10 things your installer won’t tell you before you purchase a biomass boiler

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-burning-wood-chip-biomass-fuel-renewable-alternative-source-image29571066I saw a headline this morning in the green trade press, which read: ‘Why every business should be interested in the Renewable Heat Incentive’.  A good headline no doubt to get people to click through and read on. But that kind of editorial should also carry a warning sign: if you are a business (or from next spring, a household) interested in the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), you should be very wary about what technology you invest in –especially if you are a small entity and/or you are urban-based.

I am shareholder in a small business that owns an eco residential property in London. We fully support the move to a greener future and renewable technologies. But after eight years of heartache, we have finally decided to decommission our pellet boiler because of all the problems that have befallen it (we estimate our boiler has only worked for three years out of the eight we have owned it).

I confess we were too early to benefit from the RHI, but even if we’d had such an incentive and I knew what I know now, I would have made a different choice of technology. So, for those of you considering a pellet boiler, I’ve compiled a list of the some of the issues your biomass installer is unlikely to share with you before you make your purchase.

10 things your installer won’t tell you about your pellet biomass boiler before you buy it

  1. We may overspec or underspec your boiler
  2. The biomass boiler will likely breakdown frequently
  3. The boiler will require “considerable more time and effort to ensure it runs efficiently and gives long service” compared to a gas boiler
  4. The weekly checks and clean-outs you are required to carry out will not prevent breakdowns from occurring
  5. When your boiler does breakdown, your building will be without heating for more than a few hours because we don’t have an engineer in your area
  6. When things go wrong – and they will – we will blame it on the quality of the fuel you have purchased to burn in the boiler, not the quality of the boiler and parts
  7. The electrical items on your boiler, only have a 12 month guarantee on them but some, such as the heat gun, will likely fail frequently
  8. The service contract is very expensive because we know you will need to call us out a lot
  9. Because the boiler will likely be manufactured abroad, we will not feel the same sense of responsibility to put things right as we would if we were the maker
  10. When you decide it really does not make sense to keep throwing good money after bad, we will not buy back/sell on the biomass boiler for you.

(In case you are wondering, our installer is part of a large reputable firm, MSC certified and a member of the REAL scheme).

If you are installing a biomass boiler, or thinking of installing one, remember to keep these points in mind before taking the plunge – this is a big investment you are making in a piece of kit that will be critical to your every day living/working conditions, even if you are going to be able to benefit from generous subsidies under the Renewable Heat Incentive.

If you’ve had a similar experience, a better experience, or you have further questions or advice to offer on this subject, we’d love to hear from you, so please leave your comment(s) below.

This blog was updated on February 6 2014.

Comments
496 Responses to “10 things your installer won’t tell you before you purchase a biomass boiler”
  1. Mark Edwards says:

    . thank you for the truth about biomass boilers. We are at final consideration to move away from heat pump to pellet/chip boiler.
    An Italian one with 20 year history has been suggested as it is simple though only 80% ish efficient.

    Can anyone help me please or have any comments i should consider ?

    thankyou

    Mark

    nb the above http://www.getahead.co.uk/valleyviews/ home will use with 5 taking showers 16,000 kw approx usage and a second home will be linked to boiler . this old Georgian home will use approx 35,000kw

    • Hi Mark,

      If you already ahve a heat pump, whilst typically more expensive at the front end this should be cheaper to heat the property than biomass.

      If your linking a second home (on a seperate council tax bill) you will be able to claim the comerical RHI (already running and more generous than the coming domestic RHI due in spring). In terms of properly sizing the boiler this needs to be run for peak load, i.e. so that it can supply both buildings in winter on a cold day with the showers running. Although a properly sized buffer tank and hot water tank will also be critical for water usage.

      Typically an engineer should heat load the house looking at usage, building size and insulaiton to calculate the peak load and overall usage. Jason (comment in May) is spot on with the proper flue design and maintenance access to the units. Using a buffer tank is also critical to performance. Hopefully if someone is surveying your property they are an engineer as opposed to an informed salesman. Knowledge of building regs and design limitiaitonsand requirements is, as you’d imagine, critical to a well fitted boiler.

      One other part to be aware of is if you are a domestic user and looking at getting a biomass boiler, you will not be able to benefit from the RHI if you are on the gas grid. This does not apply to commercial or district heating systems.

      We’re familiar with Windhager, ETA, Solar Focus, MCZ and Grant boilers. On the Grant ones watch out for the condesing boilers as these do not currently fall within the domestic RHI. MCZ (Itialian) offer the best price from what we do, where as the ETA and Solar Focus (both Austrian Manufacturers) offer top level products. Windhager have one of the best products, although perhaps over priced, with that of late i understand they have managed to imporve their pricing (we’ve not done one for over a year). We have a couple of case studies on our website if you’re curious.

      Jennifer; Trianco are a sheffield made boiler, so there may be an advantage to using a uk manufactured system in maintenance terms although we’re not familiar with them

      Happy to answer any questions.

      • Jeremy says:

        Hi Anthony How would you compare a Windhager to a HDG Euroheat? We are looking at 100 KW plant and Windhager only go up to 60KW so we have to have 2 – extra expense. What are your thoughts?

        Jeremy

        • Ben says:

          Windhager are a top, top quality manufacturer; you’ll get what you pay for, just ensure that you find a reliable installer. If in doubt, speak with the manufacturer directly and they’ll usually recommend several.

        • peter says:

          Hi better with two as you will always have one working if you have a breakdown
          Also you are better with a buffer tank if you have room
          We have 2 windhager 25kw each run last 4 years well and done 15000 hrs each

          • michelle says:

            hi Peter sorry to talk money …but could you advise the cost of 2 x 25kw windhager system as we are looking at small commercial 40kw- 3 homes on same system and if operating probs are the norm then like you said having 2 would mitigate that .. can’t believe we didn’t think of that .. if the capex increase isn’t extortionate will def consider
            thx m

        • Dear Jeremy,

          Sorry for such a slow response, if you have further questions please (or any one else) feel free to e-mail me at anthony@teec.co (no .uk etc), to get a quicker answer.

          HDG Euroheat are good boilers as I understand, Whilst Windhager are better but more expensive.

          If you use a cascaded system (two boilers linked together) it does have the advantage of having an element of back up to the system, but it will cost considerably more. The price difference in getting a larger boiler is a lot less then getting two smaller boilers.

          We’ve installed a cascaded Windhager system to create a combined 42kW system and it works very well. But it could have been done for quite a lot less without having the back up system. As long as your buffer tank is large enough a single larger boiler should do the job perfectly so you won’t have any issues with modulation or short cycling.

          Short cycling is when a boiler comes on for a short period of time on a regular basis, as a boiler takes time to reach its peak efficiency it is best to run it for a longer period of time at a more efficient output and store the heat in a buffer tank until you need it. This means you have heat from the buffer when you need it and the boiler will be operating at higher efficiencies, so using less fuel.

          Modulation is a boilers ability to run at lower than peak output for example a 45kW boiler may modulate down to 10kW, meaning it can produce a heat load between 10-45kW. the best efficiency comes at the higher output so whilst a boiler can modulate depending on the heat load, using a buffer tank (if space allows for one) is better way to run a system.

          we have a small domestic and a couple of commercial priced biomass case studies on the website (www.teec.co) if you’d like to learn more.

          Happy to answer anyone’s questions as best i/we can.

          • Tom says:

            I had a HDG Compact installed through Euroheat last summer. Heating my farm house and outbuildings on wood chip (they have installed it so I could burn pellets if I want to) and its been working fine. I did lots of research to try to figure the better products on the market. Went with HDG boiler after visiting several previous installs.

          • Tom says:

            I went with the HDG 100kw wood chip boiler from Euroheat. Had two wood burning stoves from them many years ago and there backup and support has been fantastic. The product is German which was enough for me!

          • An Austrian Company offers Windhager or Viessmann Pelletboilers in Boxes (PREINSTALLED) for UK Market (including also pellet silo and chimney) for less than 12,000 pounds (excl transport aand taxes).

            I think this is fair…

          • Theresa o'connor says:

            Do you have any experience with palette boiler stoves?thanks theresa

        • Antony Martin says:

          I can heartily recommend the HDG Euroheat 100kw woodchip boiler as I have one myself.
          It has been running now for nearly two years and has done so flawlessly.
          It requires very little maintenance and the ash container only needs emptying about once a month in winter and much less in summer.
          I am heating three houses and a set of offices.
          The quality of the wood chip is very important.

      • Stuart says:

        Hi there

        Can you tell me a bit about Solar Focus. I’m trying to decide between a Froiling or Solar Focus – both Austrian – wondering if there’s much between them.

        Any thoughts? Likely between 32 and 38kw size.

        Thanks

        stuart

        • Blake Ecotec says:

          I would recommend the Grant 9-36 against the Froling or Solar Focus. We have had several Grant Spira’s installed for over a year and we have had no failures with them. We install the bag loaded bufferless 9-36kW for about £14,000.

          The ETA is a comparable alternative to the Solar Focus or Froling is the PEK 35KW. We installed this with a buffer tank and pellet store for about £25K. To me the ETA has a superior touch screen interface to the Froling, however we can also offer the Froling for the same price as the ETA.

          Have a look at our web site at http://www.blakeecotec.co.uk for intsallation info and pictures.

          Dave: I have installed many MCZ boilers, I know how to fix the issues with them, we are also a repair agent there main UK supplier. If you let me know the model you have, I can help you out. Many of the issues are related to poor installation, some are not, however the boilers can be adjusted to run more reliably and efficiently.

      • Grant UK says:

        With reference to the above comment, Grant UK would like to point out that our Biomass Condensing Boilers are now included within the Domestic RHI.

        • Tom says:

          Dear GrantUK,
          Having massive problems with out boiler currently but it stems from the installer as far as I can see, you guys have been very helpful on the technical side.
          Questions: does the Grant Spira 9-36kW need a back-end protection valve? Does it need an accumulator tank or can it feed direct into a domestic heating system? Can you see how this would cause there to be a tar build up in the flue?

          Any help greatly appreciated.
          Tom

      • Mark says:

        Hi. The Grant Spira condensing wood pellet boiler does qualify for the domestic RHI, this can be confirmed by DECC.
        Another advantage with Grant is that a buffer tank need not be installed coupled with less complicated electronics and being a UK company makes for the best buy.

        • To follow on from Grant. Their condensing units are indeed now eligable for the domestic RHI. This was updated well ahead of the launch of the domestic RHI, so happy to confirm no problems there.
          Anthony

          • Edward says:

            Hi, looking for a good solid recommendations on the Grant 36kw boiler. It seems a minefield but to me they look pretty sound. But need to know they are reliable and will last the time.

      • A further note! This was written before the now started domestic RHI. The legislation was updated so that even if you are on the gas grid you can claim the RHI tarriffs. worth noting paybacks won’t be as good as against oil, LPG or electric thought.
        We have a brief summary on a blog post for the domestic RHI here:

        http://www.teec.co/Blog/domestic-renewable-heat-incentive-rhi

        As ever happy to answer any questions you might have. I enjoy it!

      • Libby says:

        We are considering a domestic biomass boiler to meet about 18,000kWh of energy requirement. It would replace a solid fuel Rayburn. A friend has installed a Diva biomass boiler made by Klover. Are these boilers any good? He seems pleased with it but it has only been in place for a few months

      • Dan Hunt says:

        Morning
        I have a Trianco 28kwh external biomass boiler, although my house is warm it is extremely inefficient 62%, brochure says 92% efficiency, of course the installer and manufacturer blames it on everything else and have visited several times and always seem to adjust something, blind leading blind seems to spring to mind.
        In today’s technology and various interfaces on the boiler you would think the manufacturer could login to it and check/adjust/monitor from anywhere, after all my boiler text me if it runs out of fuel over heats low pressure high pressure etc, plus I can request a status from it by texting boiler.
        This has been in for over a year now and after the first month of installation started loging every time it was filled with fuel and current KWH reading, ive put 5380 kgs fuel in it for a 14587kwh return, calorific value of fuel is 4.8, you clever mathematicians out there can probably verify my efficiency readings it would be worth hearing from you.
        Regards
        Dan Hunt

        • Vincent Smith says:

          Dan,
          I’m about to order a solar PV array and biomass boiler in the next week. I’m thinking of the same Trianco unit you have, so being Sheffield based visited their HQ, examined the products and grilled the MD.
          Would you choose this unit again?
          Or should I go for one of the Austrian brands?

