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Grade II 17th Century Barn Renovation Featured on Channel 4's Restoration Man

Panasonic Air Source Heat Pump efficiently heats Grade II 17thCentury Barn renovation


The restoration of a Grade II listed 17th Century barn in Broxted, Essex ably demonstrates the strengths of Panasonic’s Aquarea air source heat pump by   supplying hot water and heating to the stunning property via under floor heating. Energy specialists, Eco Installer, completed the installation of two 16kW Panasonic Aquarea T-Cap three-phase heat pumps.

Featured on Channel 4’s “The Restoration Man with George Clark” programme, this 17th Century barn that was originally used for storing and threshing of crops and now renovated to a residential family home was a complex project, as Roland Gurner of Eco Installer explains: “This was a major restoration project, with the client looking for an alternative to an oil or fossil-fuel based system, a 4,000m² agricultural barn featuring high ceilings with performance and efficiency being key to a successful specification.  The two 16kW Panasonic T-Cap heat pumps were chosen as a perfect solution for the large internal areas and to provide a reliable and efficient source of heating. The property already had three-phase power installed with the units working well as a cascaded system, being highly efficient and providing energy when needed. Not only that, but we had to accommodate the filming crew, and work around their schedules.” The Channel 4 programme highlighting the initial build was first aired in Autumn 2017.

Barn-storming challenges…

The Barn was originally owned by and part of the nearby St Mary’s Church Estate and built in the 17th Century for storing and threshing of crops such as wheat, which required very high ceilings and sloping floors for drainage, with large, tall doorways to accommodate stacked horse drawn carriages riding into the building. The property had not been used for some time prior to the current owner Jude McKelvey purchasing it in 2014 with the aim to renovate the property to a residential family home.

The roof structure needed repairing and the original beams required strengthening with some of the old timber having to be replaced – after a long planning and approval process, work finally began in March 2016 and the roof installed – it took eight weeks, four roofers and 44,000 roof tiles (many being reused from the original building).  It took a further 16 months before the heating system was installed and the Barn ready for occupation.

The new owner, Jude McKelvey, had a dream to renovate and convert the abandoned barn into a domestic dwelling for herself and her two sons to live in. She was heavily involved in all decisions, including the provision of heating and hot water, as Jude comments: “I was looking for a reliable, efficient and cost-effective heating solution for the barn, but one that also didn’t detract from the beauty of the amazing building.  Also, we wanted to avoid having to install an oil tank, and therefore looked for a system based on renewable technologies that would also keep our running costs down for heating such a large space. We were pleased to work with the team at Eco Installer to advise on the most appropriate solution and then design and install the air source heat pump system.”

Renewable energy, plumbing and heating specialist, Eco Installer, provide plumbing, heating, renewable energy and ventilation services in Cambridgeshire. The team headed up by Roland Gurner includes heating and plumbing professionals with extensive knowledge and experience of mechanical and electrical engineering, renewable energy and technical consulting services.  As such, they were able to take on this demanding project and devise a system to deliver its complex requirements.  The challenges for the installation of the heat pumps was that the structure was large with the beams of the whole building exposed and open plan, everything was visible, (beams/structure etc), therefore the neatness of the installation was critical to the project. Sizing the heat pumps, carrying out heat-loss calculations were all a challenge as the barn was very large, old, and ventilation changes were unknown.

Tony Holland from Oceanair, the distributor of the Panasonic system commented,

The Panasonic Aquarea T-Cap was the ideal solution for such a large renovation project, as the system provides a reliable and constant nominal capacity output and excellent energy rating with a COP of 5.08. The quietness of this system was also a deciding factor on selecting this product. As well as being a reliable and efficient heating and hot water solution against alternatives such as boilers and oil burners, this Total Capacity system maintains heating capacity, even with cold outdoor temperatures, maintaining 16kW of heating, even when outside is as low as -15oC.”

Tony further mentioned “This project also gave us the chance to continue our excellent and important business relationship with Eco Installer on such a unique and iconic property and we are delighted with the result.”

Panasonic’s Aquarea is a reliable, sustainable, intelligent and extremely efficient heating and hot water solution compared to alternatives such oil-fired burners or gas boilers.  The Aquarea T-CAP (Total Capacity) maintains heating capacity, even when the outdoor ambient temperature is cold – maintaining 16kW of heating down to -15°C outdoor temperatures.

Sean Graham – Area Sales Manager at Panasonic further added “The Panasonic Aquarea T-Cap system was selected for this project because of its ability to operate down to low temperatures and still maintain full capacity, even at -20°C”.

Jude concludes: “Working with Roland at Eco Installer, we were delighted to find the Panasonic Aquarea T-Cap.  Having now experienced our first cold winter we found that the heating solution installed kept the barn at a comfortable temperature throughout – and we had no surprises when it came to the fuel bills.”