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Chilled ceilings and beams continued growth in the European marketFebruary 2008

The European market for chilled ceilings and beams continues to go from strength to strength. In 2006, the market was valued at approximately €223 million, representing nearly a 16 per cent increase from the previous year. The UK market has experienced the highest growth by value, increasing from €16.6 million in 2005 to €24.8 million in 2006.

One of the main drivers behind the growth of chilled ceilings and beams is the demand for energy efficient products. These units work on higher water temperature than fan coils and VAV units making them more energy efficient. Over the past ten years chilled ceilings/beams have taken market share away from the fan coil market. This has provoked some fan coil manufacturers to invest in more energy efficient products such as DC motors with Electronically Commutated (EC) fans.

Chilled ceilings
Chilled ceilings dominate the German market, representing over 75 per cent of the total market, with the value of the market was estimated at approximately €63 million in 2006. One of the main reasons for this growth is the preference of architects, who are the main specifiers in Germany for these types of units.

Chilled ceilings have not established a significant presence in the Finnish and French markets, as many architects consider the units to be bulky and unattractive. Likewise in the UK, chilled ceilings are less common compared to chilled beams. UK sales of chilled ceilings/slabs accounted for only eight percent of the total market by value, in 2006. The slower growth rate was due to the high capital costs. Generally, these units are preferred for refurbishment projects, because their large size enables them to easily hide the entire duct and pipe work.

Chilled slabs
A lack of awareness in the Swedish chilled slabs market has held down the sales of these units. The Swiss chilled slabs market has experienced similar problems and is not expected to grow noticeably in the near future. However, this is not reflected in all of the countries: chilled slabs in the Dutch market enjoyed a 30 per cent growth in 2007 and 20 per cent growth is expected each year for the next few years.

The main demand for chilled slabs continues to come from the office sector, particularly new build. Growth in the German construction industry had a positive impact on the German market for chilled slabs as it experienced approximately a 50 per cent increase.

Passive and active chilled beams
Active beams remain the dominant product in the European beams market, with the exception of the Swiss market, where both passive and active chilled beams are not very popular, but passive beams have a slightly larger market size than active beams.

The active beams market in Finland has enjoyed the greatest growth; this segment completely dominates the market accounting for 83 per cent of the total market value. The Swedish active beams segment follows a similar pattern to the Finnish market, where it represents 70 per cent of the total market value.

Even though cassette types were only recently introduced into the Swedish market, they have already started to take market share away from linear beams. The main reasons are the product's better flexibility, smaller size, easier installation and lower noise levels. 

Muliti-service chilled beams
Britain is the fastest growing country for MSCBs. It holds 47 per cent of the total UK chilled beams and ceilings market share and showed an unprecedented growth of 59 per cent in 2006, by value. The growth is expected to continue in 2007.

MSCBs have made no impact in the Netherlands, and Switzerland, and they have struggled to gain market share in the Finland. However, MSCBs are still a relatively new product in the Netherlands hence the negligible market therefore it will take some time for the market to grow at a reasonable rate. On the other hand, they are considered unattractive and noisy units in Switzerland and Germany; as a result it is unlikely that the sales of these units will increase in the near future.

Supply structure
Imported brands are an integral part in the British, Finnish and French market. The main countries they import from are Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Finland.

Local manufacturers make up the Dutch, Swedish and Swiss chilled beams and ceilings market. In the majority of the countries studied, the main distribution channel for chilled ceilings, beams and chilled slabs is air-conditioning contractors and installers.

Major suppliers in the European beams market include Halton, Swegon, Trox, Flakt Woods and Lindab. A similar situation is reflected in the MSCBs market, where Trox, Flakt Woods, Halton and Lindab dominate. However the suppliers in the chilled ceilings and slabs segment varies from country to country. Important players in this market include, Trox, Giacomini and Frenger.

Statistical data in this article is quoted from the European Market for Chilled Beams and Ceilings study, published in February 2008. For more information please contact Jon Williams at WMI.