          Regards,

          Vincent Smith

        • joan says:

          Hi just read about your trianco pellet boiler. I have been offered a free one of these fitted by “a shade Greener” and they obviously get the payment from it. But I’m trying to find people who have one like yourself to point me in the right direction. My house is a very old 300 ish year old cold house and don’t want to get this system and it end up being a nightmare. What’s the benefits with having this boiler or the downfalls. Is is cheaper than what you had before. I have lpg. Is it reliable. Any help is greatly appreciated.
          Thanks

          • Rose says:

            My elderly Uncle had a wood pellet boiler installed last August 2014 and I don’t think there’s been a month since then that it hasn’t broken down or stopped working. He went from an expensive but completely reliable oil fired heating system to a completely unreliable one. Engineers have been out about 8 times now which works out on average once every month. They have blamed dust from the pellets low levels of pellets in the hopper and the feed from the hopper not sucking the pellets into the boiler properly. The house is a large stone property with concrete floors in the Yorkshire Dales and gets very cold very quickly as you can imagine. Also because of all the problems with the boiler failing he now has 5 radiators not working either. Definitely would not reccommend – it was a free system provided by a Government initiative. I believe there are more reliable but more expensive systems on the market even up to £14,000 as usual you get what you pay for in the end!

          • Jo says:

            Did you go ahead with the biomass boiler from a shade greener ?

        • joan says:

          Hi i can have a free trianco pellet boiler plus 3 ton hopper and a tank. I have been offered a free one of these fitted by “a shade Greener” and they obviously get the payment from it. But I’m trying to find people who have one like to point me in the right direction. My house is a very old 300 ish year old cold house and don’t want to get this system and it end up being a nightmare. What’s the benefits with having this boiler or the downfalls. Is is cheaper than what you had before. I have lpg. Is it reliable. Any help is greatly appreciated.
          Thanks

          • Bob says:

            The free boilers are a scam. Businesses will fit them and collect the RHI payments which is against the spirit of the regulations. (the boiler is meant to be owned by the house owner.)

            You will receive a a pellet boiler that is likely to prove to be unreliable and and will require you to clean out ash and remove blockages from the fuel supply. Some of these companies also tie you to particularly pellet suppliers and charge your above the market rate.

        • john says:

          Dan this is not good as the boiler is only returning 58%.

      • mike donovan says:

        trianco boimass boilers are not made in sheffield. the indoor ones are polish and the external ones are made in Ireland .Both are rebadged by trianco.

    • Martin says:

      I read your comments about Herz boilers with interest. We are currently making the decision on a biomass boiler for use in a commercial RHI scheme heating multiple houses. Both Herz and ETA have been recommended (100kw Herz, 90kw ETA. The Herz seems to be a little more expensive but does seem to have the benefit that it is certified for higher moisture content woodchip and seems a better bet for use with pellet initially with the option to move to chip further down the line. We are new to this so this is all information gleaned from the various proposals we have received. Any comments would be welcomed as would pointers towards sourcepricing information on Herz boilers

      Thanks, Martin

    • David waterton says:

      I installed a red biomass pellets boiler system in December last year..worst decision of my life..nothing but problems with it.. Lucky to get more than a week without problems, break down, absolutely wouldn’t recommend one..we had additional vacuum system attached thus allowing it, to run for up to 3 weeks without having to refill. Normally needs refilled every two days, Ideal for us as wee like to get away for some sun in the winter..had to have the whole control system replaced kept failing.. Actually thinking about having this system taken out and oil boiler put in..alas we don’t have option of gas.. To be crude..this red system is an overpriced bit of crap.

      • Tarquin says:

        Hi David.
        That’s sounds like a nightmare. I am not going to guess who the manufacturer is but if it begins with an F and is from Austria then I am really surprised. Their kit is pretty strong normally. 9 times out of 10 the issue is less the kit and more the install process. Our company has been on a number of rescue missions over the years, as I’m sure have some of the other installation companies in this comments chain.

        I would try to get someone else (other than the initial installer) to look at it. Don’t give in because the RHI is about to come in and you’d be well placed to take advantage of it.

        • peter mon says:

          do not confuse Red with Froling, Red,Italian, pays for what you get. Froling, Austrian. we have latter as log burner running for 3 years without a day off, does what it said on the box..were advised against pellet because of high humidity in Wales when storing pellet. best move we made.

      • Jeffery says:

        We also had a Red pellet boiler (Compact 24) installed in July 2012. It’s been nothing but trouble since installation. We’ve had 4 or 5 ignitor plugs replaced – usually having to wait a week for a new one to arrive from Italy! We’ve just had to wait 5 days for engineers to come out and diagnose and fix a loss of pressure (underground leak) and we still have to wait a further 3 days for a new ignitor to arrive.

        So far we’ve had 27 days without heating and we have a B&B.
        Don’t know how much ignitors cost but we are worried about what will happen when the warranty on the system runs out.
        When buying the system we were told that the only maintenance would be to emply the ash tray once a week when in fact a thorough clean is needed.
        On our experience, we would recommend people think very carefully before have a pellet boiler installed.

        • Phil says:

          Crikey. Last Dec we had a Red Compact 35 installed. It’s done about 650 hours and the first igniter failure caused the household fuses to trip. It took ages to diagnose the problem, even to get my installer to come out initially took 3 days (as it happened on a Saturday).
          You’re description of events sounds ever so familiar with our experience. The repair took 2 weeks to sort out (even though 5 days of which we were abroad). The unit is still in warranty and parts availability seems to take forever. I’m waiting for corroded turbulators to be installed. I haven’t done my full calcs yet, but I feel my system is running way below the stated efficiency, even though I have an accumulator which was installed. I’d ideally like to buy 2 or 3 igniters, even figure out how to install them myself if they go every 650 hours of op.

          • Liz says:

            Hi Phil I’m about to take our installer to court – we also have a diabolical Red Compact 35 – any information to help our claim would be gratefully received.

      • Christine says:

        Servicing is so expensive 2x £250 since last september, this is a domestic pellet boiler. Pellets are cheap enough though.

    • David waterton says:

      Hi, we installed a Italian boiler in December last year.. Worst thing we have ever done.. Engineer is working on it again this morning.. This is at least the 20th time he has been here since installation..they have replaced everything possible on it.. Still crap.. Don’t think it’s worked for more than two days running without a breakdown..luckily we also put in a new log burning stove in the living room or we been freezing over the winter.. Absolute very expensive crap. Actually thinking about going back to oil.. No as supply in my area.

    • Inyang Ross says:

      We have a wood pellet boiler recently installed and all your comments are now ringing in my ears as we are suffering from them all! We did our research but until you actually have one installed you have no idea of whats involved.

      Do you know who assesses/evaluates installation?

    • Paul says:

      I take on board your comments too as I was just trying to decide if we should go boiler or heat pump, why did you move away from heat pump?

      Thanks in advance for your comments.

      Paul.

      • Kye says:

        Hi Paul,

        Heat pumps are generally too expensive to run on the electric and can cause very many issues if installed incorrectly.. I’ve experienced many issues with heat pumps on a domestic and commercial basis as an installer.

        As for biomass this is cheaper to run on the electric side of things but poor fuel , poor installation and poor manufacturers ie any that is not Austrian , I’d stay well away from! I’ve fitted many biomass systems commercial and domestic , aswell as heat pumps and solar therma. Biomass is always on top for me and have many pleased customers over the years. In my experience if you spend that little bit more then you more than guaranteed a hassle free boiler.

        Choose wisely and hope this helps.

    • Steve B says:

      My experince….
      1) boiler spec spot on – get a good installer ideally by recommendation and do some research
      2) running for months one breakdown which was immediately after installation (it was an ex-demo unit) put right straight away has run fine since
      3) runs well just follow the easy cleaning routine once every 2 or 3 days which takes 5 mins
      4) no breakdown just follow what you are required to do every couple of days and buy decent quality pellets
      5) with our initial breakdown the engineer was there same afternoon and it was fixed (find a good installer)
      6) if you buy a quality unit they are robust breakdowns are generally down to poor fuel or lack of maintenance

      You are not buying a gas heating system there is an onus on the owner to buy quality pellets (anything else is a false economy) and do the cleaning bit every couple of days, if you are not prepared to do that go for a different system. Above all else spend time finding a good system and a good installer.

  2. Jason says:

    Italian pellet boilers are generally a budget product. I have fitted pellet boilers from Extraflame, MCZ, Grant, ETA and Woodpecker. I am pleased to say that they are all running well and have had very little down time..

    I don’t travel far for my installs as I could not give the level of support needed in fitting a boiler hours from our base. In my experience, the boilers will need a couple of visits every year. I look after a couple of 2007 fitted pellet boilers that seem to go on fine.

    The biggest problem I have is taking on other people attempts at fitting pellet boilers. These installations usually are very poor, the most common problem is poor flue design so it can’t be cleaned, and poor plumbing with no back end protection and bad siting so you can’t get access to maintain it. Unfortunately I often end up taking out what was fitted and fitting something better .

    We now change the heat plugs annually with the service with the cheaper models. I would always suggest installing the ETA or Winhager pellet boiler with a lambda sensor to maximise efficiency and a buffer/thermal store is a must. They also have things like ceramic heat plugs that will last much longer than plain metal versions.

    The log boilers we fit are also very reliable, mostly they just need the flue cleaning and the door seals maintaining.

    it you have enough money in your budget, go for an ETA or Windhager in a pellet boiler, you won’t regret it as it should last 20 year or more, but get it installed by someone that can prove that they know what they are doing, big companies aren’t always the best option.

    • Jennifer Harrisson says:

      I am thinking of getting a Trianco boiler are they any good?
      Jennifer

      • Gareth says:

        hi Jennifer,

        Trianco are good biomass boilers, one of a few we offer our customers. installed correctly like many other good biomass they work very well. the key is correct design and installation. if you get both of them right from your MCS installer, you shouldn’t have any of the horror stories you read about. also look for someone reputable local to yourself who if a problem occurs is a, knowledgeable and b, going to maintain your boiler well.

        hope this helps.

        • Mark says:

          I believe Trianco wood pellet boilers are made in Eastern Europe and ‘badged’ Trianco , then marketed by them in the UK

          • Jchlondon says:

            I do not know much more about Trianco wood pellet boilers but they are better than other boilers. I had installed it last year and its work very good. I had suggested it to my friends also.

          • Philip Read says:

            Trianco boilers are made in Chapeltown, Sheffield.

            I visited the factory and saw the equipment being manufactured.

            The air heaters use a fan coil assembly made in Europe, but the guts of it are UK made.

        • Fran says:

          Hi Gareth

          We have recently had installed a Trianco 40kw bolier with an Buffer tank.

          It emits white smoke most of the time which smells quite acrid and the ash is nearly black and gritty.

          It seems to do this particularly when we are not making calls on the system.

          We have had a lot of problems and I think the installers are fed up with us.

          It would be helpful to have some ideas to go back to them with.

          Fran

          • Phil says:

            Good day, Have had a 40kw trianco fitted with buffer under RHI, very impressed with the installers. 5 months in a couple of teething problems, fixed quickly. Most important has been getting to understand how it all works, I’ve spent considerable amounts of time talking to Trianco technical support, who’ve taken time to explain how things work.certainly not a switch on and leave item, however cleaning and ash removal are relatively quick and easy.
            By contrast to the above there is very little smoke and ash is very fine and light, what little there is.
            So far I’m happy, though the first winter will be the true test of reliability and efficiency.
            Greatest criticism would be the level of insulation applied by the installers, actual cost of the additional insulation has not been a major percentage of initial system but the amount of time it has taken me is considerable, so anyone considering a system check what level of insulation you are expecting.
            In defence of installers this system has a remote boiler and tank house, had it been within the house envelope any losses would have been into the house rather than lost.
            things I’ve learnt,
            insulation,
            boiler needs adjusting carefully for best burn
            pellet quality is crucial
            Keep dust in fuel to a minimum
            Clean out ash and burner pot as per instructions.

            all the best phil

      • John Blaikie says:

        Hi we are also looking at a Trianco boiler and was wondering how you got on.

