While most people in the UK have heard of underfloor heating, ceiling heating is far less well-known. Originating in Scandinavia, where their use is more widespread, heated ceilings are a fairly recent arrival on the UK heating market. A range of models are available, and some systems even have a cooling function for use in hot weather. Others have handy features such as remote control by wifi. But is this kind of system compatible with the property you need to heat? Is a ceiling heater a must-have item for your home?
What is a heated ceiling?
Unlike underfloor heating, which heats a room from the ground up, this discreet kind of heater is mounted onto the ceiling and works by releasing heat into the air from above. In fact, the system is inspired by the way the sun heats the earth. A ceiling heater operates in a very similar way to underfloor heating.
There are two main categories of ceiling mounted heating:
- Hydraulic ceiling heaters
- Electric radiant ceiling heaters (also known as infrared)
So, which is the best choice for your home?
What type of heated ceiling should you choose for your home?
How does a hydraulic ceiling heating system work?
A hydraulic heated ceiling works in the same way as hydraulic underfloor heating. It’s a ceiling mounted network of pipes, with water heated to a low temperature circulating through it. The entire network connects to a device which heats the water, either your boiler or your heat pump.
If it’s connected to a reversible heat pump, a hydraulic heated ceiling can also be reversible and you can use it for cooling the room in which it’s installed during hot weather.
How does a radiant or infrared ceiling mounted heating system work?
There are two types of infrared heated ceilings on the market, involving either plasterboard panels or modules mounted onto a frame.
A plasterboard radiant ceiling is a panel-based system made up of heating panels as well as plasterboard panels that enclose the false ceiling in which the heating panels are installed. The plasterboard also provides insulation.
A modular radiant ceiling uses heating modules mounted onto a metal frame with a decorative covering.
What are the advantages of a heated ceiling?
Although many people think that ceiling mounted heaters are less effective than an underfloor heating system, it's easy to debunk this misconception. Ceiling heaters actually provide thermal comfort similar to that offered by a heated floor, and some models can even be used for cooling a building in hot weather. Now we’ve cleared up that little misunderstanding, let’s list the range of advantages that ceiling heating has to offer:
- More “direct” heat than with underfloor heating because there's nothing in the way to obstruct the heat, like an item of furniture for example. A ceiling heater quickly heats the room where you install it, so the air reaches the desired temperature in a short time (about half an hour)
- Gentle and steady heat in the home, so it's easy to ensure thermal comfort for residents
- Ceiling heaters are suitable for installation in new homes and they are also compatible with older properties that need renovating
- This type of heating is easy to use and very low maintenance
- Almost no wasted space because the false ceiling used is usually quite thin, making for a discreet solution
- By fitting a reversible ceiling heating system, you'll find it easy to maintain thermal comfort in summer and winter alike.
Are there any disadvantages to a heated ceiling?
Although ceiling heaters have many advantages, they're not without their drawbacks (like all types of heating, in fact)...
- The price of installation is higher than for other heating systems. You can expect to pay a price of a hundred euros per m2 for fitting and the necessary equipment.
- This type of system is not compatible with buildings that have low ceilings. You need a minimum ceiling height of 2.40 metres as the heat source needs to be far enough away from anyone using the room. If the ceiling is too low, residents may feel uncomfortably hot.
What is the price of a heated ceiling?
As we mentioned earlier in this article, the price of fitting a heated ceiling can be quite high. If you’re really keen to buy this type of heating and you need to keep costs as low as possible, bear in mind that installing a hydraulic ceiling heating system will cost you more than an infrared heated ceiling.
For a hydraulic ceiling heating system, prices range from €90 to €110/m2 including fitting.
For an infrared heating system, the price of installation is around €70 to €90/m2.
How do I install a heated ceiling?
Installing a heating ceiling is not easy. We recommend hiring a professional to fit your ceiling heaters, whether they're electric or hydraulic, panel or module-based.
Important: if there’s a room above the one where you’ve installed your ceiling heaters, you must make sure the space is as well insulated as possible to avoid heat loss. More generally, you should make a point of insulating your property in order to heat your space efficiently and save money.
For an easy way to control your heating precisely and use less energy, choose the Netatmo Smart Thermostat, a wifi-based, programmable solution which gives you remote control of the temperature in your house using your smartphone.
Is there any financial support available for ceiling heating installations?
Although there are no specific schemes for ceiling heaters, choosing a heated ceiling helps you to improve your home’s energy efficiency, so you might be eligible for financial support to help with the cost of fitting one. The support measures available include:
- Government schemes available for vulnerable and low-income households, such as the Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) in England or the Warmer Homes programme in Scotland
- The Energy Company Obligation: help for low-income families from energy suppliers
- 0% VAT on the installation of energy-saving technology (until 31 March 2027)
- Energy efficiency loans available through Lendology, a not-for-private-profit Community Interest Company
Although ceiling heating is a latecomer to the UK heating market, a ceiling heater can be a worthwhile item for your home. Ceiling heating offers a range of advantages, including thermal comfort. Before deciding whether to opt for this kind of heating system, carry out an analysis of your property to make sure it's compatible (space, insulation, etc.) and think about how much you want to spend on fitting. Picking the best ceiling heater isn't always easy, but the right solution can ensure thermal comfort for years to come!