If you have decided to use underfloor heating in your project, be it a refurbishment or a new building, you will probably have spent much of your time considering how the system can be integrated into the design, and what type of heating you want to use.
You will probably have taken much deliberation over which systems were cheapest to buy and which would be more cost efficient to run in the long term. You may have spent time planning how the installation will be carried out, and how to fit it in with other trades to avoid downtime.
But when the time comes, it is often difficult to decide on the best outlet to buy the system from, and whether to buy it direct and have someone else install it, or have it supplied and installed by one company.
There are many different suppliers on the market, from manufacturers to distributors, and builders merchants to online retailers.
Rather than trawling every website and spending days making phone calls for quotes and running checks on different companies, it is advisable to draw up a short list of potential suppliers and look at each one in detail.
Your shortlist will be determined by the type of system you want to buy, the type of property it is going into, and whether you require a full installation, or you intend to do some of the work yourself.
DIY or full installation
Whether you are installing the system yourself or having it professionally installed, will have a big impact on where you buy the system. You should get a clear idea of what’s involved in the install to make sure you are comfortable with the work and are not overstretching yourself.
Do not consider fitting the heating on your own as a cost saving measure; it is important for the efficient running of the system and the future value of your property that the system is installed properly and in line with current building regulations.
Much of the preparation work can be carried out yourself, as can the laying of the system, the insulation, the screed and the floor finish.
The connection to a gas boiler, however, should only be carried out by a suitably qualified corgi registered tradesman, and the connection to the mains electricity supply should only be done by a qualified electrician.
If you are working on a renovation project the floor may require digging up; this is another job which may be best left to the professionals to make sure it is done correctly.
Where to find installers
If you have decided to source the products and components yourself, you can look for local heating and plumbing engineering companies to carry out the installation for you. This does give you the benefit of dealing with a local firm, whose reputation and quality of service you can check beforehand.
They are also likely to guarantee their work, and if you find a good installer who is a member of the relevant trade associations, it is reasonable to expect you will receive a good after sales service should anything go wrong.
Several suppliers offer installation services as well, and a package from one company for supply and install can sometimes offer reassurance and peace of mind that one company is responsible for the whole system from start to finish.
Where to buy systems and parts
Some of the major online retailers are listed below, and you can also buy direct from manufacturers, through merchants, or through specialist underfloor heating distributors.
Buying parts will be led predominantly by which parts need replacing; if they are unique to the system you may need to go direct to the manufacturer to source parts.
Whereas if the components required are general system parts then any plumbing or electrical merchant will probably be able to supply them.
Some of the retailers with the biggest online presence are:
· UK Underfloor Heating
· Floor Heating Ltd
· Handy Heat
· Underfloor Heating Store
· Ambient Electrical
· Floor Heating Online
· Divine Underfloor Heating
· Underfloor Heating Shop
· Underfloor Heating (UK)
· Floor Warming Company
· Continental Underfloor Heating
· Underfloor Heating Systems
Taking one online retailer as an example, UHF1 supply a 6 port underfloor heating system that can cover an area of up to 100m2 for £979.80 including VAT. The kit includes everything required to fit underfloor heating, with thermostatic blending valves allowing for different temperature settings in different rooms.
The kit incorporates the following components:
· Six port manifold
· 15-50 circulating pump
· 22mm blending valve
· 500m x 15mm PEXb barrier pipe
· 50m edge insulation
· Brass pump and 22mm compression pipe unions
· Flow and return temperature sensors
· 2 x manifold isolating valves
· 2 x air vents
· 6 x manifold port electrothermic actuators
· 1000 staples for securing pipe work
Once you have decided to install underfloor heating into your property, there are many things to consider before you reach the stage of buying the system, and they can all have a bearing on where you buy the heating from. You may decide to carry out the installation yourself, particularly if you are embarking on a self-build project.
In this case, you may be better to source the system directly from a manufacturer, thereby cutting out the middle man and getting a better deal.
If you intend to have the system fitted by a professional installer, you may find better deals from online retailers who can carry out the installation as well, or from local underfloor heating companies or heating and plumbing engineers, who are able to offer a reliable installation service, but also secure good prices through their own associations in the industry.