From Smoke to Snug: Underfloor Heating’s Ancient Journey

Whilst underfloor heating may appear to be a modern product; with its popularity increasing yearly as new builds and refits become equipped with the latest systems. You might be surprised to learn the idea and practice dates all the way back to 5000BC, across land and sea to ancient Korea (present day North Korea).

The system was called an ‘ondol’ and was a raised masonry floor with horizontal smoke passages that passed underneath. The furnace that heated the passageways was primarily used for cooking, mainly rice, as it took a long time to cook. The ancient Koreans realised the potential of the wasted smoke and guided it underneath their rooms towards a chimney where it escaped into the atmosphere. Thus, encouraging the heat to be drawn under the flooring and providing warm underfloor heating.Korean Ondol by Dzihi underfloor heating

The diagram shows how the ondol system worked. Traditionally, the floors were topped with either stone or clay and an impervious layer of oiled paper. The paper acted as an ancient form of underlay, protecting the system underneath.

Ondols were used to warm various rooms in early Korean homes, as their way of life involved eating, sleeping and socialising on the floor. The system allowed for modern comfort in ancient times, the only drawback being that the fire was only burned sporadically and couldn’t be left on without supervision.

The ancient Greeks and Romans developed their own systems similar to the Koreans, some of which heated their famous baths, whose ruins still scatter the United Kingdom to this day.

Underfloor heating has come a long way since those days, but even the ancient Roman systems reportedly ran at a 90% efficiency rate.

Radiator Systems

Radiator systems, as we know them today, were introduced in the 1930’s. They heat to a very high temperature to warm rooms to an acceptable standard, due to the fact they have a small surface area and therefore need to produce much more heat before the benefits are felt across the entire room. This leads to a potentially more expensive and less efficient heating solution than underfloor heating systems, where the heat is spread evenly across the floor of the room.

In addition, as radiator heat rises, it can consequently lead to cold floors and hot heads, coupled with high amounts of moisture and dust mites in the room’s atmosphere, as a result of the convection current process used, as shown by the diagram below:radiator vs underfloor heating comparison snug underfloor heating

Complete Temperature Control with Snug Underfloor Heating

Snug electric and water underfloor systems allow for complete temperature control of each individual room in your home, and our easy-to-use SnugStat Smart Wi-Fi thermostat means you don’t have to leave the comfort of your room to light a fire outside to change the temperature, like in Ancient Korea, in fact you can control it from your Smart phone using the SnugStat App. For more information about the SnugStat App, available free on iOS and Android, click here.

Call our team today to find out more about the benefits of Snug Underfloor Heating and the best solution for your home on 01772 761333 or email

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