Which Underfloor Heating is Most Efficient?

Heated electric floors provide a warm and comfortable floor under tile, stone, laminate, wood, and even carpet. Today’s underfloor heating come in predominately four styles.

The first is mat systems which have a warming wire attached to a mesh or fiber-type mat. Next, is a free wire or “cable” system, which utilizes guides attached to the floor, and then the wire is looped around the guides and spaced appropriately. There are also floor warming systems designed to be used under floating floor/carpeted areas. The newest systems are “film,” which is ultra-thin and can be installed under almost any flooring surface.

All floor heat products can be installed with either a manual or programmable thermostat to regulate the heat output of the system.

The most common types of underfloor heatings are:


Mat-type floor warming systems are best used in square or rectangular areas. They are customizable by cutting through only the mat/mesh and turning the roll to cover the room. The wire may also be removed from the mesh and “free-wired” in areas that would require special attention. They usually have a wattage output between 12-15 watts per square foot.

Most systems come in either 120V or 240V, depending on the area needed to be warmed. On average, a 120V mat will cover up to 150 square feet on a single thermostat, and 240V up to 300 square feet. Smaller sizes are available to accommodate smaller areas. Many floor heat companies provide kits that include everything you will need. Kits include the mat, thermostat, fault check tool, and step-by-step instructions.


Cable or “free wire” type systems work well with areas that are irregularly shaped. They have the flexibility to weave in and out of spaces while providing floor-warming capabilities. These systems also come in both 120V and 240V and are very easy to install. To ensure a flat surface, it is important to use a self-leveling product with cable systems.

Under-Floating Floors

Floor heat has expanded its appeal to under-floating floors like laminate and engineered wood. Under floating, floor systems have a pad already incorporated in the product. Additional pads are available to fill in areas where floor heat is not installed.


The newest underfloor heating products in the United States are film systems. This type of floor heat has already been used overseas for some time. This system is appealing because it uses very thin film. They can be installed under tile and floating floors. The thin material helps address height concerns from adjacent floors.

You can learn even more information about these specific products on manufacturers’ websites. Many companies provide user-friendly “heat loss” and “operating cost” calculators on their sites. This information can be used in the decision-making process of whether to install heated electric floors in your next project. As a remodeling contractor who has the floor heat in his own personal master bath, I would never be without heated electric floors again. Customers will never say they wish they hadn’t put in floor heat, but many are sorry they didn’t.

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About the author
Ben White has written thousands of articles on everything home improvement. He has had the privilege of writing for such websites as the Huffington Post, DeWalt, Houzz.com, HGTV, and many others.

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