Heating — the evolution

boiler, space heating, Remeha Commercial
Drawing on the expertise of manufacturers — Mark Northcott.

Advances in heating technology and the increased uptake of renewable energy solutions place growing importance on the role of the manufacturer in advising on smart system design, and the correct selection of product is more important than ever. Mark Northcott, of Remeha Commercial explains.

There has not been a more technologically varied and challenging time for the building-services industry than in recent years as manufacturers respond to Government targets and initiatives to encourage more efficient use of energy with a wide range of greener, smarter and cleaner heating solutions.

From renewable technologies such as biomass and heat pumps to new models of high-efficiency condensing boilers, with the additional option of heat-recovery devices and controls, there now exists a potentially bewildering gamut of products from which to choose.

The challenge for consultants and specifiers is to select the right products that together will meet the individual requirements of each business and its budget — and deliver the best possible efficiencies. For advice in achieving the best possible results from a product, there is no person better qualified than the manufacturer.

Take renewables, for example. As the UK prepares to move towards a low-carbon future, it is important we begin to increase our supply of energy from renewable sources where possible and improve the technology that allows us to do this. This means addressing all the components in the heating system and ensuring that each works at its full potential.

At present, most renewable technologies such as heat pumps or solar-thermal heating systems depend on a gas-fired condensing boiler for reliable delivery of heating in peak demands. For bivalent systems like this to deliver maximum seasonal efficiency over the course of the year, it is essential to combine the renewable technology with the appropriate boiler. This is where manufacturers can support consultants in selecting the correct boiler for the smartest bivalent system design. In fact, enlightened manufacturers are a step ahead, designing ‘renewable-ready’ boilers that are specially designed to work with renewable technologies in bivalent systems Examples include Remeha’s Gas 310/610 and 210 Eco Pro models, which have an optional low-level secondary return feature for this purpose.

Using renewable technology for sustainable heating is not always an option, of course, often due to the existing heating system or the nature of the building itself. The UK has a particularly large proportion of old buildings, many with old, hugely wasteful boilers that need replacing if we are to reduce our energy consumption, meet our carbon reduction targets and make significant fuel savings.

Two air-source heat pumps and four Remeha Quinta Pro condensing boilers provide space heating for the refurbished St Michael’s Care Home & Convent. Flow/return temperatures are 45/35°C to maximise the efficiency of the heat pumps and the boilers.

In such buildings, upgrading the existing heating system is often the only real and affordable solution, especially where access is difficult and lengthy disruption detrimental to a business’s operation. In such cases, the gas-fired condensing boiler often provides the most appropriate solution.

Condensing boilers have evolved considerably over the years to make refurbishment projects quicker and easier to carry out. Manufacturers can help assess which model of boiler is best suited for a particular project, from the smallest and lightest that can fit into any existing space or through any doorway to ones that are supplied on wheels for easy manoeuvrability.

Where space is an issue, manufacturers might recommend a skid-mounted boiler package with the smallest possible footprint, making it possible to place a higher-capacity system in a smaller space. If installation time is the issue, cascade sets simplify the connecting of boilers. Manufacturers can also advise on the appropriate controls to add to a particular model of boiler that will help deliver more usable energy and maximise its efficiency.

More recent advances have produced high-efficiency boilers that incorporate heat-recovery systems to deliver even greater energy savings. Our Quinta Eco Plus is one such system, using passive flue gas heat recovery technology to deliver an efficiency of 97% GCV at 82/71°C flow/return temperatures.

Quick and easy installation is an important criterion for manufacturers when designing new heating systems, so many will be pre-plumbed and pre-configured or able to be fitted in a cascade system to meet the requirements of the building. Manufacturers can offer advice on whether such a heating system is suitable for a particular project, or make suggestions for cost-effective split-load system designs that combine ‘super-condensing’ systems with a conventional boiler.

With the introduction of so many new heating technologies and options, the role of manufacturers must continue to evolve to support consultants and specifiers in product selection and system design if our products are to deliver the maximum efficiencies and optimum results for each individual project.

Mark Northcott is managing director of Remeha.

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