Ceiling Heating and Underfloor Heating in Comparison (2024)

The future of heating and cooling rooms belongs to radiant heating. This can be seen in the growth rates in the underfloor heating industry. 50% of new single-family houses in Germany are equipped with underfloor heating. Underfloor heating is also being used more and more frequently in the modernization sector. The reasons for this development can be explained by the advantages of radiant heating. Compared to classical radiator heating technology, surface heating requires low flow temperatures. It is also economically feasible to use environmental heat as a heating source. Radiant heating ensures a high level of living comfort and pleasant warmth without the technology visibly influencing the room design.

Which system uses the advantages of surface temperature control most efficiently? Underfloor heating or ceiling heating? In the following, the advantages and disadvantages of traditional underfloor heating and ceiling heating with BEKA capillary tube mats are compared.

Conventional underfloor heating

The market-defining technology of conventional hot water underfloor heating is now more than 60 years old and has accordingly been tried and tested. The systems available on the market do not differ significantly in terms of their technical solution. With all water-bearing underfloor heating systems, pipes are laid in a meander or spiral shape. The pipes are mostly made of plastic. The outside diameter of the tubes is 14 to 17 mm. The pipes are usually laid at a minimum of 150 mm.

The classic structure of this underfloor heating, unlike the low profile variant, usually has an installation height of at least 90 mm. A large part of this is made up of the heated screed close to the surface, which protects the insulation below against traffic loads. The heating pipes are located in the insulation layer. A typical underfloor heating structure looks like this:

Ceiling Heating and Underfloor Heating in Comparison (1)

Ceiling heating with capillary tube mats

Ceiling heating has its largest market share in new office buildings. But ceiling heating is also increasingly being used in hospitals, industrial buildings and private homes. This is also due to the additional function of the ceiling cooling, which creates pleasantworking and living conditions even in summer.

The ceiling heating with capillary tube mats is characterized by a tight network of 3.35 mm thin capillary tubes. The wall thickness of the capillary tubes is 0.5 mm or 0.8 mm. The capillary tube mats can either be attached to the ceiling structure and thinly plastered, or they can be hung in drywall constructions. Furthermore, capillary tube mats can also be integrated in metal cassettes.

Comparison criteria

Indoor air flow

The underfloor heating transfers the heat into the room through around 60% radiation and 40% convection (warm air rises upwards). The people in the room also absorb heat directly through the contact between their feet and the floor. The convection (air movement) in the room leads to the vertical transport of suspended matter and germs from the floor to the living area. The germ-contaminated air flow in the room can irritate the respiratory tract and the mucous membranes, similar to classic radiator heating. In addition, not all people perceive the warmth on their feet as being pleasant over the long term. Depending on the flow temperature and duration, the heat from below can become a strain on the blood vessels of the feet and legs.

The thermodynamic connection “warm air rises upwards - cold air falls downwards” is not the driving force behind the warming of ceiling heating. The heat is mainly brought into the room via radiant heat from the ceiling. The heat transfer through convection is much lower with ceiling heating than with underfloor heating. This leads to less dust turbulence and fewer allergens in the room air. This is another reason why more and more hospitals are opting for heating and cooling ceilings.

Despite the high proportion of radiant heat, the heating output of the ceiling is sufficient to completely heat the room. New buildings and modernized houses have a low heat requirement of a maximum of 60 W / m² or less. Objects in the room and all areas surrounding the room are heated evenly by the heat rays from the ceiling heating. This creates a feeling of cosiness and constant warmth comfort.

Reaction speed

The heating screed above the heating pipes builds up a thermal resistance that counteracts efficient heat dissipation into the room. If the temperature changes briefly, the underfloor heating usually only reacts after 5 hours and later. If not so much heat is needed in the room, then the screed heats up as a "heat store". Even complex control systems can only partially compensate for the sluggishness of the underfloor heating. Depending on the floor covering, this problem is exacerbated.

