Shane Oxberry, MD of Renewable Equipment Solutions, explains how low temperature heating system upgrades act as an opportunity for merchants to sell more while also supporting the low carbon movement.

I have been fortunate to have been involved within the heating industry for the last 45 years, with the majority as an owner of a plumbing and heating merchant business.

In 2019 I diversified into renewables and RES now distribute and design heat pump systems along with underfloor heating to the merchant sector.

In my early days of merchanting, I remember selling full heating packs with boiler, radiators, cylinder, pipe, tanks etc. The sales order value was good and just as importantly the margin was good too. Many houses didn’t have central heating. Slowly the market has saturated and today sales orders are more about replacement boilers at low margins.

Every now and again some exciting opportunities emerge for the industry to capitalise on and none bigger than the low temperature heating systems required for us to tackle climate change and reduce carbon emissions.

I recently read a report by HHIC 'Heating up to net Zero, UK heating and hot water systems and how to prepare them for a greener future'. This is a great reference when endorsing low temperature heating systems and worth a read. I have no doubt that fully designed low temperature systems will become common place or industry standard as we replace fossil fuel boilers.

Old systems will have to be replaced ideally with a heat pump system, but what if that isn’t possible?

Many installers today will I am sure be taking calls from customers for possible boiler replacements and when talking to customers discuss the option of converting the heating system from a high temperature boiler to a heat pump system.

Clearly the cost implications can be sizable, even with some very attractive Government grants. Practically, heat pumps may not be suitable for several reasons also.

There is however a halfway position.

Replace the  fossil fuel boiler with a high efficiency modern boiler alongside a fully designed low temperature heat pump ready system, offering the householder, installer and importantly the merchant great benefits and opportunities.

For the householder, replacing the fossil fuel boiler with a modern condensing high efficiency version alongside a fully designed low temperature system means:

  • 50-degree flow temperatures
  • Greatly enhanced boiler efficiency
  • Lower fuel costs over the life of the boiler
  • Reduced carbon emissions. For some customers this is a main driver for replacing boilers.
  • Heat pump ready system for the future when heat pumps are more mainstream and may cost significantly less. The cost of upgrading is substantially less than a full heat pump system, but still reducing carbon emissions.

For the installer:

  • Replace the Boiler with a modern condensing version, easier solution
  • An opportunity to set your business apart, with a system that future proofs the home and may well guarantee the future opportunity of changing the boiler to a heat pump or other low temperature heat generator in years to come
  • To offer a low temperature heat pump ready system with increased pipe work, correctly sized radiators and modern controls increasing the project value and margin. The likelihood is that the existing system could be many years old and very much due for a complete refit. Low temperature systems are the reason to do it.

For the merchant:

  • Low temperature heating means an opportunity to reinvent your heating sales. When supplying a replacement boiler, it could mean a trip back down memory lane with vastly improved sales order values and margins.
  • Low temperature heating requires radiators with good heat outputs at 50-degree flow temperatures. Examples could be triple panel radiators, Aluminium radiators, or perhaps modern fan convectors.
  • Cylinders will need to have high gain coils and pipework will need to be larger to accommodate low temperature flow rates. New heating controls would be required.
  • Merchant radiator stock profiles may well need to change with higher heat output versions.

We are committed to supplying low temperature heating solutions including heat pumps and underfloor heating products. In addition, we have design facilities that include.

  • Room by room heat loss calculations
  • Radiator Sizing allowing for output correction factors
  • Pipework sizing, along with schematics.

We have an easy-to-use design service with a 24 hour turn around on designs. We take the hassle and worry out of system design, allowing you the merchant to offer real customer value.

If you are interested in a low temperature heating design or solution, we would love to hear from you.

Here is to a greener heating future.