Ecovolt's Stephen Dempsey on changing mindsets around electric heating, who he hopes to meet at this year's HVAC 2017, and the eureka moment behind the innovative JouleTherm CeP.
Introduce your company.
Ecovolt is a start up company based in Dublin, Ireland. It designs and manufacturers innovative electric heating, hot water and control systems for the residential and commercial market. The company was founded in 2012 by Stephen Dempsey and achieved recognition as a high potential start up company by Enterprise Ireland in 2015. The company has grown year on year in its domestic market and has begun to establish trade links into the UK and other foreign markets.
Talk us through your innovations.
Ecovolt believes in “innovation in heating” and most of the products we produce would be unique in their own right and they would have some creative input from our founder. Probably what is standing out the most is the creation of our JouleTherm CeP product. It is a very innovative way of turning gypsum plasterboard walls into very efficient radiant heaters using PAINT! The product is gaining a lot of traction in Ireland but equally in the UK. In April of this year the product grabbed all the headlines at an energy trade event in Dublin and in May our founder Stephen Dempsey was awarded top position in an Enterprise Ireland Sprint program beating 20 other start-up companies along the way.
How did you get the idea for the product?
Like every good idea there are endless sleepless nights of a thought process before you actually do something about it. Well that happens to me a lot, some fester into something while some dwindle away and never be seen again. JouleTherm CeP however was just one of those thoughts that stuck constantly in a part of my brain that I couldn’t shift. It all happened in early 2015, I was researching a new composite material for the element our ceramic electric radiators. I wanted to improve our radiators performance. I looked into the possibilities of producing a heating element from a conductive coating that was uniform and had very strong lifespan properties. I began to work with carbon graphite and other substrates to create a sandwich like element between two ceramic plates. However during my testing, I had no ceramic plates large enough for the heating area I wanted so I purchased some gypsum plaster board and cut them up to the size I required and began to apply the coating. After applying the voltage, I stood back and the plaster boards began to heat up. It was then that my Eureka moment happened and I said to myself “why not just make the plaster board the actual radiator” So here we are, from concept to design to commercialisation, JouleTherm CeP is the worlds first 24V electric paint on heating system.
What projects have you been involved with that you are most proud off?
There are a few projects that stand out for me. I suppose the very first project we did would be number one. This was a retro–fit of a very popular restaurant in Dublin, (Marco Pierre White). The 2nd would be a full office fit-out we did for a large M&E contracting company and finally our system was selected as the primary heating system in a passive house development.
Who do you hope to meet at UK Construction Week?
We are hoping to meet many stakeholders in the domestic / commercial heating and hot water industry. We would be interested in talking to housing associations, electrical trade companies, property managers, and fabricated modular construction companies.
We would be particularly interested in talking to electrical contractors as we are offering training for our product through our accredited training partner based in the midlands. We believe the contractors / installers would be key to the success of our product. As the traction grows, so will the demand and we want to ensure that we can cover the projects with the right personnel.
What challenges does the industry currently face, how does this impact your business, what are you doing to counter them?
The cost of energy is always a challenge for the industry and it impacts on business like our competitors around us. This year we began a campaign in our offices in Dublin, titled “Change the Mind-set”. What we want to change is the mind-set towards electric heating. For years and years electric heating had a very bad name in the industry. This was all down towards the cost to purchase electricity at certain tariffs. We want to change that and revolutionise electric heating the same way the Electric Vehicle is changing the automotive industry. How do we achieve this? By innovating and creating heating systems that are very responsive with smart controls and can align themselves with technologies such as Solar P.V and Energy Storage Battery Systems.
We are just about to commission a deep retrofit of a 2 bedroom, 2 storey dwelling in Dublin. We have fitted the entire house out with our JouleTherm CeP paint system and hot water system JouleTherm H20. We have also fitted P.V to the roof space and installed a battery storage system. Our target is to show a nett gain in generation versus seasonal consumption for an entire 12 months. This project is also been monitored by one of Dublin’s top technology colleges in renewable heat and architectural design.
Another challenge we see is the restricted and very tight timeframes for construction projects. To counter this we have perfected the process of fabricating our technology onto plaster boards in a factory environment. We do this through automated screen printing machines. This facility enables us to produce 100’s of boards a day and deliver to site ready for installation. This will cut down time spent on site and increase productivity.