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St James’ Church, Kent has under pew heating and radiant heaters installed 

Church Heating 

The efficient and cost-effective heating of churches presents a unique combination of considerations; both technical and aesthetic.  A successful church heating system will be effective, economic to run and as visually unobtrusive as possible.

Traditional churches are tall buildings with a correspondingly large air volume to floor area ratio.  They tend to be used intermittently and often have poor thermal properties.  The combination of these factors means that conventional space heating systems are rarely practical.  We are aware of churches heated by fan convector heaters, where the system needs to be energised several days before a service in an effort to provide an acceptable air temperature.  This approach is clearly wasteful and costly.

Pew Heating

BN Thermic has developed church heating systems that do not rely on building up and maintaining a body of warm air but rather heat people directly.

Where a church has fixed pews, we would always recommend our pew heaters.  These unobtrusive heaters are fitted below the pew seats and provide gentle warmth to the congregation.

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BN Thermic under pew heaters are the most unobtrusive means of church heating

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BN Thermic pew heaters can be easily mounted to back boards, floors and suspended under pews

Pew heaters should be switched on a few minutes before the start of a service and can be switched off immediately after the service has finished.  The savings in terms of energy consumption are obvious and can be enhanced by switching off the heaters installed under unoccupied pews.

Energy saving is not the only consideration when selecting a pew church heating system.  BN Thermic heaters have an all-steel construction, for many years of trouble-free service, and high quality dark brown paint finish meaning that the heaters are almost invisible.  Pew heaters are also silent and therefore will not detract from the congregation’s experience.

Full details of BN Thermic’s range of pew heaters

Radiant Church Heaters

There is a trend for churches to replace pews with chairs.  This approach allows for a more flexible use of the space and allows a church to be used for a wider range of events.  Clearly, however, where there are no pews there can be no pew heaters.

Where a church has no fixed pews, BN Thermic recommends quartz halogen heaters.  As is the case with pew heaters, a halogen heating system is not designed to build up and maintain a body of warm air but will heat people directly.  Halogen heaters are fully effective church heating instantly thus preventing energy waste. 

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Quart halogen heaters provide instant comfort heat making them ideal for intermittently used buildings 

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Zero glare magic lamps providing comfort heat in St. Peter’s Church, Pavenham

Halogen heaters are generally mounted between 3m and 5m above floor level, and emit shortwave energy which is absorbed by solid bodies including the floor, furniture and, of course, people.  Because halogen heaters operate in the shortwave part of the spectrum, some light output is inevitable.  However the introduction of BN Thermic’s Magic Lamp reduces the light intensity to a barely discernible glow.

BN Thermic offers a variety of radiant heaters some of which emit medium-wave and long-wave energy. These heaters do not emit any light whatsoever.  However their reduced radiant intensity means that they are not generally effective as church heating.  BN Thermic strongly recommends genuine shortwave halogen heaters for church heating.

Cost Effective Church Heating Systems

Halogen church heating systems need to be carefully designed to ensure an even coverage and optimum heat intensity.  The engineers at BN Thermic are very experienced in designing church heating systems and are always on hand to assist. 

When required, they will visit a church, carry out a survey and provide a bespoke heating proposal.  This is 100% free, there is a never a charge for this service. Contact us today to discuss your requirements.

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A bespoke heating design done by a BN Thermic engineer 

Church Heating Case Studies

Here are two recent examples of church heating projects we designed and supplied. These were both cost effective and transformed the church’s heating system for years to come.

St Giles Church, Market Harborough

This first one is St Giles Church in Market Harborough where we specified a large number of quartz halogen heaters.

St James’ Church, Kent

This video case study if from a recent project at St James’ Church Egerton, Kent. St James’ required pew heating in the nave, an over door heater and quartz heaters in the chancel.

