Pegler Yorkshire

Wed, 31 May 2017

Why stainless steel deserves a leading role in the UK HVAC market

As a specifier or contractor of commercial plumbing and HVAC systems you are probably already familiar with the benefits of using stainless steel pipework systems.

For many years, stainless steel has been a popular choice for pipework within the industrial sector and has made the leap successfully into the commercial marketplace, probably helped by the rise of sub-contracting enabling installers to gain experience in other sectors of the market.  Offsite pre-fabrication has also become a common feature on projects.

Known as “the hygienic” metal, stainless steel has a number of material, environmental and financial benefits which make it a popular choice. More recently, its aesthetic characteristics have also contributed to a rise in popularity thanks to the trend for industrial style interiors. This, combined with its simple cleaning requirements, means that pipework does not have to be hidden away and can instead form a part of the décor.

Amy Sedgwick, Market Manager – Press Systems says: “We are seeing the emergence of stainless steel as the specifier material of choice for pipework systems, which is already an area where press-fit jointing is one of the most popular methods of installation. The ‘norm’ is to install 316 tube and fittings up to 108mm, but in a world of ever increasing demands regarding cost, time and performance Pegler Yorkshire is developing innovative solutions to challenge this area of the marketplace and exceed expectations.”

Here she considers the specific benefits of using Pegler Yorkshire’s 444 stainless steel range as part of a VSH XPress or VSH Tectite piping system.

Superior resistance to corrosion

Probably the main reason for the rise in popularity of stainless steel for pipework is its reputation as being superior when resisting corrosion. 444 performs well against each of the four major types of corrosion in the following ways:

1) Pitting Corrosion. This occurs when the naturally occurring passive layer of stainless steel is compromised. A high % of Chromium and Molybdenum is effective against this – both of which are very much present in 444 tube.

2) Crevice Corrosion. This occurs in areas where the metal has been worked or deformed. Major element to resist this is Molybdenum.

3) Intergranular Corrosion. This occurs at high temperatures (ie during welding). Grades stabilised with either titanium or niobium work best against this (444!).

4) Stress Corrosion Cracking. The combination of a mechanical load and a corrosive environment lead to cracks forming in the metal, ferritic grades are best at resisting this from occurring (444!)

Durability and resistance to environmental conditions

The vast majority of products we use on a daily basis contain stainless steel (car exhausts, washing machine drums – many products with a long service life). Its excellent reputation for durability and resistance to various environmental conditions mean that in the plumbing world it is gaining particular popularity in geographic areas where water hardness is a problem, for example parts of Scotland and the Channel Islands.

Stainless steel is an ideal material for thermal disinfection as it can accommodate high temperatures in regular cycles over a long period of time – making it a great choice for healthcare applications. The SSF100 grey Viton o-ring which is available within the VSH XPress Stainless product portfolio will create a system suitable for steam condensate applications, also suitable for applications requiring purging and disinfection.

Whole life cost-savings

The price of 444 is significantly less than that of 316, meaning that significant savings are up for grabs. The 444 tube from Pegler Yorkshire is also WRAS approved, meaning that the jump to installing stainless steel will not be as expensive as one might think. If this is considered alongside the additional benefits and cost savings that installing a press-fit system can offer then the overall benefit will be substantial.

Conclusion

Stainless steel 444 is fast being adopted as a preferred metal grade within the commercial HVAC market. The cost benefit vs 316 while still offering a similar level of corrosion resistance (which is superior compared to other available commercial pipework grades) is commanding attention from both specifiers and contractors alike. Installing 444 as a part of a VSH XPress or VSH Tectite piping system gives you a 25 year system guarantee so there is nothing to lose and a considerable amount to gain.

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