    • Mike Pendry says:

      I am a tree surgeon from KT17 and split / store and supply seasoned hardwood logs locally.

      I am thinking of getting a log boiler installed as I have the fuel on tap !

      Have read various comments about al the different boilers, as a fitter what log boiler would you recommend and where are you based if we required your services?

      Regards Mike

      • Tarquin says:

        Have you looked at the Central Boiler? It looks a bit quirky – think miniature American Barn with a flue on top. They are manufactured in the the USA (hence the design). We have installed one for a client with access to a lot of timber. Works really well for him but you do need to have someone to keep it fed – normally twice a day in winter. The other good thing about them is that the system is a one piece external unit. The water jacket sits around the main fire chamber. So, relatvely easy to install (which we like!) and easy to maintain.
        Hope that helps
        Tarquin
        ReEnergise

      • Hi Mike,

        Given you have plenty of wood, you might be interested to know that a comercaily installed biomass unit can be used to dry logs. i.e. you can earn from the RHI as a this is a comercial heat use in drying logs and chip. typically this would need to be quite a large system to make sense and therfore have high fuel usages.

        Otherwise if you want something inexpensive and relatively bomb proof, the ECo Angus boilers work well. Be sure that your wood is well seasoned though. A log moisture reader (£20 from amazon) will show the mosture content if you can burn your fuel around 20% you’ll not only get a lot more energy (less is wasted on the internal moisture) but you’ll reduce the resedue build up inside the boiler as well.

        Anthony

      • BHS says:

        Have a look at the Stropuva top down burning boilers.
        I believe it’s one of the the longest burning manually fed boiler on the market.
        Being manufactured for over 12 years in Lithuania.

      • BART says:

        Hi all,

        Trianco boilers are an OEM product from 2 different suppliers. Eko Greenflame series is EkoGren – Polish manufacturer which we are representing in the UK.

        If you are looking to get Trianco boiler please talk to us instead – we can save you a lot of money on your purchase.

        bart@mowlandltd.co.uk

    • Ed Erith says:

      Hi Jason,where about’s are you based? i’m thinking very hard about getting rid of my oil. We are in East Sussex/Kent.
      Thanks

    • John Francis says:

      Hi Jason,
      It sounds like you know what you are doing, is there any chance you live near north Manchester and fancy a supply and fit job on a pellet boiler for a large detached house?

      • mark says:

        Hi John Francis

        Solarfocus make a great range of biomass boilers. My company represent the product and we have qualified installers across the UK. We take trainig really seriously to ensure the product retains its quality status. I would be happy for you to contact me directly if you want to discuss further. Mark lowen 01213141884.

    • JW says:

      Hi

      Have you any experience of okofen boilers – trying to find best way of heating 6000sqft new build with wet underfloor and enough hot water. Have had advice that wood pellet boilers run too hot for underfloor so we’re going to go ground source but costs are huge and heard nightmare stories of high electric bills for supplementing with immersion.

      Any advice/experience greatly received

      Thanks. JW

      • David says:

        JW
        Just been speaking to a guy who installs these and ETA’s and Windhagers in Scotland saw one of his installations very impressive workmanship customer absolutely delighted with the boiler no reliability issues. works with underfloor heating the control side can be set to run specifically for different requirment like DHW UFH and radiators, for UFH it just modulates the heat and adjusts the flow to suit.

  3. Penny says:

    Our new block of flats has a bio mass hot water and heating system and regularly breaks down, at least once a month.

    Although it is supposed to have a gas powered back up it does not come on so there are long interruptions of four to eight hours without hot water and central heating. The flats have no internal alternative methods of heating water except a kettle !

    When the boiler is working, hot water is continually circulating in the building making the internal hallways unbearably hot in summer and is presumably heated by continual burning in the boiler rather than being supplied when needed.

    The heat exchanger is fitted with a usage meter which we were promised would give a real time method of working out usage but this has never been supplied because the software was not purchased by the developer and proved to be prohibitively expensive to buy later by the residents.

    None of this information was available when I tried to research the system before buying the flat.

    In my opinion, this system is wasteful, expensive, and unreliable.

  4. jim says:

    I read the posts with interest. I work in a large plumbing company and know from experience that most problems are attributed to (in descending order) poor system design, poor installation, poor training of the end user, then poor products. There are some poor appliances (gerkros get a terrible name), but mostly, it’s just poor installation. Pellet boilers with buffers and associated controls bear no resemblance to regular domestic systems and many, if not most domestic plumbers simply do not understand what they are doing with them unless they retrain with someone with experience.

  5. Ian says:

    I had an MCZ central heating boiler installed last year. Fired it up on 5th of November and it has been running without any problems since. It is now June.

    The engineers were fantastic, knew their stuff, been to the factory in Italy for training and installed a fantastic value for money system. Everything explained, no surprises, MCS and Hetas approved and
    I did my homework so I knew that they knew what they were talking about.

    Pity the experience of the article writer. So far my experience has been the complete opposite.

    Must throw another pellet on the boiler.

    Cheers

    • Good news Ian – some recent comments in the thread are asking about MCZ – it might be helpful if you could give them a steer?

    • Jonathan says:

      I have an MCZ Red boiler. No problems in two years except with auger feed system – not the same manufacturer. However the installer went bust and I cant find (in Somerset) engineer to service it!

    • Ian Fay says:

      I have had 3 winters from the MCZ Primula boiler. It has worked perfectly since my last report above. After the first service I have been servicing the boiler myself. There is nothing to it. Take off a couple of panels and bits and pieces clean the turbulators and the chambers, vacuum and check everything ok, clean flue thru access. Glow plug still working, although I have a spare. Replaced the grate a couple of months ago because it was cracked. There is a very small leak from a connection to the pump. Engineer booked to fix before the next winter.

      HTH someone.

    • Steve B says:

      Similar experience to date with an MCZ no problems

  6. Gavin says:

    Louise,
    that is an unfortunate and disappointing report. as an early adopter you have received poor service – but probably the best service your supplier could manage.
    however things have moved on and your advice is relevant now that more suppliers and installers are entering the market.
    Check your suppliers history and experience- talk to their other customers , visit real jobs they have completed – not just new ones but those that have been operating for a few years. check their geographic location relative to you and local service and support .
    A suppliers advice should include that the boilers although operate from a heat users perspective in a similar way to gas do require a lot more attention. – the exact amount of attention will depend on the boiler, its use,and the fuel.
    Biomass fuel quality does vary and this is a legitimate issue but can be managed by using approved suppliers. some boilers are more adaptable than others regarding fuel quality.

    For other potential biomass investors: dont be put off by Louises experience but do learn and do your homework- dont go for the cheapest quote for boiler or fuel! remember value is not all about price( whatever the supermarkets say!!)

  7. Hazel says:

    Hi, I’m looking to install a pellet burner. I currently have an oiled fired boiler and spending an absolute fortune on oil. It usually costs me between £6-£8,000 per year. We have a very large house!

    The engineer who came to see me provided details of a Woodviking Pelletmaster boiler which I have to say looks pretty amazing. The way our system is already set up all that would be required is for him remove the old boiler and replace it with the new one. We also have a swimming pool and he suggest putting 2 solar panels on our south facing roof to heat the pool in the summer.

    This all looks great and is within budget. I’d just like to hear from somebody who has one of these boilers to make sure it’s worth spending the money. I guess I would love to be able to spend a lot less on fuel over the next few years, but wouldn’t like to be left freezing because as it states in the article above, it isn’t reliable enough.

    Look forward to hearing from anyone who can help. Many thanks.

    • Ben says:

      Where are you based Hazel?

    • michael sharpe says:

      Consider upgrading thew insulation in your house. Pound for pound this is the best value for money you can get. Pellets are not that much cheaper than oil.

    • mark says:

      Hi John Francis

      Solarfocus make a great range of biomass boilers. My company represent the product and we have qualified installers across the UK. We take trainig really seriously to ensure the product retains its quality status. I would be happy for you to contact me directly if you want to discuss further. Mark lowen 01213141884.

  8. Louise Bateman says:

    Hi Hazel,

    this blog has just been posted on yougen, a great site for households looking to install renewable energy technologies. Cathy Debenham is the founder and she’s really helpful, professional and independent. but this blog has just gone up by one of the sites’ approved installers I believe – http://www.yougen.co.uk/blog-entry/2205/How+to+choose+your+biomass+boiler+installer/

  9. I should add another piece of advice which was imparted to me by someone who works in M&S properties division. After several of their biomass boilers kept breaking down they discovered that the cause of the problem was the build up of dust caused not by the quality of the pellets, but the speed at which they were ‘blown in’ created so much dust to cause breakdowns. Apparently their is maximum speed that the pellets should be blown in at and this is exceeded by the delivery people who are only concerned about getting the job down quickly.

    • Bruno Prior says:

      Louise, This is a misunderstanding. Unfortunately, most people in the industry have not got trained on bulk solids handling. Many installers know plenty about heating systems but little about handling solid fuel. The UK Pellet Council is sponsoring one-day courses by the University of Greenwich’s Wolfson Centre for Bulk Solids Handling Technology (the leading institute in the northern hemisphere in this field), for installers to learn about bulk solids handling – not just about blown deliveries but also about the storage and handling of pellets within the heating system. Lack of understanding on this issue is probably the main cause of problems with pellet heating systems. If you get the pellets into the boiler in good condition, the boiler is usually going to run fine.

      The basic mistake is to fail to understand the difference between velocity, pressure and flow rate. The solids flow rate determines the length of time that it will take to deliver a given quantity. The solids velocity is the most significant factor in the degree of degradation that occurs during delivery (to the power of around 2, i.e. if you double the velocity, you increase the force of any impact by a factor of 4, all other things being equal).

      The flow rate depends on the velocity but also on the “solids loading”, which is the term for the density of the pellets in the pipe. It is possible to achieve a high flow-rate (and therefore short delivery time) with a low velocity (and therefore low degradation) combined with a high solids loading. In fact, all other things being equal, the higher the solids loading, the lower the velocity, because a fixed flow-rate of air (which is what pellet delivery trucks provide) moves pellets that are thin in the pipe thicker than pellets that are thick in the pipe (just like you would move more slowly carrying a heavy load than a light one).

      People think that high pressure means high velocity, but (all other things being equal) the opposite is actually true. The blowers on the trucks deliver a fixed quantity of air at normal temperature and pressure. Boyles Law states that the volume of a gas is inversely proportional to its pressure, so if you double the pressure, you halve the volume. If you halve the volume of a gas through a pipe of a given cross-sectional area, you halve the velocity of the gas. The compressor on the truck has this sort of effect, so if you pressurise the air to 0.8 bar gauge (as you can do with a tanker), you reduce the volume, flow-rate and velocity of the air by 45%. If you only pressurise the air to 0.4 bar, you only reduce the volume, flow-rate and velocity of the air by 29%. The solids gradually accelerate to close to (but never more than) the velocity of the gas, so if you reduce the velocity of the delivery air by compressing it, you also reduce the velocity of the solids.

      Besides reducing the pickup velocity of the air, higher pressure also allows you to increase the solids loading, because the denser air can push the pellets more thickly in the pipe. Pellets effectively flow down the pressure gradient along a pipe. The pressure in the store should be close to atmospheric pressure (so long as suction or adequate ventilation is provided, as it should be if installers follow the proper storage design guidelines, for which see http://www.pelletcouncil.org.uk/storage). The pressure gradient in a good installation depends primarily on the pressure of the air at the pick-up point (i.e. where the pellets drop into the pipe on the truck). Higher pressure means a higher pressure gradient, which means that the driver has the opportunity to achieve a higher solids loading. A higher solids loading is not automatic and depends on the skill of the driver (based on good training) and the quality of the installation. A bad installation that requires a long-distance blow or includes lots of bends will make it impossible for the driver to achieve a high solids loading. But a good installation with a short, straight blow, combined with a high-pressure delivery operated by a well-trained driver will maximise the solids loading and minimise the degradation during delivery.