The thin capillary tube mats lie just below the surface to be tempered. This means that the ceiling heating can react quickly and be precisely regulated. After less than 15 minutes, the new temperature is set on the ceiling surface and the heating process begins.

The room surfaces absorb the heat and act as a heat store. So it doesn't matter if some heat is lost when the windows are opened briefly to ventilate the room. The room is then quickly back to the desired temperature.


Conventional underfloor heating with heated screed is rarely suitable for modernization. The installation height leads to inconsistent floor heights and tripping hazards, especially when retrofitting individual rooms. In addition, the room height is reduced by the construction height. The considerable additional load of approx. 110 kg / m2 which is applied to the existing ceiling must also be taken into account with this construction.

Ceiling heating can be retrofitted comparatively easily. The ceiling is usually freely accessible and, especially in old buildings, sufficient room heights remain despite the suspended ceiling. Dry construction systems are particularly suitable for retrofitting. The capillary tube mats are either suspended or, in the variant, can be screwed onto the CD support profiles as a pre-assembled element. The supply lines are in the area between the original ceiling and the drywall construction.

Energy efficiency

The energy efficiency of a heating system is directly dependent on the flow temperature of the system. The lower the system-specific flow temperature, the less additional energy has to be used to achieve the desired room temperature. A low flow temperature saves energy. In addition, a low flow temperature enables more efficient use of ambient heat and other regenerative energy sources.

Due to the thermal resistance of heated screed and floor covering, the flow temperature of conventional underfloor heating, depending on the installation distance and the floor covering, is 40 ° C and more.

Due to the location of the capillary tubes directly on the surface, the BEKA ceiling heating, on the other hand, manages with a flow temperature of 30 ° C in order to heat a room sufficiently. The savings potential is directly dependent on the energy source. When using a brine-water heat pump, for example, a flow temperature of 10 ° C lower can mean a 40% reduction in electricity costs.

In addition, due to the large number of capillary tubes that are only 10-15mm apart, the heat is distributed very evenly over the entire ceiling surface. This is not only verifiable with thermographic recordings, but can also be felt very well.

Ceiling Heating and Underfloor Heating in Comparison (4)

Ceiling heating - additional benefit through cooling function

The ceiling heating can also be used as a cooling ceiling in summer. For cooling operation, cold water at approx. 16 ° C is sufficient that a reversible heat pump can provide it. With the appropriate control technology, dew formation on the ceiling surface is reliably excluded. The cooling through the ceiling is very pleasant. The function of the cooling ceiling is many times more effective than cooling via the floor. It is noiseless and also significantly more energy-efficient than ventilation cooling.


Conventional underfloor heatingCeiling heating with capillary tube mats
Heating energy consumption / flow temperature
Suitability for heat pump technology
Suitability for solar energy use
Responsive heating
Construction height
Suitable for modernization
Healthy and pleasant room climate
Dual use of heating and cooling
Investment costs

Detailed system comparison with additional information on economy and corrosion behavior [PDF]

Ceiling Heating vs Underfloor Heating

System comparison

Conventional underfloor heating vs ceiling heating with capillary tube mats [451 KB]

Systems: ceiling heating with capillary tube mats

Heating / cooling ceiling plaster

Drywall ceiling

Metal coffered ceiling

Ceiling Heating and Underfloor Heating in Comparison (2024)


Is it better to put a heater on the floor or a ceiling? ›

The heat transfer through convection is much lower with ceiling heating than with underfloor heating. This leads to less dust turbulence and fewer allergens in the room air. This is another reason why more and more hospitals are opting for heating and cooling ceilings.

Is underfloor heating enough to heat a house? ›

In fact, underfloor heating will easily provide all your heating requirements. The important thing to keep in mind though is that there are several different types of underfloor heating, and not all are designed as your primary home heating source.

