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The Complete Guide to Infrared Underfloor Heating

Infrared is the underdog in the domestic heating scene. Although only 17% of Brits are aware of this low-carbon tech at the moment (The Eco Experts National Home Energy Survey, 2022), its popularity is certainly gaining traction.

If you’re considering getting infrared heating in your home, it might be worth looking into underfloor heating – it’s efficient, low maintenance, and can significantly reduce your carbon emissions.

Not sure how infrared underfloor heating works? We’ve got you covered. Our comprehensive guide below will tell you everything you need to know about infrared underfloor heating – from how it actually works, to how much you can expect it to cost.

Installing infrared underfloor heating

What is infrared underfloor heating?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of infrared, let’s discuss underfloor heating. An underfloor heating system does exactly what it says on the tin – it literally heats your home through a system that is installed under the property's flooring.

This modern heating technology is designed to keep properties warm in a more economical and effective way than convection heating. It does this by dispersing low-wattage energy evenly across a large surface area, which then warms the room.

Manufacturers have now paired this underfloor heating system with the relatively new concept of infrared heating. These infrared underfloor heating systems work in the same way as electric underfloor heating systems, except they use radiant heating, which transfers heat to objects and people directly, rather than heating the air.

Want to learn more about how infrared heating works? We’ve got the basics outlined in our Beginner’s Guide to Infrared Heating Panels.

How much does infrared underfloor heating cost?

Infrared underfloor heating generally costs around £75 per square metre. Considering the average UK living room is 17.1 square metres, it could cost you around £1,282 just to install infrared underfloor heating in this one room.

It’s also important to take labour costs into account when installing any underfloor heating system.

Unlike regular infrared panels, which can just be propped onto the wall and hooked up to an electric circuit, underfloor heating systems have a slightly more complicated installation process – which will only add more money onto the final price tag.

How is infrared underfloor heating installed?

When it comes to infrared underfloor heating, most people choose to install infrared film, which is laid under the flooring.

Once the existing flooring has been removed, the infrared film can be installed in a few simple steps:

  1. Prepare the base – Before the installer can make a start with the infrared heating film, they’ll need to place a layer of insulating material onto the base, which will prevent any heat from escaping through the floor slabs
  2. Lay out the infrared system – Once the base is done, the installer will need to roll out the infrared heating film and cut it into individual fragments, which should be laid out across the room
  3. Connect the system to an electrical circuit – The installer will then connect a conductor to a copper clamp on each infrared film strip, which enables electrical current
  4. Mount the control device – To make sure the heat regulator works properly, the installer will then fix a thermal sensor underneath the sheet of films

Once the installer has completed these steps and the system has been successfully tested for any faults, they can replace the flooring on top of the film.

And since infrared heating film has a lifespan of 45-50 years, you won’t have to worry about replacing it anytime soon.

Underfloor infrared heating

Advantages and disadvantages of infrared underfloor heating

Advantages of infrared underfloor heating

Reduces emissions

As it stands, 49% of UK residents claim to be ‘very anxious’ or ‘extremely anxious’ about climate change. Thankfully, one of the ways you can shrink your carbon footprint is by switching from a boiler to infrared panels.

Using infrared heating will reduce your emissions because the system will lower your home energy consumption. This is mainly thanks to the panels’ high efficiency rating – some of the best infrared panels on the market have a rating of 100%.

Low maintenance

Since there are no moving parts in an infrared heating system, there’s very little risk of wear and tear. In many cases, you won’t even need to service an infrared system, unlike boilers and heat pumps.

More efficient than central heating systems

Infrared heating systems warm objects rather than the air – essentially cutting out the middleman – which makes it much more efficient than central heating systems.

On top of this, infrared heating systems typically only take three to five minutes to get up to full heat intensity, so you can forget about having to wait to get warm.

Doesn’t ruin aesthetics

Worried about the aesthetics of your home being compromised by your heating system? That won’t be an issue with infrared underfloor heating. There won’t be any bulky radiators or boilers dotted around the house – instead, your underfloor heating system will be completely out of sight.

Suitable for most homes

Underfloor heating systems will be suitable for most properties across the UK – from modern new builds to traditional cottages. That said, the system will only be effective if the property is well insulated.