      High solids loading has another beneficial effect on the amount of degradation, besides helping to reduce the velocity. The degradation occurs primarily when the pellets hit the walls of the pipe, particularly at bends. Much more damage is done when they hit the side walls than when the pellets hit each other. When the pellets are thick in the pipe (high solids loading) they tend to bounce off each other much more than they bounce off the walls. When they are thin in the pipe (low solids loading) most of the pellets will hit the walls most of the time. This is known as the “shielding effect”. The combination of reduced velocity and the shielding effect mean that a high-pressure, high-solids-loading, low-velocity, high-flow-rate delivery will cause much less degradation than a low-pressure, low-solids-loading, high-velocity, low-flow-rate delivery.

      All of these factors need to come together and are in the control of the driver, so it is not as simple as saying high pressure or high flow-rate is automatically good. The driver has to make sure that the delivery is done in a way that maximises the benefit of high pressure and high flow-rate. But if they do that, it is a sign of a good delivery (and a good installation) that a delivery takes less time, and a warning sign if the delivery takes longer. For more on this subject, see http://www.woodpelletsupplies.com/content/delivery-pressure-blown-wood-pellets, or better still get on one of the UKPC / Wolfson Centre courses (see http://www.pelletcouncil.org.uk/events and http://www2.gre.ac.uk/about/schools/engineering/wolfsoncentre/coupro/sc/UKPC).

      This is why tankers are almost ubiquitous in European nations with more experience of wood pellet heating (such as Austria, Germany and Sweden), although the reasons why they get better results are not always fully appreciated even in those countries. It is more difficult for tipper-blowers to offer a higher-pressure delivery, and well-operated tankers will generally deliver at a pressure around 60% higher than tippers. If the drivers know what they are doing, that has a significant effect on the degree of degradation. But it is not enough simply to buy a tanker – you have to train the drivers to make the most of them. Some British companies have run trials on tankers operated in exactly the opposite way to the way they should be operated, because they didn’t understand these principles, and concluded that there was little difference with tippers. They were wrong. There is a reason why everywhere that has a well-developed pellet heating market (millions of tonnes a year), they use tankers almost uniformly. With a good install and a well-trained driver we can do a tanker delivery at a rate of around 3 minutes per tonne, with better results than a tipper delivering at around 7 minutes per tonne.

  10. Brian says:

    Thinking of getting a biomass boiler?
    As a Biomass commissioning engineer for a company in the UK for the last 4 years here are the inside tips! totally unbiased….

    Biomass is a relatively new conception for the UK (for domestic and commercial uses) and early systems will require constant attention due to design. Today’s systems are more efficient, reliable and cheaper…..depending very much on the one you choose. As in the above comments, research the brand you are considering but most of all SPEAK to someone who owns one to find out exactly what your letting yourself into….they are NOT switch on and walk away heating systems like GAS! I would only fit a biomass system for a domestic installation that was from a recommended user. This way you’ve proven reliability in Brand and Installer. Any installer will sell you their brand at a cheaper price than the next but will THEY give you a full lengthy warranty on major components? Remember the RHI etc is about to be launched for domestic units so the streets will be full of dodgy installers climbing over each other to sell you their boiler, install it and you wont see them for dust if things go wrong!
    Yes fuel spec has very much to do with how your system will run, research your fuel supplier much like your system purchase! Wood pellet looks like all others but again quality is always better than the Cheaper one. Pellet and Chip boilers use forced air to produce the primary heat and if there is large amounts of dust or foreign contaminates then energy outputs will be reduced. High quality pellet that is damaged (crushed into dust) during delivery will burn like any other cheap quality pellet. A fuel delivery of pellet SHOULD NOT BE RUSHED! Chip on the other hand must be of a moisture content recommended by your biomass system’s manufacturer! If it is slightly higher, then once again the heat output (kwH) will be reduced. Most of today’s biomass systems are similar in efficiency so it will be the quality of the fuel that makes the difference.
    The main issue that crops up with biomass systems is the fuel delivery system. Most problems occur with chip systems (blockages) compared to pellet. But here’s the thing…..pellet is more expensive than chip and has a higher calorific value (gives of more heat). So unless you live close to a chip supplier, will it work out cheaper and more reliable to have a pellet system? If you do decide on chip, DO NOT take out a supplier’s contract for fuel. Take regular fuel samples and if you have any issues with the quality then argue with your supplier!
    Get your installer to have the flue fitted, then all responsibilities lay with them! Like Wood burners and open fires etc they will need to be cleaned once per year (if there is a fire the insurance company will ask for this certificate).
    System design (the pipes etc) should be done by a competent designer or installer. Get several installers to provide designs and COMPARE them and if you see major differences then ask why? Most reliable biomass systems require back end protection (BEP) this is part of the pipe design that protects the biomass unit from condensate corrosion (heat exchanger etc).
    System design is more efficient if a buffer or accumulator tank is fitted, as there is stored heat ready to use. Turning on the tap will not provide hot water if one is not designed in. the more times a biomass starts and stops the less efficient it is! Either it should run MOST of the time or be off for longer times. If it isn’t then your system is either under/over specified!
    Today’s biomass units boast that they SELF CLEAN, yes they do, just like the wipers on your car but now and again you have to wash your windscreen properly! During your install and teaching session on how to use it, ENSURE you get full instruction on how to maintain the unit yourself! REPUTABLE companies WILL give you this information for FREE as part of the service! Learn it, take notes, ask for a clear instruction manual or best of all GET THEM TO ACTUALLY SHOW YOU HOW TO DO IT. This will save you loads on maintenance running costs. They are not cheap! TIP! most brands are from either Austria or Italy (other countries available) but a majority of equivalent parts can be bought in the UK or off the NET.

    I believe in BIOMASS systems as an addition to our struggle to provide true renewable energies today, but most of all I believe in buying a system from an honest supplier fueled by an honest fuel supplier. REVIEW BEFORE YOU BUY! STAY AWAY FROM THE CHEAP IMPORTS! VISIT SOMEONE TO SEE IT WORKING ! THEY ARE MORE WORK THAN GAS BUT THEY ARE WORTH IT

  11. Mark Brown says:

    Sorry to hear about your bad experience. I have personal experience in having a KWB Easyfire wood pellet boiler installed at my own home (www.superhomes.org.uk/59). I also have a voluntary role (with the Low Carbon Chilterns Co-operative) in helping local community buildings cut over to biomass where they are off mains gas. My personal experience has been very positive with the technology. The KWB is Austrian and rock solid. Without wishing to tempt fate it is true to say we have not had a moments problem with the boiler in four years. We have gas backup and test that twice a year. It all works. We have a simple hopper feed not blown – this helps reliability.

    So your choice of boilers is important. KWB came in at £16k installed whereas Baxi quoted at £9k. It really pays to pay more. You get what you pay for.

    HOWEVER I do have some caveats: the market in the UK is very immature and it took us a long time to find an installer willing to install into a domestic setting. We installed in August 2009. After the first year our installer became very reluctant to come from South London over to South Buckinghamshire to perform annual servicing. We got lucky (we thought) when our Stove installer stepped in to help and gave us a five year contract at a very good rate. Unfortunately they were probably too cheap and promptly went bankrupt so we lost most of our money. I am currently in the progress of finding yet another company who will perform annual servicing as well as offer emergency cover in case of breakdown. This will be a necessity from next year if we wish to qualify for the RHI.

    This experience has made me nervous about recommending Biomass to Community Buildings. Getting a good reliable system will cost a lot of money. If they get the right system then getting the right aftersales support is as ESSENTIAL! No doubt that will be expensive. I expect a large chunk of my RHI to go into the hands of the handful of folk who know how to service a biomass system! So far building managers are fighting shy and I don’t blame them. The UK market is the Wild West today. Everyone is new and finding their feet. I am hoping that the RHI will do what the FIT did for solar. We desperately need a lot more suppliers and much better post-sales care.

    If any readers can make recommendations then I am all ears. Thanks.

    • John says:

      Hi Mark,

      Please take a look at the following web site, they offer 5-7 year operation and maintenance contracts to biomass systems

      Very handy if you want to know your ongoing costs. http://www.selectedecoenergy.co.uk

      John

    • Edyta says:

      Hi Mark,
      I have read your post about the installation of the biomass boiler and I am pleased that you had a great experience so far but I am gutted. All three installers which we asked for a quote came up with the quotes in a range of £40,000-48,000! I agree we have a big house but I think that I am taken for a ride! A few installers never bothered to our calls and emails…I think that we going to abandon the whole idea of renewables and connect gas pipe to our house which is a shame because I have been using LPG in my car for 5 years now and I am extremely happy with it. Are there any decent installers in Berkshire???

      • Tarquin says:

        Hi Edyta
        The first step in any biomass project is to drill down into the numbers. Cost of installation can look crazy (especially when compared to a gas boiler) but the payback can be speedy too. Most of our projects have a pay back of 4-6 years – and some of those have been for commercial situations where the installation is going to cost £250k+. Fuel savings plus the forthcoming RHI can make for a compelling investment decision.

        Perhaps you need an independent advisor to help you make the best decision. If that would help, then take a look at our website http://www.reenergisegroup.com
        Hope that helps
        Tarquin
        ReEnergise

    • Adrian says:

      Hi Mark,

      I notice you say you have gas backup “We have gas backup and test that twice a year.” Are you claiming the RHI payments because we have been told that to qualify we must remove all fossil fuel boilers. We have both an old oil fired boiler we’re happy to get rid of but also a new bottle gas boiler used for an annex. We plan to heat both house and annex with a single boiler but seems a bit risky to have to remove a back up when I read that many biomass boilers seem unrelieble.

      We have access to our own woodland so hope to install a log/pellet boiler such as a Froling SP Dual. I realise your post was August 2013 so hope somebody will pick this up.

      Adrian

  12. As someone who has been installing various makes of biomass boilers since 2006, I can say a lot is down to human issues. I.e design (flue) speed fuel is delivered, maintenance (or lack thereof ) by user

    I’m sorry to hear your comments re: herz but I I have fitted these, Gerkros, mcz and woodpecker and they are all good products. They would not be allowed on the market if they were defective, they’ve all passed stringent European testing. Keep the faith, biomass boilers are good but you need to choose your partner carefully. After all it’s a 20 year relationship for duration of RHI

    Gearoid

  13. david says:

    I work for a company who supply commercial biomass and gas boilers in scotland.We always say to the customer that if they have natural gas they would be better using that than biomass especially if they have a condensing,modulating matrix burner with weather comp and decent zoning controls and maybe look at other renewables such as pv or solar thermal.If however your running on oil or LPG , and have access to decent fuel suppliers then biomass is a viable alternative

    • Hi David,

      Who are you and where are you based.

      Regards

      R Gormley

    • Martin says:

      Hi David

      Where are you based, as I live just north of Inverness and have been trying to find a reputable installer to give me advice and quotes (I use LPG)

      Regards

      Martin

      • Jules says:

        Hi Martin, am just reading through this thread as we are on the point of getting a pellet boiler installed for our very cold house in Scotland (Midlothian). Did you received a reply from ‘David’ who says he works in Scotland? Would be very interested to hear how your project is going/has gone. So many boilers to choose from! We want to replace our oil-fired Aga, even though at present the kitchen is the ONLY habitable room in the house (in winter). Thanks for any info. Julie

  14. Jennifer Harrisson says:

    Is a Trianco boiler anygood.

    • Shawn says:

      I am a Technical Sales Manager from a Biomass firm in the North West…..I would stay away from Trianco.

      Look at a Austrian made boiler such as Windhager, ETA, Froling. They are expensive to purchase, but will stand the test of time.

      • mark says:

        Shaun
        Solarfocus biomass Boilers are exceptional value for quality Austrian kit, definitly offer keener value than other premium equivalent. They have a log and pellet option called therminator2 which gives the user the option to burn either fuel. Happy to discuss further with you. My email is mark@res.ie and we are looking for experienced installers to represent the product locally.

        Mark Lowen

  15. Craig Lackie says:

    Biomass boilers are much more reliable than before due to advancements in the automation process, not absolutely flawless, but much much better. When you weigh up the ~75% reduced fuel bills and ~800% ROI then maybe a breakdown or two isn’t the end of the world. We actually provide a full aftercare package including support, advice and engineers that are on call 24/7 in the event of something like that happening.

    In my experience and that of all of our clients, it has been the complete opposite to yours – very positive.

