Wednesday 23 May 2012

Stelrad Radical Radiators

Radical Rads!
One of the biggest annoyances with fitting radiators on a new build is positioning the pipework. First off you have to do this very early on in the project, leaving umpteen tradesmen – usually plasterers – to kick, nudge and trip over the pipework for weeks. By the time you return to hang the radiator the pipework is usually miles out of alignment.

To get around this many plumbers use plastic pipe and just bring both pipes out of the wall, roughly in the middle of the intended radiator position. It now doesn’t matter if the pipework is moved and hanging the radiator is simply a matter of dropping the plastic in a loop down to the valve positions.  I can see why it’s done but I personally I hate this approach as it just looks like a DIY Bodge job.

Well, now there is an alternative that combines ease of fitting in a new build with superb energy efficiency – the Stelrad ‘radical’ radiator.

First off the valves for this range are at the bottom in the middle of the radiator. So now the plumber just has to bring two pipes out of the wall with the same gap between the pipes regardless of the radiator size to be fitted. Ideally Stelrad would also supply a little plastic template that could be fitted over the pipes and screwed into the wall, thus ensuring that the pipes stay in the right position throughout the build process. I don’t know if they do supply such a thing but it would be a great move if they did. To make the installation process even easier the radiators come with preset flow limiters i.e. they are self-balancing radiators!

So we have an easy fit radiator, which is great news all by itself, but this is only the start. In a fit of innovation they have also added umpteen design features to ensure that the radiator reaches optimum temperature much faster than traditional radiators and that this heat is directed out of the front of the radiator without the need for that horrible foil stuff people often stuff behind their old rads. To improve things still further Radical radiators generate 50% of their heat as radiant energy. This allows you to turn your room thermostat down without any noticeable loss in comfort.

Add all these features up and they reckon you should be able to knock 10.5% off your heating bill, which is always a pleasant thing to do.

So do they cost a fortune? Well apparently not, they are a little more expensive but when you consider that they come with the valves already supplied the cost works out roughly the same as Stelrad’s compact range of radiators.

Is there a downside? Well, if you’re replacing an old radiator with these then you are going to have to alter the pipework on every occasion, which would make them far more expensive to fit. However, we are definitely going to be advising these the next time we have a new build to do.

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Ecobuild 2012

Every year Ecobuild gets that little bit bigger. The days of being able to house the entire event in one hall of Earls court are but a distant memory, in fact this year you could walk for about 3 miles through the exhibition hall and see nothing but companies selling photovoltaic cells.

It’s amazing what a little government incentive can do to a technology - which makes it even more of a shame that the Renewable Heat Incentive seems to be progressing with all the pace of an elderly snail, with asthma, angina and a bad limp. 
Sadly, as a plumber I’m not really into photovoltaic cells, although there were some neat innovations – a solar cell set into a film of plastic that could be fitted to clothing was one of the best. It’d be neat to be able to re charge your photo batteries as you wander the countryside.

One of the best of the plumbing innovations was Stelrad’s new “Radical” radiator range – which I’ll be mentioning in later blogs. In short, we haven’t fitted any yet but we will definitely be opting for these for our next new build.

Another innovative area was internal and external wall insulation - The “Green Deal”, which starts in Aug 2012, will apparently cover this area, although no one seemed quite sure. This is especially handy for older properties (Pre 1920) where external walls are solid brick. In this instance the idea is that you stick foam insulation over the wall then cover this with a weather proof finish. If you don’t fancy changing the outside of your house you can fit internal insulation against your external walls, which can be as simple as putting up thermal wall paper.

To be honest the only real problem with Ecobuild was the fact that it was so huge. I was absolutely knackered by the time I left. As I collapsed onto the Docklands light railway I reflected on the irony; here’s a venue crammed full of energy saving experts and not a single bloody one of them has figured out an energy efficient way of getting about the place!