Paint that produces heat for houses is the brainchild of Irish start-up EcoVolt

Paint that produces heat for houses is the brainchild of Irish start-up EcoVolt, writes Trish Dromey.

Paint that produces heat for houses is the brainchild of Irish start-up EcoVolt

Paint that produces heat for houses is the brainchild of Irish start-up EcoVolt, writes Trish Dromey. Paint that can be used to turn a wall or a ceiling into a heater used to be the stuff of science fiction. Now it’s a product that’s being made and exported by Dublin company EcoVolt Carbon Electric Paint, or CeP.

It is a world first “paint on wall electric heating system”, says EcoVolt founder Stephen Dempsey, explaining that the paint is a conductive coating made from carbon graphite which is screen printed onto gypsum plasterboard to turn it into an efficient radiant heater.

The company has already turned the ceiling of a Dublin restaurant into a heater by using the paint. It has also been used this year in “a deep” retrofit project for Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to boost the Building Energy Rating, or BER, of four houses, from a G to an A2.

While EcoVolt can be used to retrofit existing houses, the company sees the biggest sales opportunity in supplying prefabricated EcoVolt boards which can be installed in the same way as ordinary plasterboards and connected by an electrician.

“It’s less expensive than traditional heating systems and can be used with PV solar and battery power and also connected to the grid,” says Mr Dempsey, adding that the customers the firm is targeting include those in the construction industry, modular construction companies, as well as heating suppliers and installers. For EcoVolt, the paint is part of a range of energy-efficient products using electricity.

Our aim is to provide a complete alternative to fossil fuel

The company has also developed an electric radiator and a hot-water system using waste heat in the air to heat water, which it calls EcoVolt H20. The company also supplies Solar PV and battery storage systems. Based in Tallaght, where it employs nine people, EcoVolt is currently fundraising with a view to developing sales in Ireland, the UK, and Europe.

Back in 2009, Mr Dempsey started out as “a man in a van with a website”, importing and fitting ceramic core heaters to replace storage heaters. When it occurred to him that he could develop a heater with better controls, he secured investment and set up EcoVolt.

Taking his first delivery of 1,000 radiators from a contract manufacturer in July 2014, he began selling to heating suppliers and consumers. By 2015 EcoVolt had moved to larger premises in Glasnevin and hired three staff. Mr Dempsey spent two years developing the carbon electric paint which launched in 2016 and has since been used in 100 locations in Ireland and the UK.

“We sold to a customer in Holland who has become a sales agent for Benelux and we are exporting to Sweden and carrying out some high-level trials in the UK,” he says.

Until now the company’s core product has been ceramic heaters, which account for around 60% of sales, including exports to the UK. But Mr Dempsey sees significant opportunities for a company supplying a full-electric alternative. He is particularly excited about the prospects for carbon electric paint.

“We are getting enquiries from around the world and are gaining traction,” he says, adding that he is now in discussions with European distributors. The project for Dun Laoghaire Rathdown has been significant to demonstrate its technology.

“It uses space heating, hot water, and ventilation that is primarily powered by Solar PV and batteries. It is a first in Ireland to use this technology to bring a G BER rating up to an A2,’’ he says.

EcoVolt linked up with the Madigan Group and will now use intelligent heating controls developed by its subsidiary Systemlink Technologies. Madigan has also provided investment which has allowed EcoVolt to move to its bigger premises. The carbon electric paint is manufactured in Tallaght while its other products are produced by contracted manufacturers.

EcoVolt’s plans for 2019 include recruiting six more staff. Identified by Enterprise Ireland as a High Potential Start-up, it aims to quadruple exports. Enthusiastic about promoting both EcoVolt and electric heating, Mr Dempsey says he wants to do for electric heating what the electric car is doing for transport.

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