The last 15 years have been characterized by major changes in the heating equipment market in Poland and beyond. It can be said with certainty that 15 years ago the real transformation of heating began, which continues to this day and there are still many problems to be overcome in the heating industry, in order to ensure heating without emission, cheap and safe in all conditions, both in new homes and in those that will be renovated. The beginning of this period is above all the end of the era of conventional gas boilers, which are now almost entirely replaced by condensing boilers. However, this did not happen so easily in Poland. Decision-makers were not even convinced by the prospect of reducing the gas consumption of such a device by about 30-40% compared to conventional boilers, not to mention a significant reduction in emissions of sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides. The final switch to condensing boilers, gas and oil, took place definitively at the end of September 2015, with the entry into force of European regulations on eco-design and labelling. Changes in the product group of gas boilers did not only concern the application of condensing technology. At this time, the technology for automatic management of the operation of the boiler has developed significantly. Peripheral devices – such as temperature and room controllers have entered a new quality. Boilers with variable power modulation have appeared more widely, allowing to adapt the power of the device to the prevailing conditions, which gives tangible benefits in the form of lower gas consumption, which is especially important now, while in recent months we are dealing with high price jumps of various energy carriers, ranging from gas, electricity, coal and ending with biomass.
In recent years, it has become common to remotely control the operation of a heating boiler and its diagnosis. Initially, these types of modules were based on the use of a SIM card and mobile telephony, but today the use of the Internet to control the boiler remotely is dominant.
The poles are opening up to new ones
But above all, the last 15 years have been a period of overcoming certain prejudices and stereotypes concerning the use of renewable energies in heating. It started with the extensive use of solar collectors for the preparation of domestic hot water and the implementation of heat pump technology, first and foremost underfloor heating. At that time, the use of solar energy was in no way considered a space technology. In this regard, the use of heat from the environment through the use of heat pump technology has been more evidently adopted, even despite occasional errors in the selection of these devices and their installation, which initially resulted in unfair prejudice against this technology. We owe this obvious and positive approach to the possibilities offered by the heat pump to the sustainable and coherent development of this technology, the very positive effects of which we are now seeing today. While several years ago, having shattered the prevailing and effectively maintained stereotypes that in our climate solar collectors are meaningless, there was an explosion of interest in the use of solar energy. solar energy to prepare hot water, at the time the use of solar energy to obtain electricity in photovoltaic panels in Poland, it was still treated at least as science fiction. After a few years, this has changed dramatically with the decrease in the cost of such an installation. It can be said that at that time, after great interest, solar collectors became victims of their own success. From the beginning, they were promoted solely as a source of domestic hot water heating. It was also the first renewable energy technology used in the installation and heating industry, to which the support program was dedicated. As a result, the stereotype about the unprofitability of this technology has been shattered in the social consciousness, thanks to which the technology has found its way to the proverbial stubble. A negative side effect of this success has been the classification of collectors only as a source of domestic hot water, without the wider use of these installations, for example to support heating and heat used in industrial processes with heat free obtained from solar energy. In recent years, it has already been caught up, as has the problem of available space on roofs for installations, which was, especially outside Poland, a reason to compete with photovoltaic panels. A compromise solution that has been experiencing a revival for several years are hybrid collectors which combine the characteristics of an ordinary thermal collector with a PV panel.
Development of heat pump technology
There has also been a dynamic development in heat pump technology. From a niche hobby product, heat pump technology has become a technology promoted by EU decision makers at all levels. Many types of heat pumps have appeared, using almost all the thermal resources contained in the environment. Air-source heat pumps, which are cheaper to install than traditional ground-based heat pumps, have gained particular popularity. Due to concerns about a sufficient supply of electricity to power these heat sources, hybrid heat pumps and thermally operated appliances have also begun to develop in place of the main power supply. There are also solutions favoring stand-alone systems based on heat pumps combined in a single installation system with photovoltaic panels, wind farms and energy storage. Thus, heat pumps began to be an element of hybrid installations in combination with other complementary heat sources and heat storage.
Get involved in the fight against smog
Also in the group of solid fuel boilers there has been a visible qualitative leap, especially in recent years. This is the result of trends in the fight against smog and soot and the reduction in the importance of coal as a fuel for space heating and more. Due to the cleanliness requirements introduced, the most modern solid fuel heating boilers, here we mean mainly powered by biomass, are devices that emit incomparably less pollutants into the atmosphere than it was until recently. These are generally fully automated boilers, both in terms of fuel supply and control of the operating parameters of the device. Condensing technology, which until now was the domain of gas and oil boilers, also began to enter the group of solid fuel heating boilers.
Of course, these are only selected examples of qualitative changes in the installation and heating industry. Much can still be said about the qualitative stage that took place in the case of elements of heating installations, other sources of heat and the very method of emitting and regulating the amount of heat in rooms. Over the past 15 years, underfloor heating, which was also initially a solution for amateurs, has become a standard for all buildings of modern design.