If you are considering replacing your existing boiler, have you considered installing a biomass boiler? One of the main advantages to biomass boilers over other sources of renewable heating is the fact that the hot water they produce is a similar temperature to a standard oil or gas boiler, meaning it is usually straightfoward to integrate with your existing central heating system. Furthermore, the government's current renewable heat incentive means you could receive financial payments to offset the cost of installing a new boiler.
What is biomass?
Biomass is a range of renewable and low carbon fuel sources which, when properly managed, are sustainable fuels that can help reduce carbon emissions compared to fossil fuels.
Biomass materials include virgin wood, energy crops, food and industrial waste and residues from agriculture but the commonest forms of biomass fuels used in boilers are logs, wood pellets and wood chips.
All these fuels are sourced from trees which absorb carbon dioxide while growing and release it when they are burned. Consequently, if the fuel sources are sustainably managed and locally sourced, the use of biomass fuels in domestic and commercial heating systems will result in a much lower carbon footprint than traditional oil and gas.
Log boilers are similar to log-burning stoves that most people are familiar with. A firebox within the boiler is filled with uniform-sized logs and burned in batches. Water that passes through the boiler is warmed by the fire and stored in a large buffer tank. When there is demand for heating or hot water, the water flows from the tank through to the central heating system and hot water supply.
As log boilers are manually loaded, they can be a big commitment as a large amount of logs will need to be stored and moved over the lifetime of the boiler. Another consideration is the amount of space the boiler, accumulator and logs will need; many people choose to locate their boiler in an outbuilding close to the property to be heated.
Wood pellet boiler
Wood pellets are produced from sustainably sourced dry sawdust which is compressed under high pressure. The resultant pellet is a high-density fuel with low moisture content (around 8-10%) which has the advantages of taking up less space than logs or wood chip, and can be either manually loaded from a 10-15kg bag into a hopper or automatically fed from a pellet store.
A Windhager wood pellet system installed by Michael Magson Ltd
Example of a manually-fed wood pellet boiler
Watch an animation of how a Windhager wood pellet boiler works, from delivery of pellets blown into a store, to being automatically fed into the boiler and burned.
If you wish to take advantage of an automatic pellet-fed system, you need to consider how large a pellet store you can accommodate. Pre-fabricated stores of a certain size can be used but it is often more beneficial to have a purpose-built store made to fit the dimensions of the room, barn or building you intend to use (the larger the store, the better). We can advise on the suitability of a site for a pellet store for you, and design and build the store as part of our boiler installation.
Wood chip boiler
Wood chip boilers are most suited to medium and large-scale installations, as wood chip boilers are quite large and wood chips take up a bigger space compared to pellets. However, as wood chips are produced using specialist wood chippers to produce a uniform size, they are less processed than pellets and therefore a cheaper and very energy efficient resource. If you have your own woodland on site, you may be able to utilise this resource to supply some or all of your fuel.
Biomass boiler installation
Michael Magson Ltd has considerable experience in designing, installing and commissioning biomass boiler systems from Windhager and other manufacturers, including all associated works (such as store design and integration with existing central heating systems). If you are interested in learning more about the suitability of a biomass boiler for your property's hot water and heating needs, contact Michael Magson to arrange a free site visit and consultation.