Condensing Boilers – Old Hat Now!

To say you have one of those new fangled condensing boilers in your house, is a bit like saying you have an engine in your car.

Condensing boilers represent great technology, but it’s almost a universal technology now in the UK, and indeed most of mainland Europe, because it’s the only way that boilers can reach the required levels of efficiency demanded by the latest building regulations.

These now state that boilers which cannot achieve 90%, or more levels of efficiency, cannot be used in new builds, or refurbishments. There are of course exceptions, but this only happens when the siting of a boiler (say in a listed property which can’t site a boiler anywhere else) cannot accommodate the extra pipework and controls. And the process of condensing means that these high efficiencies can be reached.

In theory, condensing boilers use a technique of heat capture which is quite simple and easy to understand. A boiler which does not use condensing technology, has effectively one grab at the heat provided by the fuel; at the time of combustion. Everyone knows that a large proportion of the heat combusted is lost through the chimney, or flue. In most cases, some 40% to 50% of the heat from the combustion process can be lost like this.

Which is why back boilers heated by open fires were so inefficient and frustrating for householders.

Now, if you could harness that waste heat, naturally you would be more efficient. So, condensing technology does just that: it grabs the heat produced by the combustion process – contained in the waste gases – and uses it to also heat the water. This means that modern boilers will use over 90% of the original heat combusted to heat the water and only a very small amount of heat will escape up the flue.

Great. The only downsides are increased cost of parts and installation. A condensing boiler requires more bits: it needs two aluminium heat exchangers (one for the original combustion process and one for the exhaust gases); it needs a drainage pipe to take away a liquid which is formed from the rapidly cooling exhaust gases (called condensate); and, it needs a fan in the flue to ensure that the colder exhaust gases are pushed out into the atmosphere, rather than dropping back down the flue.

Thus, greater efficiency levels, but an increase in costs. And the siting of a boiler becomes ever more important, because the drainage pipework needs access to an outside wall and drain.

And, of course, another issue which cropped up the winter before last when temperatures dropped to record lows for long periods of time. Condensate is basically water and freezes; thus drainage pipes quickly froze and shut down the boilers. Therefore, condensing boilers need proper controls to prevent that from happening.

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Boilers Sale: No DIY Spring Cleaning of Boilers

As Spring approaches and people start to think about cleaning away the Winter blues, one of the UK’s largest online suppliers of boilers and accessories is reminding DIY advocates that the central heating and hot water boiler is a no-go area.

The Boilers Sales website is reminding people that gas boilers cannot be serviced, or worked on by anyone unless they are on the Gas Safe Register in the appropriate group. And this is the law of the land, not just a recommendation. Read more

What is a Gas Fired Combi Boiler

What does gas fired combi boiler mean?

The title gas fired combi boiler can easily be explained. Lets break it down bit by bit.

Gas fired refers to the energy source. In the UK, there are four main sources of energy that can be combusted to create the heat: gas, oil, solid fuel and renewable energies. There is of course electricity, but, unlike mainland Europe, it has never really caught on as a way of heating water (think of the now infamous immersion heater), because of the cost.

Gas is the predominant fuel source. And a gas fired combi boiler is the most common type of heating device now used in the UK. Gas used to be comparatively cheap and plentiful in the UK, as North sea gas fields gave up abundant supplies, but as they are now dwindling, it is being imported from other countries and the price is steadily rising. A new gas line from Norway is helping – as are imports brought by sea from the Middle East – but soon the UK will be a net importer of gas and the cheap days are long gone. There is also LPG where mains gas is not available, but this has always been very expensive.

Another fuel which tends to be used where gas mains is not available is oil. This fuel has a chequered history and goes on a roller coaster ride from cheap and plentiful, to scarce and expensive. Once again, North sea oil fields are running out and this, added to increasing demand from the emerging markets, means it is now very expensive. The problem with oil, is that it can be made into so many things. So apart from heating oil (kerosene), it can be made into jet engine fuel (another form of kerosene), petrol, diesel and plastics. This increases its demand. It is fortunate that a gas fired combi boiler does not need oil to work.

Solid fuel (coal, wood) used to be king of the jungle when fires were open and the high efficiency boiler was just a glint in the heating engineer’s eye. But, although coal is unlikely to make a major comeback unless it can clean up its act, solid fuel in the shape of carbon neutral wood, is making a comeback. Biomass fuels are now the in thing, given that wood pellets for example, are carbon friendly, comparatively cheap and are highly efficient (up there with SEDBUK Band A boilers).

