As a residential landlord with property in the Aberdeen and Glasgow areas, with most having been fully refurbished prior to let, I have tried and tested a number of interesting products over the years. Among them is the Intelli Heat thermo dynamic fluid filled electric central heating radiators. First tried, after suitable research, in a small Aberdeen flat which didn’t justify the costs of a gas boiler installation, both my tenant and I were sufficiently impressed for me to install them in my next refurb project, and as straight upgrades in further properties since. Frustrated by the lack of presence in our area however, (IntelliHeat are based in East Anglia) and after undergoing training with the company, I became an agent for the products, and established Lifestyle Technology Ltd to market the Intelli Heat and the premium Needo ranges.
This type of electric heating has been widely used in continental Europe for some time now, and we are really still catching up in the UK. Originally designed to replace outdated storage heating, they offer a level of time and temperature control not available from a conventional heating system, with each radiator allowing specific setting over 24 hourly periods during each day. This means you have no need to heat areas unless you are actually using them. An optional background temperature can be set for other times of the day if required and a frost setting maintaining a minimum 7 degrees, and holiday setting are also available. At additional cost a central point wall mounted wireless controller can be added to allow control over different zones and full system override to turn on or off. The effect is a pleasant heat and atmosphere without the dry burned air associated with storage and electric panel heaters. In a rental property they provide significant comfort benefits to the tenant over traditional electric heating along with financial savings on running costs, and make the property more appealing to rent and tenant more likely to stay as well as adding to the value of the property. The ease of installation means that in most cases they can simply be fitted and connected, and when converting from storage require an electrician to make a simple change at the consumer units, with any invasive rewiring very rarely required.
Intelli Heat have consolidated their electric radiators range over the past year or so, and now offer the Cali Avanti range, new for 2014 with various outputs, along with the Sophia towel warmer. These are ideal for private rental and social housing developments, and provide a cost effective installation or upgrade in any domestic or small business property.
The stunning Needo range is definitely a premium product, suited to the owner occupier or higher spec rental and commercial property, and is increasingly used in higher end new developments. It is programmed with its unique Smart Energy hand set controller which shows actual power draw in real time from any radiator in the system, as well as giving both program and over-ride control. They operate by a similar, although more advanced principle of the IntelliHeat models and are even more economical to run. In a luxury development they can also be integrated into a full smart home KNX server based installation with remote control via a wall screen, laptop/tablet or smart phone. Needo was winner of the 2012 Build-It award for the Best Heating Product.
Both electric radiators ranges use high quality, high specification components and avoid cheaper copies from the far east. The elements are high spec tungsten, and once they have quickly warmed the area to set point temperature, need only intermittent bursts of drawn power to maintain it. The element will retain this heat for some time before requiring another boost. Providing surrounding conditions are stable, they will maintain an accurate ambient temperature with a very even surface temperature across the radiator body. All ranges are also fitted with an intelligent thermostat (TRIAC) which ensures that the power drawn is the minimum required, and as set point temperature is approached the energy drawn will reduce in stages to a fraction of full capacity, and to maintain set temperature they will simply draw as required unlike any traditional electric heaters.
Where lifestyle suits, we would also recommend that they be installed on the Economy 10 tariff from Scottish Hydro Electric, which gives periods during the night, afternoon and evening (these differ in the North and South of Scotland) where the whole of house benefits from reduced rates, and by tailoring lifestyle to bring your heating up to temperature, and the use of any high capacity appliances such as washer/dryer during these times, significant savings should be made.
In test conditions these electric heating systems are considerably cheaper to run than storage heating, however true like for like comparison is very difficult in reality since storage heating can’t produce a stable temperature or turn off when not required. When used sensibly they provide a fully controllable and genuinely efficient and good looking alternative, and they are now realistically competitive with oil and stored gas systems as well. Developers are fitting both ranges depending on the specification of the property due to the ease of installation and long term benefit to the consumer with a very economical running and zero maintenance costs. They can be bought as a single unit or a full electric central heating system, and are ideal for refurbs, extensions, lofts, office and commercial, and are increasingly becoming the new build option.
David Barr Lifestyle Technology Ltd