The misconception with aluminium

Phil Parry, head of research and development at Synseal Group, explains how energy efficiency requirements have influenced product innovation and marketing strategy across the company’s WarmCore aluminium products.

The WarmCore system was introduced for folding sliding doors in 2014, and has since developed into a full, thermally efficient suite including flush sash, tilt and turn and slim vent windows, a fixed roof light, and the full door range including bifold, residential, French styles and the new inline patio system we are launching later this summer.

While we continue to apply the WarmCore technology to new products, what has remained crucial to WarmCore’s success is our commitment to its core values: thermal efficiency and security coupled with the aesthetics of an aluminium finish.

The initial product design specification of the WarmCore folding sliding door was to create a beautiful, hardwearing product that shared the thermal efficiency benefits of PVCU. There wasn’t a product like this on the market, and while PVCU suppliers have come a long way in driving improvements in thermal efficiency, it’s never really been on the top of the agenda for aluminium systems companies.

It is more difficult with the raw materials involved to achieve good U-values while maintaining the architectural looks aluminium is specified for. No-one has really stood up and questioned aluminium thermal standards in the same way we have for PVCU in the past decade or so, which means aluminium customers have just accepted that poorer performance is an inevitable trade-off for aluminium aesthetics.

Before WarmCore, homeowners had to choose between the aesthetically pleasing looks of aluminium doors versus products that could deliver U-values of less than 1.4W/m²K. During our research for WarmCore, the majority of leading market contenders we benchmarked against tested U-values between 1.76W/m²K and 1.94W/m²K when using standard double glazing, meaning some systems available weren’t even meeting Building Regulations Part L requirements for replacement doors that specify 1.8W/m²K.

The aluminium industry has misled customers and consumers for too long, and with WarmCore we wanted to challenge this misconception and deliver customers a quality alternative that delivers on both style and thermal performance.

Thanks to our thermal core, WarmCore doors produce U-values as low as 1.4W/m²K double glazed, and 1.0W/m²K triple glazed. Even now, more than two years down the line, there are few aluminium systems that can rival this thermal standard in folding sliding doors without complicated modifications. As with our PAS24 security accreditation, our expectations for achieving these U-values come as standard and at no extra cost – with the same applying to our window system, which achieves U-values of 1.3W/m²K double glazed and 0.8W/m²K triple glazed.

And this is where the marketing behind WarmCore has been so effective. Despite more recent governments losing momentum around energy efficiency, it still remains an important factor in the specification stage of new build homes and renovation products.

Equally, homeowners having new windows installed don’t want a product which can’t match up to the quality of their previous windows and doors; they want their new installations to surpass both in style and in efficiency.

Our most recent WarmCore marketing campaign has, therefore, emphasised to consumers that there is a better alternative; you don’t have to accept poor thermal performance. If you can have the best of both worlds with a product that has the thermal efficiency of PVCU and the clean, sleek lines of aluminium, why would you look anywhere else?

This is the question we ask our prospective customers, and also one we ask ourselves when we think about the next phase of product development, and where we take the WarmCore technology next. The new WarmCore Inline Patio system, which will be available this summer, not only offers our customers the excellent thermal efficiency WarmCore is known for, it also gives them a beautiful aluminium system with bespoke hardware that comes in at a price point equivalent to PVCU bifolding doors.
If you had the choice, which one would you buy for your home?

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