Plug-In Modulating Controls & Boiler Efficiency 

Plug-In Modulating Controls & Boiler Efficiency 

Neil Saunders, Sales & Marketing Director at Vokèra by Riello, sheds light on enhanced plug-in modulating controls and examines how they can achieve enhanced boiler efficiency. 

Combustion boilers have seemingly reached their pinnacle, boasting a commendable 94% efficiency. But we shouldn’t just stop there. Further efficiencies can still be made and the answer lies in modification. 

Even a boiler rated as 94% efficient, ‘wastes’ 6% of the fuel it uses. To put this into financial terms, for every £1 you spend on heating your home with a boiler that’s 94% efficient, 6p is wasted. An inefficient boiler will burn through more fuel and cost more to run, therefore increasing efficiency benefits both the environment and the bill payer.  

As household energy bills are predominantly comprised of costs for space and water heating, an efficient boiler can make a significant difference. All modern, well-maintained boilers burn their fuel efficiently, but none offer 100% efficiency. 

Heating our homes efficiently is something we all need to be proactive about. Newer boilers are more efficient than their older counterparts for several reasons, but their main advantage is that they are ‘condensing’. A condensing boiler recovers more heat from the exhaust flue gas and uses it to heat the central heating water, making it more efficient than older boilers. 

The efficiency dilemma
As mentioned above, modern combustion boilers are highly efficient, therefore the quest for improvement concentrates on the intricacies of modulating controls. Traditional heating systems often run at a fixed flow temperature of 78°C, with radiators operating at a high temperature, necessitating a consistent supply of energy. However, with the introduction of modulating controls, we can tweak operation specifics and improve boiler efficiency even further. 

Modulating controls
Modulating controls, when integrated into boiler systems, allow us to transition from simple on-off operations to a more nuanced calculation of energy needs. This calculation considers the set point temperature, resulting in the boiler running at a lower flow temperature and therefore increases the opportunity for condensing to take effect. This allows the system to use less energy, lose fewer resources and ultimately enhance overall efficiency. 

Controls, operating on the Opentherm protocol, contribute an additional 2% efficiency to the system. This may seem incremental, but in the realm of combustion boilers, every percentage point matters. 

The weather factor
Adding another layer to the efficiency equation is the concept of weather compensation. By incorporating a sensor that monitors outside temperatures, the system refines the energy requirement to reach the set point.  

This refinement leads to a reduction in flow temperature and the maintenance of a lower return temperature. The outcome? When combined with a modulating control, an impressive boost of system efficiency by 4% and lowers costs further for the homeowner. 

Zoning for efficiency
Taking productivity a step further, the incorporation of multiple zones can add an additional level of efficiency. Zoning allows for a more targeted distribution of heat, aligning the system with the specific needs of different areas. This flexibility is not just about efficiency; it’s about tailoring comfort to the unique requirements of each zone. 

Boiler Plus 
In the quest for efficiency, regulatory measures play a pivotal role. The Boiler Plus legislation mandates the implementation of specific measures to enhance boiler efficiency. As systems are now designed with a lower flow temperature of 55°C, it not only adheres to legislation but also opens the door to compatibility with heat pumps. Lower temperatures significantly improve the Coefficient of Performance (COP) of heat pumps, marking a shift toward sustainable heating solutions. 

Installation impact
Amidst the complex world of controls and protocols, the simplicity of installation emerges as a crucial factor. All Vokèra systems have had Opentherm for over 15 years, highlighting the longstanding availability of these technologies. This simplicity not only facilitates installation but also underscores the accessibility of efficiency-enhancing solutions for a broad spectrum of users. 

Elevating comfort and efficiency
The crux of the matter is that enhanced plug-in modulating controls offer a solution to increasing interior comfort levels without the need for boiler replacement. The beauty lies in the adaptability and versatility of these controls, which seamlessly integrate with existing systems, providing an installation-friendly pathway to heightened efficiency. 

Embracing the future
As we navigate the complexities of heating systems, the integration of enhanced plug-in modulating controls offer a simple, but highly effective addition to your setup. Beyond the numerical gains, these controls signify a shift toward a more sustainable and tailored approach to heating. Weather compensation, zoning, and adherence to regulatory standards paint a comprehensive picture of an industry evolving to meet the demands of both efficiency and environmental consciousness. 

The journey to unparalleled efficiency is not about reinventing the wheel; it’s about optimising the existing infrastructure with innovative solutions. At Vokèra, we are innovators, and our enhanced modulating controls redefine the possibilities of interior comfort and boiler efficiency, one degree at a time. 

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