Water Heaters: The Heat is on

With competition in GCC, water heater market is reaching boiling point

ANALYSIS, MEP, Heat, Heater market

With competition in the GCC water heater market reaching boiling point, MEP Middle East finds out what consumers are demanding from those in the know

In a region where heat never seems to be in short supply, the provision of hot water is still a challenging task. When delivering a project, contractors and consultants are faced with a glut of options when it comes to system design and product procurement.

Making the right decisions which deliver the most suitable water heating system for a specific project is reliant on a number of key factors, according to Syed Kamal, chief financial officer at Seisco International Limited.

“The major considerations of consultants and contractors when designing and installing water heating systems are space, reliable supply, quicker supply, and safety,” he says.

“While one of the key trends in the market at the moment is space saving, cost reduction and environmentally responsible products are also factors. We are also seeing an increasing number of people gradually shifting to tankless water heaters because of the advantages they offer.”

Abdulla Hamad Mohd Al Huriaz, managing director of Al Huraiz Group, adds that the issue of safety is paramount as counterfeit and cheaply made products are available on the market.

“Consultants and contractors should see whether products have undergone the test with Dubai Central Laboratory and posses the ESMA certificate. They must check that glasslined water heaters are baked at 850*C, which ensures a good quality product and safety to the end-user. There are fake products with epoxy enameling instead of vitreous enameling, which can lead to serious health issues.”

For Alessandro Mazzarini, marketing manager for the Middle East and central and southern Africa at Ariston Thermo, the market is also demanding an ever greater push towards energy efficient products, and he sees sustainable energy sources as playing a role in this.

“Extremely important are the innovations in the field of solar water heating and heat pump water heating, both capable of saving up to 75% energy when properly dimensioned. Ariston Thermo has been manufacturing solar collectors since 1983, when solar technology was merely more than an idea.

Heat pump water heaters use the energy in the air to provide heat to the water. With a wide range and multiple installation possibilities, these products can be easily combined with solar products to have maximum saving. They are particularly recommended for small- medium applications such as pool heating.

However, Mazzarini says there are some serious issues to address before this ideal of cleaner, greener energy use can be achieved.

“It is to be considered though that in this era of changes, with consultants’ growing interest for solar solutions, their main concern is about durability and service. Despite the market being young and immature, some companies have already tried to take advantage of it with low quality products and now there is skepticism."

Of perhaps less global significance than the issue of energy efficiency, but still of importance to the water heater market, is that of aesthetics.

“The water heater is no longer something to hide in the false ceiling of the house,” says Mazzarini. “Thanks to the latest shapes and colours, they can now be a piece of furniture to display.”

With all these considerations in mind, manufacturers and suppliers have a lot of boxes to tick in order to satisfy the demands of the contractors, consultants, and end-users.

Viessmann latest offering to the market is the glass-lined and stainless steel SS316 electric water heaters, the designs of which improve hygiene standards and are more easily installed by contractors, according to Praveen Kumar, sales director at the company.

“The high-capacity water heaters are mainly manufactured in mild steel with glass lining, copper lining or cement lining etc., but now due to changes in the technology and design, the high-capacity water heaters are manufactured in stainless steel SS316 and there is no lining required since the body is of SS316. This makes it hygienic,” Kumar says.

“In glass-lined or copper-lined tanks, the body is mild steel, which starts corrosion when water gets in contact and because of this sacrificial anodes are used in these tanks as a safety feature.

“ Stainless steel SS316 tanks don’t need sacrificial anodes. If sacrificial anodes are not requi red, the electrical connection and necessary accessories and spares, can be avoided by the contractors,” he adds.

Seisco’s most recent offering to market focuses on reliability and usability, according to Syed Kamal.

“We’ve developed a supercharger unit to maintain water temperature at a pre-designated level., he says.

“Supercharger is a technologically sophisticated product which will prevent any temperature drop allowing repetitive and/or concurrent use of hot water at multiple outlets. Seisco’s all new point-of-use unit has also been recently introduced for continuous and reliable hot water for single water outlets. We are currently testing a new three-phase model specially designed for the Middle East market.”

Kamal also says that Seisco is also continuing to develop its tankless technology.

“Traditional tank water heaters have seen very little in terms of design changes in recent years except that smaller units have been introduced as opposed to whole-house large tank water heaters. Seisco is a leader in tankless technology. It recently introduced the fourth generation of Seisco’s electric tankless water heaters. With its patented flow-detect technology, it conserves both power and water as there is little or no wasted cold water. Seisco tankless water heaters are controlled by an onboard central processing unit, which ensures unit provides a consistent water temperature on demand.”

Meanwhile, Ariston Thermo’s Mazzarini says that his company aims to meet as wide a range of demands from the market as possible and is investing huge sums to advance its technology in order to achieve this.

“Ariston Thermo invested over $80m (AED 300m) in research and development in 2013. The Ariston range covers all capacities between 10 and 3000 litres.

"Besides the traditional mechanical electric water heater well known in all GCC, Ariston offer includes several other products with electronic control, digital display, time programming and a full set of functions that improve the usability while granting up to a 20% saving on the electric bill. Velis and Pro Eco are just some examples of the wide range Ariston is offering in the market,” he adds.

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