The time has finally come to crown the HVP Innovation Showcase winners’ list. These five winning products have been crowned by our judges as being the best of the best.
To find out who the winners are, just scroll down the page. But before you do that, I’d like to talk about how we got to this stage.
We launched the HVP Innovation Showcase at the start of the year because we wanted to highlight product innovation in the plumbing and heating sector.
As a plumber or heating engineer, you know that it can be difficult to keep on top of every product that comes out. Although HVP does an excellent job keeping you up to speed with new releases, we felt as though we could do more to help you spot those truly outstanding products.
The inaugural HVP Innovation Showcase was launched to assist you with your decision making. The aim is to help you learn more about those products which could make a real difference to how you do your job, or provide major benefits for the end customer and user.
As part of our promotional blitz for the Innovation Showcase, we invited manufacturers to submit their products to be considered. The only (major) rule was that their entries had to have been made commercially available during 2017.
Not being installers by trade, we at HVP knew that we were in no position to pick the winners ourselves. So instead we enlisted the help of a crack squad of judges to review the entries.
Our final judging panel drew experience from across the sector, from domestic to commercial, and from one-man bands to larger-sized operations. To learn more about them all, cast your eyes over the page opposite.
We thank the judges for their immense efforts whittling down a list of over 40 entries down to a shortlist of 13, then a final five. They kindly gave up many hours of their time throughout the process and we certainly couldn’t have done it without them.
As a result of their herculean input, I am happy to say that the HVP Innovation Showcase has crowned five worthy winners.
The next few pages are dedicated to profiling our winners in depth, with quotes from our judges about why the winning products really do deserve to be showered with praise and acclaim.
We’re not done with the Innovation Showcase yet however, as we are pleased to confirm that if you register to attend the PHEX+ exhibition held at Alexandra Palace in London on 20-21 June, you will have an opportunity get hands-on with the winners.
Each of our winners will be on display at a special HVP Innovation Showcase zone at the exhibition, and visitors will have the opportunity to speak to the manufacturers directly to learn more about the products.
We sincerely hope you enjoy reading the HVP Innovation Showcase winners’ list.
HVP Editor Joe Dart
The judging panel
CHARLIE MULLINS, FOUNDER OF PIMLICO PLUMBERS
Charlie Mullins is an archetypal entrepreneur, who launched Pimlico Plumbers in 1979, with just a bag of tools and an old van bought at auction.
Despite leaving school at 15 with no qualifications, he has grown Pimlico Plumbers into an operation of 250 professional tradespeople and a support team of around 150 staff, serving customers across London, including some of the world’s most famous names, such as James Bond star Daniel Craig and actress Dame Helen Mirren. Outspoken and often controversial, Charlie is a regular business and political commentator for the national media. Charlie also announced, in January 2018, his intention to run for London Mayor as an independent in 2020.
PETER BOOTH, AWARD-WINNING ENGINEER
Peter Booth is an award-winning gas engineer and social media influencer, with a huge following online.
Known as @pbplumber on Twitter, Peter is a vocal proponent of best practice across the plumbing and heating sector. He is a member of Heroes of Heat, a charitable initiative where plumbers and heating engineers donate their skills and labour to those in need of them. His passion for using the right tools and equipment to get the job done is demonstrated through his popular tool review channel on YouTube.
While he continues to undertake plumbing and gas jobs from Monday to Saturday, Peter works with manufacturers, fellow installers, trade press and exhibitions to drive forward standards and installer representation.
PAUL HULL, FOUNDER OF GAS SAFETY SUPERHEROES
Paul Hull is one of the most respected commercial heating engineers operating in the UK, with a huge portfolio of award-winning work. He is the co-founder of the Gas Safety Superheroes campaign, and has 30 years of experience in the commercial sector, which itself brings a level of knowledge, commitment and passion that is hard to find.
His eye for design and his positive attitude has contributed to his strong reputation in the industry. He is also very passionate when it comes to helping brands develop new products and innovative solutions for excellence and efficiency. Paul sits on the plumbing and heating apprenticeship board, the Worcester Bosch advisory board, and is regularly cited in industry press.
HATTIE HASAN, FOUNDER OF STOPCOCKS
Hattie retrained to become a plumber in 1990 when her career as a teacher didn’t give her the self-direction she wanted.
