It’s a common problem in British homes. Temperatures drop and the radiators go on, but they just heat just the wall or send hot air out of the window while the room remains freezing. But this is a problem that one British inventor, Roland Glancy, is attempting to solve.
“I came up with the idea because my wife would always complain of feeling cold when we were sitting on the sofa,” he explained. “I didn’t want to keep turning up the heating because it was expensive so I bought a few fans from eBay and made a prototype that pushed the hot air into the middle of the room.”
After working on a few different models, Mr Glancy came up with a system that could clip neatly onto any gas radiator and move the warm air away from the ceiling and towards the sofa. “It seemed to work because my wife stopped complaining,” he said.
Mr Glancy has turned this invention into a thriving business. He manufactures all his products – the Radfans – in North Shields. By keeping production local, he is able to build the items to order as demand rises.
“We’re working like Trojans at the moment,” he said. “We’re pretty confident that we’ll sell 10,000 units this winter and double that next year.”
There are currently 200 million radiators across the UK, all of which can be retrofitted with the Radfan. “That’s our target market,” said Mr Glancy. “After that we’ll look to Europe. We’ve already received quite a few orders from Holland and the Czech Republic.”
At the moment, the Radfan can only be attached to a gas radiator, as electric versions come in varying sizes. “The water-filled ones follow a standard,” he said.
The invention itself is fairly simple. The fans are made of the same plastic that is used for radiator valves so they can withstand high levels of heat. “I spent a couple of afternoons trying to melt plastic in the oven one day,” recalled Mr Glancy. “My wife wasn’t very impressed.”
The reason why no one has come up with a similar idea before is that up until the last few years, fans were too noisy, said Mr Glancy. “Ours is really quiet so you barely notice it,” he said.
Newcastle-based Radfan has just been awarded a £253,000 grant by the Department of Energy and Climate Change to increase production and invest in research. “We want to create a ‘smart’ version,” he explained. “It will use sensor technology to talk to your thermostat and control the heating when rooms are empty.”
The Radfans are currently undergoing rigorous tests to prove Mr Glancy’s claims that his products can help to reduce domestic heating bills by increasing the efficiency of radiators by up to two degrees. “If you turn your thermostat down by that, you’ll save about £100 a year,” he explained.
One certified, the opportunities for the Radfan are manifold, he added. “We could distribute it under the government’s energy-saving schemes or in partnership with some of the large energy companies.”
But, for now, Mr Glancy is just happy he’s making homes a little less chilly. “I just had a note from a customer saying thank you for making my little corner of Cumbria warmer,” he said. “And one chap has finally been able to take off his jumper in his living room…”