Interview

InstallerSHOW hits Birmingham for a bigger than ever industry event 

This year’s InstallerSHOW hits its new home the NEC Birmingham from 21-23 June, and it has doubled in size with over 300 of the industry’s innovators in heat water, air and energy exhibiting there. 

Head of content, at Installer, Joe Sharpe

With a focus on net zero, retrofit and decarbonisation solutions in heat, water, air, and energy, the elemental theatres will be of particular interest to decision-makers working in local authorities, social housing, house builders and developers, M&E contractors and building services engineers. 

Our content editor spoke with Joe Sharpe, Installer’s head of content about what attendees can expect from this year’s show, the impact of Covid, Government targets and the emerging trends an innovation in a fast-moving industry. 

“The InstallerSHOW event has grown substantially and will be double the size, featuring 300+ exhibitors.  There will be a definite focus on renewables, low-carbon heating and net zero. There will be more heat pump manufacturers than ever before, with leading manufacturers Daikin, Grant UK, Kensa, NIBE, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Stiebel Eltron and more all signed up to attend. This is in addition to the key heating brands that will focus on their heat pump technology, like Baxi Heating, Ideal Heating, Worcester Bosch, Vaillant, Viessmann and more. 

“If you’re interested in new products, would like some installation advice or just want to get together with your industry colleagues, InstallerSHOW is a great day out with loads to see and do. 

“Thousands of installers have visited InstallerSHOW since it launched in 2015, with visitors seeing it as a ‘must attend event’ in their annual calendars. If you’ve never attended, maybe this year is the time to come and see what all the excitement is about. 

Get-together at InstallerSHOW

Emerging tech and trends for the industry 

“InstallerSHOW attracts a mix of all size companies. Traditionally, our core audience would be SMEs, but we’ve always attracted employed engineers and representatives of larger companies and organisations.  

“This year, we’re targeting more visitor sets than ever before, so it will be the most diverse InstallerSHOW we’ve put on. Whether you’re on-the-tools, a business owner, a consultant, a specifier, or a domestic or commercial engineer, if you work in heat, water, energy or air, InstallerSHOW is well worth a visit.” 

We asked Joe to tell us about new emerging technologies or trends in the world of renewables, that we can expect to see during the event. 

“There is a big trend in the industry about low-temperature heating systems, with the view to move from traditional boilers, to heat pump systems. Whatever the property’s heat source, if the system is designed optimally, with a heat loss calculation, hydronic balancing, TRVs, smart controls, properly sized emitters and more, the customer will benefit from lower fuel bills and less emissions, without sacrificing comfort. These systems will also make the transition to heat pumps much easier in the near future.  

“Heating and plumbing engineers will now be looking at the system as whole, rather than just the heat source. InstallerSHOW will feature all the latest technology to make this a reality, including controls, TRVs, underfloor heating, hot water cylinders, heat batteries, balancing valves and more.

InstallerSHOW in action

Eyes of the industry 

“As we look to the future, smart products and connected homes will be one of the key pathways to achieving net zero. Technologies that are integrated in buildings, working together to minimise waste and maximise efficiency will become more and more common. InstallerSHOW will focus on these products, from solar PV and thermal, battery storage, EV charging, power distributors and more, and how engineers can get the training and certification to add these to their skillset.” 

We talked about Joe’s expectation for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS), and what he feels is required in terms of incentive to tip the balance for new carbon technology for both customers and installers. 

“The eyes of the industry will rightly be focused on the BUS when it goes live. On paper, the scheme looks well-thought-out, with the voucher being claimed by the installer once the work has been completed and signed off. Our hope is that there is a good uptake from end-users who see positive results, but equally important is that the scheme runs smoothly for the businesses that take part.  

“We’d like to see some solid case studies of small businesses getting involved with minimal paperwork upfront, benefiting from plenty of new work under the scheme and receiving the payment voucher as quickly as possible. This would set out a clear pathway for more, larger schemes in the future. 

“We are still in a bit of a purgatory where industry is looking to the government to set out clearer pathways to net zero, while the government looking at industry to progress things themselves. At InstallerSHOW, we’d like to see the financial burden for training and certification for engineers be taken away. To upskill heating or plumbing engineers to work on technology that’s new to them, takes time off the tools, and upfront costs.  

Preparing for the rise in demand for low-carbon tech 

“If more can be done to take this away, we will be able to train more heat pump engineers and prepare for the rise in demand for low-carbon technology that will, and already is, on the rise.”

We asked: is there is feel for how many ‘traditional’ installers are looking at upskilling to do renewables, and what the feelings are about that? 

“Upskilling to renewables or low carbon will be a key theme at InstallerSHOW and for the wider industry. Content around the future of heat, including renewables, hydrogen and biofuels is the most popular on our website.  

“The traditional heating manufacturers have invested in new low-carbon technology that they will be showing off at the show, and renewables manufacturers will be looking to talk to engineers and demonstrate how they can futureproof themselves and their businesses.  
 
“At the end of the day, the UK has signed up to legally-binding carbon targets, so this transition will happen. Engineers are the front line, and some of the most important people in this journey, and they will be keen to offer the best solutions to their customers.” 

Energy crisis 

Joe explained his thoughts on the energy crisis and how rising bills are highlighting new needs in industry. 

“There’s arguably never been more eyes on the heating industry than now. Rising fuel bills and the cost-of-living crisis are highlighting the need to use energy as efficiently as possible. It also shows the potential for technologies like heat pumps and solar, which would take pressure off supply grids, and protect the UK from volatile price rises.  

We talked about the Government’s targets and expectations being placed on the training of enough installers to meet them.  

“The Government targets are ambitious but they have to be. An average of 1.7 million boilers are installed every year, so we know that the workforce, supply chain and products are all in place to install heating systems, the industry just needs to change the types of system that it installs.  

“The heating industry has a good history of changing direction, look at the switch to condensing boilers in 2005. Boiler Plus and the mandate on controls in more recent years can also be seen as a success and something that will continue to evolve. The training and focus on low-temperature systems, that is available now, will be key to this journey, as well as support and training from manufacturers and associations. It’s going to be a long journey with plenty of speed bumps, but it is achievable and we must achieve it.” 

The after-effects of a pandemic on the industry 

With many installers in the industry impacted by Covid, we talked about how sectors are recovering from the ongoing effects of a pandemic. 

“Covid really highlighted the importance of the heating, plumbing and electrical industries, and just how essential engineers are. A lot of engineers didn’t stop throughout the pandemic, putting themselves on the front line to help keep the public warm, safe and with access to hot water and energy. For them, it’s all part of the job, but it again shows what everyday heroes engineers are. 

“After two years of uncertainty, it looks like confidence is returning to the industry. Many engineers are also seeing a business boom and are busier than ever, with more people upgrading their homes. 

InstallerSHOW is well worth a visit for a day (or three). Visitors will be able to get hands-on with the latest products on the market, get technical with over 300 manufacturers, be part of engaging training and discussions, and have a great time with fellow engineers.

Head to www.installershow.com, sign up for your free tickets, and see for yourself.