With gas boilers still widely used and understood by both homeowners and SME housebuilders, Sean Keleher, National Technical Manager at Navien, explains some of the latest developments in boiler technology that help to maximise their efficiency.
The latest gas boilers are renowned for being compact in size, lightweight and easy to install, but how exactly can they help maximise energy efficiency in new build properties? Well, the first port of call should be to utilise a product boasting a high quality and durable heat exchanger. An essential component of any gas boiler, this has a key role to play in ensuring a long lifespan while maintaining high levels of performance and efficiency.
In order to cope with a wide range of operational environments (and varying levels of water quality), a long-lasting and robust material is required. This has led to the most reliable heat exchangers being constructed from stainless steel, as it can tolerate a wide range of pH values while also providing a high level of resistance against corrosion. This ability to operate in differing levels of pH further minimises reliance on chemical water treatments, without compromising durability or performance.
Of course, there are other factors equally as essential in achieving optimum levels of performance. Take the flue, for instance; not only is this fundamental in terms of safety, it can help further improve system efficiency. There are many horizontal and vertical options available of varying maximum lengths – each determined by their design and diameter.
At Navien, we use the Ø60/100 plastic concentric flue system on our own gas boilers. These can be fitted either through the wall or the roof – although the distance by which they can be extended varies, as the total possible flue length is determined by the ability of the boiler itself. Although some flues will only extend to around 6-8m, we can offer lengths up to 21m (one of the longest in the industry) for a range of flexible installation options. This is due to the combination of a built-in air pressure sensor and a powerful fan, which allows for the long and difficult flue runs required by some housebuilders and developers. The air pressure sensor also offers end users improved levels of safety, as it monitors a boiler’s air flow and activates the fan accordingly, ensuring waste gases are successfully expelled through the flue.
Another area where boiler manufacturers have been making waves is in the field of heating controls. Thanks to advances in wireless technology, modern units can communicate with the latest ‘smart’ devices and even be controlled remotely via a smartphone app. This allows the boiler and controls to work in harmony and offer even greater levels of efficiency, particularly in the case of our own Smart Plus system, which can raise the overall ErP rating to ‘A+’.
Furthermore, these devices benefit from additional energy-saving functions, including weather compensation, which is able to precisely adjust the system flow temperature according to external environmental conditions – reducing energy consumption and fuel bills as a result.
Utilising smartphone compatibility adds even more features, including geofencing, where an end user’s proximity to their property influences how a boiler operates – causing it to turn on (or off) depending on how close or far away the occupant is from their home. And, this isn’t limited to just one individual, as multiple handsets can be used on the same system, allowing all members of a household to set their own levels of personal comfort – a great selling point for modern family homes.
The latest gas boilers to enter the market are being manufactured as ‘hydrogen-ready’, which will allow them to run on a mixture of hydrogen (20%) and natural gas (80%). The advantage here is that when more sustainable gases are introduced to the grid by the government, the heating system will still be able to function to its full potential without requiring any significant changes or upgrades. As a result, housebuilders and property developers can fit gas boilers in their latest projects without having to worry about any expensive renovations in future.