Touch thermostat for home temperature control mounted on a room wall.

When you get any form of heating system, whether it’s a traditional radiator, underfloor heating, or even an electric fireplace, you want to be in control of the warmth. Sometimes, it’s not quite cold enough outside to go full force with the temperature, but other times, you want it as hot as possible. With radiators, there’s usually a dial to help you do this, electric fireplaces have a remote, and underfloor heating comes with a built-in thermostat for you to control.

But what exactly is an underfloor heating thermostat, and how does it work? Well, those are the sorts of questions we’re here to answer for you today. Below, we’re going to dive deep into all things UFH thermostats, so you’ll be a complete expert at using one at the end.

Key takeaways

  • Underfloor heating is a system that warms up your property from below.
  • Thermostats are the devices that control the temperature of underfloor heating systems.
  • There are three main types of thermostats: Manual, programmable, and smart.
  • You should consider many features when choosing a thermostat, such as temperature control and compatibility.
  • There are various steps to installing a thermostat, but you should use a trained professional if you don’t have the skills.

What is underfloor heating?

You probably already know about the gist of underfloor heating, but let’s go in a bit further into what it is and it’s processes before we move onto thermostats.

Underfloor heating is, as you’ve probably guessed, a heating system installed below the floor’s surface. They can be used in any room or building, commercial or residential, to provide you with a warmth that is not only spread out evenly but also extremely comfortable.

When looking to install an underfloor heating system in your home, you’ll notice there are two main types you can choose from:

Electric underfloor heating

Electric underfloor heating involves trained engineers installing a series of cables, wires, or heating mats underneath your floor and connecting them together. They’ll be linked to a power source, which, when turned on, will provide the connection with electricity so they can heat up and send warmth up to the room. These sorts of systems are more cost-effective for installation, but are better for just individual rooms.

Water underfloor heating

Water (or hydronic) underfloor heating systems work in a similar way to their electric counterpart but require much less energy. Instead of cables, a series of pipes and tubes is installed underneath your floors. Connected to a manifold, when turned on, warm water will rush through the pipes and effectively heat up your property. These are pricier for initial installation, however they help you save costs in the long run and are much more efficiently used throughout entire houses.

The role of thermostats in underfloor heating

Photo collage of water underfloor heating system installation, connection, and small wall-mounted thermostat.

Now you know the ins and outs of underfloor heating, let’s dive into what thermostats are and what they do.

When you’re turning on and using an underfloor heating system, you often want to control the temperature so you can feel heat as comfortably as possible. Unlike traditional radiators, you don’t need to sit either further away or closer to the system to feel the temperature you want. Instead, the warmth is spread out at all times. That’s why it’s important to choose a temperature that suits you, no matter where you are in the property.

The way you can choose the temperature and control it is through the use of thermostats. These often function by measuring the ambient temperature of a property and comparing it to the desired set point. While how the thermostat works depends on the type you use, you can usually choose a temperature, or the system will monitor the home’s environment, and when it starts to get too cold, it will automatically signal the underfloor heating to turn on or get warmer. Conversely, it will turn the system off when it is at an adequate temperature to help save on energy bills.

Benefits of using thermostats

  • Energy savings: Since the thermostat can monitor the temperature of your property, it will keep the heating at a low level, or off completely, whenever it’s warm enough. This, in turn, saves you on energy and costs.
  • Improved comfort: You can either set your own temperature, knowing it’ll be distributed evenly throughout the home, or you can rely on the system to provide you with the most adequate temperature at the time.
  • Convenience: Programmable and smart thermostats allow you to conveniently choose your own comfort. They also make it easier to maintain a warm environment without you constantly changing it.
  • Longevity of UFH: By regulating your temperature in a better way, you can extend the lifespan of your underfloor heating system.

Types of underfloor heating thermostats

Thermostat with digital screen and mechanical room temperature control.

As we’ve briefly mentioned already, there are various types of thermostats you can choose from for your underfloor heating system. Here are the three main ones for you to consider to help you find the best thermostat for underfloor heating:

Basic manual thermostats

The most common and basic thermostats you will find are the ones that allow you to control your underfloor heating temperature yourself. They often come with a dial or buttons that make them easy to use. This simple underfloor heating thermostat is better for those who want a more straightforward system with fewer components.

Pros:

  • Easy to use and better for those who want a user-friendly interface.
  • Cheaper to buy than other more innovative thermostat options.
  • Reliable as they are less likely to experience technical difficulties.

Cons:

  • There’s no option to program these thermostats; you can only manually adjust them.
  • Since you can’t schedule your underfloor heating, these thermostats are less energy efficient.

Programmable thermostats

A programmable thermostat allows you to choose your temperature in the same way as a manual one, but it also allows you to set different temperatures for different times. This can be different times of the day or even the week, ensuring it’s on when you’re home and that you’re always comfortable. It ultimately lets you customise your heating schedule to match your daily routine.

Pros:

  • You can customise your system so that it’s on when you’re home, leading to more energy savings.
  • You can ensure your property is always at the desired temperature when you want, increasing your comfort.
  • These thermostats are flexible as they come with multiple programmable settings.

