area.
- Reduces temperature shifts: On a cold day, if the furnace kicks off, you’ll immediately notice a change in indoor temperatures. Under-floor heaters emit heat consistently, thus can help offset any sudden temperature shifts.
Is Under-floor Heating Safe?
Yes! Under-floor heating is very safe. No exposed heating element might get too hot and burn someone. Also, since radiant heaters don’t blow air using fans, people with allergies don’t have to worry about allergens and dust particles flying around.
That said, you still need to observe a few safety precautions to be completely safe. These include;
- Use approved flooring only: Before you install under-floor heating, consult with a building engineer on the best flooring type you should use. Some wood and laminate materials are, for instance, not safe for under-floor heating. An engineer should help you make the right decision.
- Have your boiler checked: If you are installing a hydronic heating system, have the boiler inspected for safety. This especially applies to gas boilers. Have a plumber check the valves and pipes for leaks.
- Install a thermostat: The under-floor heating system should be connected to a thermostat so you can observe and control temperature and heating levels.
- Invest in a GFCI breaker: A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is a circuit breaker that trips if something is wrong with an underground circuit system. The circuit breaker should be installed by a licensed professional.
- Consult about the types of furniture you can use: Some manufacturers advise against using some kinds of furniture on heated floors. Consult with your manufacturer to ask if such restrictions apply to your heating system and, if so, find out what furniture you can use.
Can Heated Floors Heat a House?
Yes and No. Yes, because you can use under-floor heating alone to keep yourself warm, especially when the weather isn’t too cold. No, because, in freezing-cold weather, floor heating alone might not be sufficient to warm the home to desired temperatures. That’s because;
Under-floor heaters have a limited heat output: Most under-floor heating systems can only heat a space to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Flooring materials have a maximum heat allowance: When buying flooring material with under-floor heating in mind, you’ll be told not to exceed a specific heating temperature.
Can I Install a Radiant Floor Heating System Myself?
Yes. But we wouldn’t recommend it. Unless it’s a system that’s placed under the carpet, let a professional handle the job. Otherwise, you’re putting yourself and future occupants of the home in danger.
And, even with an under-the-carpet radiant floor heater, you’ll need some plumbing and electrical knowledge. So, the best option is to leave the job to a professional.
If you choose to DIY anyway, begin by checking if your city requires a permit to do the work yourself. Some states even require that a licensed plumber or electrician first inspects the floor before any DIY activities commence.
You should also buy the heating system from a company that provides extensive DIY support. So, among other things, choose a company with;
- Strong customer support: You’ll need as much help as possible during the installation process. So, find a company that picks calls.
- Plenty of helpful videos: It’s much easier to follow video instructions than written guides. The good news is that most DIY companies have lots of useful videos on their websites and YouTube.
Tips for Installing Radiant Floor Heating
First off, you must understand that not all homes can have under-floor heating. Depending on your location, you may even need a permit for the installation.
Additionally, keep the following tips in mind;
- The type of subfloor is vital: You can’t just install under-floor heating on any subfloor. Consult with the manufacturer of the heating system and, where necessary, obtain the right subfloor before you begin the installation. The subfloor is the layer immediately under the surface you’re walking on.
- In concrete, the heating system is installed when the subfloor is being poured: If you miss this opportunity, you’ll have to either install a floating subfloor or pour a new layer of concrete. Both of these can raise the height of your floor and interfere with the opening and closing of doors.
- Installing under-floor heating between floor joists is even more challenging: This is especially true when doing a remodel. You’ll need to access the space under the building and where this space doesn’t exist, tear down the subfloor and replace it.
- In tile flooring, a special mortar is required: You’ll need a special mortar, or thinset, that is compatible with the subfloor. Discuss this with the vendor when buying the heating system.
Electric underfloor heating is a welcome addition to any household where comfort is a must. It’s often thought to be a luxurious and unnecessary method of heating, but it’s very energy efficient and has relatively low running costs. It also heats a room very effectively since it begins from the floor up, and heat automatically travels upwards. The electric underfloor heating reviews above show that you can introduce underfloor heating for a competitive price and save money on utilities in the long run.