Can a biomass boiler be connected to my existing heating system?
Yes, in much the same manner as any other boiler. Biomass is a very suitable replacement for conventional heating systems i.e. oil/lpg.
What are the best applications for a biomass boiler?
Biomass boilers operate at their highest efficiency, and are most reliable, when operating continuously. Biomass boilers are particularly suited to meet the continuous heat loads of buildings such as swimming pools, hospitals, nursing homes, and industrial processes with a constant heat demand.
What maintenance does a biomass boiler require?
It is recommended that Biomass installations are subjected to an annual service inspection by one of our HETAS registered installers. It is also recommended that the boiler is visually inspected every week to ensure there are no faults or visible wear and tear. It is also advised that the grate and the inspection cover are checked for any excess ash. Our boilers also have a self cleaning programme which should be initiated every 3 months.
What are the main components of a biomass system?
In addition to the boiler itself, a biomass system will require a thermal store (buffer cylinder), a fuel store, and a mechanism to extract fuel from the store and to feed it into the boiler (vacuum feed.). The flue gases may require treatment and a cyclone grit arrestor is the most common flue gas cleaning device.
Can a biomass boiler supply hot water in summer as well as heating in winter?
Summer hot water loads are usually very small in relation to the size the boiler typically would provide, typically 5 – 10% of the boiler rating and, as such, are always less than the minimum output of the boiler. The use of a correctly sized buffer vessel allows the boiler to be operated for short periods once or twice a week to charge the vessel. Hot water is then drawn from the buffer vessel as required to meet the load. All of our boilers come with readily programmable summer functions which are easy to operate.
How often do the boilers need filling?
This would depend on how often the boiler is used and the heat load requirements. The hopper may need filling anywhere between every couple of days to every few weeks. A larger hopper or fuel store means filling less often. We recommend using a vacuum feed system making fuel loading easier and more convenient.
Can Biomass be burnt in a smoke controlled area?
Approved biomass fuel can be burnt in a smokeless zone, but you’ll need to check the HETAS guide and with your local council and we are happy to help with these checks on your behalf.
How controllable are the boilers? Are they still efficient when ticking over?
They are controllable to 1° and can run at 96% efficiency, even when operating at 10% of full capacity, when ticking over. This gives them a high “turn down ratio”, and the boilers can also be “cascaded” making them suitable for everything from a small district heating scheme to a large hospital. All of our biomass systems work on a differential temperature between the buffer cylinder and the biomass boiler meaning the boiler is not running constantly therefore prolonging the life of the boiler and also saving fuel.
What sort of fuel can be burned in a biomass boiler?
The majority of systems operate on woodchip or wood pellets; however biomass boilers have the ability to burn miscanthus, or logs depending on the model and specification of the boiler. Although some boilers may be able to burn a variety of fuels, including non renewable fuels, it is recommended that only high quality specified fuels are burned in order to prolong the life of the boiler and also to ensure RHI eligibility.
Do I need Planning Permission and/or a Building Warrant to install a biomass system?
While Planning Permission is not required for a boiler, it may be required for a boiler house, fuel silo, and flue (chimney). In most cases renewable energy installations, both domestic and commercial, are considered “Permitted Development”. However, if you are concerned about any planning, our in house Planning team will be able to assist in assessing your requirements and submitting your Planning Application if necessary.
What happens if my boiler breaks down and is replaced?
If your biomass boiler is replaced, your RHI payments will cease and you will have to reapply for the incentive again with the tariff levels that are in place at the time. With the exception of biomass boilers that are misused (long term use of the wrong pellets, system never cleaned), you can expect to have no serious problems that would result in a replacement.
What happens if I move house?
If you move house you can either take the payments with you and leave the boiler in place, or you could sign over the remainder of the RHI payments to a new owner which may have the effect of significantly increasing your property value.
How reliable are biomass systems?
The reliability of a biomass system is closely allied to the quality of fuel being burned. Hence, wood pellet systems tend to be inherently more reliable and less prone to breakdown than woodchip systems. Another reliability issue relates to the type of fuel extract and feed mechanism used. In the end it will come down to making sure you have high quality equipment installed by a qualified heating engineer and that you use the biomass boiler in line with the relevant guidelines for fuel usage and maintenance.
Can a biomass boiler work fully automatically?
Yes. Typical automated features include time switch or optimum start/stop, fuel feed, de-ashing and flue cleaning. The majority of boilers can operate for up to 1 week at a time without manual intervention.
Where do I store wood fuel?
Fuel on a domestic scale, which is manually handled into a boiler feed hopper, can be stored in any dry shed or building. Most automatically fed boilers require a fuel silo attached to the boiler house, this requires access for a delivery vehicle.
Can I use my own fuel?
Most woodchip installers tend to produce their own fuel, however it is important that there is a suitable environment to dry and store the wood and ensure it is seasoned for approximately 12 months to reduce the moisture content to <30%.
What payback period can I expect on my biomass system?
Taking into account Savings on Use against expensive and rising fossil fuel prices, and payments from the RHI, payback is expected to be achieved in 5-7 years.
What is classed as eligible for the RHI?
A building being heated that is a fully enclosed permanent structure and the heat is being contained within the building and the transfer medium is liquid or steam the following is eligible:
• Space heating
• Process Heating
• Hot water
Is district heating eligible for the Non-domestic RHI?
Yes. District heating systems will be eligible for Non-domestic RHI payments in which multiple properties may be heated by a common boiler. In order to be eligible for the Non-domestic RHI there must be more than one council tax bill for the biomass site i.e. a domestic house and a holiday cottage. Farms that are exempt from business rates may also be eligible.
Is the RHI based on the Boiler or on the site/location?
RHI accreditation is based on the boiler and not the site. It is therefore recommended that you ensure the life of your boiler with regular servicing and using good quality EN plus standard fuels.
Can I use an old boiler to claim the RHI?
In order to be eligible, all biomass heating equipment must be new at the time of installation. If the biomass heating has been installed previously, customers may still claim the RHI as long as the installation of their boiler was no earlier than 15 July 2009.