Anyone living in a listed property can consider installing infrared underfloor heating systems too, as it won't impact the overall look of the house. However, the existing flooring will need to be temporarily removed to install the system, so make sure you get approval to do this.

No noise pollution

Infrared underfloor heating is silent when running because there are no moving parts in the system. This is particularly good for people living in blocks of flats or quiet neighbourhoods.

Can be paired with solar panels

Want to go the extra mile? Shrink your bills and your carbon footprint even further by pairing an infrared underfloor heating system with solar panels.

Anyone who already has a solar panel system in their home just needs to get an installer to connect the infrared system to the electrical circuit. Those who don’t currently have solar panels installed onto their property, however, will need to invest an average of £4,800 for a three-bedroom house to do this first.

Disadvantages of infrared underfloor heating

It’s expensive

The cost of underfloor heating can mount up quickly. It’ll cost you £75 per square metre – but the overall price will depend on how many rooms you’d like it to cover.

You’ll also need to consider how much it’ll cost to remove existing carpets and flooring before the installation, as well as how much it’ll be to refit the flooring afterwards.

Your property needs to be well insulated

Many homeowners will also need to add an extra layer of installation to their homes before fitting a new heating system – if they want it to be effective. This can set homeowners back anywhere between a few hundred and a few thousand pounds.

Infrared supplier Herschel states that the benefits of infrared underfloor heating “drop off significantly without underlying insulation or thermal mass”.

You can’t ‘zone’ your heating

Regular infrared heating panels, which are propped up onto the ceiling or wall, can easily be turned on and off at the switch. This gives homeowners the option of ‘zoning’ their heating, which is a fancy way of saying they could heat just one room instead of the whole house.

However, this isn’t an option with infrared underfloor heating – it’s very much all or nothing.

If you think you could benefit from zoning your heating, regular infrared heating panels would work better for your property.

Runs on electricity, which is expensive

Although infrared heating systems have a high efficiency rating, which could help reduce energy usage, they also run on electricity.

Since we’re in the middle of an energy crisis, all fuel is more expensive than usual – but electricity, in particular, is much pricier than other fuels. Unfortunately, this could mean that anyone swapping a gas boiler for infrared heating could see an increase in their energy bills.

ProsCons
Reduces emissionsIt’s expensive
Low maintenance Property needs to be well insulated
More efficient than central heating systemsYou can’t ‘zone’ your heating
Doesn’t ruin aestheticsRuns on electricity, which is expensive
Suitable for most homes
No noise pollution
Can be paired with solar panels

Infrared vs electric underfloor heating

Infrared underfloor heating is very similar to its electric counterpart. In fact, they work in exactly the same way, except infrared emits radiation to heat objects directly, rather than heating the air.

There are a few things that infrared can offer that electric underfloor heating can’t. For starters, it’s a much more efficient method of heating, which will lead to more energy savings over time, as we’ve outlined in the table below.

Heating systemWattage (kW)Cost to purchaseOperating cost
Underfloor electric heating 100W per m²2.2£1,410**£1.54 per day
Underfloor electric heating 200W per m²4.4£1,612**£3.08 per day
Infrared heating panel1.2–1.4£687£0.94 per day

*These costs, sourced from Herschel, aren't subject to energy crisis increases and are based on a living room size of 4×5.6 metres

**This price excludes insulation and substrate layers required for underfloor heating

Is your home suitable for infrared underfloor heating?

If infrared underfloor heating is starting to sound like a good option for your home, you’re in luck – it’s suitable for most UK properties.

Underfloor heating can be fitted in both new and old properties. However, bear in mind that the actual floor – such as tile, laminate, or vinyl – will need to be removed and replaced, which is something people in listed buildings might not be allowed to do.

Infrared underfloor heating systems can also be installed in every room of your home, whether it’s on the ground floor, basement, or upper levels.

Summary

Hopefully you have a better idea of whether infrared underfloor heating will work for you and your family after reading this article.

If you’re still on the fence about whether to invest in infrared heating, check out some of our helpful guides below to get a better idea of what they have to offer:

Beth Howell Senior Writer

Beth has a real passion for green living. She’s been absorbed in eco research for over three years, and has become quite the expert. Whether you’re after a new set of solar panels, a home energy improvement, or you want to catch the latest eco news, she’s got your back.

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