Energy efficient farmhouse heating houses need not be a challenge if you explore the advantages of an infrared heating system.

The situation

The Farmhouse built in 1820s and consisted of solid 1 metre thick Yorkshire stone walls with no insulation. Heating was from a combination of systems including an oil-fired Aga used for cooking, room heating and hot water. The central heating in the hallway, landing, reception rooms and bedrooms was provided by wall mounted electric storage heaters (installed in 1991) with supplementary room heating through a log burner and open fires. The bathrooms were heated by manually switched electric towel rails and electric bar heaters.

Despite 26kW of storage heating capacity costing almost £500/month to run (c. £2,950/year), the storage heaters were not effectively heating the house. Cooler air was drawn into the adjoining rooms from the hall by the convection currents created from the open fires and log burner. These cold drafts made it uncomfortable to sit in the reception rooms near the doors, even when they were closed!

Inadequate and unregulated heating in the bathrooms, combined with the cold walls, meant they were unpleasant to use during the winter months and condensation on the walls was a big issue causing the paint to flake. The high level of moisture in these rooms caused the wooden doors and windows to expand making them difficult to open and close.

The challenge

The old storage heaters were an eye-sore so it was important that the replacement heating system was less conspicuous and more in keeping with existing decoration. As this was a retrofit project disruption from the installation had to be minimal and the need to chase-in new wiring avoided or re-decoration would be needed.

To maximise the energy saving and deliver the optimum level of thermal comfort in the different rooms, it was important to create independently controlled heating zones. However, without the ability to run new separate electrical heating circuits, achieving this would normally present a challenge.

In the bathrooms, the new heating system had to address the issue of condensation and damp whilst improving the level of thermal comfort.

The solution

ETHERMA’s LAVA Design infrared panels solved all the main issues and a few extra! In contrast to the storage heaters, the LAVA Infrared heating directly warms thermal mass (ceiling, walls, furniture and people) where the energy is stored and gradually released back into the room as heat. This homogeneous heating of the space results in a pleasant environment with minimal convection currents. As the infrared directly warms people, like being in the sun, the room air temperature can be reduced by up to 2-3°C whilst maintaining the same level of thermal comfort resulting in lower running costs (£126/month compared to £500/month for the storage heaters).

These infrared heaters were also the perfect solution for the bathrooms, creating a pleasant spa-like feel. The infrared directly warms the occupants, creating comfort and warmth especially when getting out of the bath or shower. By warming and drying the walls the infrared heaters prevent condensation and damp which was a particular issue in the bathrooms. Drier walls are better insulators which ultimately leads to long term cost savings through a lower heating requirement and reduced maintenance – in this case regular repainting! Within six weeks of the infrared heating being installed, the wooden doors and windows in the bathrooms began to open and close with ease.

LAVA Mirrors in the in the bedrooms and painting the surface of the LAVA Basic DM Infrared panels (using radiator paint) to match the wall colour in other rooms. Wireless controls simplified the installation process and avoided the need to redecorate. This also allowed each room to be treated as a separate heating zone with its own programmable thermostat giving more accurate control, better thermal comfort and lower running cost.

A significant health benefit to the customer who suffered from morning headaches (for the past 40 years) was that the headaches ceased when the storage heaters in the master bedroom were replaced with the LAVA Infrared panels.

Solution in detail

LAVA Mirror 500W infrared heating panels were used in the bedrooms and LAVA Basic DM infrared panels (750W & 1000W) in the other rooms. Using the ET-111A wireless receivers on the back of the panels with the ET-14A programmable thermostats made creating different heating zones within the farmhouse a straightforward process. Precise control of the heating is the key to saving operating costs and not wasting valuable energy.

Product Benefits

LAVA Glass 2.0 Mirror

LAVA Glass Mirror Infrared heater
  • Highest radiation efficiency due to:
    • maximum forward radiation
    • homogeneous surface temperature
    • large surface
    • optimally insulated rear (max. 40°C)
  • Frameless Infinity design Plug & Play connection system for easy individual control
  • Highest safety against breakage and overheating
  • No service or maintenance required
  • No magnetic field

LAVA Basic DM Infrared Panels

LAVA Basic 750 Infrared heating panel
  • Suitable for ceiling and wall mounting
  • 350, 750, 1500 W suitable for grid ceilings (625 x 625 mm)
  • Ideal for the ceiling due to a lightweight construction
  • High radiant heating effect
  • Maximum radiation to the front due to the optimally insulated rear
  • Maintenance-free and magnetic field-free

Wireless Programmable Thermostat

Wireless programmable thermostat and switch (ET-14A)
  • Large, illuminated LCD display
  • 5 Operating modes (Comfort, reduction, frost protection, AUTO, OFF)
  • Week and day programming
  • Battery level indicator
  • Open window detection (in combination with ET-14A-FK)
  • Ecodesign guidelines compliant
  • Adaptive start-up control

Download Case Study

  • Project Type: Residential heating refurbishment project
  • Client: Private customer
  • Location: North Yorkshire
  • Products Installed: LAVA Glass Mirror 500W, LAVA Basic DM Infrared Panels, Wireless Programmable Thermostats (ET-14A)