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What should you choose, a heating mat or a heating foil? When deciding on electric underfloor heating and starting to look for a suitable product, you can find two types: heating mats and heating foil. There is no simple answer to the question: "Which is better?". To know what to choose, you need to know the differences between these heating systems and match them to the room in which they are to be installed. In the article below, we will try to show the characteristics of each system, thanks to which you will be able to decide what to choose.
The Wiper Sunfloor heating mats available in our store consist of a double insulated heating cable attached to a self-adhesive glass fibre mesh. It is an easy-to-install, hermetic system that allows great flexibility during installation. It has some features that may help you decide.
Heating mats are primarily used under tiles. Ceramic tiles, stoneware or stone accumulate heat very well and radiate it into the room. Heating mats can also be successfully used in the screed itself without the need to cover it with tiles. Theoretically, this makes it possible to install mats also under wooden floors. In practice, there are better solutions that won't require using screeds or glue. In addition, floor panel underlays will often be good insulators and can significantly reduce the heating efficiency of mats embedded in the screed and block heat transfer to the room.
In fact, heating mats based on the heating cable must be covered with a screed or glue. This is one of the features that some people mention as negative, proving the superiority of the heating foil over mats. To some point it is true. Heating mats, due to their construction, heat up pointwise in comparison to the heating foil, at least until the entire floor is warmed up. But that usually takes place within a dozen to several dozen minutes.
During the installation itself, the heating mats give complete freedom in laying. Although they are attached to the mesh if necessary you can cut it and arrange the heating cable yourself in any shape. The only thing you need to remember is to avoid the cable crossing and to keep an appropriate margin between the loops.
One of the greatest advantages of underfloor heating based on a heating cable is its hermetic housing, proper grounding, shielding and compliance with the IP67 standard. As a result, heating mats can be safely installed in the bathroom and even in the shower.
The small thickness (approx. 4 mm) in comparison to water heating allows for installation without the need to significantly raise the floor level or dig deep into the floor. However, even such a negligible thickness of the heating mats is many times greater than the foil.
Another feature and at the same time advantage of the heating mat system is the small number of elements that make up the entire system. When ordering the entire set with the controller, excluding accessories, the heating system consists of only two elements, i.e. a heating mat and a controller. The power cable is permanently and hermetically connected to the mat heating cable. Wiper Sunfloor heating mats are powered from one side, which makes the system even easier to connect. Unfortunately, the way the mat is made as one whole has some drawbacks that must be taken into account when shopping. The heating cable cannot be shortened. Therefore, the dimensions must be carefully matched to the heating surface.
This type of heating very quickly gains more and more fans. In simple terms, the heating foil consists of graphite strips embedded in the PET foil and connected with copper strips. This solution brings some features and utilities that can't be achieved with heating mats.
One can say that the heating foil can be used where the mat will just not work. Dry installation under floor panels or other wooden floors is the basic use of a heating foil. Thanks to its minimum thickness, the system does not raise the floor level and does not require forging, glueing or screeding. The Wiper Sunfloor heating foil is less than 0.5 mm thick, while obtaining almost the same heating power per square meter as heating mats that are several times thicker (120W / m2 compared to 150W / m2 for the Sunfloor mat).
There is a little less freedom when it comes to installing the heating foil compared to mats. But the foil is cut from the roll to any length you require on spot. The cutting points are located every 20 cm, so adjusting to the size and shape of the room will also not be a challenge.
Unlike mats, the pre-layout of the power cables is very important due to the different connection methods. Two wires must be connected to each strip of heating foil. There are more elements that you will get in the set with the heating foil than in the case of mats. Despite this, putting everything together with our instructions is a matter of a few hours (depending on the room size).
The often-quoted advantage of a heating foil is immediate heating over the entire surface, not just slow heating the screed first. The gaps between the graphite stripes in the foil are so small that they do not slow down the heating process. The time needed to warm up the floor to the desired temperature is shorter and thus translates into lower power consumption.