    Thanks for sharing anyway

  16. Kees says:

    Am considering installing an EVO WORLD or FROHLING 100kW biomass boiler for holiday cottages.

    Does anyone have experience with these? Are they reliable?

    Comments appreciated……..

    • John says:

      Kees,

      The choice of boiler will really depend on what type of fuel you wish to use. Even the difference in wood pellet or wood chip will have a profound effect on specific parts of the boiler, this should determine the type of internal arrangement (Underfed stoker or stepped grate) that needs be used as well as auger sizes, this is because the moisture and size of the two fuels are very different. You should also look closely into the ongoing operating cost along with heat losses if you plan on utilizing a district heating network, as well as the heat demand/load profile to size the boiler correctly. Also unlike oil, you wont just be able to scroll through the yellow pages and call out a delivery of wood chip/pellet at a moments notice, it is therefore essential that you or your install set up a relationship with a couple of local suppliers.

      Then once you have the correct information available to you, it would be wise to get your installer to look specifically at how your installation will fit with the demands of the renewable heat incentive, if they are a competent installer they should be able to show you models of the expected return on your initial financial outlay.

      John

      selected eco energy

    • mark says:

      Solarfocus pelletop 70kW offers fantastic value for money for a premium product. Are you sure you need a 100?

  17. Louise says:

    We cannot continue with oil as it is just costing too much, looking to install biomass boiler around 35KW, straight forward install as boiler in its own room with three external walls, plan to put hopper on outside wall so pellets do not need to be blown in, just an auger. However Cannot find anyone to install at a realistic price, since the announcement of the RHI for domestic installs the price seems to have got even more ridiculous, after all it is just a boiler not the deposit for a house!
    I have been looking at Grant or MCZ (so cheapest end) if anyone can recommend an installer at a reasonable price (we are in Suffolk) please let me know, I am tearing my hair out, have not got any oil as was wanting to get this boiler installed, have had the EPC and green deal assessment already.
    Thinking today I will have to order oil as just can’t find an affordable solution, and its cold.!

    • Paul says:

      Have you tried JRT in Great Yarmouth? Excellent service but I suspect you will have to wait a few weeks for an install

    • Debbie says:

      Hi Louise ,,, we are looking to install a bio mass but the quotes we’ve had have been like you say almost a deposit on a house … We re getting desperate now and poss looking to buy the boiler ourselves and fitting it … And yes so we won’t qualify for the RHI, and prob the boiler won’t be guaranteed but prob save around 10 grand .. Ps we are also in suffolk..

      • David says:

        Have you tried phoning grant. They have a list of installers. And the boiler does have a long guarantee. We have installed loads of these and they are all working well

    • David McC says:

      Louise

      If you go for the cheaper end of the market you are likely to regret it in future years. You should expect your boiler to last 20 to 30 years, if it is looked after proberly. The extra £5k that a quality boiler will cost should be looked at as an investment.

      The boiler is often only a third of the total cost of a system – skimp on the boiler and you will regret it.

      We’ve been involved with putting in KWB, ETA and now the Optimum IQ. We refuse to quote for the cheaper boilers, as they will breakdown and give us a bad name.

      Get several quotes for certain but for decent makes.

    • Sid says:

      Hi Louise,

      We are also in Suffolk ,and flabbergasted by quotes for Biomass.
      I wondered what you decided to do,and how you got on.
      Cheers Sid

      • HI Sid and Debbie, biomass is very expensive but if you qualify for RHI it can be worth…but beware maintenance is costly and is a must and you have to get stuck in yourself with this technology. Its not hands off at all. also beware there are very few qualified heating engineers in the domestic market for biomass pellet boilers – they all tend to work in commercial so more expensive and we’ve found can quote wildly different quotes.

        • Bill Rodger says:

          Hi louise, i dont know if you have sourced an installer as yet but if you would like to call i will be more than happy to talk you through the process. I have installed biomass systems for other companies and ground and air source heat pumps for for many customers throughout east anglia and nation wide. im now starting an installation for a customer which is a 90 kw ETA pellet boiler for my company, NFSE Ltd, which when completed, will be available for new customers to come and inspect and gain information from the owner.
          We are also fully qualified and MCS accredited for the renewable technologies we install.

          Tel: 01508 486062

          i hope i can be of some assistance, if not to install but to may be advise.

          Bill.

          • rupert says:

            Hi Bill

            Just seen your post re installing an ETA and see you did one last november – we are thinking of doing the same in Sussex. We have just been given a pretty hefty quote and are now investigating the options.

            have you had any problems with the ETA and would you recommend it as the best on the market for a combination of logs and pellets?

            Grateful for any guidance

            Rupert

      • Edyta says:

        Hi all shocked with the biomass installation quotes,

        My quotes are 40-50K! They keep going on about the RHI returns on investment trying to hide £20k plumbing bill…

    • Mike Jones says:

      TRy and persuade Derby Solar to do it. Just had an installation, domestic, by them and very proficient. Surprised at the complete reworking of our plumbing system to accomodate modern controls but they just took it in their stride.
      I am an engineer and have some heating equipment knowledge from the days when you could still do some DIY heating.

  18. Alan says:

    The biomass company I work with Oldham only installs the best boilers from ETA and Froling, we take pride in each and every install and It’s unfair to talk about the biomass industry as a hole like you have based on your experience. I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience with your below par boiler and installer but you’re out of order incinuating we all operate in the same way and everyone should be aware..!

    • Derek says:

      Hello Alan, I am interested in having a bio-mass boiler installed can you give me your contact details, I am in Wakefield West Yorks , and can’t find any company with experience, regards Derek

  19. Phil says:

    It pains me to read your comments at the top of the thread Louise. But in the developing Biomass market I’m afraid you are not the only person to be disappointed. I agree with a lot of the good advice given above but to summarise.
    1. You get what you pay for. If one product is half the price of another, there will be a reason.
    2. Investigate the back up of the product in the UK.
    3. When getting quotes make sure you are comparing like with like.
    4. Investigate the installer thoroughly. He should be able to show you other installations he has done.
    5. Never buy a product without seeing one working, preferably in a live installation.
    6. Ensure on going support and servicing is available. For at least 20 years if you are going for commercial RHI.

    7. Check above again.

    Good luck with your heating in the future.
    Phil
    http://www.euroheat.co.uk

  20. Sheryll says:

    Has anyone had any experience of the Rika Eva Aqua boiler Stove supplied via Euroheat.
    We are doing a new build and are keen to use pellets, not on mains gas!
    We would require the 15kw model, mainly for hot water a radiators in bathrooms & toilets (4)
    We are planning on a large wood burner for primary heatingwe are in the South Wiltshire
    Any advise much appreciated

    • Alan says:

      Hi Sheryll,
      If you are building a new house do not consider Biomass.
      If you can install underfloor heating throughout then fit a ground source heat pump if you have the land available 53m squared required. if not go for an air source.
      There is no comparison between the technologies and I work for a renewable energy company fitting predominantly Biomass.
      Good Luck
      Alan

  21. Sheryll says:

    Please note previous email address error

  22. Rog says:

    From Sudbury Suffolk
    Only oil AGA the Central Heating Boiler 30 yrs old now removed. Draughty old house poor insulation.
    Relying on wood burners, electric fires and an immersion heater!

    Looked at a ground source heat pump but not viable due to low EPC rating.
    Solar power with huge thermal store but single phase and network provider limits total power.
    Wind turbine impossible planning consent.
    So biomass boiler with source of fuel from fallen trees and hedge work.
    Is this viable or would it be a 24hr job feeding the stove?
    Rog

  23. James Bell says:

    I have had an opop biomass boiler installed in my home since 2007.
    I the beginning I would have had a number of reliability issues, however as an Electronics Engineer and having a keen interest in all things both electronic and mechanica, I over a period got to the bottom of nearly all the problems associated with these boilers.

    While I perhaps would not describe these boilers as being as reliable as say an oil or gas boiler, I would say if the person servicing the boiler is competent or the owner is a reasonably keen D.I.Y person, I could teach them in no more than 2 Hours how to diagnose, repair and keep their boiler running more reliably and more efficiently than any other system.

    This would also involve having at hand three components, which do fail periodically. the total cost of these components is £60 even at Green Energy Suppliers exorbitant prices.

    One tip for now, if the photocell is removed and taken to your local plumbing/building suppliers you will reduce the cost of having a spare photocell from between £21-27 to £6-10.

    Which brings me to the cost difference between the purchasing cost of an oil and a biomass boiler.

    Essentially they are both the same, however while the Oil Boiler may be controlled by more Electro/mechanical systems, the Biomass Boiler requires a more sophisticated Electronic control system.

    However none of this extra sophistication explains the excessive prices charged for Biomass Boilers.
    If the real supply price plus the Green Energy Grant are added together, then this would equate to the price charged by the Retail Suppliers. Ii would also start to explain why owners of boilers experience such poor service.
    James

    • Huw says:

      James,
      I installed for myself an opop boiler in Jan 2008. I would agree with GES being overpriced, I have replaced the ignition element a few times. Luckily I persuaded the supplier to leave me a few, but I’ve needed to buy more recently. They are a pretty standard item and could be sourced elsewhere. Other than that it has been without problems, although I’m pretty hands on. I have been very pleased with it. Soon however, I shall be selling this property and moving to a self build. Any prospective purchaser should rightly be concerned about the servicing of the boiler and I would be at a loss to suggest anyone else but myself, so your suggestion of training is interesting. I am sure I could know more. I am in Shropshire.
      Huw

    • david says:

      Hi James,
      glad to hear you had your problems sorted. Had my OPOP boiler installed also in 2007. Been tortured ever since. Had been quoted for buffer tank but cowboy supplier then claimed he supplied a bigger boiler and no buffer tank.
      I buy the light sensors in three’s can last less than a week either get burned or clogged with smoke. I think I have a ggood understanding of how it works but still can’t figure out the problem. I had the Ni distributor down to service it and could see no service issue and recommended a buffer tank. have fitted a time delay sensor ino the electrical supply circuit to regulate so the boiler will not start unless it has been on constant for 10 mins. also a common problem is the boiler burning the pellet feed pipe at the side. I would really appreciate any input you may have.
      Regards David

  24. John says:

    From East Yorkshire

    Just had a quote for an MCZ Practika 33 to be installed. However when asking for a second quote from a rival supplier was told by him that although he has worked with MCZ he wouldn’t fit one as they have had problems with reliability, parts etc. He said that they would fit an ETA but it would be in his words “Double the price of the MCZ and some” Our intitial quote from the first supplier is round the £15k mark. I appreciate that each installation will come with its own problems and therefore a difference in cost but is £15k expensive? I have not yet received any other quotes to judge it by. I must admit though that although we have not yet had a quote from the second installer it frightens me a bit thinking that the boiler will be twice the price and a bit more.
    The supplier of the first quote did say that our installation should be fairly straight forward as our current boiler has a larger footprint than the MCZ and a 400kg hopper together and is in its own separate room within the house.
    I have looked on the MCZ website only to find that they currently only list two dealers in the UK and no where in the UK for parts or service engineer. This obviously needs updating.
    I would appreciate any comments.
    John

    • Hi John, my advice would be to speak to at least one other installer before you decide to purchase. You should also really do your homework in terms of service engineers and heating engineers in your area. There are still such wide variations in quotes and so much can go wrong with biomass and maintenance costs are so high – that you must be forensic and sceptical about everything you are told.
      But if I am correct you are not comparing apples with apples – the ETA is a pellet boiler that would have to sit in it own room and MCZ is like a stove in the living area of home? That would explain the difference in price.
      I would say beware investing in a biomass boiler that is manufactured abroad because its more difficult if things go wrong and your installer is not supporting you all the way.
      I think Phil’s points above are worth a read.
      good luck
      Louise

    • NJC says:

      Hi John,

      As an independent, our company has supplied these. They are the cheaper end of the market, but have a place in the market for domestic usage. Without looking at the property, it is hard to say if £15,000 is a good cost or not, but it is not crazily excessive by any means. I agree with what Louise says about other quotations although not technically correct regards the ETA and the MCZ. Most boilers are manufactured abroad and the ETA and MCZ both are pellet boilers, with ETA also offering a multifuel boiler.

