Dave Cox, left, general manager of Mikrofill, explains to Paul Braithwaite why the company’s high performance Ethos boiler is just right for the domestic market – and is backing it with a new company and a marketing spend
MIKROFILL is entering the domestic market with a new company, Ethos Boilers, and a new range of high performance domestic boilers called Ethos.
Well, not quite a new range!
David Cox, general manager of Mikrofill, says the company has been supplying a 46kW combination boiler to the commercial market for a number of years. It is about half the size of other combination boilers of that capacity, says Dave.
Some commercial installers are not even using the boiler's DHW facility, (it can be disarmed) they just like the fact they can offer an affordable, compact 42kW of heating power in a fully modulating condensing wall-hung boiler.
'What we found rather early on is that we had a SEDBUK A-rated combination boiler which was capable of delivering 21 litres of hot water a minute and its nearest rival in the domestic market delivered around 15 litres.'
David adds that more and more domestic installers were realising that this boiler's performance was phenomenal.
'It was all word of mouth. Mikrofill was concentrating on the larger commercial boilers, making sure the company and its products were ready for the change in building regulations last year by bringing on the new high output condensing range with the smaller combination boiler being part of our second stage development, he maintains.
'But, slowly and surely, we were becoming involved in the domestic market, albeit the specialist end.'
When the take-up of these boilers forced Mikrofill to notice what was going on, it began to look at this specialist sector.
David says the company then undertook market research and discussed combination boilers with installers and customers alike, asked their opinions and discussed the problems.
The traditional domestic combi has a pump and expansion vessel within the casing; this makes the casing quite large.
Mikrofill's approach was to omit the expansion vessel, which is a typically commercial approach. This makes the boiler very compact and allows for correct sizing of the expansion vessel in relation to the system water content.
Mikrofill has put together four kits with expansion vessels from 12 litres up to 35 litres, plus a safety valve and filling loop.
'The kits cater for the varied size of heating system for which the boiler could be used, from a small house or apartment to a commercial factory unit.'
Most modern combination boilers are more than capable of giving 30kW or 40kW of heating load but there is a higher volume of water contained in a heating system of 40 kW serving a commercial building than in a small house and consequently the boiler needs a larger expansion vessel.
The average 10-litre expansion vessel inside most domestic combination boilers would not be adequate to cope with the expansion of larger heating systems. 'Now installers can be reassured they have a correctly-sized expansion vessel for the system the boiler is serving.'
David says the combination boiler has always been a compromise.
'It is easier to install - no open vents, no storage tanks or cylinders, no pipework in loft spaces, no burst problems - and has the advantage of where it could be sited compared with a floor-standing boiler, but DHW production was always a compromise.'
Mikrofill has, in the Ethos, a boiler which has the power to supply several taps at once with no drop in the flow rate or the temperature.
'We decided this boiler was so good that we could not just tag it on to our commercial enterprise. It had to be sold correctly to the domestic market.'
Mikrofill felt that it deserved its own identity. Hence the creation of Ethos Boilers. And for the new company, the boiler is even better.
The new Ethos 54C gives 54kW of power to the domestic hot water side and will also give up to 42kW to the heating side.
'And the flow rate has been increased to 25 ltrs/minute.'
David believes that this is the highest DHW flow rate from any wall-mounted combination boiler on the UK market. Considerable interest has already been shown by builders for their executive house/apartment projects.
To complete the initial product portfolio there is also a 36kW version and the 54C will have a system variation to feed a cylinder. There will be a range of Rapide unvented stainless steel cylinders with capacities of between 100litres and 500litres in 100, 150, 200, 300 and 500litre versions.
'Compared with many of the domestic cylinders on the market, these boilers have very high recovery rates.'
There is also a range of accessories for the 54C, such as open therm controls (Bus protocol), time clock, room thermostat and weather compensation kit. The boilers are to be distributed through a series of specialist outlets.
The 54C is already in stock, says David, because Mikrofill has a commitment to satisfy its existing commercial installers.
Two members of the new Ethos Boilers team are already on board.
Keith Bevan, is the new technical manager and sales manager is Nick Bailey.
The company is already talking to domestic plumbing publications, and this month it will launch a trade press advertising campaign and new website: ethosboilers.com
The product will also be on show at domestic exhibitions such as the Homes & Renovations show at the NEC in March.
'I believe you should expect more from a combi and this is a combi that for once actually delivers,' adds Dave.
Ethos, a combi which actually delivers