Energy efficient aluminium

John Leary, sales and marketing director atEmplas, explains while a preconception exists that energy efficiency and aluminium don’t necessarily go hand in hand, Emplas plans to change that by supplying Aluk’s F82 Luminia aluminium bifolding door.

Emplas started manufacturing its new aluminium bifold door in May this year. A departure from our core PVCU manufacture, the F82 Luminia from Aluk is underpinned by logic and familiarity.

The key drivers of the market for PVCU windows and doors are energy efficiency and through-life performance. Security, finish and aesthetics, flush casements and foils – they play their part, but fundamentally people choose PVCU because it will make their home warmer and because PVCU windows are a low maintenance product.

Arguably, end-users ultimately want the same in aluminium.

We can agree I think, that aluminium is, and is going to remain, the dominant material type in bifold door manufacture for the foreseeable future. The sightlines, the structural flexibility of the material, and its ability to span wider openings – it delivers architectural and end-user appeal.

Where aluminium doesn’t, or at the very least historically hasn’t, met consumer expectation is energy efficiency and through-life performance.

Slim sightlines may be one thing, but if they’re running with condensation for much of the year because the U-value is so high, they lose a little of their shine.

Aluminium’s unwavering grip on the bifold door market is indisputable, accounting for 59% of all sales (Palmer Market Research) compared to only 27% for PVCU, and just 14% for timber. Forecast to top 56,000 doorsets across material types per year by 2020 and the case for adding an aluminium bifold to your portfolio as a manufacturer is clear.

But so is the increasing importance end users place on the energy efficiency of their homes.

Home Energy Performance Certificates have made home energy efficiency transparent. Government research shows that those with the least efficient homes will pay more than three times as much on energy costs as those with the most energy efficient properties to the tune of almost £6,000 over three years.

This, combined with rising energy prices and a focus on climate change, has sharpened the end user’s (and, as a consequence, the new build sector’s) interest in thermal efficiency.

We know that you aren’t going to get near new-build specifications with most aluminium systems;U-values of 1.6W/m²K or even 1.7W/m²K don’t come close.

That’s why Luminia delivers such a distinct advantage to our customers. You get a fantastic aesthetic and, as a completely new system, the levels of thermal performance that new build and residential markets are demanding.

The F82 aluminium bifolding door – or Luminia – was launched by Aluk in 2017. It delivers class leading thermal performance with U-values of 1.3W/m²K with a double-glazed unit and as low as 0.9W/m²K when triple glazed.

Accommodating larger spans and individual leaf width of up to 1,200mm also maximises the glazed area of the door, and heavy duty rollers deliver smooth operation and individual sash weights of up to 150kg.

It does this without compromising on aesthetics with slim, symmetrical sightlines on the frame, sill and jamb of 97mm, and 122mm on the door meeting, creating a clean and contemporary picture frame-effect.

This architectural attention to detail is also evidenced in Aluk’s patented ‘T’ handle. This sits completely flush with the frame, using the simple push out system to operate, leaving sightlines uninterrupted. Aluk has also applied this treatment to the flush traffic door handle, in addition to the minimalist design of hinges.

Luminia is also fully tested to PAS24, meeting the demands placed on it by Part Q of the Building Regulations, giving it further reach in the new build sector.

The other standout feature for me is the finish. We expect most of our customers to sell Luminia alongside our PVCU offer.That creates a focus on finish at point of retail. The process that underpins Aluk’s inhouse powder coating is a real plus point and fits with the pitch about the longevity and through-life performance of PVCU.

The product of £multi-million investment, this uses flash anodising pre-treatment to create an unsealed anodised layer of aluminium oxide, which not only forms an enhanced substrate for the powder coating process but also prevents filiform corrosion.

The net effect is that powder coated surfaces are more stable and delivered to a marine grade finish – as standard. This is supplied by Emplas in white, grey, brown and black as standard, plus any RAL colour on special order.All finishes are guaranteed for 10 years.

The reality is that most homeowners don’t have deep enough pockets to specify a house full of aluminium products, and why would they when PVCU delivers a range of finishes and significantly enhanced aesthetics?

The product where aluminium really does make a difference is in bifold manufacture and its through-life performance.

Sitting with the homeowner, it’s very easy to up-sell the benefits of aluminium but specifically those of Luminia as a highly affordable but nonetheless premium aluminium bifolding door.

Design flexibility, hardware and furniture, finish, and thermal performance make it a distinct offer but one where the small additional spend is very easy to justify over and above comparable systems. It delivers margin.