How are HIUs used in flats and apartment projects?

Heat Interface Units (HIUs) are an ideal solution for use in multi-occupancy dwelling projects such as flats and apartment blocks. Projects such as these lend themselves well to the concept of communal heating (e.g. having a single central plant room supplying the entire building) as a collaborative strategy for saving all of the occupant’s money on running costs. The principle is that each occupier is contributes financially to a share of one large heat source running very efficiently, rather than each property having separate smaller heat sources running less efficiently. This efficiency benefit should be reflected in the consumers energy bills compared to an equivalent property with a conventional gas supply.

HIUs are a key component in this type of communal heating model, basically fulfilling the same function as a gas boiler in a property. Each home or apartment has its own HIU installed, which uses hot water piped from the central network to provide a very responsive heating and domestic hot water (DHW) supply – completely replacing the requirement for individual boilers in each property. To the end user it’s just like having a boiler as normal but without the flame.

HIUs also take up very little space (our units will fit into a standard 600mm cupboard), and maintenance requirements on an HIU are very straight forward compared to a regular gas boiler with easy access to components inside the box for the service engineer. For example with our new Mibec Xi Compact HIU the plate heat exchangers are extremely easy to access (at the front) and can be removed for cleaning in seconds – saving time and money compared to a boiler where this could take 20 minutes.

HIUs are also a great option for designers and developers, with the biggest advantage being that each individual property doesn’t need its own gas supply, hugely simplifying flat and apartment project design and saving on capital costs. Not having a gas supply into a property means that the installers of HIUs don’t need to be Gas-safe registered, and in addition there is no requirement for flues, again saving on costs but also providing more flexibility around the design and layout of the property. Installers will find HIUs easy to fit and commission, the associated pipework is easy to install and often only a programmable room thermostat is required to complete the system. When designing a property, HIUs are also a great option for wet underfloor heating (UFH) systems which are becoming very popular in high end apartment developments – for example our Xi Compact HIU is fully compatible with low temperature systems such as those in UFH. The installer simply sets the required value for temperature on installation which could save costs on water blending controls that are usually required for normal boilers with UFH.

In rented flats and apartments landlords and housing associations can benefit from reduced service and maintenance costs compared to having individual boilers. The removal of gas supplies makes complying with health and safety laws easier, eliminating the need for individual gas compliance checks in each property and also removing any worries about Carbon Monoxide emissions. HIUs can include individual accurate metering which makes billing for the tenants fairer and makes it easy for the landlord to manage large portfolios of properties. Some units can also accommodate pre-payment metering. The tenants will also have good visibility of consumption promoting energy saving around the home.

The occupiers should find operating the HIU very straightforward, for example our Xi Comapct HIU is simple and intuitive to use with a clear screen and only 4 buttons to change any settings. HIUs are also very reliable with ultimately fewer components to go wrong compared to a regular boiler. Our Xi Compact HIU in particular uses very high quality components in its construction such as a low energy Wilo Erp (Energy Related Products) compliant pump, and a uniquely design strainer with increased surface area for longer operation without blocking.

As can be seen HIU’s provide a clean and easy option for distributing the energy created by a communal heating networks and will offer many advantages to everyone involved in a multi-occupancy project. If you would like to find out more please visit our Heat Interface Unit product pages where you can download our latest technical brochures. At Mibec we offer a full free of charge specification service covering the whole of the UK, designed to support architects, specifiers or contractors, helping you to select the right heating solution to meet your needs. Please feel free to email or call our support department on 01782 959170 where one of our highly trained advisers will be happy to help you with any HIU or communal heating queries.