In any building – from a home to a public space - where the occupants or visitors are young, elderly or vulnerable, low surface temperature heating is either required by legislation or is a sensible consideration – or both. As a result of legislation and increased awareness of the potential dangers of high temperature heating surfaces, the production of low surface temperature products has become a valuable and growing niche market. So it’s encouraging when a totally new approach to a problem comes onto the market and even more so when that new approach has been thought through from ‘a-z’ and offers a total package that a developer can specify and install knowing it will meet the requirements of the building or homes concerned perfectly.
Leading electric heating specialist Ecolec has launched a pioneering new heating system based on a very specific requirement for a space saving, electric low surface temperature panel radiator system. The requirement involved a need for a wireless controlled heating system that allowed individual room temperatures to be controlled and for a maximum of 55°C (+/- 1°C) surface temperature of the panels to be achieved. It’s what Ecolec calls ‘Safe to Touch’ heating at 55°C.
Having installed the system and proved that it worked perfectly, with incredible flexibility and the ability to control the warmth in each room individually, it was clear that the system could work in a wide range of other applications – being perfect for nurseries, schools, rest and care homes, healthcare buildings, commercial premises and public areas and of course homes and apartments. In particular it has already seen interest from developers of sheltered housing and assisted living apartment developments but would be equally relevant for any form of housing where potentially vulnerable people might be living, working or visiting.
In addition this system offers a cost effective, high efficiency alternative to a wet heating system extension when a building is refurbished and rather than replacing or upgrading a boiler to cope with the additional space heating requirement, the addition of easy to fit, highly controllable slim line electric panel radiators could be a sensible and cost effective option.
As well as utilising the tried and tested, slim line radiant panel radiators for which Ecolec has become acknowledged in the sector, this system utilises the Ecolec WCT 500/TX wireless 7-day programmable thermostats. This wireless thermostat gives high precision room temperature control and being designed to fix to a wall means the unit is never warmed by being handled. It offers a 7-day programmer with up to 6 temperature settings per day if required. Each WCT 500/TX can control as many individual radiators or heaters as you require typically within a range of 30 metres.
Being wireless they are literally installed in minutes. They are battery powered using normal AA alkaline batteries. Ecolec uses battery powered wireless thermostats because they save energy costs and provide better control than hard-wired options. Only an external thermostat well away from the heater it’s controlling can measure and control true room temperature. For accurate temperature control, a thermostat should be away from direct sunlight, other heat sources and draughts. Wiring constraints often lead to compromises that make the thermostats less effective.
These thermostats use the European 433.05 – 434.79 MHz frequency band for short-range devices. By avoiding the popular 2.4GHz frequency, the controller is impervious to interference from products that use for example, WiFi or Bluetooth.
Whilst the project that gave rise to this exciting new low surface temperature system required a maximum surface temperature of 55°C for the heat emitter, the system can be formatted to meet any temperature requirements - for example it can easily be provided to hit a maximum temperature of no more than 43°C (+/- 1°C) to meet the strict requirements of the NHS Guidance Note for ‘Safe hot water and surface temperature’ allowing the system to be installed in domestic, commercial and public buildings running heating systems with total public safety assured.
Ecolec’s Chandru Ray says utilising tried and tested products as elements of this new LST system has much to recommend it: "Ecolec radiators offer better thermal comfort than quartz halogen heaters that create intensive glare, emitting UV radiation. Ecolec heaters emit IR radiation with no glare at all. They offer a friendlier, thermal comfort solution with far better control.”
Ecolec is not introducing new products that need to be tested over a period of time to see if they work. They already know that the radiant panel radiators work well – they have been available in the current form for many years. They know that the controller works well – again – they have hundreds of them working efficiently across the UK. And they know that the package works because of the existing applications where they have excellent feedback and a track record of success.