Why should I use Multilayer Composite Pipe (MLCP) ?

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Why use multilayer pipe and fittings?

It’s pretty simple (in no particular order);

  • No hot works
  • Clean, easy installation
  • Potentially fewer fittings required
  • Cost per metre
  • Installation time
  • Available Pre-Insulated – See below
  • Zero scrap value (Theft)
  • Manifold plumbing
  • Expansion similar to copper
  • Confidence in fittings
  • Collateral Damage Warranty
  • Mechanical Strength (10Bar – 95Deg)
  • Less waste
  • Use #UFH off-cuts for plumbing & heating

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A couple of things to note:

  • Not all Multilayer pipe systems are Wras Approved – Please check before purchase.
  • For reducing the number of fittings use coil lengths – MLCP available in coils and straight lengths.
  • Mixing manufacturers pipe and fittings is not always advised/possible.
  • Don’t expect MLCP fittings to be cheap versus copper – pricing varies greatly.
  • Collateral Damage Warranty – Insurance backed guarantee against fault, covers not only the product but also any damage caused by said fault up to €3,000,000.

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I know a few of you have already been converted. If you have anything further to add to the above, please comment below.

Otherwise, see http://www.bhivesupplies.co.uk for further details and pricing.

How to buy underfloor heating as an installer…

Underfloor heating and it’s associated technologies, as with any other product, can be purchased through a number of routes. All offer their unique benefits, but each also have their limitations. As the UK underfloor heating market matures each of these routes are priming themselves for far greater competition and turnover. So, which way do you go?
The UK underfloor heating market accounted for something in the region of 6.5% of the total heating market in 2015. By 2020, according to AMA Research this figure is expected to rise to 20%. For the installer, which ever way you look at it, if you consider that in the future you could be spending one day in every week either installing, maintaining or repairing an underfloor heating system, it might be a good idea to get your head around which purchasing route best suits your needs.
Available routes
  • Direct from manufacturer.
  • Direct from Systems Supplier.
  • Plumbers Merchant.
  • Online.
Direct Purchase
 
Since the underfloor heating market in the UK has matured over the last few years, this form of purchase has become less likely. The big manufacturers in the early days were willing to sell to pretty much anyone who was interested, primarily specialist installers. Since the market has matured, the major manufacturers now tend to sell through the larger national plumbers merchants, although there are a few exceptions. (Cost Index N/A)
Systems Suppliers
 
Many of the established systems suppliers got in early, building loyal customer bases. These companies source their systems from various component manufacturers and brand them for their own ranges. Some of the bigger companies here account for large percentages of the market having their own networks of trained installers, selling to installers outside of their network and also selling direct to the end user client. Self-build and developers alike have grown to trust this route to purchase. Quotations and Designs are handled by head office in a remote role using email and telephone call. (Cost Index ££££)
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Merchants
 
Over that last seven or so years plumber merchants, both independent and nationals, have developed close relationships with many of the major systems manufacturers. Most align themselves with one or two suppliers, some holding limited stock, but mainly ordering on a project by project basis. Quotations and Designs are generally handled by the manufacturers head office or local representative. Credit accounts may be available here to the benefit of the installer. Also, the possibility of on-site support from the manufacturer in support of their own training courses. (Cost Index £££)
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Online
 
On-line underfloor heating companies in terms of service and product quality are generally much the same as the systems suppliers. Each company will source their products from various manufacturers, selling in single component form or as part of a kit or designed system. Customer service is key here also as these companies greenly understand that there’s plenty of competition out there. Ease of access to pricing and ordering is also a main benefit of this route. According to AMA Research online sales of plumbing products increased by 28% in 2015 on the figure of the previous year. 80% of these sales were made through specialist online retailers. Furthermore, this market is calculated to increase by 52% by 2020. Increased access to the internet at home and on site for the installers has enabled them to place orders for delivery direct to site, removing the need to travel to the merchant. Added to this, the online retailers reduced overheads often enable them to offer greater discounts to the installers and end-users alike. Many online stores also offer trade-only pricing or account facilities to match the merchants offer. The fact that they are also specialist suppliers can also be of benefit. (Cost Index ££)
Which ever route you chose, as mentioned previously, there are various benefits. Only you know what level of support you require. Only you know how your cash flow stacks up. Only you know what you’re willing to pay or how quickly you need something.
You need to decide which of the following are most important in each case;
Systems knowledge,
Credit accounts,
On-site support,
Direct delivery,
Access to pricing,
Access to ordering,
Product costs.
Good luck…
For more information on anything here, or underfloor heating in general, please get in contact, either here or through our website. All comments welcome.
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Resource thanks to AMA Research.

