Elinor Robinson, director at RadiWarm, explains how home heating can be made simple.
When simple, efficient heating is needed but extending the main gas pipes system is not practical or cost-effective, builders look for alternative solutions. This is often the case for home extensions, loft conversions and conservatories. Or if a new garden room needs a heat source but it is not practical to dig up the lawn to lay pipes and landscape it again afterwards.
Whilst its true electric storage, fan or bar heaters, are cheap and simple to install and require no plumbing, they often create a drying and inconsistent heat. Thankfully a better solution is a water-filled pipeless electric radiator with the advantage that it provides a controllable and comfortable radiated heat.
These radiators arrive ready for use, filled with specially treated water and fully sealed. They don’t require plumbing, flushing, bleeding or topping-up. In RadiWarm’s case, the patented built-in boiler inside the radiator gives the same heat quality as a gas central heating system. Its radiators use a Type 22 industry standard shell – two layers encasing two layers of fins – for the best convection efficiency. Once wall-mounted on their brackets, the radiators are simply plugged into a standard British electrical 3-prong socket.
They are useful in any extension where the existing gas boiler may not have capacity to heat more radiators. We have found them used in house refurbishments when the owner’s intention is to rent the property out. They are a heat source that is highly controllable and needs almost no maintenance. They can be used for a whole house, but more usually they just augment an existing heating system.
Clients will obviously want to know about the on-going controllability of water-filled radiators with future heating bills in mind. Electric radiators are often managed using a manual thermostat or a radio frequency controller (RFC) that can control one or several radiators, with a variety of settings. RadiWarm offers a control system enabling users to manage their heating remotely over the internet from anywhere. A gateway device plugs into the home router so heating can be zoned, programmed and operated from a central point. Then using the proprietary Smart Controller web-based app through a PC, tablet or mobile, heating can be matched to any lifestyle need.
The belief remains that using electricity for heating is worse for the environment than gas. But that is changing thanks to the publication of the government’s Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) 10 which updates the assumptions underpinning the amount of carbon that electricity produces. Under the new and more accurate calculations, it turns out that the amount of carbon emissions electricity produces is very similar to gas.
Portable fan heaters can be bought for as little as about £15. They are cheap compared to pipeless radiators – prices start around £300 – £400 + VAT. But the uncomfortable heat of fan heaters and the greater expense of running one all day suggest that they are a false economy.
Another way to supplement an existing gas system is underfloor heating. It’s popular and produces a comfortable heat throughout the room. Like pipeless radiators, installation is simpler than extending gas pipes. But there are complications with underfloor heating. All three main types (staple systems, system plates and panel systems) require boiler connections and electrical expertise. Even with the simplest panel systems, where they are laid on top of the floor rather than integrated within it, there is additional work to trim skirting boards and doors.
A client asked us to recommend heating for a garage that was being converted to a “man cave”. It had electricity already but it was not worth the expense of extending the property’s gas pipes. A tall narrow pipeless radiator was the right solution and was neatly slotted in between shelves and cabinets.
A dining room in a family home with only a single radiator had insufficient warmth. But as it was infrequently used, a pipeless radiator was recommended rather than ripping the floor up to extend the gas heating system. The client liked it because it was a simple solution and it looked just like all the other radiators.
Know your walls
Pipeless water-filled radiators are heavy so they come with strong bolts and brackets. Solid walls are ideal, but they can be mounted on cavity walls too. Internal plasterboard walls present more challenges, which is why a disc bracket is offered to spread the weight.