Churches and Barns present their own unique problems when it comes to effective heating. This is simply due to the vast volume of air that needs to be heated before the effect is felt by those on the ground. This problem is then exacerbated by the heated air rising into the roof void and being replaced by cold unheated air down at ground level and just to matters even worse, often these are exactly the buildings that are not well insulated, built long ago and suffer badly with drafts.
Electric Infrared heating is perfect in such situations as it heats the people and not the air around them. The height of the room/building therefore makes no difference to how much heat is needed. From energy efficiency and energy cost standpoints, the savings are spectacular. Firstly there is no longer any need to pre-heat the building before use. This is especially useful in churches where the building is often cold and empty and then needs to heated and fully functional at relatively short notice. The energy cost savings are very impressive.
The heating of ancient churches will always be a problem: large spaces, uninsulated walls, significant issues with damp and draughts. The Parish of S. Thomas the Apostle, Elson therefore sought to provide an efficient and yet cost effective solution to a problem faced by so many churches. A thorough heat-loss survey calculated that we needed to deliver something in the region of 25kW/h of heat to combat our latent heat loss: this immediately discounted other solutions based around warm air convection or underfloor heating as they simply couldn't deliver the kind of heat that would make a difference. These more traditional solutions still concentrate upon heating the air, not the people in them. This proved to be £400 very well spent as it provided us with clear choices, and I would recommend Churches asking a heating engineer to make this kind of assessment.
We turned therefore towards Infrared as a solution. Infrared has been installed in a number of churches, but these have mainly been unsightly wall mounts, and we were concerned about how this would detract from the inner beauty of our small, prayerful, friendly church. When we found the Pentagolino Chandelier supplied by Heat Outdoors, we sensed we had found the right solution for us: the efficient delivery of infrared heating in the midst of our sacred space in an aesthetically pleasing mounting. The church had in the past century had Chandeliers for lighting, so this solution offered a little of a return to our traditions whilst taking forward our heating needs.
Delivery and ordering from Heat Outdoors was impressively quick, and the suspension of the chandeliers on their long chains ensured that they were easily mounted (by secure bolts) at an optimum height of 2.5m from the ground. We deployed 3 Chandeliers, each delivering 10kW of heat (thus exceeding our heat-loss calculations), for which we needed a three-phase electrical supply (they draw approximately 40 amps, I understand) and which our electrical contractor balanced across the supply. Each chandelier is separately isolated and switched so that we can have them all on, or just a single heater as required. We already had a three-phase supply to the Church and many other churches will find this to be the case, but I understand the local Electricity supplier would charge around a thousand pounds to provide that. The (separately hired) electrical contractor charged us less that £3000 for the installation, supply and cabling, thus meaning that we were able to deliver the project for less than £12,000, which is phenomenonly good value. I asked each of the contractors bidding for this installation project to speak with Steve at Heat Outdoors and they commented on the quality of the technical support that they were able to provide to ensure that the installation went smoothly.
Our initial reactions have been very positive: with infrared there is not extended pre-heat time, as the heaters heat the people and not the air: we will run the heaters only when the church is in use, and thus we have calculated heating savings in excess of 33%. It is anticipated that heating cost savings will pay for itself easily within 5-7 years. When you first turn on the heaters, there is a diffuse red/orange glow, but this is quickly diminished within 5 minutes and overall the light from the heaters is unobtrusive, because the chandeliers blend well with the environment and do not interfere with sightlines. The light shed by the heaters is not excessive, and we have used the low level of ambient light that it delivers to good effect during late night worship, as it provides a (warm and) lovely ambience to be augmented by candles and incense.
As you can see, we have heat. It is right at the heart of the congregation without being obstrusive and the solution provided by Heat Outdoors is both pleasing to the eye and to the Treasurer. We thank God that we were drawn together and I commend this solution to any other places of worship who are seeking an efficient and cost-effective solution.
I would warmly welcome visitors from other churches to come and experience our chandeliers in use. Mass is said at 10am on Sundays. Come and See!
Installation is very straight forward. No pipes, no water and no radiators. Simply mount the heaters or suspend them and supply electricity - instant heat at the flick of a switch. We will design and specify a system individually for your project, so call us now to discuss further on 01279 466500.
"I am writing to let you know that we have installed the 24KW heater controllers and they are operating perfectly. No problems with the lights flickering from the burst fire dimming and no RFI affecting the sound system or organ.
This has given us a very flexible control system where we can adjust the power according to the weather and turn off unused zones in the church.
Thank you again."
Steve Byatt @ St. Peter's Church, Pavenham.