The first influencing factor, when deciding which underfloor heating (UFH) system to use, is whether your project is a newbuild project or refurbishment. Ambiente provides some expert advice.
Incorporating UFH at newbuild stage is ultimately the best solution all round, with nothing like the restrictions that you have when working on an existing property.
In a newbuild situation, the ground floor (and sometimes the upper floors) of a property will often have a new screed floor layer over the structural subfloor, to create a level and smooth surface prior to floor finishes being laid.
To prevent downward heat loss, there would be an insulation layer installed between the subfloor and the screed. UFH systems within a screeded floor are clipped to the top of this insulation layer, which heats up the entire screed slab, creating an even and efficient heating system. See examples of our AmbiClip, AmbiTak, and AmbiCastellated systems.
It is quite common, especially in smaller properties, for the floor construction to be a timber joisted floor, which calls for a different type of UFH system. Within a joisted floor, UFH pipework is typically installed between the joists, and then covered over with a structural flooring layer – see our AmbiPlate systems.
The other option in some instances is for the UFH system to be installed on top of the structural flooring layer, especially where the site conditions dictates that the deck must be installed to create a working surface. Examples of these ‘overlay’ systems include our AmbiFloat 10 range.
In refurbishment projects, there are a few more challenging parameters to consider when specifying UFH, the main one normally being to minimise loss of floor-to-ceiling height – this calls for low-profile retrofit solutions, of which Ambiente has developed its own range.
Typically retrofit UFH systems include a grooved board system, with smaller bore UFH pipework installed with pre-routed panels. This method remains very popular, but it does rely on the subfloor being both stable and level – if this is not the case, work will need to be done to the subfloor to bring it up to standard, prior to installation of the boards. The installation of these grooved board retro-fit systems is also more complex than standard systems, and will require an experienced installer.
An alternative system that Ambiente has released recently is the AmbiSolo system, consisting of a self-adhesive plastic panel that is adhered to the subfloor.
12mm UFH pipework is then installed in the panel, after which it is covered in 20mm of reinforced levelling latex.
The advantages of this system are numerous – including rapid installation time, excellent heat output and any floor finish can be laid directly over. The disadvantage of the AmbiSolo system is that there is no insulation layer beneath it, which can result in some downward heat loss.
Electric underfloor heating
While Ambiente specialises in the supply of hydronic or ‘wet’ UFH systems, we recognise that, in some instances, electric UFH is a better option. The advantages are that it is slimmer, higher output per m2 and is cheaper to install – it lends itself well to small projects such as bathrooms and small kitchens, where you are looking to install UFH as cheaply and unobtrusively as possible. The downfall of electric UFH is the ongoing running costs.
The control of UFH is via room thermostats, which are normally situated per room/area, to allow separate control of each heating zone. In newbuild situations, we would always recommend installing a hard-wired control system where possible, as this will be much more low-maintenance in the long run. Where it is not possible to run new cables to thermostat positions, wireless radio-frequency thermostats are available.
In terms of the functionality, thermostats are available from basic dial thermostats up to full smartphone control and integration, with the complete heating system controlled from an app.
Looking for advice on your next project? Give the experts a call, we would love to hear from you! Simply email or call us, we will be happy to advise on where to start with underfloor heating.