What is the downside of underfloor heating? ›

Disadvantages of Underfloor Heating

Due to systems being a lot larger and more complex, installation times are also a lot longer than that of traditional heating systems. As underfloor heating operates at a low temperature, it will inevitably take longer to heat the room from the bottom to the top.

How efficient is radiant heat in the ceiling? ›

This primary heating system provides uniform heat distribution and is easily installed by stapling to the underside of the ceiling joists and is an ultra- high energy efficient system which is 100 % efficient! Radiant Ceiling Heat is available in rolls.

What is the biggest disadvantage of ceiling electric heat panels? ›

Uneven Heat

Also with the heat produced at the ceiling instead of the floor the room can appear to be cool at the lower levels, causing a sensation of only having the top of the body heated.

How much hotter is the ceiling than the floor? ›

However, according to Energy Star, the air temperature at the ceiling can sometimes be three to four degrees warmer than the air near the floor of a room, which is similar to the difference between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

What is the life expectancy of underfloor heating? ›

The running costs are generally far lower for UFH than radiators. It's worth noting too that underfloor heating systems have a lifespan of 50 years plus, while the average radiator will only last between 8-12 years before becoming inefficient.

Is underfloor heating enough for winter? ›

It is advised that in the depths of winter, an underfloor heating system should be kept on at all times. Although it should be at different temperatures depending on usage and activity in the house. This is because underfloor heating can take two to three hours to warm up, so it is best to not completely turn it off.

Do I need a thermostat in every room with underfloor heating? ›

Heating the rooms you are in only when you are in them is a simple way to drastically cut heating costs. The key to making this a possibility is having a thermostat control in each room of your home. With a thermostat in each room, there are many things you can do with the unit to cut energy cost.

Can I put furniture on top of underfloor heating? ›

Yes furniture can be placed over areas with underfloor heating. However if it is furniture that is large and most likely to always be in the same place, it is a good idea to include it so this area is avoided in your design.

How often does underfloor heating go wrong? ›

It is true to say that electric underfloor heating is a very simple heating cable and very rarely goes wrong if it is installed and set up correctly. Most issues that do arise can be narrowed down to settings changes on the thermostat or simple electrical or lifestyle changes.

Is it cheaper to leave underfloor heating on constantly? ›

Basically, your home will heat up to a comfortable temperature faster. So, whilst it won't necessarily be cheaper to leave your underfloor heating on for a sustained period initially, it could lead to long-term savings.

What is the cheapest way of heating a house? ›

Natural gas is likely to prove the cheapest way to heat a home if you have this heating option available to you where you live. Although prices have risen, natural gas is the least costly form of space heating. This is followed by electricity, propane, and heating oil, from the next cheapest to the most expensive.

How long does radiant ceiling heat last? ›

Electric radiant heating b electric radiant heating uses electric cables to generate heat. The component most likely to breakdown in this system is the cable itself. On average, these cables can last 20 years or more, outside of sustaining some kind of damage.

Is ceiling heating any good? ›

Unlike floor heating or wall heating, ceiling heating can emit warmth without any obstacles getting in the way, and is not blocked by thick carpets or large items of furniture. If the days and nights get hot during the summer, the same system in the ceiling can be used to cool down the room.

Where is the best place to put a heater? ›

Whether this is where the kids play video games or where you relax after a long day at work, make sure you place your heater in the room with you – regardless of which floor it is on. A heater in an empty basem*nt will slowly allow the warmth to seep up, but it's far better just to put one in your bedroom.

Where is the best place to place a heater? ›

Fan heaters work best on an inside wall; baseboard are best under a window. (But you can install fan heaters on outside walls and baseboards on inside walls.)

Why is it best to place a heater on the floor? ›

A heater makes a room warmer by convection currents . The cold air comes down to get heat from heater and warm air (convection currents) lifts up in the room . If heater is placed at a height , then cold air below this height will not be heated by heater therefore it is installed near he floor of room.

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