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Combis to feel the squeeze

Top domestic heating manufacturers have expressed concern over the future of combi boilers. As market dynamics change, particularly with the advent of energy efficiency legislation, combis are coming under sales pressure.

Stewart Purchase, managing director of Viessmann UK said that combis would “certainly decline over the next five years” and identified system boilers as the likely beneficiary.
“This shift is likely to effect new homes or social housing refurbs more than the majority of existing homes,” said Mr Purchase.

“Combis will decline because they are energy hungry. They are built to deliver high outputs quickly and this makes them more difficult to control. A combi delivering hot water is not likely to condense and so drops from say 95 per cent to perhaps 85 per cent efficiency.”

Mr Purchase also identified rising domestic hot water needs, and customers preference for stored water to meet this increasing demand as another key source of pressure on combis.
John Smith, renewables project manager at Vokèra told H&V News he did not envisage a major decline in combi boilers over the next 12 months, but felt a downturn in sales would be seen within five years.

Mr Smith added that renewables would play a key part in this. “Solar thermal water heating is the frontrunner in the renewables revolution,” he said. “However its growth may well spell the end for the domestic combi boiler. System boilers are compatible with most renewable technologies and we expect them to take a larger proportion of market share in years to come.”

Martyn Coffey, CEO of the Baxi Group felt that legislation was the key driver and that not only combis but all gas boilers would come under pressure in the coming years. However, he also identified a number of economic factors which could mitigate the effect of energy efficiency legislation.

“The private housing market is expected to remain subdued over the next two years,” said Mr Coffey. “This will impact on all technologies. It is likely that housebuilders will try to keep costs down by only building to the lower levels of the Code for Sustainable Homes.”

Mr Coffey also noted there was little evidence to suggest that central plants would become commonplace in apartments in the short term, due to the floor space a boiler room takes up. He envisaged combis remaining the preferred option.

“The Government spending review has confirmed that affordable social housing will remain a priority. For ease of installation during refurbishment, this is more likely to mean the use of combis. Also, in the private sector, distress purchases will continue to favour ‘like for like’ replacements for the foreseeable future,” concluded Mr Coffey.