News Article

Sports Hall Heating - The Ultimate Guide

Written By

Nick Winton

08 March 2022

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What is the best solution for sports hall heating? Our radiant expert Nick Winton explains everything you need to know.

The objective of a heating system in a sports hall is solely to ensure the people are comfortable for the activity being undertaken and to safeguard the occupants against slippery floors caused by condensation. For the larger halls with spectator seating, separate consideration should be given to this specific area.

The activity in the modern sports hall can vary from sedentary teaching to very active sports, thus the type of heating has to be adaptable and rapidly respond to the different demands. This combined with the fact that the halls are utilised at variable and often irregular time intervals makes the efficient use of energy extremely difficult.

The human body generates large quantities of heat and functions best when it is giving off heat to its surroundings. It experiences a sensation of comfortable warmth when it is transferring heat to the environment. By emitting too much heat it feels cold and conversely if it cannot emit sufficient heat it feels too hot. Thus, this delicate thermal balance in the human body is critical in the sports environment. The loss of heat from the body to the surroundings will be reduced by increasing the mean radiant temperature and reducing the convective loss due to air velocity, known as the chill effect.

Sports Hall Radiant Heating

So, the challenge is for an energy-efficient heating system capable of meeting the varying demands of the sports hall environment, plus the exacting aesthetic requirements of the architect.

There are three ways to create heat transfer; conduction, convection and radiation. All of these physical methods have been employed by heating equipment designers to provide appliances for warming environments. In the case of sports halls, consideration must be given to achieve the most efficient solution for the diverse requirements.

Sports halls are generally large voluminous structures with high ceilings, but in reality, it is only the lowest 2m of the building, where the activity occurs, that needs to be heated. Thus, providing a heating system that warms the entire volume is not only wasteful and costly but also inflexible. Warm air systems (convection) tend to fall into the category just mentioned, plus they rely on air movement for the distribution of heat. Air movement can be detrimental to certain sports activities such as; the flight of shuttlecocks in badminton and the ping-pong ball in table tennis. The actual noise of air movement fans or in fact any heating equipment is also a factor to be considered as Building Bulletin BB93 states the minimum performance standards for the acoustics of school rooms and halls.

Overhead radiant heating systems are in reality the only option, conduction as a heat transfer type in a sports hall is a non-starter.

The emitter of an overhead radiant heating system can be heated by various methods; hot gases, hot oil, LPHW, steam, electricity to name just a few. The commercial reality is that to provide uniform blanket heat coverage and meet the diverse requirements of the sports environment, the default system is the gas-fired continuous multi-burner radiant tube product. This type of product has been endorsed by such bodies as; Sport England for the Optimum Sports Hall and also the Affordable Sports Hall.

sports hall heating

So, why are these gas-fired continuous radiant systems the default heating product for sports halls?

They provide; blanket coverage, rapid response to changed conditions and a comfortable environmental temperature with approximately 5°C lower air temperature compared to a convective system and thus conducive for active sports.  They heat without air movement ideal for badminton, table tennis and participant comfort. Radiant heat also eliminates condensation on floors and walls, which left unchecked, could pose a dangerous threat to player safety. The radiant heat warms the human body muscles prior to strenuous activity, an added benefit for the health of the sports hall users.

The aim is to create an environment without stuffiness where the occupants can exercise vigorously in complete comfort.

An overall minimum air temperature of 12°C to 16°C is adequate for active sports, whereas 20°C may be more appropriate for social use or more sedentary activity. The intermittent use of sports halls requires a system that can rapidly respond to changed conditions.  

These radiant systems have the advantage of being suspended up in the roof area at high level out of harm’s way and often blend in aesthetically with the structural roof steels. The flue fan discharge can be remotely located so that it is outside of the heated area, thus minimising any noise impact in the hall.

These systems have been refined over the years by various companies, and so today some manufacturers have stolen a march on their competitors. All obviously are ErP compliant with a minimum SSHEE of 74% (seasonal space heating energy efficiency) but some such as the PCV and PCV+ can achieve SSHEE of 90.1% and 92.1% respectively and are ETL listed (the energy technology list of the Carbon Trust). Read more here:

These two latter ETL listed products from Powrmatic PCV & PCV+ when utilised can represent significant savings for the client, improve their environmental credentials in the reduction of climate change emissions and consequently lessen their carbon footprint.

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