Making the right controls choice for your customers

Making the right controls choice for your customers

To help reduce the cost of heating in difficult times, Jon Tedstone, Head of Sales and Marketing, ESi outlines how installers can help select the right controls for the right end-users.

From sophisticated users who want the latest wifi controlled options, to elderly or vulnerable people who need the simplest of controls to cope with their heating system – it’s vital that there’s a full range of complexity available in today’s heating controls marketplace. And ESi is taking a lead in this forward-thinking approach, able to offer a control suitable for any home in the UK.

With the current cost of living crisis, led by spiralling energy costs, the decision as to which heating controls to include in a new build heating installation or in a heating system replacement project is more important than ever. But it’s not always straightforward, with a wealth of options available and a range of combinations of components that can enable homeowners to be in control of the heating in their homes.

But it’s vital that the controls installed meet the requirements and on occasions the limitations of the potential users. There is no point installing the latest wifi or blue tooth connected controls if the homeowner or tenant is elderly or vulnerable and unable to fathom out how to use the latest smart controls now available. If they need a straightforward dial control, that is what you should install.

Minimise consumption
Clever use of controls can help minimise energy consumption by ensuring each room is at the right temperature for comfort, whilst avoiding overheating. This will keep your customer’s home cosy and cut their energy bills which is, at the end of the day, what they want from you.

Installers are still the key decision makers when it comes to selecting heating controls – most of their customers will rely on them to offer the best solution for them and it will help if installers can explain the controls in reasonable detail to make them aware of why they are installing the controls they have selected, even if in broad terms relating to the energy savings available and the environmental benefits of the controls chosen.

As well as offering Boiler Plus compliant units, ESi is one of the leading members of the OpenTherm Association here in the UK, offering access to the OpenTherm protocol. OpenTherm is a non-manufacturer dependent system of communication between modulating HVAC appliances and room thermostats. Quite simply, it consists of a communication protocol and an interface specification.

More and more appliance manufacturers are bringing modulating central heating systems onto the market – traditional boilers and renewable options including many heat pumps. These appliances offer better efficiency and reduced environmental effects. However, to operate these appliances, a communication protocol between the appliance and the controller is required. It involves the addition of a small bit of software only available to OpenTherm Association members.

OpenTherm is a communications protocol that allows modulating heating appliances to communicate directly with the heating controls within the property.  By having constant communications between the ‘thermostat’ and the ‘boiler’, the heating controls can accurately control the appliances heating output, ensuring the correct amount of heat is given to the heating system at the correct time.  In terms of OpenTherm gas condensing boilers, this leads to significant energy savings by keeping condensing boilers in condensing mode for much longer durations.

OpenTherm allows 3rd party control manufacturers to create a wide range of simple control solutions for boilers. Over complicated controls can lead to energy wastage, but simplified OpenTherm controls can lead to greater flexibility. By having a range of control solutions beyond the manufacturer’s own controls, installers have freedom of choice and the knowledge that whatever OpenTherm control they choose, the boiler would always run at its most efficient point.

OpenTherm allows remote boiler diagnosis too, which can lead to service intervals being extended, reduced downtime and ultimately money savings. Whilst the amount that can be saved on energy costs by using OpenTherm varies between installations, 10% is a reasonable estimate, up to 15% is not uncommon. And with gas prices at their current levels, that’s not a saving to be lightly ignored.

The beauty of OpenTherm is it can be applied not just to modulation condensing gas boilers, but to any heating and hot water system that uses the OpenTherm protocol. So, an OpenTherm gas boiler and OpenTherm control fitted right now, could be easily added to an OpenTherm Heat Pump and OpenTherm MVHR system in the future. OpenTherm can easily be changed and adapted.

ESi is just one of the companies signed up to the OpenTherm Association, agreeing to work with it to introduce a wider acceptance of OpenTherm as a standard in the UK. Manufacturers of boilers and controls that have already evaluated the OpenTherm protocol’s compatibility with their systems include major companies in Europe with an influence in the UK – wanting to see the acceptance of the OpenTherm protocol here in the UK marketplace.

Recognising the common sense in developing a common use ‘Open’ system here in the UK, the protocol importantly, also has the support of industry bodies HHIC and BEAMA who are committed to supporting OpenTherm’s wider introduction here.

Programmable room thermostats
For those keen to experience the latest in heating controls technology, ESi has launched its new, top of the range, 6 Series WiFi Programmable Room Thermostat, offering the latest in heating control for homes and commercial premises here in the UK.

Fully OpenTherm compatible, this new range of controls allows full control via the room thermostat or via a mobile phone or tablet, with a range of features to impress even the most demanding specifier, installer or homeowner.

It includes Optimum Start/Stop, Domestic Hot Water (DHW) setpoint, Hot Water time and temperature control when working in conjunction with a wireless cylinder thermostat, full 7 day, 5/2 day or 24 hour programming options, a boost facility, a helpful Holiday Mode and is an ERP Class 5 Product. The new controls are available in white or grey.

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