Frequently Asked Questions: Electric and Hydronic Floor Heating Systems by Devex Systems

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Frequently Asked Questions: Electric and Hydronic Floor Heating Systems by Devex Systems

Question: What variables should I consider before purchasing a floor heating system?

Answer: There are a number of variables that will impact the capital and running costs of your floor heating system including:

  • Frequency and time of use
  • Size of application
  • Heat loss of your home
  • Insulation levels of the building
  • Electric vs. Hydronic Floor Heating Systems or a combination of the two

Installation costs will vary on a case by case basis, so it is essential to submit accurate and detailed plans to your supplier to ensure the most precise quote possible. In general, the initial capital cost of an electric floor heating system will be significantly less than that of a hydronic floor heating system of comparable size.

Question: I would like to heat my entire house with floor heating. How will the frequency of use and size of the application I am looking to heat impact the system I choose? 

Answer: Hydronic floor heating is a central heating system designed to run continuously during the (winter) heating season. It is not, however, designed for occasional “demand” heating like some electric floor heating systems. Hydronic floor heating is best used in spaces of 100m2 and larger with a minimum sizes requirement of 50m2, making it a suitable option for heating an entire home.  In general, hydronic floor heating will offer opportunities for lower running costs over the long-term. They are best installed at the time of construction, however, can still be installed as part of a renovation so long as specific installation requirements are met. In-screed hydronic floor heating systems are generally faster acting than in-slab systems. In-slab systems can take up to two days to heat up at the beginning of the winter season, depending on the thickness of the slab and the amount of floor insulation used, and will then remain on for the duration of the season. These systems can also be used under a wooden subfloor or under battened timber.

Recommendation: Floor Heat Australia hydronic floor heating system by Devex Systems.
HERE to learn more.

Question: I would like to heat my ensuite. How will the frequency of use and size of the application I am looking to heat impact the system I choose? 

Answer: Where greater heating flexibility is required, particularly for small areas such as bathrooms, en-suites and laundry rooms, electric floor heating is recommended. Electric floor heating can allow total flexibility and is not size dependent.  This system is commonly installed as part of a renovation and can be considered a more straightforward and economical install process when compared to hydronic floor heating. Cables embedded in screed or tile adhesive are “on demand” systems delivering luxurious warm floors.  These systems are the best option for rooms that have limited flexibility in floor height. In-slab systems take longer to heat up, but they store the heat for a much longer period of time.  They are more commonly installed at the time of construction because there is greater flexibility of floor height at this stage, note however, that In-slab systems are not well suited to small “isolated” areas within a large floor slab.

Question: How do I know if the floor covering I am using will be compatible with the floor heating system I install?

Answer: Electric and hydronic floor heating can go under almost any floor covering including all varieties of tile, marble, stone, slate, floating floors, carpet, and timber. There are, however, restrictions to keep in mind.  Floor heating systems should never be placed directly beneath carpet.   Protective screed or levelling compounds must be used to protect the heating system.

For example, if you are considering the installation of an electric floor heating system under a carpeted floor covering, it is important to keep in mind that the elements must be embedded within the slab or screed.  Similarly, Hydronic systems also have particular requirements that must be met when it comes to heating carpeted areas. These systems require a minimum concrete or screed cover over the pipes before the installation of any floor covering.

With timber floors, it is essential that the relative humidity of the timber not be reduced to the point where shrinking or warping of the timber could become apparent. To avoid this, it is important to aware of the heat restrictions noted by your timber flooring manufacturer when using both electric and hydronic floor heating systems. Because timber floors do not conduct heat energy as efficiently as other floor coverings, you may require an additional heat source to reach the desired room temperature on particularly cold winter days.

Question: Can floor heating systems be installed in new construction and renovations?

Answer: Yes.

Hydronic floor heating is best installed during the time of initial construction.  It can also be installed during a renovation, but there are specific conditions that must be met.  For example, finished floor heights will be raised considerably with hydronic floor heating, so this needs to be considered in advance of any renovation.  Hydronic floor heating can be installed in either of the following systems, in-screed, in-slab, under wooden subfloors and under battened timber floors.

