Finding a reliable supplier who can provide the necessary quality at the right price can be a minefield with any project. If you have decided to use underfloor heating you should have a good idea of which type of products you intend to use, and what sort of installation is required.
Different suppliers and contractors may specialise in certain areas, or have larger discounts with certain manufacturers. By now you should know what type of property the underfloor heating is being installed in; is it a refurbishment or a new build?
You should also know whether you are going to fit a wet or a dry system, and if its water based one, which heat source it will be connected to.
You will have a good idea by now of how much work you want to carry out yourself, if any, and how much work you need to pay an installer to do.
All of these conditions can have a bearing on which suppliers you use, and which have the best deals to suit your requirements.
Where to look
Where you buy underfloor heating, and which supplier you eventually use depends on the type of project you are undertaking.
If you are planning on doing most of the work yourself, it may be worth sourcing the various parts and materials as well as the heating kit from different suppliers; finding the cheapest component prices will reduce your overall costs.
Some manufacturers only distribute through third parties such as merchants, but others deal directly with the public, and some offer after sales support through their own network of engineers. It may be possible to secure a better deal by going direct to a manufacturer rather than a distributor.
Some of the leading manufacturers of electric underfloor heating are:
· Raychem Underfloor Heating
· Klima Underfloor Heating
· Enerfoil Magnum Ltd.
While some of the bigger players in the wet underfloor heating market are:
· Speedfit Underfloor
· REHAU Ltd
· Osma Underfloor Heating (Wavin)
There are several online retailers of underfloor heating, where it may be easier to source the particular product you have selected, with many also offering installation services.
If you do not intend to carry out any work yourself, it may be possible to get a better overall deal by buying the full package of supply and installation from one supplier.
Some of the top online retailers 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
A local heating firm could prove to be the best supplier, and it is worth calling around for quotes. Most companies will have preferential terms with one or two distributors and manufacturers.
They may be able to source the products you want at reasonable prices, and come with the added bonus of dealing with a local company, whose reputation you can easily check up on beforehand.
UHMA, part of BEAMA, is the trade association for all types of radiant heating in the UK. The organisation is affiliated to EURAY, which is a European wide association for underfloor heating and cooling. Membership of UHMA is for companies which design and supply underfloor heating systems or components via distributors and builders merchants, or direct to the public.
One of the objectives of UHMA is to specify standards for the quality of installation and material used for underfloor heating, and to ensure the standards are adhered to.
The organisation is involved in the continual exchange of information with EURAY with the intention of developing minimum standards throughout Europe.
CIPHE is the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering. The CIPHE is a member of both the Construction Industry Council and the Engineering Council (UK).
It is the professional body which covers the plumbing and heating industries in the UK, and has over 12,000 members; including approximately 260 manufacturers and distributors.
The Heating and Ventilating Contractors Association (HVCA) is another industry body, which may cover installers of underfloor heating systems. The organisation has a membership consisting of companies which design, install and maintain heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration products and equipment.
How to check a supplier is reputable.
Whichever supplier you eventually choose, make sure you check which trade bodies and associations they belong to. You are fully entitled to ask for proof of membership and if you need reassurance, check the details of each affiliation your supplier has, and research exactly what quality assurances they are promising. This way you can assess the quality of materials supplied, and the quality of service you receive.
If you are using a local tradesman or installer to carry out the work, you can ask for details of previous projects they have carried out in the area; any reputable supplier will be perfectly happy to provide you with the details to verify the quality of their installations.
Finding a supplier can sometimes be one of the most difficult parts of a project; do you source different components form different companies, or buy the full kit from one supplier? Do you pay for the installation along with the product, or do you use a separate installation firm?
You can narrow the search by having a strong idea of the type of product you want to use, the type of property it is to be installed in, your budget for the job, and by knowing how much work you can do yourself and how much you need done by installers.
Don’t just consider the price when you are looking at your short list of suppliers, consider their reputation, their after sales service, and their trade association memberships, to ensure you get the right quality of product and service.