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Choosing a boiler: the primary considerations

Steven Evans, national sales manager at Potterton Commercial, outlines the key considerations of choosing a boiler

Posted by Ed Brown | May 24, 2017 | Bricks & mortar

Boilers with an output of between 40-70kW offer the perfect solution for primary schools looking to upgrade their heating system, but with so many models now available, where should schools and their facilities managers start when it comes to choosing one? 

Investing in a new boiler can make up a significant part of any renovation project in terms of cost. The good news is that there are plenty of light commercial boilers on the market to suit every budget. But choosing between them can be tricky, so to ensure that the right investment is made, a boiler’s efficiency, size, weight and ease of installation, along with the length and quality of the warranty offered, should all be considered as part of the decision-making process.

Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency is always a top priority for end users, whether it’s to reduce their monthly fuel bills or cut down on carbon emissions. It is especially important in public authority buildings such as schools, which need a Display Energy Certificate to show their building’s energy performance. The Energy Labelling Directive (ELD) dictates that products should display an alphabetised, colour-coded label according to their efficiency, and is applicable to boilers and water heaters with outputs of up to 70kW. The labelling system provides transparency for consumers, enabling them to compare the energy credentials of all products on the market, based on the outcome of standardised laboratory tests. 

Potterton Commercial’s recently launched Paramount four 50kW wall hung boiler, for example, has an A rating which means it is very efficient. When comparing products with the same energy rating, school managers should work with their heating contractors to look at manufacturers’ energy efficiency data so that the cleanest and greenest solution is chosen.

Whole life costs

With growing pressure to reduce carbon emissions and energy bills, most schools will be working to a tight budget and will need to consider the price range they have to play with. There are many high quality, high efficiency boilers on the market which also offer good value.

However, it’s not just the initial outlay cost that is worth consideration. School business or facilities manager should also take into account the whole life cost of a boiler when making their selection. Whole life costing shows the long-term impact of a boiler by looking at the capital outlay of a product alongside its installation, maintenance and servicing costs, and the anticipated energy use of the building over the relevant period of time. By comparing this between different options, school managers may find that whilst one boiler has a slightly higher capital cost than another, this will be recouped quicker thanks to significantly lower energy use (and lower energy bills), making it better value for money.

Boiler dimensions

A very quick way of narrowing boiler selection is to filter models by size, using the maximum dimensions of the space where it is going to be fitted.

Wall hung boilers are very popular and offer a neat and tidy installation, but floor standing alternatives are often more appropriate for older buildings, which are listed or have unstable walls.

The weight of the boiler may also impact on its ease of installation on site; a light, compact boiler will be easier to manoeuvre and can save an installer time. The Paramount four 50kW boiler, for example, weighs just 61kg, and is slim line at 480mm wide, making installation easy and straightforward.

Controls

To maximise energy efficiency and tailor the boiler’s output to a school’s needs, controls are essential. Zone controls are suitable for buildings with different areas that don’t need to be heated in the same way. For example, whilst classrooms are used throughout the day, assembly halls are occupied less frequently. If they double up as an indoor sports area, the temperature requirements may also vary depending on usage. Some newer commercial boilers, including Potterton Commercial’s Paramount four range, come fitted with weather compensation controls, which allow the boiler to regulate its output in line with the temperature outside.

Warranty

Nothing shows the confidence a manufacturer has in its products more than a lengthy warranty; it offers users peace of mind that costly repairs are covered within the warranty period should anything go wrong with the boiler. The Paramount four 50kW model comes with a two-year warranty when commissioned by us.

As schools come under increasing funding pressures, it may be tempting to make procurement decisions based purely on purchase price. By taking the above considerations into account, schools can ensure that their investment in new heating equipment is cost-effective and can deliver savings in the long run.

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