Gearing up for savings
John Guest are well known in the industry for their unique Speedfit push fit connection system, but two new products which they have recently launched will take the company in a new direction as they enter the controls market.
Founded in 1960, John Guest is still a family owned company and has built up a strong reputation for the manufacture and distribution of push-in fittings, pipe and plastic plumbing systems. But like any company they are constantly looking for new ways to penetrate the market and provide energy efficient solutions to meet the needs of the industry.
In the current climate we hear a lot about the benefits of a good control system to help save energy and more and more companies are looking at ways to incorporate this technology into their products. John Cowling, Marketing Services Manager for John Guest says: “We already have a very successful product range in the form of Speedfit pipe and fittings but we felt that we could add value to our products by introducing a control system which would complete the package which we are offering to our customers.”
The new product comes in the form of the Network Controlled Underfloor Heating System which differs from a normal underfloor heating system in that the electrical components are networked together using computer network cable which carries signals between a wiring centre and all the components.
This basically means that you have direct control of the system from a Touchpad Controller or PC and in addition you can access the system remotely via the internet or mobile phone.
The key to any good system is ensuring that it is set up correctly in the first place but in this case it is very easy because the room thermostats are self learning and therefore they will soon learn to delay the heating start up until the last possible moment to ensure the building will be comfortably warm at the programmed time. This also helps to avoid unnecessary energy consumption which is a key factor if you are looking to make savings.
The thermostats have the facility to connect to two remote probes that will extend up to 20 metres from the thermostat; these are used to sense air temperature in rooms where the presence of an electrical device could be a problem ie in a wet room or bathroom. The probes can also be laid in a floor to control temperature if overheating could cause damage to a floor finish.
If you’re not keen on just using the thermostats to control your system then you’re in for a pleasant surprise because the clever part of this system is the Wiring Centre which offers a simple solution for the control of the network system. Thermostats, hot water, radiator circuits, actuators, boiler and pump connections can all be wired to one central base providing individual control for up to eight zones plus hot water.
The JG Speedfit Touchpad is another part of the system designed to help with those all important energy savings. It features an easy touch screen control for up to 32 heating zones and enables the user to program 24 hour settings for each thermostat, allowing easy identification of each thermostat in the network and the ability to remotely program the comfort levels of all thermostats from one central location. The Touchpad also has the option of being able to control the hot water and radiator circuits.
John says: “The Touchpad ensures that the system is running at the optimum level and enables the user to have complete control over the system. In addition because it incorporates a History setting, the user can view the hours of heat usage over the previous four weeks or a temperature graph for the previous 24 hours.”
To make the system even easier to use there are a number of software options which give control of the Underfloor Heating System using a PC that has been loaded with network software. This basically allows the user direct control via a USB connection or indirect control from a remote location using an Ethernet adaptor and the internet.
There are two software packages. One can be used to control up to 32 network thermostats while a more sophisticated package will allow for control of up to 900 thermostats, making the system suitable for hotels, nursing homes, schools and any other situations where the temperature of the facility needs to be controlled from a central location.
An alternative way of providing remote control via the internet is to use the Speedfit Net Monitor System which allows the user to communicate over the internet from a PC without the need to install specialist software.
Completing the system
One of the main concerns with any new package is that you have to buy each of the individual parts from a different supplier which can sometimes cause problems at the installation stage. But that’s not the case here. John says: “We were always very conscious that we needed to offer a complete package and we are able to use our expertise gained in the plumbing and heating market to offer a range of manifolds and pipe.
“A unique feature here is that all of the connections to the heating pipes are Speedfit Push Fit which offer a reduction in installation time and thus provide huge benefits to the installer. The fact that we can offer a complete package also means that the installer does not have to worry about connectivity because the entire system has been tested to ensure it does exactly what is required.”
Energy Saver Plus
The second new product to enter the market is the Energy Saver Plus package. Previously thought to be just a domestic solution, the benefits are now being explored in the commercial world as a means to cut energy usage.
In the past it was typical for a centralised room thermostat to be used to control conventional heating systems, switching the boiler on and off in response to the temperature demanded by that single thermostat. When the centralised room thermostat is satisfied, the whole system will be switched off, so there is no means of providing heat to other rooms in the premises.
The Energy Saver Plus package is a manifold system which enables each radiator to have its own individual hot water supply. For ease of plumbing, a hot water cylinder can also be coupled to the manifold.
Energy saving electrical controls can then be installed, enabling the user to set time and temperature control in each zone to suit individual use. The thermostats in the system are linked back to a Speedfit Wiring Centre that in turn will open or close the actuator valves on the manifold, giving every room or zone independent control of time and temperature. The Wiring Centre will also turn the boiler and system pump on in response to a demand for heat from an individual room or rooms.
There is a wide selection of electrical controls available for the system to suit every need, regardless of the type of installation and these include programmable and digital room thermostats and a non electrical probe for use where an electrical device could be a problem i.e. a shower room. The probe can also be used where tampering may be a problem.
John says: “This is a very simple and easy to use package but at the same time it can have massive benefits for the end user. With the ever increasing cost of fuel we need to find as many ways as possible to make savings. By using this system you can ensure that you are only heating the rooms that are in use and therefore reducing not only your fuel bills but also your carbon emissions – a very important factor to consider as we all strive to meet the Government targets.”
Everyone knows the name JG Speedfit because at some time we have all come into contact with their push fit connection system. But with the introduction of these two new packages they are able to offer a whole solution. The commercial world is really only just beginning to realise the full benefits of controls to meet the energy saving targets and therefore these two new products have come at the right time – it’s certainly worth taking a look to see if they could work for you.