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World radiator market cools, but opportunities for underfloor heatingSeptember 2019

Socrates Christidis Research Manager - Heating & Renewables

The global radiator market slowed down in 2018. Figures from BSRIA’s recently published heating study indicate that sale volumes have dipped by 5% in volume terms over the course of 2018, this decrease was mostly driven by a slowing in Asian countries (China, South Korea). To a lesser extent, Turkey has also contributed towards this general slowing down. There remains a large refurbishment and renovation market for radiators, however in 2018 this remained flat. Forecasts however indicate that this dip is only limited to 2018, and the total radiator market is expected to grow by 2% up to 2023 per annum in terms of volume.

The global market for Underfloor Heating (UFH) also saw a decline in 2018. However, of the 24 countries covered, only three, China, South Korea and Turkey, saw a drop in the sales of underfloor heating, the other 21 countries covered in BSRIA study collectively grew at 5.3% in volume terms.

There were a number of reasons for the decline recorded in China, South Korea and Turkey, including country legislation and economy development.

Forecasts indicate that the total market will return to growth as from 2019 and is expected to grow by 2.5% per annum up to 2023. The sales of all related UFH components such as manifolds, controls, insulation sheets and panelling are, of course, closely linked to the amount of UFH piping sold per country.

Unsurprisingly, new multi-dwelling construction accounts for nearly half of all UFH sold worldwide as opposed to new single dwellings which represent one quarter of sales. Renovation projects as well as the non-residential sector will continue to cover a fraction of all UFH pipe sales.

World UFH sales dynamics, 2016-2018 (million metres of UFH pipes)

Low temperature systems such as heat pumps work efficiently with UFH, and the increasing popularity of heat pumps in new build properties in European Countries is believed to be a driver for an increasing growth in UFH.

UFH is also considered very appropriate to use with hybrid systems, where a renewable heat source is backed up by a conventional condensing boiler. Also, hybrid installations with a hydronic system in the living areas and an electric system in the kitchen and bathroom, all managed by a central control, are becoming common. Traditionally a product for new build, underfloor heating systems can now be more easily retrofitted in established properties.

Another trend sees sales of towel warmers and decorative radiators increase. The aesthetics of these products have been a strong selling point for a few years. End users are increasingly looking for products that combine both performance and aesthetics, which has pushed the sales of these segments. Aluminium radiators benefit, too, from the demand for lighter radiators, with faster reaction.

BSRIA recently published its World Radiator and Underfloor Heating reports, covering 24 countries, spanning across Europe, Asia and North America. Research covers steel, aluminium, cast iron radiators, towel warmers as well as underfloor heating. Top line results of components of hydronic systems such as TRVs and thermostats, including programmable and connected ones are also included in these reports.

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