Leading radiator manufacturer Stelrad Radiators has partnered with Kirsten and Mars on their My Home Farm blog, YouTube and Instagram channels, where they share their country living, smallholding and sustainability journey.
The couple left their high-flying city careers to discover a new, slower-paced life in the countryside. They eventually found their dream property on the Welsh borders near Shropshire and moved into a Victorian farmhouse with two acres of land and began to share their renovation and lifestyle experiences, exchanging advice and ideas with their followers.
One area they were discovering for the first time were the options available for heating their farmhouse. Off grid, in the country, the immediate go-to options are oil or LPG, but for sustainability reasons they didn’t want their home to use either.
To be environmentally-conscious and finically economical in the long-term they chose renewables from the outset and switched the property over from oil central heating to an 18kW air source heat pump supported by a 6.16kW solar PV array. Over the first two years the heating performed with mixed results and didn’t deliver the heat they had expected on a consistent basis.
The north end of the house and the garden room were proving difficult to heat particularly in the colder months of the year when temperatures dropped to 0C and below. The radiators, which came with the property when they purchased it, felt warm enough to the touch but were simply not delivering an optimal heat to the rooms to make it a comfortable level.
As with a number of areas of the renovation work they were undertaking, Kirsten and Mars turned to the experts and contacted Stelrad for advice.
Doing their own online research about radiators and heat pumps they found advice that suggested that there are hundreds of households across the UK that have ‘borderline’ radiators that barely heat rooms adequately, and it is usually heat pumps that tend to get blamed, but in many cases it comes down to incorrectly sized radiators being used.
Stelrad was able to confirm that it is vital that in any heating and hot water system using radiators to share the heat around the home, the heat pump and the radiators need to be sized correctly for the rooms they are supposed to heat.
In Kirsten and Mars’ case, they had an air source heat pump installed that was adequate for the farmhouse but the sizes of the radiators in each of the ‘problem’ rooms were not suitable and needed a revised heat loss calculation.
Luckily, Stelrad offers a free of charge, simple heat loss calculator on its website – www.stelrad.com – where you simply need to insert the dimensions of each room, the sizes of windows and doors and of course the construction type of the house and the rooms you’re sizing for. It’s vital to know the volume of the room and the number and sizes of the heat escape routes in the room – so what insulation there is in walls and ceilings, what construction the floor is. All these factors will allow the Stelrad system to suggest the size of radiator needed in a room so they can provide the levels of heat you really need to stay warm.
In the case of the difficult to heat rooms, Stelrad suggested the use of new K3 radiators. These radiators have three panels and three sets of fins, offering significantly more metal surface for the air to travel across and to heat up from before spilling out into the room providing the heating it required. You can specify single panel, double panel or triple panel – K3 – radiators depending on what the property needs to provide the right levels of heat. You can also specify larger radiators with heat pumps as they will require more metal surface to heat up to a maximum of 55C – far lower than with a traditional boiler that provides hot water at around 80C and above.
It’s important to understand the different way that boilers and heat pumps operate best to get the best out of them – and even with the lower flow rates of the heat pumps, if you have the right sized radiators, they will ensure that the rooms are kept at a uniformly warm temperature when you need them to – usually settled at around 22C.
K3 radiators have been quite common in mainland Europe for more than 10 years, but have only begun to feature in the UK in the last couple of years in any quantity. Stelrad initially offered just its best-selling Compact radiator in K3 format, but has now added three more of its radiators designs in a K3 option – its Elite radiators, its Compact with Style and its Planar designs.
As heat pumps become more widely accepted and increasingly used in new build developments around the country, the use of K3 radiators is expected to multiply many times over until they are almost the ‘norm’ for UK homes.
“We were delighted to be able to introduce Kirsten and Mars to our K3 radiators,” says Stelrad’s Head of Marketing Chris Harvey. “We’ve recently launched a new campaign called ‘Fit for the Future’ which is all about providing radiators that work with renewable heating systems, but ensuring that they are used properly which means sizing them properly and upping the levels of insulation in homes to make the most of the benefits K3s offer. Radiators are not complicated technology but to provide the best outcomes they need to be sized to ensure that the heat levels are adequate to make a home warm enough to live in comfortably.”
Kirsten and Mars have seen a dramatic heating improvement with their new K3s. “We could feel the difference from the moment we replaced the previous owners K2 radiators with the K3s from Stelrad. Heating for us is all about comfort and sustainability, and if you have the heating on full and still need to wear two jumpers, it’s just not working efficiently,” says Kirsten. “It was so important to us to get expert advice and then get the right equipment fitted to ensure we were getting the maximum performance from our air source heat pump. Our garden room was really chilly even with the heating on and we avoided using it. Now we can feel the heat the K3s generate simply by walking into the room, giving us back a whole living space. We had no idea that a radiator would literally mean we could reclaim a big part of our house that we love and now can enjoy every day no matter what the weather is like outside.”
Take a closer look at the options for radiators at www.stelrad.com and find out how they’re performing for Kirsten and Mars by heading to www.myhomefarm.co.uk, https://www.youtube.com/c/MyHomeFarm or www.instagram.com/my.home.farm.uk.