Renewables stroll into the biomass area, but in this case, they tend to mean things like solar, wind, or even wave power. Dismissed as a hippie dream for many years, many European nations have embraced the renewable concepts and outbid each other to look ‘cool’.

So, remember, a gas fired combi boiler is run of that stuff that you can’t see and hisses a lot!

Combi Boilers – It’s All About Flow Rate

For anyone considering combi boilers when choosing a new heating device, it all comes down to the words, flow rate.

Or, to be more precise, with combi boilers, it’s all about hot water flow rate.

And these few words are actually as important as that other key phrase, output to hot water.

Firstly, bear in mind that a combination boiler has two functions in life: to heat the water to keep the radiators warm and also to heat the hot water that it going out of the hot tap.

Now, we’re considering here the hot water issue. When a householder turns on the hot tap, they expect hot water to be available for as long as they need it; to wash their hands say, or to fill a bath. The problem for combi boilers, was that they could only provide hot water at the rate at which they can heat it. The hot water (unlike a conventional system), is not stored in a tank for later retrieval. When the hot tap is opened, the water needs to be available, and in the right sort of quantities. The problem with early combination models is that they struggled to do both roles effectively, meaning that they were usually installed in smaller properties, ones that did not theoretically need large amounts of flowing hot water.

But that meant that many people were missing out on the benefits of combi technology. And that mainly comes down to the inefficiency, with an old traditional system, of having to store water in a hot water tank for later use. A combi only needs to heat the water when its exactly required, either by the radiators, or the hot water taps. That’s more efficient and saves money. What’s more, by not having a hot water tank and associated piping, means that you avoid that cost altogether. So a combi boiler is less expensive than a traditional boiler.

But, let’s get back to the hot water flow rate. This figures basically tells you how much hot water (measured in litres) the boiler will generate in a given minute. So, let’s take an average combi output of 24kW. This will, on average, provide nine litres of hot water at a temperature of 35 degrees every minute. The higher the output of the boiler, the higher the water flow rate. Thus, with a boiler rated at 54 kW, it can provide a hot water flow rate of 25 litres per minute. But, with that kind of flow rate, you’re talking a lot more energy and consequently, it is far more expensive.

So, remember, you’re thinking about combi boilers, think hot water flow rate, as you need to ensure that this equates to the amount of water you’ll need for your property.

Confusion Over Efficiency Ratings

The heating industry is in danger of confusing its customers over boiler efficiency ratings says a top boiler discount website.

Boiler ratings changed last October when the SEDBUK 2009 ratings system replaced the SEDBUK 2005 ratings. For the average consumer, not much changed, but the number of efficiency ratings were reduced to five: A, B, C, D and E (where previously they were seven: A to G). The main reason for this regrouping was for simplicity and to avoid confusion with electrical appliance ratings.

SEDBUK stands for Seasonal Efficiency of Domestic Boilers in the UK and under the stricter building regulations currently in force, only band A boilers (those 90% efficient and above) can be fitted, unless there are compelling reasons (usually architectural problems) not to do so.

The problem is, that the body behind SEDBUK, the Building Research Establishment, is worried that certain manufacturers are being too liberal with the ratings when it comes to promoting their products. Thus, the Building Research Establishment has reduced many percentages by a set 2% to counter any exaggerated claims. The problem is, that many boilers sit on 90.5% efficiency ratings, so when it come to marketing those boilers, they will have officially a 88.5% rating, and thus be in Band B.

Matters are likely to get worst when a new European Commission EuP Directive comes into force in a couple of years time, when there will be two further grades for the latest, more efficient boilers: A+ and A++.

Tom Bradford, Managing Director of Boilers Sales, says:

‘Although well-meaning, the efficiency ratings are currently quite confusing and if they are not careful, both the boiler manufacturers and the regulatory bodies might shoot themselves in the foot with this sort of positioning. Few people understand the difference between an A and B Rated boiler, and unfortunately, maybe the forthcoming EuP Directive will only makes matters worse with the A+ and A++.’



Boilers Sale: New Efficiency Ratings

Those thinking about getting a new boiler for their homes should bear in mind that the rating of domestic boilers will likely change in the autumn says a top boiler discount website.

