Feeling chilly? Custom heating solutions could help - Building NZ
Feeling chilly? Custom heating solutions could help

Feeling chilly? Custom heating solutions could help

It was his personal experience with heat pumps that led Capisco’s Mark Coory to look into alternative solutions for his own home. That’s when he discovered Herschel-Infrared. But it’s not all about a superior product, according to Mark - good heat also hinges on customisation and control...

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

For the first time this year the census polled Kiwis on the dampness of their homes.

With questions like, ‘Do you have mould in your home larger than an A4 sized piece of paper’, appearing on our national survey, it’s clear: New Zealand has a serious issue with internal moisture. A part of this is, of course, substandard building and insulation practices which are being steadily phased out, but another concern for internal moisture is the way we heat. According to Mark Coory of Capisco, the problem lies in the fact that we heat the air.

Mark began looking for a solution to inferior heating based on personal experience.

“We had two heat pumps at home and we would run the temperatures on high. But while the air was hot and stuffy, we still felt cold ourselves. That’s when we looked to the colder European climates to find an alternative solution.”

What they discovered was Herschel Infrared, a UK based company specialising in supplying far infrared heating solutions throughout Europe. Infrared heating works by heating the objects and fabric of a building, not the air within a given room. Now, Capisco is offering Herschel Infrared products to New Zealanders, with the unique ability to customise each solution to the parameters of the site. We asked Mark to tell us a bit more about the case for infrared and the importance of bespoke heating solutions.

Moving away from air-based heating

The primary issue with heating the air, explains Mark, is that air itself has a very limited thermal mass.

“Thermal mass dictates the ability to store and retain heat. That means while the air heats up very fast, it also becomes cold extremely quickly. If you turn off the system, introduce a cool breeze or the air comes in contact with a cold piece of glass or outer wall, that’s it - the heat is lost.”

Warm air also holds much more moisture content, exacerbating moisture related issues.

“With air-based heating systems, you create the ideal conditions for condensation. You’ve got cold walls, cold windows and warm moist air. We believe that much of the internal mould issues being experienced in New Zealand homes and offices can be attributed to the air-based heating systems so commonly used.” 

Infrared heating, on the other hand, relies on direct heating of the objects in the room - including you.

Humans are radiant beings and thermal dynamics dictate that heat travels from the warm object to the cool object to find equilibrium. Unless it is rapidly moving past us, we don’t lose body heat to air because it has such a low thermal mass. A cold wall beside us, however, will draw our body heat away making us feel chilly, regardless of the air temperature around us.

That’s why you’ll often hear meteorologists describe the weather in regards to actual temperature and ‘what it feels like’. Mark likens the sensation to being on a ski field. While the air is cold, if the sun is beating down, you can still feel quite hot. 

The case for customised heating solutions

The advantage of Herschel-Infrared’s offering is not only the superiority of their product range, but the fact that all systems are tailored to site. Over time, they’ve developed an algorithmic method to ensure installations meet and exceed the heating requirements of a given space.

“Heating is often specified around rudimentary rules of thumb. Depending on the system you’re installing, they’ll do a room measurement and come up with a cubic metre measurement you’ll need to heat for. That alone dictates how much heat you’ll need. The problem with this is that it doesn’t factor energy lost due to building materials and other features.”

Herschel-Infrared challenges this standard, however, by looking into the u-value of materials in the space. U-values measure the energy transference properties of a given material.

“New Zealand’s building and insulation practices are developing very quickly, so it’s important to look closely into the materials used. A room built even fifteen years ago, for example, may specify out at 40 watts per cubic metre, while a newly built space the same size, but with high levels of insulation could only require as little as 10 watts per cubic metre. This is why ‘rules of thumb’ aren’t the ideal way to specify a system. It also means if you are spending more up front on your materials and insulation, you get real benefits in terms of reducing the size and cost of your heating system.”  

By calculating energy needs in this way, Herschel-Infrared can ensure a more desirable outcome for the homeowner in terms of initial investment cost, comfort and energy savings. Their proprietary system of calculators even take into consideration regional ambient temperatures, allowing them to get the most ideal temperature outcome for your building type and location.


“Our calculators take into account properties such as the number of internal versus external walls, the orientation of the room - whether it’s north or south facing and construction materials used. Generally speaking, we’re more concerned replacing energy loss from the materials used rather than the physical size of an area - we even take into account the amount and types of glass in a room as it all makes a difference to the requirement.”

Equally important is the purpose of a given space. Last year, for example, Herschel-Infrared installed a solution in Ingham’s factory. Unlike other one-size-fits-all heating companies, the team examined the specific needs of the building and the staff there, designing a solution around heating the most critical areas of the workshop and even the objects within the area, such as the tools employees would be handling. 

“We have very different calculators depending on the job. In a domestic environment, you generally want to heat the whole space. In industrial applications, on the other hand, you might only want to heat certain areas.”

Customisation also extends into Herschel-Infrared’s product range. Doing away with the concept that heaters need to look like heaters, Herschel-Infrared makes heaters that can complement any space, including mirror panels and solutions for in- and outdoor applications.

Want to learn more about cosying up with a heating solution built for you? Reach out to Herschel-Infrared today and be sure to check out their latest on ArchiPro.

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