Needing to maintain a secure income, when none of the companies in the Leeds Yellow Pages replied to her, she employed herself and began her journey to plumbing entrepeneur and businesswoman.
In 2006 she vowed to create ‘an army of women plumbers’ to change the industry – for customers and plumbers; improving the customer experience and helping women determined to become plumbers succeed. Always an innovator, she now runs Stopcocks, the world’s only national franchise of women plumbers and gas engineers.
RAFF AGALLIU, FOUNDER OF ON TAP PLUMBERS
Raff has over 10 years’ experience as a plumbing and heating engineer, with ACC accreditation and Gas Safe-registration. He set up On Tap Plumbers with Anne Timpany in 2010 and has since been instrumental in accomplishing the company’s accelerated growth and achieving its first class reputation as an award-winning company, focused on exceptional delivery of projects in the residential and commercial property sectors.
He now oversees operational activities and manages a high performing professionally skilled team with a wealth of collective experience. On Tap Plumbers provides a hands-on approach from start to finish on every project, ranging from London’s iconic Facebook HQ to Wood Wharf in the Docklands.
WXI Hi-Flo (Fabdec)
The WXI Hi-Flo unvented water heater is part of Fabdec’s Excelsior range of water heaters, developed at Fabdec’s UK headquarters in Ellesmere, Shropshire, to cater for higher throughput water volumes, using Fabdec’s patented 3S Technology.
Described by the company as “the world’s first true self-sustaining system”, it is based on an internal expansion system and offers major advantages.
This 3S Technology was pioneered by Fabdec and is a self-sustaining internal expansion system, adopting the Venturi principle in which atmospheric air is drawn into the system as water is demanded upstream. Because this occurs in accordance with hot water demand, it does not cause any deterioration in performance.
This process means the internal air gap is permanently replenished, eradicating the need for recharging or regular servicing.
There are no internal, moving parts in the cylinder and, once in place, there are no additional parts required. The absence of an external expansion vessel means the tank can fit into more compact installation spaces.
This specific product has been modified to meet the demand for higher flows rates within high-end or multiple occupancy domestic residences. It is also suitable for light commercial applications, for example catering or guest houses. To achieve this, the WXI has a new 28mm Venturi valve on the inlet and 28mm outlet fitting.
The absence of an external expansion vessel means the tank can fit into compact installation spaces, and Fabdec also offers a pre-plumb version.
Peter Booth said: "These days, you’re lucky if you can persuade someone to get their boiler serviced. So, to convince them to get their water tank serviced, you’ve got no chance. I like this because it’s self-sustaining and, if it’s fitted and forgotten about, it’s going to have a much better chance than a standard cylinder [which needs regular servicing]."
Gas Tag (Gas Tag)
Gas Tag is a new form of technology, designed to combat the 1.1 million illegal gas installations which are putting millions of Britons at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, gas leaks, fires, and explosions every year.
The Gas Tag app does away with the current old-fashioned and untrackable recordkeeping, and replaces it with geo-tagged, time-stamped, and photo-verified evidence of all work carried out.
The app is free to download for all Gas Safe-registered engineers and can be used when carrying out work in any property with a Gas Tag subscription.
The user-friendly system guides engineers through data fields which automatically populate LGSRs. This saves engineers countless hours on repetitive paperwork and lets them get on with the job they’re trained to do.
Engineers can also access the previous work history of each Gas Tag property via the app. This helps identify and troubleshoot issues with appliances more quickly.
All of the information is uploaded to a centralised portal where landlords, homeowners and housing associations can monitor the data through a cockpit-style dashboard.
The engineer verification feature prevents unregistered gas fitters from recording any work through the system. It is hoped that this will stop rogue installers in their tracks and create more jobs for qualified engineers.
Designed with the help of Gas Safe-registered engineers, industry leaders, and user experience experts, the system has been heralded as “the most significant quantum leap in domestic gas safety compliance in 20 years” by the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Carbon Monoxide.
Paul Hull said: "Gas Tag improves safety and improves standards, which is key to me. It particularly improves accountability, because someone arriving to a job will be able to see exactly what was done a year ago. I think it’s a really good idea, and hopefully it will be well received."
GRUNDFOS SCALA2 is a fully integrated, variable speed, water booster pump that has been specifically designed and built to deliver consistent water pressure to wherever it is needed in the home.
