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Conservatories, Sunrooms - Your questions Answered
Heating (
7)

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Please note: Most of the answers we feature here are from 1999 - early 2002. We endeavour to keep all links etc up to date, however if you spot any errors please let our webmaster know at It should also be noted that some replies may change in light of changes to legislation especially with regards to Planning Permission and Building Regulations. To submit a new question or to query an existing question visit http://www.ask-questions.com/yabbse/index.php.

Conservatory Heating, Radiators, Panel Heaters for Conservatories

Ref:07
Question submitted by Jim

I am having an Everest conservatory built. I wanted to include a radiator run from my existing central heating system, but they said that the building inspector would not allow it. An independent plumber also confirmed this. But I notice you never mention this problem when you advise enquirers about heating.

I reconciled myself to having a portable heater, and the screed floor has now been laid. But this is not what I wanted.
 
This question answered by the Conservatories Online editorial team - Under the Building Regulations 1991 (as amended) for a conservatory extension to be classified as exempt one of the conditions it must meet is for it to not be permanently heated! More information on this is found at http://www.conservatoriesonline.com/planperm.htm

What is confusing about your question is that you mention a "building inspector". A building inspector would not normally be visiting your property to inspect the conservatory unless it had required building regulation approval. A conservatory that requires building regulations is perhaps more accurately described as an extension.

Note that we said that in order to be "exempt" building regulations one of the conditions was that the conservatory was not permanently heated. If building regulations had been applied for and approved then installing radiators would not be a problem. After all most extensions have radiators installed!

Our guess is that your conservatory - like the vast majority of conservatories in England and Wales was treated as building regulation exempt. That would be why there is an issue with installing radiators.

While we do not encourage this - we would say that many people do in fact go ahead and install radiators that run of the existing central heating system. Also a great many conservatory companies will install radiators in conservatories either through ignorance of these facts or because they don't feel its an important issue. In our opinion it's to the credit of both Everest and the plumber to point out the problem.

It should also be noted that for a conservatory to be of a standard that will be approved for building regulations then it will need to be constructed to much higher standards in terms of insulation etc. It will for instance require better insulating glass such as Pilkington K glass installed. "Normal" conservatories with say a 16 mm polycarbonate roof will not meet the required building regulation standard.

Just one final thought on the heating "issue". We do find conflicting opinions on this "permanently" heated issue. For instance at this link for Sefton Council you will see that they say:

Most domestic conservatories are exempt from the Building Regulations providing they meet the following criteria:

a) floor area is less than 30m
b) there is separation from the house proper by a door or patio window
c) the roof is translucent ie see through
d) any new walls should be at least 50% glazed
e) any radiator within the conservatory is controllable
f) any glazing in critical areas (eg in or adjacent to doors or within 800mm of the ground) is safety glass

Ref:06
Question submitted by Joan

What do you think about Speedheat under tile heating for my newly built conservatory?

This question answered by the Almost Impartial Guide editorial team - We are familiar with Speedheat under tile heating. This product has become increasingly popular and has a number of advantages over traditional under floor heating.

Unlike under floor heating where the floor slab itself is being heated, with under tile heating the heating wire is installed on top of the screed, directly underneath the tiles, warming mainly the surface of the floor (rather than the concrete underneath!) You will therefore require less power to produce a significant amount of heat. Your floor warms up much faster, about 1.0 to 1.5 hours compared to 10 hours or more for 'under-floor' or 'in-slab' heating.

It's a good idea to specify a thermostat with this type of heating so that your power use can be managed efficiently. The manufacturers claim that floor surface heating typically gives a reduction in energy consumption of 50% or more when compared to conventional heating.

We do feel this product is a very worthwhile alternative compared to more traditional means of heating a conservatory.

Ref:05
Question submitted by Vicki

I am in the process of having a conservatory built. The Plumber now informs me that it is going to be difficult to install central heating without a lot of disruption in our house and a UPVC casing running down the inside wall. I now wish to look at alternative options for providing all year round heating.