Electric floor heating systems offer significant flexibility when it comes to renovations and new construction projects. The floor finishing you choose will influence the type of electric floor heating system suitable to the application. Electric floor heating systems can be installed in either of the following systems, in-screed, in-slab, embedded in tile adhesive, under wood subfloor and under battened timber floors. Generally, in-slab systems are installed in new construction projects more commonly than during a renovation. To avoid adding additional floor height, many people prefer using cable embedded in tile adhesive, also referred to as Devimat.

Answer: How do the running and capital costs of an electric and hydronic floor heating system compare?

Answer: This is a commonly asked and frequently debated question, but the fact of the matter is, there are a number of variables that need be evaluated to effectively answer this question.

Running Costs and Market Trends:
The cost of electricity and gas is significantly impacted by factors like changing conditions in the market. In Australia, the cost of electricity is soaring while gas is relatively cheaper than it has been in years. Being that a hydronic system is usually powered by gas boilers, the running costs are now significantly lower than what they are for electric floor heating systems.  In saying this, even at the moment, when we don’t see these fluctuations in the market, a hydronic floor heating system generally runs at a lower cost per kw/hr by at least 20% when compared to an electric in-slab floor heating system installed in a comparably sized application.

Capital Costs:
The capital costs of a hydronic floor heating system are significantly higher than an electric floor heating system. When taking into account the additional cost of boilers and manifolds, hydronic floor heating can far outweigh the cost of electric floor heating in a comparably sized application. These systems are also not as accommodating of complex floor plan layouts as electric floor heating systems. Electric floor heating systems are the more appropriate choice for small areas like bathrooms, ensuites and laundry rooms, not only due in part to the size and application (hydronic systems have a minimum size requirement of 50m2 plus), but also because of the lower capital costs associated with product and installation of a project of this size.

Question: How can I ensure the most cost savings from my floor heating system?

Answer: Despite the type of system you decide to use, the only way to ensure the highest level of efficiency, cost-savings and comfort is to INSULATE! Don’t let your hard earned money fly out the window (ceilings, walls or floors)!

On both a global and local level, government energy consumption standards continue to tighten, so insulation remains an important part of cutting down your energy costs and implementing environmentally responsible heating practices. This is especially important in the mid to southern regions of the country where temperatures can dip during the cooler months. In Australia, the level of insulation is generally lower than equivalent climates in North America and Europe. Insulation is designed to be used beneath floor heating systems to minimise downward heat loss and accelerate warm-up times.

Both electric and hydronic floor heating systems should ALWAYS be installed over some form of insulation.  As a start, extruded Polystyrene insulation is recommended at the time of any concrete slab system installation to minimise heat loss and ensure the highest level of energy efficiency and cost savings.  F-Board is a specially designed, thin board material (from 6mm) that is an excellent insulation product for placing beneath electric in-screed systems as well as under elements that have been embedded in a tile-adhesive, like Devimat.  Regardless of the floor heating system you choose, high grade insulation will ensure that your system maximises its energy output potential, giving you a higher overall return on investment.

Recommendation: F-board Insulation by Devex Systems. 
Click HERE to learn more.

Another factor in ensuring the highest efficiency of your floor heating system is a high quality electronic thermostat. This will allow you to independently control the heating of specific rooms or areas.  You can select from manual or programmable thermostats which will automatically meet your weekday and weekend lifestyle, or perhaps incorporate a mix of the two if preferred.  A good quality thermostat will allow for greater control over temperature and timing, making it easy for you to make the most out of your floor heating system by ensuring it runs as efficiently as possible.

Recommendation: X thermostat range by Devex Systems. 
Click HERE to learn more.



Using a high efficiency condensing natural gas boiler as an energy source for a hydronic floor heating system is also an important part of keeping running costs down. There are other energy sources that are compatible with these systems as well, by condensing gas boilers are a popular option with the costs of gas being as low as it is at the current time.

*It is important to review your state building code before installation to ensure the system complies with current regulations.