Off-cuts for plumbing…..

It’s long been the standard practice for plumbers or heating engineers to use the pipe off-cuts from they’re underfloor heating installations for the plumbing and radiator heating installations that may follow. It makes sense. Why throw away perfectly good plastic pipe? Having worked in the industry for some 10+ years now, this practice has often been used as the main reason for the installer to use “of the shelf” at the merchant type pipe and their associated push fittings. This, along with the fact that until recently, the main suppliers of multilayer pipe and fittings tended to charge a premium. For the smaller projects, the use of multilayer press fittings wasn’t really a option unless you were lucky enough to have access to the required tooling and a reliable supply of the required fittings.

The fact that most installers have recognised the benefits of the hybrid plastic and aluminium multilayer pipe in terms of installation and performance is encouraging. More so, the installers often mention their peace of mind when using press fittings, rather than their push-fit cousins. Price and availability, seem to be the main sticking points.

Now, before I get inundated with pro-copper, pro-plastic etc… I understand that all systems have their own unique features and benefits. I understand that multilayer and press fittings are not suitable in every scenario…

My question here is, if you could get a reliable source of high quality Wras approved, cost effective (versus push-fit), fittings that you could use with the off-cuts from B-Hive Supplies Multilayer underfloor heating installation, would you consider switching? If I also said that at the smaller end of the fittings scale, 16 & 20mm, ideal for domestic installations, you could use a manual press tool that costs less than £80.00 including VAT, would you then consider it?

It’s got to be worth considering…..hasn’t it?

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Online Plumbing and Heating sales see large percentage increase…

I must admit that my understanding of the online market place over the past number of years has been restricted to underfloor heating and multilayer pipe & press fittings but it is good to see that as an industry, with the help of both improved technology and the users willingness to use alternative routes to their products, the online market is seeing a significant increase in market share.

Maybe I should write that article about routes to market that I’ve been pondering for a while?

The below link will take you to an interesting article from Installer Online is based on report by AMA Research.

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http://www.installeronline.co.uk/internet-sales-of-plumbing-products-in-the-uk-increased-by-28-in-2015/

What do you think?

We’ve just received the first draft of the next B-Hive Underfloor Heating box branding. Let us know what you think…

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For more information about our electric and wet underfloor heating, please go to www.bhiveunderfloor.co.uk or call us on 01245 490 401

Effect vs Affect…. I was little concerned.

I know this has little to do with underfloor heating and plumbing but having just reviewed my most recent post I was a little concerned about one of the words I used. Should it be “effect” or “affect”. Well for those who may have questioned that also, I’ve just done a little research. See below;

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Timing is everything…

Having been in the underfloor heating game for more than 10 years now, I can safely say that one of the most common complaints or concerns I’ve been faced with is the length of time an underfloor heating system takes to effect the temperature of the room or building within which it is installed.

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Now, before I get that immediately thrown back at me, I know that different systems work in different ways. For example the system I have in my own home works pretty quickly. 12mm pipe in a 22-25mm flexible screed does work quicker than most. Having said that, it ain’t cheap to install and I’d suggest would cover probably less than 5% of current installs in the UK. I also understand that electric underfloor heating with tiles is rapid in it’s response times. Etc. Etc….. There are underfloor heating systems that react quicker than others.

The underfloor heating systems I’m talking about here, probably cover 80% of all systems installed across the country. Traditional underfloor heating pipe, clipped to directly to the insulation and simply covered in traditional screed (50mm or more). These are the types of underfloor heating systems that can and will, if not controlled properly, take an age to change the room temperature.

The fact is, the UK public, myself included, were brought up with coal or gas fires. And/Or they were used to the immediate effects of ramping up the radiator system installed of some kind of boiler. That works, it’s fine, and has served us well for generations. Underfloor heating though, especially with screed, is different. The timing is everything..

