URGENT WARNING: The Danger of Under Specifying Hot Water Cylinders

Friday, 30 March 2012

A hot water cylinder may appear to be a trivial issue when it comes to the overall design of a project, however its performance will have a major impact on the client’s satisfaction, the perception of the architect’s performance and therefore the payment of fees. When it comes to specifying the type of hot water cylinder to be used within a property, it’s generally the installation contractor who is given this responsibility, but what is their priority in the process? The current economic climate is forcing many contractors to reduce their tender prices just to win the work and therefore it is only natural that many firms will look at the cheapest option they can get away with. But the impact of under-specification of the hot water cylinders could have serious long term implications on the performance and the day to day usage whether it’s a house, a hotel or a commercial office. So, what should be considered when specifying a heating system and why should architects be more involved at the specification stage? As well as cost the following topics should be addressed with the client in mind:

  • Mains pressure – Does the hot water need to be delivered at mains pressure?
  • Multiple outlets - Does the pressure need to be maintained throughout when several outlets are being fed?
  • Heat recovery times – How quickly does the water need to regain heat?
  • Capacity – Is the capacity ample for the project?
  • Positioning of the cylinder - Where the cylinder is located will play a major role in determining the type of cylinder to be used. However by considering a bespoke cylinder you can obtain a cylinder that works round your design instead of having to design around the cylinder.
  • Life – What is the life span of the product and how long is it guaranteed for?
  • Environmental Factor – What is the GWP? What type of lagging should be used? Is the system easy to recycle? Copper hot water cylinders are better for the environment as they are recyclable.
  • Energy source - do you want to incorporate multiple and renewable fuel sources such as heat pumps, solar energy and solid fuel?
  • Materials used – Copper hot water cylinders, in addition to having excellent anti-bacterial qualities, will significantly reduce running costs compared to Stainless Steel particularly with renewable energy.

Incidents of hot water systems not performing to the expectation of the client are often caused by a poorly designed solution, an inferior cylinder or a contractor simply selecting the cylinder that is currently on special offer. By working with the contractor, the architect could help to specify a hot water cylinder that meets the needs of the clients. For these reasons, it is vital that Architects become more involved at the specification stage to ensure that the initial outlay does not become the main factor in the decision making process. These issues can prove costly in terms of delays to the project and in some cases fees being withheld. To discuss your requirements in more detail simply contact us on 01592 611123.