Cons:

  • Programmable thermostats can be more difficult for some people to set up and understand.
  • These generally cost a bit more than basic manual thermostats.

Smart thermostats

Last but not least, we have smart underfloor heating thermostats. This variation is similar to a programmable one, however, it comes with a remote control that can be used via smartphone apps, allowing you to adjust the temperature anywhere, as long as you have a stable internet connection. The best smart thermostat for underfloor heating will also learn your schedule and preferences over time, automatically optimising your heating settings.

Pros:

  • Smart thermostats are incredibly convenient as you have remote access and can control them wherever you are.
  • If you leave the house and forget to turn your heating off, you can do it whenever, making it more energy efficient.
  • You'll have enhanced comfort once the thermostat learns your wants and behaviours.

Cons:

  • These thermostats are generally quite pricey compared to the other options.
  • Some of the features of a smart thermostat rely on having a stable internet connection.

Key features to look for in a thermostat

When shopping for the best underfloor heating thermostat, apart from the type you’ve chosen above, there are some key features you might want to consider too. There are many makes and models out there that offer different things, so we recommend looking at the following:

Temperature accuracy and control

When considering an affordable way to screed a floor, doing it yourself is a sensible option. This is because of the relatively high labour costs associated with construction. Therefore opting for doing the work on your own would help in saving the money spent on acquiring labor.

When looking at thermostats, you need one that can offer good temperature control and maintain a comfortable environment. Only consider models with high accuracy, typically within +/- 0.5 degrees celsius. You also want one that has responsive sensors that accurately measure ambient temperatures, as well as one that is consistent to avoid extreme fluctuations in heat.

Programmability and scheduling options

If you’re opting for a programmable or smart thermostat, you want to consider the options they are offering. For example, does the model you’re looking at have the ability to program different temperatures for various times of the day and week? Or do they have multiple programmable settings that you can adjust to your liking based on different days and special events? In extreme cases, when you really want the ultimate comfort, you can opt for a model that has adaptive learnings where it learns your routines and adjusts the settings automatically.

Underfloor heating compatibility

The main thing about any thermostat you get is that it needs to work with an underfloor heating system. This may seem like an obvious one, but many people just focus on the exciting features and gloss over what systems it actually works with. You also want to ensure that the thermostat is compatible with your specific type of underfloor heating system, whether it’s electric or hydronic.

Smart home integration

If you’re already living in a house or have an office that uses a wide range of smart home appliances, from light bulbs to voice-activated systems, you might want a smart thermostat for underfloor heating that can connect to that too. Look for a model that can integrate with voice assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit to add an extra layer of convenience. You may also want a system that connects to your other devices, such as your lights, which both turn on when you get home.

Ease of use and installation

Not everyone is made for technology, and some people prefer to have a system that is user-friendly and easy to understand. Look for models that have good reviews, and if you are a bit of a technophobe, it’s best to stay away from the ones that list hundreds of different features. You may also want to consider one that is easier to install, especially if you’re considering doing it yourself rather than using a trained professional.

Installation and setup

Photo collage showing touch thermostat installation and final mounted result.

When it comes to installing and initially setting up a water or electric underfloor heating thermostat, you need to consider what is best for you. If you don’t have a lot of know-how on the subject, it’s always best to use a trained professional. For example, at Next Level, we offer to install your thermostat alongside your underfloor heating system.

However, if you decide to opt for a DIY installation and have at least basic electrical knowledge, these are the steps you’ll have to go through:

Pre-installation checks

Before you do anything, you need to go over a bit of a checklist first. Start off by ensuring that your chosen thermostat works with your underfloor heating, whether you’ve decided to go for electric or hydronic. You should also confirm that the power supply meets the thermostat’s requirements, such as the voltage and current. Get all the tools you need for the installation and have them ready at your disposal.

Wiring and connections

Turn off all power to your underfloor heating system at the circuit breaker before you start installing the thermostat. This is for your safety. You should then, if you have an old thermostat, remove it, and disconnect any wires. Mount your new thermostat on the wall using a mounting plate away from any direct sunlight. Connect the thermostat’s wires to your underfloor heating system, and secure the thermostat to the mounting plate.

Configuring settings

Check all connections are in place and safe before moving on. You can then turn the power back on at the circuit breaker. Follow the manufacturer’s guide for your thermostat to configure all initial settings, including time, date, and temperature units. If it’s programmable, set up your schedules with your desired temperatures. You can also calibrate the device to ensure accurate temperature readings.

Conclusion

A thermostat is a necessary addition to your underfloor heating system, ensuring you’re receiving the temperature that feels most comfortable to you when you need it. However, there’s a lot of factors to consider before choosing the right device for you and your needs, so ensure you go over this guide beforehand.

If you need any help with underfloor heating installation, or a hand attaching and setting up your water underfloor heating thermostat, the experts at Next Level are here for you. Our team is qualified and experienced in the field and is always ready to provide assistance. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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