WRAS-approved, each unit is a fully integrated water booster pump that will provide the perfect water pressure to up to eight water outlets – even with multiple taps and showers running at the same time.
These compact sets combine the pump, motor, tank, sensor, drive, and non-return valve in one package. In addition, it features an intelligent pump control, which sees the SCALA2 automatically adjust its performance to meet both inlet pressure and water consumption demands.
The SCALA2 also features a built-in sensor, which constantly measures the discharge pressure. This means that if the pressure drops below the desired level, the SCALA2 immediately boosts its operation to compensate for the loss of pressure. This intelligent pump control results in the delivery of consistent water pressure.
The units themselves, besides ensuring perfect water pressure, also offer intelligent pump control as they adjust their operation to ensure perfect delivery pressure at all times.
The compact size means a minimal footprint and enables them to be fitted in small spaces, such as a kitchen cabinet or airing cupboard. Additionally, they offer great value for money.
With a noise level of 47dB(A) in typical use, SCALA2 is one of the quietest boosters in its class and just one variant is suitable for all domestic applications.
Raff Agalliu said: "This is a great product. It fits into a kitchen cupboard, it does what it says on the tin and it can handle up to eight simultaneous water outlets. That, I think, is really good."
Pipe Snug (Snug Solutions)
PipeSnug makes installing pipes easier, and replaces the need for mortar around pipes where they exit the wall. The product is the evolution of an idea by Chris Burdett, a builder and bricklayer with over 25 years’ experience in the trade, and business partner Alex Lever.
PipeSnug is designed so that any plumber or builder can use it to seal the hole where a pipe exits a wall. Quicker, cheaper, and cleaner than traditional methods, PipeSnug can be used in all weathers on any plumbing or construction project, including newbuilds, extensions, loft conversions, and kitchen or bathroom installations – giving the job a quicker, smarter finish. PipeSnug has also been used extensively on boiler installations where the condensate pipe goes externally into 32mm pipe to comply with current industry recommendations.
The product’s snug fit also means that PipeSnug helps to maintain the energy efficiency of the property, by tightly filling in any gaps where heat would otherwise escape. This helps installers to comply with Part L of the Building Regulations and keeps the risk of heat escaping from a building to a minimum.
“Filling the hole around a pipe where it comes out the wall has always been a problem, it can take 20 minutes to point properly – mix the mortar, make good and clean up afterwards,” explained Alex Lever, Director of PipeSnug.
“It often leaves a very unprofessional finish to a home and can crack over time. PipeSnug has changed all that and it can be fitted in all weathers, unlike mortar, silicone and so on.”
Charlie Mullins said: "I really liked Pipe Snug because, not only does it allow installers to easily achieve a clean, professional finish on their pipework, but it promotes these values to the trade. Professionalism, and taking pride in the quality and appearance of your work, are important values for me and my company, and it’s great to see a product helping tradespeople to achieve these goals."
Auto Balancing Actuator (Salus)
To ensure constant temperatures and optimum performance of an underfloor heating system (UFH), it’s imperative that the flow of heated water through the circuit is correctly balanced and the temperature differential between the flow and return pipes is an average 7°c.
Achieving the perfect flow is the role of the flow meter. Too much flow will lower the return temperature differential below 7°c and the circuit will heat up too fast, whereas too little flow will raise the temperature deferential above 7°c and the circuit will heat up too slowly, both scenarios being inefficient. It’s the actuator that controls the water flow to each zone in an UFH system by opening and closing the valve on the manifold, according to the signal from the room thermostat.
Unlike conventional actuators, the Auto Balancing Actuator performs the function of both thermal actuator and flow regulator, resulting in two functions in one unit. Complete with two remote sensors placed on the flow and return pipes from the manifold, they constantly monitor the temperatures and adjust the flow rate to maintain an optimum delta of 7°c for the UFH circuit.
With a low power consumption of just 0.5w, this product uses much less energy than conventional actuators that typically use 2-3w or more. It also has a speedy opening and closing action of typically 30 seconds – normally this would take three minutes or longer. The Auto Balancing Actuator is designed to make life easy.
Hattie Hasan said: "It’s always a problem when you come to an UFH system that’s been put in by someone else a long time ago. This is a brilliant innovation, because if someone else has lost all the settings and manuals, you often look like you don’t what you’re doing, because you don’t! This solves that problem, and that’s a great idea.”