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Commercial Heating: Go flexible with electric heating

With energy prices continuing to rise, it’s not just domestic users who are seeing fuel bills rocket. Occupiers of commercial buildings also need to take control of the heating systems to keep costs down. A good understanding of the full flexibility that electric heating offers can help with designing tailored and economical heating solutions, writes Karen Trewick, marketing communications manager at Dimplex, the electric space and water heating specialist.
THE problem with heating commercial premises is that the requirements of the owner and the demands of the occupants are not always the same. Owners want to keep the running costs as low as possible, while building occupants want a comfortable working environment and are less concerned about fuel bills.

However, with electric heating there is such a diverse range of products the demands of all parties can be met by tailoring the system to the building’s usage and requirements. It also offers the generic benefits of low capital cost, flexible installation, 100% efficiency at point of use and no need for annual maintenance.

Open Sesame

In commercial, industrial and retail premises, one of the greatest heating challenges is frequently opening doors, which waste energy and cause draughts, creating an unpleasant working environment for staff.

Commercial air curtains are the answer, creating an invisible barrier by forcing air downwards across the doorway, to keep warm (or cooled) air in and external draughts and pollution out. Air curtains must cover the complete doorway, so it is important to look for manufacturers offering flexibility in their range. The modular Dimplex air curtain ranges, for example, come in a choice of 1m, 1.5m and 2m lengths, linking together with an optional kit to cover almost any door width. Look for models fitted with built-in BEM system interface as standard and which are also compatible with timers and door sensors to further reduce running costs.

Hitting the spot

For larger spaces where only a few people need to keep warm, it is wasteful and impractical to heat the whole room, so the simplest and most economical answer is quartz or ceramic radiant heaters.

This type of heating provides a highly directional beam of radiant heat, with extremely fast heat up times, high energy efficiency and a long but targeted heat throw, so heaters can be mounted high up.

Quartz heaters produce the highest temperatures for the most effective heating and fastest heat up times but with a warm red glow.

Ceramic heaters have lower surface temperatures and no visible glow. Ranges like the Dimplex QXD or CXD ensure maximum energy efficiency by linking to on/off time controllers or PIR sensors, so that they only operate when triggered by movement in the heater’s vicinity.

With the impending smoking ban coming into force next year, there is a need for localised heating outside, not only for offices but also for leisure facilities like pubs and hotels. Radiant heaters are also ideal for this growing market, providing they are IPX4 rated, like the Dimplex VR20RP and CXD ranges.

Breath of fresh air

For areas of higher footfall, robust wall mounted fan heaters heat the entire space. Powerful centrifugal fans provide a fast flow of warm air to raise air temperatures quickly. Look out for models which are centrally controlled for an easy-to-operate integrated system giving improved efficiency. The Dimplex CFH range, for example, offers full system control of up to 10 heaters using a digital remote programmer.

Get into hot water

A hot water supply is also essential in commercial properties and electric water heating offers very flexible, economical solutions to meet the demands of any size of building.

For kitchenettes, a wall-mounted water boiler is an efficient and safe way to provide constant near-boiling water for staff to make tea and coffee while, for small washrooms, an instantaneous handwash unit provides a simple hot water facility. For buildings which have a greater demand for hot water where, for example, there are a number of washrooms or a cafeteria facility, an undersink unvented water heater is ideal, as it connects directly to the cold mains supply for easy installation and no hot water tank. Durability is essential, so look for models like the Dimplex SU and SUTP ranges which have a stainless steel cylinder to ensure minimal maintenance.

Free heat!

Heat pumps are one of the most efficient forms of heat generation, yet they are relatively new to the UK. Tapping into freely available, inexhaustible solar energy stored in the ground, ambient air or underground water and converting this for use in a heating system, heat pumps offer up to 400% efficiency.

One of the first UK installations for Dimplex was a retro-fit air-to-water heat pump at Dimplex’s headquarters, where it provides all the building’s hot water needs, including supplying the on-site café-bar.

Another recent installation is a National Trust visitor centre at Aberdulais Falls in Wales, where the heat pump is powered by the on-site hydro-electric scheme, making the heating system sustainable.

Controllable and flexible

Combining high levels of controllability for economy with the flexibility to adapt or grow as the building’s requirements change means electric heating systems can be the solution for many commercial premises. And with green energy set to become increasingly planned into larger buildings, the future for renewables-ready electric heating is a safe bet.

Dimplex T: 01489 773336
1 October 2006

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