How you heat your garden centre can encourage customers to browse for longer and keep stock dry. Specialists Powrmatic give us the lowdown
An effective heating system will ensure that customers are comfortable during their visit and encourage them to browse for longer periods of time. As many garden centres have relatively low levels of insulation, the heating will also help to prevent condensation and stock damage. There are two types of heating technology that can be used to provide efﬁcient solutions for the types of spaces found in garden centres.
Where & when
The heating system needs to suit the layout of the space as well as its physical structure. In some cases this will mean using different types of heaters for different areas to avoid cold spots and deliver optimum results.
Warm air heating is usually the best solution for enclosed spaces within a garden centre. Usually the heaters will be mounted at high wall or roof level while ensuring that the merchandise displays do not obstruct the even distribution of heated air.
However, if the space is likely to be reconﬁgured on a regular basis, ﬂoor standing heaters with directional warm air outlets might provide greater ﬂexibility to accommodate future changes in layout.
If any area of the garden centre has a high roof then warm air will naturally rise, producing a temperature gradient between ﬂoor and roof. This potential waste of energy can be minimised by the use of destratiﬁcation fans mounted just below the roof to circulate warm air back to low level, thus saving energy. Areas that are partially open to the outside, and therefore undergo constant air changes, may beneﬁt from radiant heating as it does not directly warm the air but will warm customers as they browse.
Due to the temperatures attained by radiant heater emitters, they will need to be positioned a reasonable distance from people and stock. Particular care must be taken with positioning in the vicinity of tall plants to avoid damaging them, and to ensure that plants and stacked stock do not ‘shade out’ other areas from the radiated heat.
Cost and control
Having the correct heating system and controls will ensure facilities are heated with minimum energy consumption.
By setting up a zoned control system it may be possible to reduce temperatures in areas where people are active, while maintaining higher temperatures where people are stationary, such as cafés.
Using timed control to switch the heating on before the centre opens will ensure the building is warm when people arrive. The morning pre-heat period can be combined with temperature optimised control to vary the pre-heating period, so that the heating will be delayed on warmer days, using less fuel.
Warm Air Heating
Warm air heaters may be suspended from the roof, mounted on the wall or free-standing on the ﬂoor – whichever best suits the conﬁguration and use of the space. The source of the heat can be a gas or oil ﬁred burner in the appliance itself, hot water from a centrally located boiler or heat pump, or an electric element. Fuel sources for warm air heaters include mains gas, LPG and oil, as well as the ability to connect hot water heaters to biomass boilers.
Radiant heating is typically gas ﬁred (mains gas or LPG) and is provided either by suspended radiant tubes or radiant plaque heaters which may be suspended or wall mounted. Both types of radiant heaters emit infrared radiation from hot surfaces. Radiant emissions only warm objects, such as people, that are in the ‘direct line of sight’ of the heating source – this needs to be kept in mind when positioning radiant heaters.