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Standard underfloor heating systems (Screeded), do take time to react. Depending on how long the system has been turned off and the mass of the screeded area we are talking about will determine the time the system will take to effect the room temperature. These systems need to be controlled with this in mind. Turning these systems off and on as we would with traditional radiator installations is simply not the way, either in terms of efficiency and effect. The energy it takes to warm a mass of screed every morning to the required temperature is far greater than if a system was set back a couple of degrees, overnight for example. Underfloor heating systems require a clear and settled controls systems. Decide what temperature each room or area needs to be at any given time, and set the controls system to suit that. If after a period of time (Days/Weeks), you decide that the settings are not working for your home, then adjust the system slightly to suit. Just don’t think you can treat underfloor heating in the same way we would have all treated the radiators or fire in the homes of yesteryear.

In terms of which controls to use, there are a number of systems on the market to help you control the underfloor heating system. each, as in any competitive market, will try to convince you that theirs is best. Heatmiser, Emmeti, Salus, Watts…. each has their pro’s and cons in terms of complexity and price. My note to you would be to use the one your installer is most confident in, the one that they have installed previously and know how to programme. Use the one with the best customer service, both pre and after sales.Emetti lcd-touchscreen-7-day-programmable-room-thermostat-189-p[ekm]227x227[ekm]

Listen, the facts are that underfloor heating in this form is amongst the most efficient, cost effective, healthy, comfortable heating systems available to us. We just need to understand it a little better.

Set it, leave it, tweek it, just don’t turn it off….Timing is everything.

 

 

For more information on underfloor heating systems and controls, please go to www.bhivesupplies.co.uk or call us on 01245 490 401

Which Underfloor Heating System is right for my project?

Should you go for Wet or Electric?

If you’re reading this looking for an answer, you’ll already be aware that there are two types of underfloor heating systems available in the market. You’ll hear some systems suppliers or manufacturers argue that the other’s are not the answer and that their offer is ideal for you….. Well we’re here to say that they’re wrong.

The fact is, depending on the specifics of your project you may need wet, or you may need electric……or you may need both!!!

You see, there are positives and negatives, as with anything, with both systems.

Hopefully here we can help you make a more informed, or less confused, confident decision.

Wet underfloor.

Wet underfloor heating systems are installed using loops of pipe (15 or 16mm) within screed normally and connected to a water distribution manifold. This manifold sits somewhere discrete, maybe under the stairs, and when required, is fed warm water from your boiler/heat pump or other heat source. Both the underfloor and the heat source are controlled by one or more room thermostats through a wiring centre…… thats it. 

Heat is emitted from the flowing warm water to the floor through the outside surface of the pipe loops.

It’s wet……it’s got water in it.



Electric underfloor heating.

Electric underfloor heating systems are installed by either installing loops of cable, or as is more common these days by laying an array of mats, again in screed. There’s no need for a manifold but as with the wet underfloor, each area’s output is controlled by a thermostat  based on room and/or floor temperature sensing. 

Heat is emitted through electrical resistance.

It’s electric….it’s got electricity running through it.


Efficiency.

Generally speaking wet underfloor systems are recognised as being more efficient in terms of running costs and, especially on new build, it could be argued that they are no more expensive to install that electric systems.

However, when it comes to re-furbishments and very small areas, it could be argued that electric systems are more suited in terms of installation costs.

So, which is best in this regard?

Well, if you’re are installing in a new build or large extension (15m2 Plus), then I’d say almost certainly that a wet system would be more suitable. The floors are yet to be laid, so you’re not paying for the existing floor to be removed, you can install the system before the screed goes down and build to the required floor height. 

On the other hand, if you’re just refurbishing your kitchen or bathroom and don’t want to take the floors up, or increase the floor height by too much, then the additional running costs versus the upheaval costs and discomfort are probably going to be acceptable.

Now, (not wanting to confuse things), as with any developing technology, things are beginning to change as far as the wet underfloor systems are concerned. Whilst I stand by my assertions with regards to small re-furburbishments of kitchen & bathrooms, if you’re looking at whole house refurbishment, there are now low-profile systems that enable wet systems installations without taking the existing floors up and only raising the floors by 20mm using small bore pipe, that includes the screed. From an efficiency perspective, these systems would save you money over time and they won’t impact too much in terms of time and labor costs.

Ask your plumber or builder about your options, or you can call us on 01245 490401 and we’d be happy to help.