      ETA are a popular brand towards the top of the market place. Some companies only install one brand of boiler, so push that brand.

      The Design is more important than any other part of the project.

    • Patrick says:

      Hi John,

      Did you take the plunge and have a Biomass boiler installed?
      how is it working??

      kind regards

      Patrick

  25. Michael says:

    I’m currently in the process of finding a biomass boiler for my new build, I’m leaning towards an eta PU 20, could any of the eta installers please tell me whether the controls via ipad, phone are in in English, I’ve tried the English demo version online but its still in German?

    Also can these boilers in general be controlled by a convention programmer in the kitchen to turn on my upstairs radiators for an hour or will I have to go out to the garage every time.

    House is two story 4 bedroom with underfloor heating downstairs, buffer and boiler to be situated in garage.

    Thanks in advance

    Michael

    • Chris says:

      Hi you can control the ETA via external control screens, the controls are in English and are user friendly. You can use standard English style control systems with your boiler. You may want to consider Froling as they are more flexible in their approach, for example you can get a boiler that will burn both pellet and log, which may be an option. Any questions message me.

    • BART says:

      Hi Michael,

      If you are interested in saving yourself 3-4k please email me at bart@mowlandltd.co.uk
      We are UK distributor for EkoGren biomass boilers.

  26. Antony Martin says:

    Biomass boilers are more expensive to begin with but much cheaper in the long run.

    I have what is called a ‘commercial installation’ of a biomass boiler, that is it supplies more than one property. The boiler supplies heat to my own house and two cottages nearby and so does not compare with many of the posters on this site who are looking at biomass for their individual homes.

    However the basic approach to evaluating the viability of the project, that of changing from a fossil fuel boiler to a biomass one should be exactly the same.

    The first point should be the recognition that the fuel required, either wood pellet or wood chip, is not so universally available as oil or gas therefore identifying the supplier of your wood fuel is the first most important step. If you cannot find a reliable source then the idea is not feasible.

    The next point is to ascertain how much heat you will need to produce for your annual needs and thus the size of boiler that you will need to install.

    The third point is to realize that you may need more room to put this boiler than is easily available, wood pellet or wood chip boilers are larger than their gas or oil equivalents. So where will you put it? Within this consideration is also the question of fuel supply and storage. The boiler will need an adjacent fuel store, bigger for wood chips than for pellets and also easy access for delivery lorries.

    All these issues should be accessed by a reputable installation company well in advance of any thoughts of installation.

    Do not dwell overmuch on the necessity for choosing a boiler of national manufacture. The northern countries of Europe have been using wood fueled boilers for very any years and are in the for front of technology in their construction and use. Austria, Germany, Sweden and Norway all produce biomass boilers of great reliability.

    My own is Austrian and requires almost no maintenance other than ash removal perhaps once a month and the odd drop of oil and a squirt of grease at the same time.

    If you can get on board with the RHI scheme then I heartily recommend that you do so.

    • Edyta says:

      Hi Antony,
      I have a similar installation. We have a house and a cottage with a rental flat and a music studio business. We woudl like to install a commercial biomass. Did you have any problems with registering as commercial application? We have been told that we might to create a separate address for the cottage.

    • David says:

      Hi Anthony
      I have just installed a woodchip Froling 90KW, district heating scheme supplying my house and two others near by (30m and 60m distant). very reputable installer in South West. perfect job.
      it has been running for almost 2 months now, and after the initial teething problems, its working fine.
      However I am confused as to how much its costing to run. My RHI meter in the plant room reads 25mw at moment (25000kw?), and I have spent £2200 on woodchip. The store is now almost empty and I have a new delivery booked for today. I am suffering about 11% heat loss comparing plant room meter to the 3 house meters, which I understand is normal.
      My research told me that heating by woodchip should cost 2.8p per KW, so by my calculation I should have only spent £700 on fuel, not £2200! (25000 x 0.028 = 700)
      This is so far out that I must be making a fundamental error….can you or anyone out there help clarify this?

  27. Bill Rodger says:

    Hi Michael, yes when the install is done the controllers are configured to english, so you will be able to work in english.

    Bill.

  28. Bill Rodger says:

    Hi Again, on the second point about control, you will need to have two room sensors, one upstairs and one down to control independently. or as you say you can control via the boiler control.

    Bill.

  29. John says:

    Louise

    Thanks for the reply. I have actually seen the MCZ Praktika 33 and it is a boiler which would sit in its own room (which I have) together with the hopper and its auger feed. I have seen the MCZ heaters for the home and are different so I am comparing ‘apples with apples’. I have just received another quote today for the same boiler installation from another local supplier and this has come in at less than half the price of the first quote. It seems like some companies maybe using this scheme to make alot of money.

    • Vincent says:

      Hi John,

      We have an MCZ installed in our home and have installed a number of these. You are welcome to call and ask any questions and I can certainly give you some idea of how much we would charge to install one so you can compare. Although we don’t travel beyond the East Mids for installs my advice is free.

      Tel 01332 512769

      There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey.
      John Ruskin (1819-1900)

    • Vincent says:

      Hi John,

      Hope Vincent has answered all your questions. Please do update us once you have you Biomass Boiler installed. If you would like a copy of our heating guide do let me know as it includes some useful info about choosing an installer. Any further questions don’t hesitate to call

      • John says:

        Yes thanks very much to you both for the information that you gave me. I will keep you posted regarding the installation.

        Thanks again

        John

    • Phil says:

      I have the MCZ Red Compact 35. The install price was astronomical. As I’ve said elsewhere on this page, I paid for rocket scientists but ended up with a Biomass boiler. 😉
      I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that (some) installers are cashing in on the RHI. Anyone want to argue the contrary, walk a mile in my boots with my MCZ. 😉

  30. Michael says:

    Hi Bill,

    Thanks for the reply confirming the response I had from eta in Austria this week, they had not known about the demo problem until I had emailed, a fix is been worked on.

    Still not received a reply from their UK contact/distributer who had the same questions asked which doesn’t fill me with confidence.

    Michael.

    • Bill Rodger says:

      Hi Michael,
      i am now an accredited installer partner with ETA and Innasol, so i would be more than happy to discuss any other queries you may have.

      Bill.

  31. Graham Dawson says:

    Hi Louise

    I guess this article was posted quite some time ago now. Did you replace your boiler or move to a different type of fuel? I have to say, some of your points are spot on such as blaming the wrong type of fuel. I’m not sure about it breaking down a lot though. We’ve had one from Grant for a good few years now and never had any major dramas. It’s their Spira range http://www.grantuk.com/products/wood-pellet-condensing-boilers/ which incidentally has a 97% efficiency rating (I saw on your comments here somebody mentioned only 80%) which I find a bit crazy. I guess each make and model is going to give you different results and problems.

    Cheers

    Graham

  32. Martin Brown says:

    Could anyone please tell me of a reputable company in Shropshire or close by that supply andwoood pellet boilers.

    • Hi Martin,

      There is a Chester based company called IECCONNEC, they have a very good reputation for service and offer a choice of boilers to match customers needs, I am trying to not oversell this company as I am slightly biased – Yep, I work for them and live in Shrewsbury!

      Truth is I have only 18 Months experience in Biomass and I moved to IEC 4 months ago from a larger organisation – Why? because they are customer focussed and do not employ heavy handed sales techniques or give exaggerated claims, just honest advice from an engineering led local company.

      A range of Boilers from Austria / Denmark and the US and all parts are held at North Wales service centre.

      Happy to pop and see you anytime that’s convenient and of course we have local installations you can visit too!

      Steve
      s.pilling@iecconnect.co.uk

  33. Dinesh says:

    This is an interesting read, with some very good points.
    If you require any further information on biomass boilers, please see http://www.bioenergy.org :)

  34. Derek says:

    Going for a pellet boiler for a new build. anyone any experience of the http://www.geeltd.org/home slimpel 25 pellet boiler. Green energy engineering.

    The have a company in Cumbria with the head quarters in Northern Ireland.

    They have offered me a very competitive price 6k and any customers they put me in contact with seemed very positive about the product. However they are only going to put me in contact with happy customers.

    However I am dubious as some people seem to have some very negative comments about pellet boilers in general unless you buy some expensive German brand.

    I have seen the boiler working at several locations and it looks the biz. It is a self modulating burning system with the ash drop mechanism.

  35. Sebastian Hibbert says:

    I am a specialist independent commercial heating engineer and I maintain and run a large biomass boiler serving 45 flats.

    I can confirm that these are very difficult to maintain without a specialist, the wood pellets have to be good grade which is expensive, the dust (wood pellets) is often carcinogenic, the soot / Ash certainly is.

    My Advice if you have one commercially is to have one man responsible for it – train him up and have him oversee it.

    Problems we have encountered

    The bunker/wood store is the highest category of confined space – (CO production by the decomposing wood) so the access to it is a real issue – 2 men, rescue set, canary ect – 15 deaths by biomass bunker so far and counting…..
    Internals of boiler warping due to heat
    The specifier did not take into account the high water content of the unit (1.2 tons) so undersized the expansion vessels,
    We have no buffer vessel so the heat is erratic
    A power cut leaves you vulnerable as the unit cannot get rid of heat
    I don’t calculate the costs myself, but at a rough estimate it costs the same to run as gas
    The flue needs sweeping
    The plant room is a terrible mess due to soot
    The auto de ashing screw was so loud we had to remove it

    There is more, but I wont bore you, however, the only other two installs I know of locally (commercial units) one has terrible problems with dust from the pellets that chokes the augers, and the other one is chip fed and has a bad creosote problem in the flue (wet chips I think) Neither have been running for six months.

    • richard says:

      i guess it is not an eta boiler where the auto de ash can be set to come on at certain times only it makes a bit of noise but you can have a conversation standing next to it without shouting. The lack of a buffer is criminal we have an oversized buffer and that improves reliability as you can let the boiler modulate without tuning on and off all the time or overheating.
      I have calculated my fuel costs for using wood chip and they are costing me 3.7p per kw which is a little more than gas but if you deduct the rhi (ours is commercial ) even on tier 2 you are less than half the cost of gas.
      with wood chip there are not the CO issues to worry about but you need more space and as long as the chips are good and the chimney teperature is ok you dont get problems in the chimney with mine I removed some dry fly ash yesterday.

  36. Amanda says:

    We are looking at a Grant Spiro 36 for domestic use. Any comments about this as far as running it, maintaining it and life expectancy would be appreciated.

    Thanks

    Amanda

    • Kerry says:

      Amanda,

      We are a family run/owned electrical/mechanical/renewables company based in norfolk which fitted one of the first Grant Spira boilers in the UK and have been very impressed with the reliability and performance of the boiler, Grant have upgraded certain components and this was organised directly with the client using their service engineers. We currently fit approx 3 Grant spira Boilers per month! we also install ETA and MCZ.

      Hope this helps?

      Regards

      Kerry

  37. Steve says:

    We install only quality Biomass boilers supplied by Ariterm and Windhager and our Ariterm boilers are supplied by Cwm Glan Energy Ltd who who as Windhager have excellent customer service.

    As others have said you need to purchase a good quality product and need a good quality installer which has excellent customer service.

    It looks like Louise Bateman has not had any good customer service from the supplier or installer.

    With the domestic RHI this year we all have to watch out for bad companies just out for a quick sale as these can seem cheaper at the quotation stage then leave the client with problems and this can cost reputable companies a sale.
    Clients please be aware the cheapest is not always the best as you may find out.

    We have chosen Windhager and Ariterm as our preferred suppliers and have never had a problem.
    We also expect good customer service from our suppliers as we give our clients and if we did not get this we would not install their products.

  38. Allyway says:

    I’ve been operating a woodchip 40kw system for just short of 10 years now. We’ve had our share of problems but by and large we have been able to sort them out ourselves. The feeder system does block but it’s easy to unblock and as I left the old oil boiler connected we still have a standby. The worst problem is the stirring mechanism in the woodchip store which shears off. The installing company charged over £1000 to strip it down and weld it up, The last time it broke “Dave the Welder” and I had the thing stripped down and repaired inside 2 hours. Last year I put a 35Kw Hertz system into an eco-build visitor centre we built. This looks a much more complicated system to DIY maintain, BUT, fingers crossed 18 months of operation have seen just 3 breakdowns, two due to us not emptying the ash bin frequently enough and one becuse we fed a lump of granite into the auger with the wood-chip, so it’s hardly surprising it choked on that!. So far touch wood, NO call outs.
    We make our own woodchip from thinnings from the estate woodland, which costs us about £15/tonne to produce. We dry it in a grainstore in the summer when the store is empty, and so all-in-all we have saved a great deal on money by burning wood chip. The annual cost of oil to heat the visitor centre would exceed £3,000 p.a.