What are your views on Air Conditioning Units for heat output during winter and have you any recommendations on who could supply?

This Question answered by Tina Dunlop - One alternative to "normal" central heating is an oil filled radiator. It is quite an efficient way to heat a conservatory plus it is also relatively inexpensive.

Has your plumber suggested "boxing in" the pipes in the corner? This is a good way of "hiding" things. Typically you use hardboard or MDF to box in with. You can either paint or wall paper over the "boxing" afterwards. You can also scribe your coving around the box to complete the "disguise". (the boxing will be about 3" x 2.5") I appreciate that this quite a lot of work - but really your alternatives are few.

With regards to combined "heating and cooling" alternatives, I would say the "Jury" is still out. They are growing in popularity - but as I have no personal experience of using them I would therefore rather not recommend anyone.

Ref:04
Question submitted by Glenys


I have building permission for an extension to the back of my property and a conservatory (approx 20ft x 20ft) off the back of that. This is to house a small swimming pool.

I have two questions:-

1. Can I change the look of the conservatory, i.e. put a non glass roof on it (I've decided it might just get too hot)

2. I would like to use solar heating. Where could I get some information about this/suppliers etc?

This Question answered by Tina Dunlop - Its quite probable that you could obtain permission to change the roofing material on your conservatory. I suggest you speak to the planning officer concerned with your application. You may find that all you need to do is submit revised plans under the "minor revisions" scheme. You may also like to take advise on Building Regulation approvals.

Ref:03
Question submitted by J Chard

My conservatory supplier says that I do not need to extend my central heating radiator system into the conservatory (SE facing). He recommends just using an oil filled radiator for the 3/4 coldest months. Do you agree?

This Question answered by Tina Dunlop - An oil filled radiator is quite an efficient way to heat a conservatory plus it is also relatively inexpensive. Having said that I would always install "proper" central heating. (Provided my boiler has enough capacity). Extending the radiators is a cleaner and more practical long-term solution. This may not be the case with you, but I often find conservatory suppliers reluctant to get involved in central heating. It requires a qualified plumber, who they will usually have to bring in especially for the job. As such it represents little or no profit to them - often being more "trouble than it is worth" I'm confident that if you said you would hire your own outside plumber to do the work that they would be more than happy for you to do that.

Ref:02
Question submitted by Colin

Please advise on the suitability of using a wood burning fire in a conservatory. Is this a practical proposition? What about smoke exhaust & special ventilation?

This Question answered by Tina Dunlop - I have known clients to install wood burning stoves in their conservatories. My best advice here is to consult a "Stove Specialist". They will know about ventilation etc.

From speaking to clients I know that the "flue" needs to be fitted through special "fire resistant glazing materials" - not usually glass or polycarbonate. Also there are the options of "double insulating" the flue in order to reduce heat where flue meets roof. Disadvantage is that you will with this method reduce amount of heat available to heat your conservatory as you have in effect stopped heat transferring through flue. Also be aware that this method of heating is "dirtier" than others and you will have more dust etc. That said - Clients who have used this method have all liked it.

Ref:01
Question submitted by a US Gardener

I bought a 10 x 6 from XXXX greenhouses.It now has Moisture and is cloudy. They want 3,000 dollars to repair failed glass!! - HELP!!

This Question answered by Tina Dunlop - Now as I'm sure will appreciate, I can not make specific comments about XXXX sunrooms and green houses. I assume your greenhouse is double glazed and it is outside of warranty?

Most of my experience is UK based - but what I know from the UK market is that quite often suppliers are not that interested in the glazing repair market. It is "more trouble than it is worth" for most of them and I have known companies to "inflate" their prices just so they don't get the work. They prefer local glaziers to do this work. Have you tried a local glazing company? - they should be able to source a similar specification. I am not saying your supplier works this way - just giving you another point to ponder.

As regards cost - I do feel the costs quoted are expensive. Surely you would be better buying a new one if this was really the case. Maybe you could ask XXXX if they can recommend somebody other than them selves to do the work.

 

 
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