Sporting challenge

A Royal appointment — the Queen officially opens the new hall of St John’s Beaumont School, with heating provided by a Nor-Ray-Vac continuous radiant-tube heating system

Sports halls in educational establishments are multi-functional spaces and need a heating system that can respond accordingly. Nick Winton explains why radiant heating is so far ahead of the competition.

In the UK, educational establishments spend more than £400 million every year on heating costs alone. The most challenging, and often most costly, area to heat is the sports hall. However, with the correct heating system, even the most complex requirements can be met at a cost that won’t break the bank.

In schools, colleges and universities, the sports hall is used for a number of purposes — from examinations to events and performances. Heating for modern sports halls must address the needs of stationary users as well as those involved in sporting activity. This is where many conventional heating systems fall short.

Fundamentally very different to all other rooms within the facility, the vast open space proves a challenge to heat adequately whilst ensuring sufficient heat coverage. To achieve the universal comfort required and deliver low energy consumption, the heating system must:

• rapidly respond to changing conditions;

• offer energy economy;

• provide ‘zonal’ heating for areas in use;

• operate at low noise levels;

• complement, and not compromise, the fabric of the building

Traditional boiler and radiator systems do not offer the flexibility or speed of response needed for use in contemporary sports halls. In these large and cavernous spaces the possibility of waste is also much higher. So the need for an efficient and economical heating solution is even more evident.

Efficiency and economy doesn’t have to mean a reduction in performance or comfort, however. The ideal solution would be to strike the perfect balance between cost cutting and providing optimum conditions for every circumstance.

With EU and UK legislation becoming more stringent, modern heating systems also need to deliver outstanding fuel efficiency and greatly reduced gas emissions.

So what is the solution?

For energy efficiency, radiant-tube heating meets the challenge. Working in the same way as the Sun, the emitted infrared rays will heat only people and objects — not space. This approach is ideal for providing a comfortable environment for active and stationary occupants, whilst delivering exceptional fuel economy.

By burning fuel at the point of use, radiant-tube heaters also prevent heat-distribution losses and remove the need for a separate plant area. Radiant tubes are effective shortly after being switched on, providing a warm and welcoming environment in just a few minutes — so as well as reduced energy losses, time wasted is also minimised.

As they are mounted at height, the heaters are kept away from the use of sports equipment and are kept a suitable distance from physical contact. For additional peace of mind, they can be fitted with protective grilles to prevent damage being caused by balls or other flying objects.

Sports halls, or any halls of a large scale, can greatly reduce energy consumption without negatively affecting comfort with the simple addition of a radiant-tube heating system. As well as the short-term benefit, the system also achieves significant savings in fuel consumption and cost.

Students are taking advantage of the £2 million state of the art sports centre at St. John’s Beaumont School in Old Windsor, equipped with a Nor-Ray-Vac continuous radiant-tube heating system from AmbiRad. The system is proving extremely successful in educational facilities and has been installed in more than 800 sports facilities throughout the UK.

For multi-purpose sports halls, such as those in schools and colleges, the Nor-Ray-Vac system is the ideal solution. In fact, the advanced system can warm different areas according to need, keeping spectators warm and sports teams cool during athletic fixtures.

To control the heating provision so accurately, the system relies on a SmartCom3 controller. The specialised micro-processor lets users control heating provision precisely, ensuring that the sports hall can be flexibly heated to meet any need, from sporting events to concerts and school balls.

The heating at St John’s Beaumont was based around two radiant branches of the Nor-Ray-Vac system. Each branch comprised a 32LR and 24LR burner. Capable of delivering excellent fuel savings of up to 60% on alternative methods, they burn the fuel at point of use to eliminate wasteful heat distribution.

The radiant-tube heating has met the challenge of heating the large sports hall and provides the school with an energy-efficient cost-effective and highly usable climate control system that is proving to be the top choice with specifiers across the UK.

Nick Winton is with AmbiRad.

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