  39. Laurence says:

    If you have the space for a wood chip bunker I would always recommend to go for a biomass boiler that can burn pellets and chip. Pellets will become more expensive in the future as they are a processed product that rely on a few processes that use oil. Wood chip however only needs one process to manufacture so it will not increase in cost as much as pellets. Some boilers like the Heizomat from Germany can also burn saw dust and wood shavings that are by products from industry and are often free. Heizomat boilers can also burn fuel crops such as miscanthus or rape straw, so they are future proof as far as fuel goes.

  40. Chris says:

    I’ve been working in the biomass sector for 5 years and have sold boilers for installations from 2.1MW down to 40kW. All biomass projects serve complications so it is important to work with experienced installers. Domestically I am yet to see projects where the client progresses with biomass, the costs are rarely below £15k, even from the smallest (12kW). The maintenance issues projected tend to be down to boiler quality and fuel quality. There are many pellet installations (including the 2.1MW system in a hospital) that operate very well and the clients are pleased. As a general guide stick with European, Austrian, German, Scandinavian products and you won’t go far wrong. to name a few, ETA, Windhager, Hargsassner, Herz, HDG, Froling, KOB, Guntamatic. The closest you can get operationally to gas/oil is a wood pellet system. Good luck and hope this helps

  41. Mark Hughes says:

    I have serviced and maintained Industrial triple pass wet back boiler and have people who work for me who are Gas Safe approved Engineers both Commercial gas and Domestic. I am interested in moving into the Biomass Market and would keen to understand what qualifications are required to upskill my workforce to service and maintain Biomass Boilers.?

  42. Barbara says:

    Has anyone experience of domestic wood pellet boiler installers in Northern Ireland, preferably in Co Down? I’m finding it difficult to assess the quality of potential installers.

  43. moira says:

    Hello,
    Looking for advice please!
    Has anyone used a wood pellet stove with integral boiler – like the Extraflame Lucrezia ? We were thinking of one for an old house – promoted as 60% cheaper than oil ( no natural gas where I am ). Any experience much appreciated, or comparison to a pellet boiler much appreciated too.
    Thanks!

    • Hi Moira,

      We tend to say that pellet is 30-40% cheaper than oil, this depends on how big an order you are able to place on the pellets (larger order cheaper pellets). Wood chip is cheaper still, but is more for large or comercial systems perhaps above 50kW.

      The Energy Saving Trust has a price comparison page here:
      http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Energy-Saving-Trust/Our-calculations#heating

      Looking at the cost of oil 6.43p/kWh compared to pellet 4.4p/kWh, from thier figures shows pellet is 68.4% of the price of oil. A big difference compared to 60% cheaper, the EST figure here shows it as 31.6% cheaper.

      So pellet it is a lot cheaper than oil, but by closer to 30%.

      If your looking at a stove units with a back plate boiler, these are typically quite simple units and whilst less expensive to install will require a little more looking after. I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the Lucrezia units but MCZ do have units within this range. Be sure you get some references from your installer as these simpler units are easily installed badly and must be maintained regularly.

      Ant

  44. Eileen says:

    We’re looking to have a log burning biomass boiler installed in our old cottage which we’ve not moved into yet. Had one quote for an Angus boiler, £14k and so far having problems getting other quotes. Can anyone recommend an installer in the Central belt of Scotland (we’re in Glasgow). Does anyone have an experience of an Angus boiler?

  45. Scott Nicholas says:

    Its even worse with ASHP installers, many come from air conditioning suppliers.

    I paid £25,000 to have installed 2 x14KW HT Daikens and 1 x 14Kw Mitsubishi all inside one of my out buildings to replace a 60KW Worcester Bosch Oil boiler.
    The pipework that ran from the outhouse to my actual house was over 30 mtrs in length and the installer thought it would be OK to use copper pipe with some simple foam lagging (the type you see in your garage) when the winter came and snow fell on the lawn, the underground pipes were losing that much heat there was a path across the lawn with no snow on it because of the massive heat loss!
    All three ASHP’s froze up solid and our installer made over 15 visits to defrost the units and try to get them working.
    To date the heat pumps do not heat my house properly and we have lost out tens of thousands of pounds in increased electricity consumption that actually overtakes the heating oil costs we originally had. We have had to hire calor gas bottles and space heaters to defrost the units and keep the house from freezing.
    What makes this particularly sad is the installer knows we have two young children aged 6 and 7 was happy to take my money for a system that leaves my family cold in Dec/January months when the heat pump units can not deliver enough heat to the house!!

    • George P says:

      Scott,

      Poorly designed and installed systems especially AShp are so common. Perhaps time to get recompense from mcs/ real investigation.

      Any decent installer will be covered for poor jobs

      Using multiple systems like that just doesn’t make sense to me, perhaps look at installing an alternative system ?

    • Hi Scott,

      What a nightmare! I’m so sorry ot hear about your difficulties!

      Using copper pipe for the run to the units is a cardinal sin in itself. Low loss piping is expensive, but really should have been used. Curious as to why they’ve used two different suppliers for the system, both are reputable manufactrers though. Perhaps the Mitsibushi (Ecodan?) is better on the higher temperature domestic hot water side?

      Is your house well insulated?

      And more importantly have they managed to sort it all out?

  46. Margaret says:

    Does anyone know of an “Aga” type range cooker and boiler that uses wood pellets that are fed in by an auger or with a vacuum transfer system from a pellet store?
    The only one we can find is made by Eco Range but you have to manually lift pellets into a hopper and
    we are getting to the age where we can’t be lifting 15kg bags of pellets for refueling.

    • Graham says:

      Hi Margaret, I think the spira boiler from Grant does that. The wife and I are looking at it for the same reasons at the moment.

  47. Rob says:

    Hi, I took the plunge and had a wood pellet boiler installed last year and it’s been nothing but trouble since.

    In May 2013 I had a company install an MCZ RED365 Compact 18 wood pellet boiler and it has been a nightmare with LOADS of issues. since installation I have had the installers back out about 20 times to fix all manner of issues.

    The main issue is that it keeps tripping the electrics (MCB) in the boiler room but am guessing that is caused as a knock on effect from some of the other issues.

    – 3 x faulty igniters
    – 1 x faulty turbulator
    – 3 x faulty motherboards
    – leaks due to the boiler not having the right UK connections
    – many blown fuses
    – overheating issues
    – constantly tripping the electrics

    In January, after being without heating and hot water for over 2 months I had them rip it out and replace it for a new one (the same model) and 4 weeks later, that has just tripped the electrics, blown fuses and caused other issues and I am now without heating and hot water AGAIN !!!

    has anyone else got a RED 365 Compact 18 or Compact 24 boiler with issues?

    • Keith Corridon says:

      We have a Red 24 installed in Nov. 2012. To start with we also had problems, which were assumed to be due to the igniter, motherboard, etc., but were finally traced to the flue gas temp being set too high at the factory, so that the boiler shut off after the initial start up phase. We also had a trip problem, but this was traced to a faulty rainwater harvesting pump, with an internal relay overheating! The start up problem has just reappeared, but can be overridden by shutting the boiler down using the front display on/off & restarting. It will usually take 2 goes to get beyond the start up phase, & usually cuts off when the temp is about 44 C. Generally, the boiler has been quite satisfactory, using about 15-20 kgs of pellets a day over 4-5 months; rather more last winter when it was colder & the structure was still drying out. The house is a 220 m2 mix of a 1850’ies cottage & modern extensions, with somewhat better than current Building Regs insulation, plus solar hot water heating, solar atrium/ solar control glass in the kitchen & a heat recovery/ventilation system. We don’t have a buffer store, but have a weather compensation system with an outside sensor and diverter/recirculation valve, to reduce pellet use. Getting local service seems to be a problem generally but I hope will improve with time. We chose the MCZ because of price plus the ability to run at lower outputs, but also because they have been in business for quite some time & are EU approved. I really couldn’t justify spending £15k on a domestic boiler; we would have had to use LPG or oil reluctantly, as GSHP would not have been economical with the levels of insulation we were able to install. Hope this is of some use.

    • Liz says:

      Hi Rob – we are now on our 3rd MCZ (2 compact 35 and 1 compact 24) since November 2012. They have all been a nightmare and now I am asking our installer to take it out and replace with a different make. The latest has had 3 melted turbulators, suffers from flame extinction, failure to ignite, cracked brazier assume through overheating and so on…

      Most people say go Austrian!

      • Phil says:

        Hi Liz.

        This is interesting. Our MCZ Red Compact 35 was installed Feb 14 and is still in Warranty

        We’ve had:
        – 1 x failed igniter at 650 hrs of op (approx double the amount of ignitions). Too soon?
        – the turbulators have all corroded prematurely. the supplier admits this is a know fault due to a lower grade of steel having been used in production(?!) – to credit – they are offering a free replacement (which I’ve been waiting for 4 weeks now)
        – and like you a cracked brazier (overheating?!)
        – the auger has jammed 2 so far, but got this working again.
        – my boiler cycles a lot, but we do have an accumulator, but I have a feeling this may be undersized perhaps.

        We haven’t had ignition failures, but when the igniter went, it tripped the household consumer fuse as well as various others outside and inside the unit. Diagnosis took forever. All in all 2 weeks of cold house during winter). I want to buy a couple of spares but keep getting fobbed off and everything gets drawn out for what seems no reason Nobody seems to be able to give me a price for the part either, which is very odd. I am not sure if this is my installer playing me about or the back end support for the system. I have gone to Specflue who have told me to ask a service engineer for the parts. As said, it’s still in Warranty so if this stuff starts going wrong later on, god help us.

        Like so many others on here, my installer (and technical support) has pointed fingers at the pellet manufacturers for issues with the equipment operation. I use only high grade & certified fuel (Verdots, woodlets).

        IMO the design of the Auger pick up is such that it will naturally mulch some pellets on pick up, especially if the pellets in the hopper continually move and have their own bearing weight of a full hopper to deal with (approx 70 – 80kg), not to mention the protruding rivet necks inside the hopper, which must be by design surely?
        It requires someone to keep an eye on it and make sure that if there is excessive dust build up (which there will be, naturally) to hoover this out.
        I also feel the pellets tend to stick to the hopper wall. Not helped by the protruding rivets and auger casing.

        I’d be interested to hear how you managed to get your kit exchanged. Did they replace the brazier, turbulators and igniters f.o.c. ?

        • Liz says:

          Hi Phil – we are having repeated problems with our MCZ 35 – flame exctinction or failure to ignite almost every day. Our installer says he doesn’t know what else to do and as it is out of warranty he wants to draw a line under it (i.e. wash his hand of it.)

          I have no option now but to take legal action although it is the last thing I want to do – I just want a reliable boiler as promised!

  48. gwadmin says:

    Hi Rob, thanks for sharing your experience, which does sound like a nightmare – and not far off the one we had that led me to write initial blog that has started this long trail of comments you see above yours! I am afraid I can’t help you with knowledge about this specific boiler make, but It does seem to me that the main problem is less the technology as the people getting trained up very quickly to become biomass boiler installers – biomass boilers have been around for years but not in the UK! And these are complicated pieces of equipment compared to gas boilers. And very costly if things go wrong!
    I wish you luck sorting out your problems!

  49. Conor says:

    Could anyone with an opop pellet stove tell me which spare parts I should get the installer to leave?

  50. Joanne says:

    I am considering a biomass boiler for my 4 bed home and 4 holiday lets. I have had 3 different firms in and they all differ enormously on the size of the boiler they are recommending the smallest being 25kw, the next 70kw and the third 200kw. Is there anyway of working out the correct sizing so I know if I am being conned. Also is it true that if the boiler is replaced you will loose the government grant? Some of these boilers only have 5 years warranty.
    Thank you

    • Tarquin says:

      Hi Joanne
      Did you get anywhere with this? You should be able to work out the heat demand by getting an independent advisor to do ‘heat calcs’ for you. Yu can then create a brief for potential installers. There is a tendency to over-spec sometimes so having a firm idea of what your heat demand is going to be is really important.

