If end users weren’t already worried about soaring energy prices, the recent announcements in price hikes of almost 10% from the big providers will certainly have focused minds. The large leap in annual bills for commercial operations will surely speed the demand for more energy efficient appliances and this can only be good news for installers who will be on the front line for supply of efficient water heating solutions.
At the same time, before any capital investment in a new system is made, serious considerations about lifetime cost and quality engineering need to be undertaken. The end user needs to take on board that a quality built system that uses only the best components available and is precision engineered, technically advanced and fit for purpose should be the defining criteria and any thought of buying on price alone should very swiftly be forgotten. And simply replacing like with like, albeit a newer version may not be the best way to cut running costs and satisfy future regulatory demands.
So what should installers and ultimately end users be looking for when specifying an energy efficient water heater? Ideally, a commercial water heating solution that is technically complete from project conception, through to commissioning and beyond.
Eyes are now increasingly turning towards continuous flow condensing gas fired water heaters to achieve these goals. Highly engineered and reliable versions in heavy duty and condensing models are now on the market and they not only promise to deliver a never ending supply of hot water on demand but they are also guarantee to save large amounts of money over the lifetime of the installation.
Installers and end users must look beyond the basic appliance. The best products are packed with sophisticated electronics and use highly specified components that are unlikely to fail.
Quality, heavy duty condensing water heaters designed to be fit for purpose use two heat exchangers to capture residual heat from flue gases to pre-heat incoming water, and can deliver up to 107% net efficiency. Burners on superior units use down firing pre-mix technology to increase combustion efficiency.
The design of the water heater, components and the engineering itself must be of the highest quality available. It pays to take a good look inside the casing to see the quality of water heater design and to ensure the appliance isn’t a re-engineered combi-boiler. If looking inside the appliance is difficult look for other tell-tale signs like warranty periods as the best manufacturers will offer up to five years minimum. A major problem with appliances that are built on price is that they are not rigorously tested for commercial water heating, and the wrong selection could result in high cost future repair bills.
A very basic principle is the casing design itself as this must be designed appropriately – not like a cut and shut engineered in a back street garage – housing the main components of the system in a low grade stainless steel coffin, as a crass method of making the system room-sealed.
It should also be secured with screws, not spring clips as these almost certainly will fail, eliminating the airtight seal. With a casing that isn’t airtight, performance will fail.
A technologically advanced PCB system ensures intelligent functionality including temperature accurate hot water delivery; gas modulation guaranteeing efficient gas usage; numerous safety features for user comfort and control as well as error messaging and BMS interfacing. On a quality unit, the circuit board itself will be cased in silicone as a fail-safe so that in the unlikely event of a leak the ‘brains’ of the unit are protected.
Installers should choose a unit from a proven manufacturer that has the confidence to offer a three to five year parts and labour guarantee on its goods rather than two years.