Challenge the impossible and heat the Sanctuary of Oropa from -3°C
Challenge the impossible and heat the Sanctuary of Oropa from -3°C

Challenge the impossible and heat the Sanctuary of Oropa from -3°C

At the end of the winter of 2022, they proposed us a challenge that seemed almost impossible: to heat a basilica located at 1200 msl with an average temperature in winter of -3°C to -1°C inside, a solution that still no one was able to find.
The rector of the Sanctuary of Oropa (Biella) after spending another winter trying to heat the upper Basilica without the desired results, contacted us looking for an alternative heating solution, as all traditional heating systems had already been tested , without obtaining any result: air system, underfloor heating, infrared lamps. 

We accepted the challenge and developed a low-consumption heating solution capable of guaranteeing maximum comfort for people.

The upper Basilica of the Sanctuary of Oropa has these characteristics: 
  • Altitude 1200 m asl
  • Internal surface approximately 1300 m²
  • Central dome over 80ml.
  • Average internal temperature in January and February from -2°C to -3°C.
  • Average temperature on the counters from -1°C to -2°C.

Thanks to our experience in heating for churches and places of worship, and the knowledge of our carbon fiber technology, we immediately understood that the most efficient solution would have been directly on the pews, where the faithful rest, rather than heating the entire room surrounding.
We therefore decided to combine the use of two different localized electric heating solutions to maximize people's comfort:
  • Heated pillow for church pews (power 150W), which reaches 40°C in just one minute
  • Radiant panel for backrest with two active sides. One side that heats the back (100W power) and reaches a temperature of 37°C, while the other frontal side (400W power) with a temperature of 70°C that heats the person in the frontal position by infrared radiation. The temperature perceived by the person sitting at a distance of 60cm will be around 45°C.
With this radiant system, the well-being of people in the church is much higher than any type of electric heating tried before and the visual impact is minimal compared to more bulky solutions. But not only that, thanks to this system the costs necessary to heat the basilica during the celebrations are significantly reduced.

This solution requires the switching on of each pew only when needed, thus without causing waste in the pre-heating, and does not require further controls since both radiant heating systems are equipped with a thermostat. Specifically, the thermostat of the cushion and the back side panel are set at a temperature of 40°C, while the front side radiant panel will never exceed the temperature of 70°C.

To give an example of the energy consumption of this heating solution: the energy consumption required to heat a 4-seat pew (via panel and heated cushion) is only 0.65 kWh. Considering the cost per kWh at €0.40, the total cost required to heat the pew for one hour is only €0.26. Assuming having to heat 10 pews (40 people), the cost would therefore be €2.60.

It can therefore be said that Thermal Technology, thanks to the experience and innovation of carbon fiber solutions, not only gladly accepted the request but also won a challenge that seemed impossible, bringing not only the maximum heat possible to people but also energy savings and therefore lower costs for heating a church in a particularly cold location.

Click here to see all the other photos regarding the heating project of the Oropa Sanctuary Basilica


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