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Electric underfloor heating works by running a length of cable under the floor, when electricity is run through the cable its resistance produces heat.
Electric underfloor heating systems offer a much lower installation cost then water based systems when used in smaller installations (i.e. 3-5 rooms).
The cabling involved can be much thinner than tubing needed in hot water systems. Cables as thin as 1mm can be used and installed directly under the carpet, reducing installation costs and time even further. A typical household system can be installed in under a day.
Today the underfloor heating cables generally take two forms, cable mats and built in return cables. Built in return cables only need to be connected at one end to the thermostat. This solved the problems encountered when both ends needed to return as less thought and time needed to be given to the routing of the cable.
Cable mats make installation even easier, these consist of the cable which is woven into a nylon mat and to install all that is required is that the mat be rolled out from the thermostat location until the room is covered.
The cable mat also reduces the risk of creating hot spots where cable has been laid to close create more heat in a smaller area, as the cabling is pre-spaced on the mat.
Electric underfloor heating systems are more efficient than water-based plumbed systems in smaller areas (i.e. homes) and have lower operating costs then either water based systems or conventional radiator based systems. This is offset slightly by the higher cost of installation compared to water based systems.
Electric systems also require zero maintenance and are much more easily installed by the DIY enthusiast than water-based systems which require extensive plumbing.