Rayburn Eco-Connect System

The future of heating

Connecting traditional energy sources with the latest renewables technology can be problematic, but here at Rayburn, we have the answer - with the Eco-Connect.

The AGA Rayburn Eco-Connect Panel - the clever bit of technology that can link everything together. It enables the interconnection of different appliances, ensuring that energy is intelligently drawn from the greenest source at all times without having to fiddle with buttons and switches.

For British households, there has been no escaping the ever increasing cost of heating our homes, especially for properties that are off the gas grid and reliant on fossil fuels. In recent years, this has led to a host of renewable heating products which provide affordable options ideal for rural properties, with solar hot water and wood burning stoves becoming particularly popular in homes up and down the country.

However, for anyone who has had the foresight to install these products, there has always been one perennial problem: how do they all work together? In general, it is not always convenient to rely entirely on renewables energy, as quite often it can be insufficient when meeting the total heating and hot water demands of the owner's lifestyle. In such cases the fossil fuelled appliance has to be used as a backup, and although it has always been possible to design a shared plumbing system, combining sealed pipe work and traditional open-unvented systems can be a tough challenge.

With this in mind, Rayburn has developed the Eco-Connect, which allows interconnection of a renewable product - such as solid fuel/wood burning appliance or solar hot water panels - with an oil/gas fired boiler or a Rayburn central heating range cooker. The new device consists of a wiring centre, pump station and a heat exchanger, with associated motorised valves to which the various flow and return  pipe work and electrical connections are made. Thermistors are used in conjunction with an intelligent control panel to sense the water temperature of the flow and return pipes and domestic hot water (DHW) cylinder. It also incorporates a display panel showing the current operating status and which energy source is being used.

In essence, hot water is diverted by the Eco-Connect to where it is needed. And if the renewable appliance (e.g. wood burning stove) is not giving sufficient output, then the automatic boiler or central heating Rayburn will be brought into operation. Priority is always automatically given to the renewable heat source.

So, for homeowners looking to incorporate renewables into their properties, but still want the reliability and backup of a traditional heating system, the Eco-Connect from Rayburn is the perfect solution."

Click here to see some comments from one of our Rayburn Eco-Connect owners


Sustainable connections for Suffolk farmhouse
(Case Study)

Integrating existing heating and hot water systems with renewables can often be problematic. So when retired businessman Paul Browes wanted to connect a new wood-fired central heating Rayburn with his pressurised oil-fired system, he found the solution lay with AGA Rayburn's award winning Eco-Connect panel.

Homeowner Paul Browes, who lives in a 16th century farmhouse in Witnesham, Suffolk, was in for a surprise when he calculated the annual oil costs of his ageing range cooker. Although it was only used for cooking, it was guzzling over 400 litres of oil per month with no way to reduce the consumption. All in all, it was setting him back a whopping £200 per month in oil!

Instead of continuing on with the inefficient cooker, he set out to limit his reliance on fossil fuels and embrace a more sustainable way to heat his home. Paul looked to a wood-fired central heating Rayburn to replace the cooker, and also supply a renewable source of heating and hot water. He then called in Chris Plant of Chris Plant Heating and Plumbing for advice on the models available, as well as the possibility of linking it with the existing oil boiler and a forthcoming solar thermal installation.

After 35 years in the trade, Chris - who is a Rayburn Guild member and runs his business in Framlingham, Suffolk - has plenty of experience installing central heating range cookers. He recommended the Rayburn 345W as the ideal model for Paul's needs, as it not only provided excellent cooking capabilities with the indirect, radiant heat from the cast iron construction, but also more than met the heating and hot water requirements of the property. Chris then discussed the most effective approach to optimise the system for wood burning.

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"The 345W was perfect for the heating and hot water requirements, but with renewable heating the priority, we still needed to maximise the Rayburn's output and minimise use of the backup oil boiler," said Chris. "Paul had already set about researching the options and had discovered the Eco-Connect from AGA Rayburn. I knew it offered everything he was looking for and would be a great investment; so we discussed it further and looked at the system requirements."


Although it has always been possible to design a shared plumbing system, there have always been inherent problems with devices available to help heating engineers. For example, most modern automatic boilers are designed to operate with sealed pipework systems, but solid-fuel and wood appliances generally utilise a traditional open-vented system - making it quite a tough challenge to match the two systems together.

Householders also want to get maximum benefit from using renewable energy, so the system needs to be controlled automatically where preference is given to drawing from the renewable source, rather than the fossil fuel. The Eco-Connect panel solves all of these problems and makes connecting Rayburns, renewables and traditional systems a simple job.

Paul's new installation ensures that the Eco-Connect biases the wood-fired Rayburn as the primary source of heating and hot water. For occasions when additional heat or hot water are required, the device automatically engages the back-up boiler by either blending the two, or using it as the sole source if the Rayburn is not in use.


"When I first had the system installed it was difficult to estimate how often the boiler would kick in," Paul explained. "As it happens, it's only ever called upon if I have guests and the hot water demand is higher than usual - and even then it's only for five minutes every hour. Day to day we have it in eco mode and, provided we keep the Rayburn well fuelled, it's the primary heat source all year round, which means we don't have to use the boiler at all."


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Eco-Connect works with a diverse rangeof systems, including: solar thermal, boilers, central heating range cookers, thermal stores, heat pumps, underfloor heating, radiators and wood burning stoves. The system comprises a wiring centre, pump station and a heat exchanger with associated motorised valves to which the various flow and return pipework and electrical connections are made. Thermistors are used in conjunction with an intelligent control panel to sense the water temperature of the flow and return pipes and domestic hot water (DHW) cylinder. It also incorporates a display panel showing the current operating status and which energy source is being used - e.g. wood fired Rayburn or boiler.

Heat is diverted by the Eco-Connect to where it is needed e.g. the hot water cylinder and/or the central heating circuits. If the renewable appliance is not giving sufficient output, the fossil fuelled boiler is brought into operation in a mixed mode. However, if the homeowner has selected one of the 'eco' options, the boiler will not automatically fire. This is particularly useful for installations with solar thermal, so in Paul's case, he incorporated a triple coil cylinder with a view to installing solar thermal panels in the near future. Once completed, he expects this to sufficiently produce enough DHW for the property without needing the oil boiler at all.

David Carpenter, Rayburn's Technical Director, said: "We know that Rayburn customers are a pragmatic and practical group of people who want to get the very best from their heating systems. But with the cost of fossil fuels on the rise, we've seen many customers opt for a more self-sufficient approach with wood or solid fuel Rayburns. Obviously, being able to link these products to an existing central heating system, or even include solar and wood burning stoves, is a great option and that's why we developed the Eco-Connect panel.


"Paul's set up is just the sort of installation we envisaged for this technology and we are really pleased to see it working well and economically."


Rounding up the success of the installation, homeowner Paul Browse described the improvements: "After a quick calculation, I was astonished at the savings I'd made. We barely use oil anymore and the Rayburn really has transformed the way we heat our home.


"From an installation point of view, it initially took some careful planning, but was simple enough to incorporate into the existing system. And with the Eco-Connect panel already pre-set with operating modes; I haven't really had to think about it since. All in all we couldn't be happier.