Although it was recently estimated that central heating boilers will be phased out completely by 2050, the market shows no actual signs to back up these predictions.
A study carried out by Global market Insights and other research companies show that the demand for new gas boilers is set to remain high and even increase with time.
Just to put this in perspective, the global boiler market size is approximately 26 million units per year. For many years in a row, UK remained the market leader by the number of annual installations last year reaching 1.7 million new units installed. This year, China has won the race and posted 1.77 million new installs.
Although similar number of boilers are installed both in the UK and China, the market structure couldn’t be any different. Combi boilers account for 99% of UK’s new boiler market. In China, only 13% are combi. Different environmental regulations and priorities mean that combi boilers are considered too expensive discounting the fact that they are much better for the environment.
Big European countries – Italy, France and Germany have a much smaller boiler market – approximately 600,000 units sold per country – due to the majority of apartment blocks being served by “central heating” in its true sense – a large unit providing hot water to one or more apartment blocks rather than individual boiler for each apartment. This approach has both pros and cons. Although it allows to save money, most people have very little control as to when their heating comes on or off. For example, they can’t have the heating on during colder days of summer because the operator of the “central heating” system has decided to keep it switched off.
That’s why more and more continental European households decide to ditch the centralised system and install individual boilers like we do here in the UK.
A big surprise is the USA. Despite its huge size, only 400,000 gas boilers were sold in the USA. This is mainly to the sparse gas grid in the States and also because historically this country has always given preference to oil boilers, biomass/pellet burners or electric boilers. There is no sign that the USA sales might increase any time soon. If anything, the opposite is true and the USA gas boiler share is due to slide even further.
Apart from China and the UK, the only other countries with over a million annual boiler sales are Russia, Turkey and South Korea.
Thanks to this trend, the European boiler market it set to expand to $12 billion per year by 2024. That’s a $2 billion increase.
For us, coming from the environmental friendliness perspective, a worrying trend is the percentage of combi boilers installed globally. Less than 10% of boilers installed are combi. By 2024, the situation might slightly improve, as the experts predict sales of combi boilers to reach 3 million units, however, this is still nowhere near the expected targets. Manufacturers need to do more to educate consumers in countries where combination boilers are not leading the market.
UK has recently done a lot to promote sustainable heating. The government’s Boiler Plus scheme that was announced last year also goes a long way towards sustainability. According to this scheme, all new boilers installed from now on will have to come with at least one additional sustainable feature – such as smart thermostat, weather compensation system or flue gas recovery.