Church’s Heating System FAQs & Guide

  • Space heating in a church can be very expensive.  Space heating is the approach we generally use in our homes or offices i.e. we use heaters to create and maintain a body of warm air within a confined space.  Space heating in a church tends to be expensive for a combination of reasons. 

    Churches have poor thermal properties with little or no insulation and often large expanses of single-glazed windows.

    Churches tend to be tall buildings containing a correspondingly large volume of air that requires heating.

    Churches are used intermittently – often only one a week.  This means that a heating cycle will often have to start from a very low temperature when raising the air temperature to a comfortable level for a service.  This issue is not a concern in more regularly used buildings such as homes or offices.

    The solution to this problem is to use direct acting heating systems such as pew heaters or quartz halogen heaters.  These systems heat people directly without a requirement to build up and maintain a body of warm air.

  • When using a conventional boiler and radiators, we have known churches that have required several days of heating to reach an acceptable temperature.  These were no doubt extreme examples but, again in our experience, warm up periods of 24 hours are common.

    BN Thermic recommends direct heating systems such as pew heaters or quartz halogen heaters.  These systems heat people directly rather than the surrounding air, reducing the warm-up period to as little as ten to fifteen minutes.  The resulting reduction in running costs is obvious.

  • A typical church pew is let’s say 2m long and is divided centrally by a seat support.  This pew would require two 450W pew heaters.  Assuming an electricity tariff of 15p/kWh, the running cost per pew, per hour would be 13.5p.  To estimate the running cost for the entire church, simply multiply this number by the total number of pews.  Please remember that only occupied pews need to be heated.  So, for services with a more limited congregation size, the running heating costs can be very much lower.

    We are aware that there are a wide variety of pews both in style and size.  If you would like BN Thermic to assist with pew heater selection and to calculate the running cost, please do not hesitate to call our experienced and friendly engineers.

  • The answer to this question is fairly straightforward if we are installing quartz halogen heaters.  A typical church nave 15m x 4m would require six 3kW quartz halogen heaters.  Assuming an electricity tariff of 15p/kWh, the running heating costs to heat the nave would be £2.70 per hour.

    It is our opinion that other forms of infrared heating such as longwave radiant heaters (sometimes known as far-infrared heaters) are rarely suitable for church heating. 

    For a successful installation, the correct selection and positioning of quartz halogen heaters is vital.  If you would like BN Thermic to assist with heater selection and to calculate the running cost, please do not hesitate to call our experienced and friendly engineers

  • Pew heaters are direct acting in that they heat people directly rather than heating the surrounding air.  This feature reduces pre-heating to a few minutes and significantly reduces running costs

    Pew heaters are installed directly under a pew’s seat and are therefore the most visually unobtrusive of any church heating system.

    Pew heaters are silent and do not produce draughts or light output.

    A simple switch will allow the heaters installed in individual pews to be switched on and off.  As only occupied pews require heating, economy can be improved still further by switching off the heaters in unoccupied pews.

  • Our answer relates to quartz halogen heaters.  It is our opinion that other forms of infrared heating such as longwave radiant heaters (sometimes known as far-infrared heaters) are rarely suitable for church heating.

    Infrared Quartz halogen heaters are direct acting in that they heat people directly rather than heating the surrounding air.  This feature reduces pre-heating to a few minutes and significantly reduces running costs.

    Quartz heaters are ideally suited to heating the open areas of a church such as the chancel, or churches that do not have fixed pews.

    BN Thermic quartz halogen heaters have a smart compact design and are available in black or ivory.  Selecting a heater colour best suited to its mounting position keeps visual impact to a minimum.

    With direct-acting quartz halogen heaters, only occupied areas of the church need to be heated.  So, for example, there may be circumstances when there is a need to heat the chancel but not the nave.  Taking this approach will reduce heating costs still further.

    Traditional quartz halogen heaters have a significant red glow which is generally unwelcome on churches.  BN Thermic ‘Magic Lamp’ heaters tend to be preferred as they emit a soft pink glow with zero glare.