Locally produced hot water innovation reduces household energy costs
Using heat pump systems manufacturer EMS Holdings’ domestic 200ℓ integrated heat pump system can save households between 60% and 70% of their monthly electricity costs as it uses home-grown efficient technology.
EMS Holdings CEO Franco Diedericks, speaking during this year’s Electra Mining Africa 2020 Connect virtual event – for which Creamer Media’s Engineering News & Mining Weekly is a partner – on the theme of innovation and the status of the South African manufacturing sector, says the technology was developed in-house following the development and large-scale roll-out of large water heating technologies.
“It has been my dream to shrink the technology for use in domestic applications,” he says, adding that this has not been done before.
Having developed large water heating solutions in the range of 3 000 ℓ and larger, it took EMS Holdings about two years to shrink its existing heat pump and water heating technology into a smaller unit for household use.
“We built many prototypes, many of which failed miserably, but eventually we got it right.”
The integrated heat pump system went into commercial production in January, but was shortly thereafter impacted severely by the Covid-19 pandemic which slowed production and demand.
However, Diedericks says the business resumed in June/July and, going froward, things are looking “very positive – we are selling quite a lot of these units now”.
The units are available through EMS Holdings’ distribution alliance partner, electrical wholesaler ADDC, which has almost 100 stores nationwide.
The system is suitable for outdoor installation and is compatible with solar photovoltaic system integration.
Its primary heating element uses only 750 W, but is also backed up with a 2 000 W element. The system is also WiFi compatible with a digital interface, enabling users to control and monitor their hot water system remotely from their phone to set temperature, timers and switch it on and off.
“Everybody uses hot water. I consider hot water not a luxury, but a necessity,” he states, adding that, in terms of hot water users, such as mining houses, the requirement for vast volumes of hot water are significant and essential.
“About seven years ago we were presented the opportunity to build a 30 000 ℓ hot water system for Air Chefs in Kempton Park, where it operates a 24/7 operation,” says Diedericks, speaking of how the company started its journey into innovating new and efficient water heating technologies in South Africa.
It was during these initial phases of technology development that he says the company became aware of the shortage of metal tanks in South Africa – a critical component of large water heating solutions.
This situation led to the company looking into alternatives, and resulted in it developing its fibreglass tank system.
“We did a lot of research and now, we have a full manufacturing plant in Krugersdorp where we produce hot water vessels made from fibreglass,” he says.
Further, Diedericks says the key difference between EMS Holdings’ solution and other solutions, such as clarifiers and standard boiler systems, is that EMS Holdings’ products work with low pressure.
“This alleviates health and safety issues regarding pressurised vessels, which sometimes explode. Also, because they are made from fibreglass, they will outlast any other system on the market.”
The fibreglass tank systems have proved successful on the local market for large-volume hot water consumers, with the company having commissioned systems for miners including Sibanye-Stillwater and Anglo American.
“We are also currently busy [installing systems at] mines in Steelpoort,” he says.
Work for mines has also resulted in the company receiving a lot of interest from the likes of schools, universities and hospitals.
An added benefit is that EMS Holdings’ systems can be installed on site, thereby alleviating the requirement for cumbersome rigging and cranes associated with large metal tank systems.