Boilers Sale, which sets out to give the consumer the best deals when it comes to buying central heating equipment in the UK, warns that a new European Commission directive – known as EuP – will shortly go before the Regulatory body and is likely to become law by autumn, and will change how boilers are rated.

Currently, boilers in the UK market are rated by SEDBUK and this stands for the Seasonal Efficiency of Domestic Boilers in the UK. Boilers over 90% efficient (a high efficiency boiler) is given the best grade, A, and those over 86%, B. Most boilers now sold in the UK are to all intents and purposes, A rated, because this is what the latest Building Regulations stipulate. If the new EuP Directive comes into force, there will be two further grades for the latest, more efficient boilers, and will be rated A+ and A++.

Tom Bradford, Managing Director of Boilers Sale, says:

‘It won’t be apparent to the majority of boiler users, but the heating industry has fought tooth and nail with the European Commission who wanted to effectively downgrade most of the UK’s high efficiency, condensing boilers to the B grade. Instead, after much lobbying, the new two higher grades of A+ and A++ were introduced.’

The Boilers Sale website is one of the leading online outlets for discounted heating equipment. It offers great discounts and deals on a wide range of boilers and accessories.

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All You Need to Know About Biasi Boilers

The UK is blessed with a large number of boiler manufacturers and one which many people won’t have heard too much about is Biasi Boilers.

The company is actually Italian, but Biasi Boilers UK was formed in 1990 to market the company’s products in the British Isles.

Headquarters are in Verona and was created in the 1930s by a gentleman called Leopoldo Biasi. Originally his company focused on the thermo mechanical business, but moved into manufacturing domestic boilers in the 1940s. In the 1950s it expanded its business into domestic radiators.

Biasi Boilers UK promotes the company’s products and operates from a warehousing and office complex in Walsall. The company claims it provides an unrivalled one stop heating solution for merchants and installers. It cements its commitment to the UK heating industry with a state of the art training facility onsite.

The company’s products are known for their quality and workmanship. They fully comply with all the UK’s regulations, directives and standards. The company’s manufacturing processes are ISO 9001 accredited. It is also a member of CORGI and Gas Safe.

And Biasi is looking forward to a strong 2011. The managing director of Biasi Boilers UK, Gren Ward, says that the company did begin to see an uplift in the demand for both boilers and replacement parts in the latter part of 2010. This was after, as he points out, going through what was the coldest November in nearly 20 years. He also notices that homeowners, perhaps due to the economic conditions, are going for the repair rather than replacement option.

Another positive factor is that there appears to be a great demand for both installers and heating engineers.

So although there are still recessionary pressures, the company expects to see modest growth throughout 2011. The increase in VAT has not made things easier and Mr Ward reckons that competition in the marketplace will grow over the coming months, with a greater emphasis placed on sales servicing and warranty schemes. He thinks that given these factors, and because there’s been a slow start to the year, it represents a great buying time for customers and installers alike.

Another factor to be considered over 2011 is the effect that the amendments to Part L of the Building regulations will have on installers’ specifications when it comes to recommending a boiler. The new regulations no longer allow SEDBUK band B boilers to be used, so the drive will be towards the high-end efficiency models.

One thing is for certain, you can expect to see the name of Biasi Boilers up their amongst the best of them as the year progresses. The company has an extensive range of products and services that is welcomed by installers and customers alike.

Boilers Sale: Spring Time for Boilers

One of the top boiler discount websites is advising homeowners to use Spring as a great time to get their boiler checked out.

Boilers Sale, which offers some of the best prices for central heating equipment in the UK, recommends that the onset of milder weather should be a good opportunity for homeowners to get their boiler looked at by a professional heating engineer. Read more

Condensing Boilers – Aren’t They All?

The term condensing boilers is a little bit of a misnomer these days, as now nearly all boilers manufactured for the UK market utilise this technology.

So if you see manufacturers banging on about how good their condensing technology is, well, yes it might be, but it’s like an engine in cars, all of them have one. There are nuances of course – different degrees of effectiveness, but it all comes down to the same theory. Read more

Gas Boilers – Don’t Just Rely on Usual Suspects

So here’s a test for you, when it comes to gas boiler manufacturers, how many can you name?

Bear in mind that there are some 25 manufacturers of boilers who market their products in the UK (and many of those who have factories here as well).

So, how many? Most would struggle beyond the likes of Baxi (one of those brand names that many know) and Worcester (actually Bosch, Worcester), or, at a pinch, Potterton. Read more