…the ability of electric heaters to provide focused radiant heat and intelligent controls that switch them on only when required can result in lower consumption and CO2 emissions…
Electrical contractors are being urged to advise pubs, restaurants and hotels about heating their outdoor space to best utilise unused areas and attract custom throughout the year. To ensure continued profits for the leisure industry and in turn installer in this difficult economic climate, contractors can profit from by advising the leisure industry to make gardens and patios useable for longer, while keeping energy costs at a minimum.
According to the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), around 400 pubs have closed since the introduction of the smoking ban. Before this date, research showed approximately 48% of pub visitors in Scotland smoked, so after more than two years, the hospitality sector is still addressing the need to provide suitable facilities for all its patrons, and utilising the outdoors is still the best way of achieving this.
Knowledge is one of the strongest tools available to the electrical contractor and by advising the leisure sector both areas of business can profit from outdoor heating.
As well as installing equipment that heats the area most effectively, energy efficiency is becoming more important. Options such as gas heaters can be used, but a lot of the heat produced escapes into the atmosphere without heating the required area. Not only does this leave customers out in the cold, but it means that energy efficiency is poor.
Typical infrared heater
Patio heaters came under fire at end of 2007 when the Energy Saving Trust (EST) urged retailers to stop selling the heaters because of the “substantial” amount of carbon emissions they produce. Before the smoking ban, evidence indicated that around 94.9 GWh of energy was consumed each year in outdoor heating fuelled by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), resulting in the emission of 20.3 kilo tonnes of CO2.The illustrative scenario for annual carbon emissions from outdoor heaters since then suggests that it may have risen to between 141 and 282 kilo tonnes of CO2¹.
However indications suggest that electric heaters are gaining market share, with businesses recognising their benefits, which include energy efficiency, safety and controllability.¹
…electric heaters are gaining market share, with businesses recognising their benefits, which include energy efficiency, safety and controllability.
Although the carbon burden of electricity as a fuel is greater than LPG, the ability of electric heaters to provide focused radiant heat and intelligent controls that switch them on only when required can result in lower consumption and CO2 emissions². More importantly, because they are energy efficient at the point of use, electric heaters are cost effective too — a benefit that can easily be explained to the customer.
Electric radiant infrared heaters are ideal as no energy is wasted. Some options utilise the high–energy, shortwave output of quartz halogen lamps, and this short–wave, high–intensity radiant heat, like sunlight, provides warmth that can be felt the moment the heater is switched on without pre–heating. The lamps also produce infrared energy that heats any surface it touches rather than the air in between, which is why users will feel the heat no matter what the weather.
As an example of range, a 1.3kW quartz infrared heater cost effectively heats an outdoor area of up to 10sqm, with lamps providing in excess of 5,000 hours of heating. For ease of installation heaters often come equipped with a variety of brackets and fixing options to ensure they can accommodate as many different installation variants as possible.
For maximum thermal efficiency, installers should advise businesses to opt for a heater with a polished aluminium reflector, to ensure the heat is directed to a specific area and opt for a glass–free front. If safety is an issue, wire safety guards are an alternative to glass.
When installing indoor heating most contractors and customers understand the need for good controls to regulate the temperature, and this requirement for quality controls is amplified when considering outdoor heating. Passive infra red (PIR) switches, thermostats and timers are essential to ensure that heat and therefore money isn’t evaporating.
Weatherproof PIR sensors, which detect presence by passive infrared, and can pick up the smallest of movements are one of the best tools to control the heat generated to ensure equipment is operational only when required and best used with modern equipment that provides instant heat and in combination with thermostats to cover fluctuating temperatures. However for older electric heaters that do require preheating, timers can be added. This way the heating will come on between set times, however, there is the risk they will be operational when no one is using the area, so they are best installed only in busier locations.
Remote control options are also available; the main device remains inside but leaves the user in full control of all outdoor heating. Another useful addition for smaller outdoor areas is zone controllers. These provide an excellent solution to energy efficiency, as they control each heater as an individual zone and allow the user to reduce or increase individual lamps as necessary.
Electrical contractors need to be aware of how technological advancements are making electric heating a more energy efficient option, which is an important selling tool when advising the leisure and hospitality sector. Competition looks set only to increase and by helping the leisure businesses to expand their offering, electricians can become a voice of authority for their customers — increasing the chance of repeat business and pushing up everyone’s profits.Start of page