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The long-term benefits of renewable heating are undeniable, but how can installers ensure that they are helping to maximise efficiency levels? John Gittens from Maincor explains that the right pipework can make a difference.
As energy prices rise and the government’s sustainable agenda presses on, there is more and more call for renewable heat sources for domestic and commercial customers. At face value, the cost of installing and maintaining such systems can be off-putting, but it is important to weigh this up against the potential long-term savings.
Looking at the numbers, the long-term savings, as well as the eco benefits of renewable heat sources, are undeniable. However, what happens when the heat source itself, for example a biomass boiler, is sited in an outbuilding or communal plant room? How can installers be sure that the heat is delivered in an energy efficient way, with minimal loss along the way?
The facts are simple – when remotely sited, most renewable heat sources, including air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps and biomass boilers, need pipework to transfer the heated water they produce into the main building or to multiple properties. So it stands to reason that the pipework used needs to be adequately insulated to retain the heat it is delivering.
One solution is to specify pre-insulated pipework, which will reduce the amount of heat lost during transfer quite significantly. Constructed with an insulating layer and an outer casting, pre-insulated pipe systems provide high-quality insulation to maintain the temperature of the water running through the pipes, offering an economic and efficient solution for heating buildings. Typically, the pipework is laid underground in a depth of between 0.4 and 1.0 metres and has an average working life of around 30 years, with low maintenance risks for added peace of mind.
Our Austroflex pipe, for example, minimises heat loss in point-to-point heating applications. Available in long lengths up to 340m, the flexibility of the pipe makes for easy installation and minimises the need for joints. The pipe can be installed in one uninterrupted length from the heat source to the building, eliminating the need for intermediate joints.
Little and large
Often referred to as district heating pipes and commonly used for projects with a centralised heat source feeding multiple properties, pre-insulated pipework is a method that is commonly used in the commercial heating sector. However, with the rise in popularity of renewables among homeowners keen to escape hiking energy bills and live a ‘greener’ lifestyle, it is now increasingly seen in domestic situations too.
With an average lambda value of around 0.0219W/mK (used to identify a material’s ability to limit energy loss) the Austroflex pipe will improve energy efficiency and system performance. Other features include a protective aluminium barrier contained within the outer casing and a corrugated outer case which allows for a tight bending radius.
In all cases it is important to look at the product cost versus life-cycle returns when calculating true lifetime cost. A pre-insulated piping system which can be installed in one uninterrupted length from the heat source to the building will further minimise installation, maintenance and overall system costs which is good news for you and your customers.