What does the year ahead hold for the boiler industry?

logoNeil Mattock, Marketing Director at Vokèra, looks at the key issues that will affect the boiler industry during 2015.

One of the biggest changes expected this year is the introduction of the ErP (Energy-related Products) Directive. Coming into force in September, the ErP is a mandatory piece of EU legislation which will create minimum efficiency standards for heating and hot water systems, by ensuring that manufacturers meet energy labelling and eco-design requirements. It is designed to help achieve a targeted EU reduction in greenhouse as emissions of 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

In essence, the ErP will ensure that specific design requirements are met and that products are labelled with their energy efficiency ratings, named the Labelling Directive. The energy performance labels are rated from G to A+++, in a similar way to the ratings already found on domestic white goods.

Overall, the aim is to drive change and encourage the uptake of more energy efficient boilers, allowing installers and consumers to compare the respective performances of different products in a clearly labelled, easily recognisable way. After the introduction of ErP, manufacturers will not be able to produce boilers below a particular efficiency.

Of course, improving efficiency continues to be a very important goal for manufacturers, ahead of the ErP introduction, and there is much that has been done to help installers reduce fuel bills and carbon emissions for their customers.

Boiler modulation will continue to be a significant area of innovation. In simple terms, this is the boiler’s ability to reduce its maximum output to its minimum output. A wide modulation range will provide a good output ratio, whereas a narrow modulation will give a poor ratio. For example, if a boiler has a maximum output of 30kW and a minimum output of 7.7kW its modulation ratio is less than 4:1. Meanwhile, an appliance with a maximum output of 30kW and a minimum output of 3kW has a wider modulation ratio of 10:1. This will both improve comfort levels and significantly reduce the wear and tear of the boiler itself, consequently improving the overall efficiency of the boiler.

Interactive controls will also play their part in making boilers as efficient as possible. Linking the boiler to an intelligent thermostat control can contribute to efficiency improvements. For example, Vokèra has recently introduced its OpenTherm protocol RF programmable room thermostat to improve boiler operating efficiency still further. Simple to install, this product modulates the boiler’s outlet flow-temperature in line with the internal temperature to substantially reduce a home’s energy consumption by as much as 10%.

Weather compensation controls regulate the output of the boiler in line with the outside temperature, and will lead to further savings of 3% under SAP, which allows the space heating efficiency to also rise by 3%. Our research shows that having no temperature control or no boiler ‘interlock’ will impair efficiency by as much as 5%.

Installing a combi boiler with a high maximum output and a wide modulation ratio will deliver optimal efficiency and comfort. Vokèra has made a significant investment in the development of boilers with excellent modulation ratios. For example, our latest Unica i28, Unica i32 and Unica i36 boilers all feature a class-leading modulation ratio of 10:1. This range also incorporates weather compensation and OpenTherm technology to further enhance fuel efficiency and comfort still further.

2015 is going to be an exciting year for the boiler industry and here at Vokèra we are looking forward to the challenges ahead. We have all the tools and information installers need to understand the changes and make the most of the upcoming opportunities.