Saving energy starts at home. that is why Dave Davis also tests new equipment himself: “A LambdaConstant system has been heating my own pool for years now and it works superbly!” Davis has been Managing Director of Heat Transfer Products (HTP) since 2006. Ever since it was set up, the company has been committed to efficiency on the American heating technology market. The Massachusetts-based company started to develop and produce heat exchangers for heating boilers and for the solar industry in 1974. in the late 1990s, the company introduced condensing boiler technology from landshut to the American market — triggering a development that has continued until today. HtP has since become a pioneer in the field of ultraefficient water heating. “the people from Heat Transfer Products are true pioneers in heating technology,” stresses Manfred Kratzer of Export Sales at ebm-papst Landshut.
At the turn of the century, HTP was carefully monitoring what the engineers at the lower Bavarian ebm-papst location were developing: a control model that automatically adjusts the burner for different types of gas and which requires less installation time for commissioning. in 2005, a delegation visited Landshut and was quickly taken by the LambdaConstant system. “We are committed to European technology to make our products even better and to advance the American market. For that reason, we quickly indicated to ebm-papst that we were interested in working on and with LambdaConstant for use in our heating systems,” explains Davis. HTP spent the last three years conducting extreme field tests on 25 units in different parts of the USA to determine the efficiency, flexibility and robustness of the LambdaConstant system. Some units were fitted to a jeep and driven through the mountains of Colorado. others were installed in log cabins and others were tested at camping sites. “We had units at elevations of 3,000 metres and we had units at sea level,” explains Dave Davis.
HTP engineers maintained constant contact with ebm-papst throughout the tests. “Both companies benefited from this,” explains Manfred Kratzer. The learning effects of the extreme tests constantly made the LambdaConstant system even better. In return, the two models from HTP’s Elite plus line were scrutinised and continuously improved at Landshut. the engineers regularly exchanged information in fortnightly telephone conferences, frequently even more often. “We were working on efficiency and on improving individual components right to the very end,” stresses Kratzer. The small number of components is a characteristic of the LambdaConstant system that Dave Davis also highlights: a fan with a mass flow sensor, a gas burner, a control unit and a display. Done.
But what Davis likes best about the gas blower with electronic control is that it automatically adjusts to suit the type of gas and the gas content. That is especially important in some parts of the USA, where propane and other types of gas are used to increase the gas pressure. “There is a large market for this in the USA. You don’t need measurements or additional jets or complex configuration work to convert LambdaConstant from one type of gas to another,” stresses Davis. The adaptability is made possible by a mass flow sensor that measures the gas/air mixture flowing through the unit.
This ingenious device makes LambdaConstant flexible for other influences such as differences in elevation and fluctuations in pressure in the piping system, as Dave Davis stresses. “At higher elevations, LambdaConstant has one great advantage: the heating systems work just as efficiently even at elevations up to 3,000 metres.” The system doesn’t just monitor the flow rate, it actually regulates the gas flow. This means that differences in pressure in long systems of pipes are no longer of significance. that is a characteristic that cannot be underestimated in the large private households typically found in the USA.
Despite only having a few components, LambdaConstant has lots of innovation. Another major advantage of the system is the extraordinary modulation of 1:10. “We had to recognise that the ability of today’s efficient heating boilers to respond quickly is both a blessing and a determent,” explains Davis. If only a small load is demanded from a heating system, conventional burners with a modulation of 1:4 switch off. In order to supply hot water without delay when demand is increased, they work by storing the energy in an intermediate reservoir. The burner intermittently heats up the reservoir content, switching on, off, on again — and in doing so it burns gas unnecessarily. By contrast, the fine modulation of the LambdaConstant allows the burner to continue running at an extremely low level when demand is low. Nobody else offers a system that is comparably innovative in the USA.
Despite the difficult economic situation, there is a major movement in the USA towards the use of energy-efficient, low emissions technologies. These ultra-efficient products currently enjoy a market share of about 12-15 percent. “Previous technologies have an efficiency factor of about 85 percent. Our products have a factor of up to 98 percent, and they are winning ever more market share,” Davis is certain. But growth will be a slow process: “Ultra-efficient products are expensive in their initial procurement, and home owners don’t have much money right now, so at the moment they are tending not to choose more efficient systems.” However, the heating pioneer is convinced that the two Elite plus units that will be launched in mid-2010 will conquer the market in the same way as the first condensing boiler systems did 15 years ago. “LambdaConstant simply gives us a huge market lead over all of our competitors.”
What is special about this system for condensing boiler heating systems is the combination of an intelligent gas blower and a control unit. A sensor measures the mass of the gas/air mixture and the combustion is automatically adjusted. In addition, LambdaConstant has a modulation of 1:10. This means that combustion can be reduced to just one tenth of full power, not just to one quarter, the level that is currently standard on the market. If only a small amount of heat is needed, the burner runs on low power instead of constantly being switched off and back on again. The system ensures optimum combustion, regardless of the type of gas, the elevation of the place of operation and the heat required.