Underfloor Heating for Your Spanish Home
If you’ve recently bought a house in Spain or are a long-term resident, you may decide it’s time to upgrade and make a few changes to the interior. When you do make your renovations in the Costa del Sol, think about including underfloor heating. It’s a good decision since Spain may have hot sunny summers but also many months of damp and colder weather. In a project inspired by renovations in the Costa del Sol, let’s take a closer look at what this would entail.
Underfloor heating provides a pleasant, low-level heat that’s energy-efficient and aesthetically friendly because it’s hidden from view. Heat for underfloor systems can be generated by electricity, bio mass boilers, and ground or air source heat pumps. Almost any kind of floor covering can be used. Installation is easy and generally they’re no more expensive than a radiator system. If you choose electricity as your power source, you can install underfloor heating in a partial house renovation quite cheaply.
Types of underfloor heating
There are two types of wet underfloor heating systems and two types of electric systems.
Wet underfloor heating systems
Heat store system – here the pipes are laid in a thick concrete or lime concrete slab, which are slow to heat up and to cool.
Fast delivery system – here the pipes are laid on top of insulation, in either a thin screed, or in insulation that contains grooves for the pipes to fit in beneath a thin screed or the wooden flooring.
Electric heating systems
Heating cable, or heating mat system – here cables (or mats) are embedded in concrete or cement.
Heating film system – here the cables are installed directly below laminated floors, without any layer of cement. Heating film cannot be installed below ceramic floors that need to be fixed with cement.
Recommended heating installations
When selecting your underfloor heating system it’s important to take into account the structure of your home, the heat settings, your insulation levels, the interior furnishings and so on. All of these will have an effect on the speed at which the temperature in your home reacts to a drop in the temperature outside.
This reaction time impacts on the comfort levels of the occupants inside, as well as the amount of energy you consume. A simple, light-framed building will react to temperature changes quicker than a solid brick and mortar building.
The most popular type of installation for underfloor heating is a direct heating system. The heating element is positioned directly under the floor pavement and is used for both the main heating system and the tempered floor heating. In the case of the main heating system, the output is between 60 to 120W/m2, depending on the type of house. For tempered floors, the output is higher at around 150 to 180W/m2.
The heating cable is located directly within the self-levelling floor screed, or the flexible cement. The heating foil is found directly below the laminated flooring, but it’s not suitable in a damp environment and is usually substituted with mats.
In the case of renovation projects, there’s normally a limited thickness to the heating system. However, by using special insulation boards, the electric underfloor system can be fitted over the existing floor within less than 1 cm of the heating film and within less than 1.5 cm of the heating cable.
Another recommended installation is a storage heating system with heating cable. This system is prevalent in homes and flats in mountainous areas, where a minimum temperature is maintained within the entire building. This system can be combined with other auxiliary heating systems like radiators and heating panels. It’s made up of a floor pavement, a floor sensor within a corrugated pipe, a concrete layer for heat storage, a heating cable, a concrete layer for heat storage, a steel grid, thermal insulation, and a concrete base.
The Spanish climate
The weather in Spain can vary considerably. Coastal regions have vastly different temperatures and climates than inland cities located a mere 30 or 40 miles away. Mountainous regions in Spain also have their own micro-climates, and in the spring and autumn there can be sudden and wide ranging temperature variations, where extremely hot conditions can turn bitterly cold overnight. This can last a few days before becoming blisteringly hot again. It’s therefore very important to bear this in mind when choosing the most suitable underfloor heating delivery method for your home.