JAGA Heating Products' new radiator technology could help heat pump suppliers crack the replacement and refurbishment market.
Phil Marris, managing director of the UK operation of the burgeoning Belgium radiator manufacturer, is bullish about the Dynamic Boost Effect (DBE) radiators which have launched into the UK.
Until now, the lower water flow temperature generated by a heat pump was more suitable for underfloor heating than radiators. This meant effectively that the heat pump technology could not be installed in an existing home without huge disruption and high installation costs or had to be used with a booster boiler. With the Jaga DBE radiator, there is no need to install underfloor heating as it will work with the lower temperature system of the heat pump. It would just mean changing the radiators.
Phil says Jaga has been talking to a number of heat pump manufacturers and installers about linking their systems in a package.
And, in some cases, the new radiators would be considerably cheaper than the underfloor system.
The research has only just started. Phil says there are more new products to come in the next few years which will give more control and, perhaps, even the option of high temperature cooling.
After initially targeting the heating and ventilating trade, Jaga is also currently promoting the DBE systems to the self-build and serious renovation market because these are people who are investing in their homes and are interested in heat pumps.
There is a website specifically developed for that new market - www.jagahomeheating.co.uk
Innovation is what Jaga is all about.
The Belgium company began in the 1960s and has sizable businesses in Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, France and Scandinavia and the former Eastern Bloc countries, especially in Russia.
The UK business started in 1991, developed from scratch during the decade and became one of the market leaders in the UK for low surface temperature radiators.
Which is where the business was when Phil joined in 2001.
His brief was to grow Jaga significantly. He seems to be doing well. In 2003 Jaga UK turned over £3.2million.
In 2006 turnover had more than doubled to just over £7million.
Phil insists that this is 'pretty good in a market - the heating business - which overall has been flat during the period'.
So how did Jaga achieve such growth?
Phil says the best way to explain what Jaga does is to explain, first, what it doesn't do!
It is not a manufacturer of pressed steel radiators, he insists.
'Jaga does not compete like-for-like with the parts of our industry that are focused on the production of volume steel panel radiators.'
And while this means Jaga has refused to join the mass market, the 15% which is left is growing apace.
Jaga is helping to drive the growth. Within four years the company hopes to turnover £12million.
So, while Phil admits the target is tough, it is attainable given the new products which have been launched - and are soon to be launched.
Further he will have to take on more staff. He hopes to recruit at least another five to join Jaga in customer services, technical support and sales. This will bring the staff numbers up to 32 within the year.
Jaga trades in three main areas.
The first is decorative design radiators, and this includes decorative towel warmers.
This sector of the market has grown hugely during the last few years.'
Phil adds his company survives in this market by having products which are aesthetically and functionally different to the others.
'For instance, Jaga has a radiator which is made from reconstituted stone and Knockonwood which is made of wood.'
And the company has recently launched a product called Heatwave, which has come as a result of its collaboration with artists rather than designers.
The Heatwave is produced from a resin and concrete mix.
'It is a very different product. This is the way we see our decorative radiator business moving - by being different and coming up with artistic interpretations.'
Good design is about form and function, he adds.
The business was built on the back of LowH2O technology.
'It is all about low mass, low water content heat emitters - and their benefits.'
Phil says his company has proven that there can be cost saving of around 10% of the heating consumption of a house when LowH2O heat emitters are used instead of steel panel radiators.
'These tests were conducted at the BRE. The principle is fairly straightforward. If you have a well-insulated building and you want to heat the space within it, you don't want to store energy in something which has a lot of thermal mass and is therefore difficult to control,' he says.
'If you have a unit which is light, efficient and responsive, the space can still be heated to the extent needed but only when you want to heat it.
'Advantage can be taken of night cooling periods, or incidental heat sources such as sunshine coming through the window or electrical equipment or people in a room. By doing this, energy is not wasted. The space is neither overheated nor is it heated when it is not necessary.'
It is all about control.
The LowH2O radiator warms up more quickly and could warm a room in, perhaps, a third of the time it takes a conventional radiator. So every time a valve switches on or off, energy - and money - are saved, says Phil.
Further, because the heating element is detached from the casing, Jaga has an opportunity to be more adventurous in radiator design using materials such as wood or the resin, as well as being able to hide the heating element, pipes and valves.
The Heatwave is made from a resin and concrete mix. It is the result of collaboration between Jaga and artists
The next stage of the company's development is an exciting new Top Performers range.
Phil says Jaga has taken its LowH2O technology and added value with dynamically driven components such as specially designed fans or ventilation and air quality management systems.
'Our new products solve a much wider range of problems.'
For instance, last year Jaga launched a prototype which is being rolled out now called the oXygen.
The Jaga oXygen radiator delivers heating, maintains excellent air quality and provides draught-free ventilation at a capital and lifetime cost which is well below that of air conditioning.
'There is a huge amount of interest from specifiers in the education construction area.
One successful pilot was in a school in Swindon.
'Not only has Jaga been able to provide a good air quality and control the CO2 levels (which leads to improve pupil performance) but also cut heating bills significantly.'
Phil adds that, in another pilot in Denmark which has been running for about 18 months, when compared with natural ventilation and radiators (which is what was there before) the pilot reduced heating bills by 25%.
'Some of it is down to control but, in the heating season, the two keys to air quality management are to control the CO2 level and to limit the air changes in a room.'
The Jaga oXygen system controls the environment by the CO2 level. It will change the air only when the CO2 level makes it necessary.
And of course this depends on the number of people in the room, their activities or even the time of day. For example, says Phil, if a classroom has only a study group or maybe there is a teacher on his own or the classroom is empty, then less ventilation is needed than when the classroom is full.
'The intelligence of the system helps to save carbon emissions - and cost.'
So how does a company like Jaga change hearts and minds of installers?
'We are confident in the real benefits of our products and we are committed to investing in promotional work. There is the Jaga Home Heating website and our presence at trade and self-build shows.'
The company was at Eco-Build where there was a huge amount of interest in the systems.
'And it is working with trade publications.'
A third arm for Jaga is trench and perimeter heaters. Jaga has built a market-leading position in Germany and Russia on major commercial developments.
'Our products are in many of the landmark developments which have been built in Germany during the last few years. And the 'Mini Canal' will be installed in the Mirax Towers in Moscow, which will be the tallest building in Europe when it is complete.'
Phil says this product range, like the others in the Jaga portfolio, has changed.
As well as the traditional products, it also has trench and perimeter heating which incorporate DBE. And there is the Clima Canal which is a fan-assisted trench heater and gives high output from a small unit which can also be used to deliver comfort cooling.
There is a team of sales people to sell this range into specifiers and Phil hopes that this range too will generate growth.
'The Clima Canal has just won the order for International House in Dublin and I expect this will be a good reference pilot for Jaga in the UK and Ireland when it is finished later this year,' he adds.
So the Jaga saga is set to continue with the company's innovation driving growth.
Jaga T: 01531 631533