PulsaCoils, BoilerMates and other thermal stores....
These are an interesting new type of heating/hot water appliance. ('PulsaCoil'
is the model name of the thermal store I most frequently encounter, closely
followed by BoilerMate, and both are made by Gledhill
Ltd. Other Gledhill variants are called ElectraMate, GulfStream and Accolade ) They are mainly fitted in large numbers of luxury flats being built in every town centre
across the UK, and their advantage is that they deliver high performance mains
pressure hot water to showers and baths and can run a conventional wet central
heating radiator system, all powered by low-cost Economy Seven electricity. Flat
occupants no longer have to put up with the appallingly poor performance of
old-fashioned combination cylinders and storage heaters previously fitted in
flats with no gas. (Performance also substantially exceeds that of combi boilers
even when the flat does have gas.)
Fundamentally, thermal stores are a container filled with water that is
heated and stored. This water never changes. The hot water is pumped around
radiators to provide space heating, and through a plate heat exchanger to heat
the tap water whenever a hot tap is turned on.
Most good things have a drawback though. Thermal stores go wrong just like
any other type of mechanical device, but finding a heating engineer to repair
one is not so easy as with a gas-fired heating system. Many heating engineers
are unwilling to deal with them because they are powered by electricity, not gas
(or oil), and they are not electricians. Electricians also avoid them because
they are full of water and obviously for a plumber or heating engineer to fix!
I'll happily repair ANY thermal store, you'll be pleased to hear :-)
Gledhill are definitely the market leaders, and I am one of their nominated
"Out of Warranty Engineers". Gledhill "Out of Warranty
Engineers" are independent repair technicians who Gledhill recommend to
Gledhill thermal store owners for repairs when their units no longer covered by
the Gledhill guarantee.
I most commonly repair PulsaCoil 2000s and PulsaCoil IIIs,
but I am familiar
with other Gledhill thermal stores too, including the BoilerMate, the
ElectraMate, the systeMate, the GulfStream and the (long obsolete)
Gledhill Ltd seem to dominate the thermal store business, with very few
competitors. DPS are the only other significant thermal store manufacturer I
know of. They have a rather chaotic (in my view!) website here,
stuffed with useful information.
A thermal store can also be heated by either electricity (Economy Seven or
similar cheap night-rate tariff) or by a conventional gas or oil boiler. Boilers
are likely to fall from favour in new installations though,
because there is a conflict between the optimum performance parameters of a
modern condensing boiler and the needs of a thermal store. Thermal stores rely
on very high stored water temperatures being achieved to work effectively, while
condensing boilers only achieve their highest efficiency at relatively low water
temperatures. This means condensing boilers are not a good partner for a thermal
store and now the Building Regulations have made condensing boilers compulsory,
gas-powered thermal stores are likely to die out.
(I've published a set of websites about PulsaCoils, BoilerMates, SysteMates
ElectraMates etc their common faults and repairs here: www.gledhill-repairs.co.uk)
Gledhill Water Storage Ltd no longer make the complex "2000" and
"A-Class" ranges of electronically controlled thermal stores and the
company has entered administration. Spare parts are still freely available to
the trade from another Gledhill company, Gledhill Spare Parts Ltd. A narrower,
much simplified and broadly compatible range of thermal stores for the
replacement market is available from Gledhill Building Products Ltd.
Gledhill owners whose Gledhill thermal stores have suffered terminal failures
(especially early failures which would have been covered by the Gledhill
guarantee had the administration not occurred) tend to be reluctant to buy
another thermal store from Gledhill, so I am often asked about alternative
suppliers for thermal stores.
Here are a few I know of. I'm not recommending these firms as I have little
experience of them, I am just pointing out their existence for people
researching alternative suppliers of thermal stores to Gledhill. There may be
more, so if anyone knows of another firm who should be on this list, please let
Dedicated Pressure Systems Ltd
Advance Appliances Ltd
McDonald Engineers (UK) Ltd
Thermal Innovations (UK) Ltd
Elson (part of Baxi Group)
Finally, there is another page I've written about thermal stores buried in
this site. I doubt you've found it as the link is not obvious. I need to merge
it with this page eventually, but for now, should you want to read it, it's here.