      Tarquin

    • HI Joanne,

      Whilst boilers mostly only have a five year warranty, they should last if well maintained for twenty years. Also if you read the small print, the “flame touch” parts are normally warranted for only two years. This is fairly standard as some parts do require replacement, but are designed to allow this.

      The sizing will largely depend on how well your property is insulated. if you’d like an independant idea on how much heat is required a green deal assesment on the properties will cover this (for a cost to the Green Deal Assesor).

      If the properties are all located near each other then a district heating system is certanly the way forward. Although if you have low occupancy in the winter, it may not make as much sense as you’d have a boiler sized for the peak heat load that is rarely needed. From gut instinct 25kW may be enough fro just your house (depending on occupancy and insulation) and 70kW could well be enough for the lot as a district system. But without knowing the buildings make up, occupancy and size this is i’m afraid a baseless guess.

      Happy to answer questions if you like? anthony@teec.co

  51. Peter Hoblyn says:

    We are burning miscanthus on 3x 90Kw boilers. The fuel has 0.2% chlorine as tested. Manufacturers limit is 0.06% Cl. We are getting corrosion.
    It may be possible to reduce Cl content by changing harvesting methods but immediately we have a problem. Does anyone have experience of dosing with Calcium hydroxide (Hydrated lime) or Sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) either in powder or slurry form?

    • richard says:

      cant see why it wouldnt work as you are forming hcl currently but you may cause the opposite effect with the caustic soda in the fire box rather than the tubes as it is corrosive is probably cheaper to use a milder chemical like sodium bicarbonate to scrub out the Hcl and definitely safer for the operator alternatively mix miscanthus with wood to bring the cl content down

  52. Graham says:

    It seems to me as if most people have a nightmare getting a biomass boiler installed. I’m glad I found this post but to be honest it’s put me off a bit. I’ve been looking a Grant system which seems quite good, Baxi look good too but it seems the spira (grant) has the edge. Firstly, anyone any experience of this? Also, the whole reason I’m interested in swapping is the RHI scheme. I’m still waiting for someone to point out the “BUT” with this. Any advice from anyone? Thanks. Graham

    • Tarquin says:

      The ‘Buts’ are littered through this comments chain. The key is:
      1. Do your sums first – how much will it cost, what are the likely payback periods, what would the cost be of doing nothing etc
      2. Get at least three installers to quote or use an independent renewable energy advisor to support you (that’s what we do)
      3. Make sure whoever you are going to work with is local and has experience.
      4. Go and see something they have installed and talk to the customer. A good firm will have no problem with you doing this.

      We have had good experiences with Grant and their support network is good. Not so experienced with Baxi
      Tarquin

  53. Hugh Taylor says:

    I installed a windhagger boiler over three years ago ANd it’s worked perfectly. Six months after I added another circuit to heat the holiday cottage next door. It cost a lot of money but was well worth it and I’ve had no break downs( touch wood)

  54. Mike D says:

    The original article pretty much exactly sums up my experience. I bought a Palazzetti wood pellet boiler in 2007 and in 6 years it has probably been out of action more than it has worked. I lost confidence in the original supplier / installer after numerous call outs to fix a range of faults. Since then I have had various people to repair it, often very expensive and often ineffective. I have now come to the conclusion that I have to replace it and with a very heavy heart I am probably going to replace it with an oil fired boiler – I know its a backward step, but I have a family I need to keep warm with some degree of reliability. However in a last ditch attempt I have spoken to someone locally (I am in South Devon) who is recommending I replace my existing wood pellet boiler with a wood pellet boiler made by “Klover”. He says that it will be very reliable and that I have just been unlucky and bought a “dud” in the 1st place. I don’t want to make the same expensive mistake twice. Any views on Klover wood pellet boilers or other reliable makes?

    • Hi Mike,Hi Mike,
      Hi Mike,

      What size of boiler are you looking at? This narrows down the possible options for you. I’m afraid i don’t know about the Klover range of boilers. I would recommend looking into how long the company has been making biomass boilers (not just how long they’ve been making boilers!), how long the installer has been going for and look at some of their past works if possible.

      We don’t cover south Devon so can give happily impartial advise!

      Ant
      anthony@teec.co

      what size of boiler are you looking at? this narrows down the possible options for you. I’m afriad i don’t know about the Klover range of boilers. I would receomend looking into how long the company has been making biomass boilers (not just how long they’ve been making boilers!), how long the installer has been going for and look at some of their past works if possible.

      We don’t cover south Devon so can give happily imparcial advise!

      Ant

  55. Bog-eyed says:

    Could someone please tell me what causes the monotonous, irritating whine or droning noise from a biomass burner?
    A burner has been placed in the staff car park of a sports centre across the road from me. It is in a wooden clapboard shed and, due to Planning consent, it has a double steel chimney.

    It first fired up in November 2013 and three weeks in started this aggravating whine (I can hear it now). The sports centre said they were taking the issue seriously and that the contractors agreed there was a problem. The noise abated for three weeks then returned. And has not been sorted; it is now just switched off between 11.30pm and 6am.

    Over the last few days the noise has been intermittent; I have been dealing with the beleaguered Manager of the sports centre and the contractors do not seem to be addressing the problem.

    The noise sounds like a vacuum cleaner or hairdryer set off in another part of the house except it goes on for hours. It is torturous.

    Any advice would be gratefully received.
    Btw, I live in the centre of a Village in a rural area.

  56. Richard says:

    Well! I am more confused than ever. We have been considering fitting a biomass system to replace our ageing Stanley oil fired cooker, and boiler. We live in a fairly large solid brick farmhouse in North Yorkshire and spend between £3 – £4k per year on oil as well as running 2 log burners to supplement heat. We have looked at ETA boilers that came in at £21k plus some building costs so no change from £25k, La Nordica that the installer really didn’t want to fit even though they sold it!!!! Wind hager seem to be totally disinterested in selling, a local installer recommended a 26kw boiler when the others were suggesting 35kw because he would lose it on price if he went for anything bigger!!! Hardly the way to spec a boiler methinks. Another company in Devon wanted £40k! And someone else quoted us £16k for an Irish boiler but couldn’t show me one he had installed!! Hardly the basis to spend a lot of money on a long term purchase. I am staggered at the range of costs, and given that I could replace our Stanley with a standard oil boiler for about £5k, am I having my leg lifted?? Is £25k for the ETA value for money? On the basis that I will receive the same RHI payment (eventually) for a boiler costing half that, what am I to do? I feel totally confused with the ‘smoke and mirrors’ situation where I can’t directly judge all the products side by side dispationately and objectively. Can anyone help me? I feel like I am sitting on a fence with crocodiles one side and alligators the other! Do I jump and which way? Help!

    • Dave says:

      Richard
      Did you get sorted out, we’re in Skipton and have just fitted a grant spir pellet boiler , customer very happy , excellent back up from grant , pleased contact for more information ,
      Dave 07709060454

  57. Javier H. says:

    Hi everybody,

    Please excuse my english specially if we compare with yours. We are a biomass installation company located in Spain. I’ve just dropped in here and would like to give our point of view based on many years of experience.

    In general terms biomass systems should work fine. For industrial purposes we are able to reduce energy bill up to 80% what sometimes means many thousands of pounds per year and payback in less than 3-4 years what is quite worthy I believe, maintenance for these systems are high but also savings and on industries users are very use to do maintenance for nearly everything.

    Domestic installations is a different thing, savings will be about 40-50% but main problem is that usually final customers have not enough information about how these systems work and tasks to do, by some installers they prefer to sell before and to reply questions later where it should be in the opposite way. There’s also a big lack of expertise and knowledge in the side of the installers. To efficiently burn wood with no troubles is far far difficult compared with gas what means you have to spend good money on a very good boiler. Cheap boilers which declare are “fully automatic” is a source of problems, so my advice is to take one of these 2:

    – for fully automatic, those people who has no knowledge or doesn’t want to spend time in front of the boiler: spend money and get one of the best boilers in the market, they use to come from Austria or Germany, I will no mention brands. Also talk to factory or authorized dealer for your country and ask them for an experienced installer. always always ask for experience and claim to visit other installations.

    – for people who wants to save money and invest little, you will have to spend time, there’s no choice. Get an italian or east europe boiler, semi-auto. You don’t need auto cleaning, oxygen control and internet connection. Boiler should have refractory bricks on fireplace, ashes extraction if possible and autoignition, in cold places where you don’t stop boiler for months manual ignition is ok, that’s all. Chimney has to be well designed, with windshield on top and draugth stabilizer on bottom, this is a must but also other facts, so as said, experienced installers.

    Also you have to consider fuel has to match some standars, semi-auto is more flexible on this, otherwise boiler will have troubles. It sounds like a topic but this is how it is. For domestics go to pellet, DIN+ certification or similar and forget the rest which is cheaper but needs extra time for cleaning, special silos, etc.

    And last; thermostoves are not boilers, they are nice looking and cheaper sometimes but 30 kW heat power is not the same in a thermostove than in a boiler. they have very low efficiency what means more fuel consumption. I will recommend them up to 20 kW and heating spaces with radiators and no more than 150 m2. Of course they need nearly daily manual cleaning so consider this.

    In few words: biomass is not for everybody so you better inform well before doing nothing.

  58. Fitted my first Trianco Greenflame boiler in Yorkshire this week (28kw)
    It was an external unit and the client wanted it. I’d never seen an external boiler before.
    They’re made in UK and I think that’s main reason client wanted it.

    It’s a much less expensive install as the flue is supplied as standard so it brings the cost of the installation right down. I think these are ideally suited to our market .
    I had it fitted in 1 day and client texted me last night to say its working a treat. If anyone wants to see one I’m based near wetherby

    • nigel says:

      we had a trianco green flame pellet boiler fitted at the start of august,i,m very concerned about it,s effiency just over 9000 kwh to 3.5 tons of pellets,unless i,m not working this the correct way around that works out at less than 60% i think it should be better than that ?

  59. Rob Smith says:

    I refer to my earlier post from a couple of weeks ago… I had the MCZ RED365 UK distributor come out to look at our issues a week or so ago – it appears that the installers had wired up the electrics incorrectly. they had connected a 230v live from the programmer in the house to a low voltage live on the boiler which was causing it to slowly fry the motherboard… so, fingers crossed our Compact 18 may now work how it should do..

    If anyone has any info on how to set these up for best efficiency now that would be REALLY helpful.

  60. Steve says:

    Richard
    I can understand your confusion and frustration but would suggest that the problems are caused by who you are talking too rather than the technology itself. I like you spent time talking to different people about their offers before electing to go for a Danish boiler provided by a local company who also provide the support for the system. The things I have learnt are:

    1- Don’t buy from an ex PV/Solar salesman most of them have no idea what a Biomass boiler is, never buy if they offer to discount heavily for an immediate decision !
    2 -Don’t buy form someone who insists he is not a salesman but an engineer as he likely he is neither
    3 -Buy from a Micogeneration approved supplier (MCS) registered with HEATAS as they will need to provide a MCS certificate on completion otherwise you won’t get your RHI (there are only about 400 of them in the UK)
    4 – Make sure you have a support plan in place with a MCS /HEATAS registered company as without an annual service check you may lose your RHI
    5 – Check you are not in a smoke control area as if you are you will need to install a DEFRA approved appliance otherwise you risk a £1000 fine
    6 – Make sure they include a FLUE in the price as it is a requirement and dictates where you can install the box. You may like us want to consider a Flue fan otherwise you will need a 4.5m high bright steel chimney – without the flue or fan your boiler will not work properly and could be potentially dangerous
    7 – Never take up an offer of a free boiler being installed as the catch is you will need to sigh over your RHI payments to the installer – in our case £ 30k over 7 years for a boiler costing £ 15 K, cheaper to finance the deal yourself.
    8- If installing outside make sure you have the flow and return pipes properly lagged otherwise you are heating your garden.
    9 – Most boilers work ok , it’s the install that cocks it up as good biomass installers are few and far between as the UK has little experience in this field. They will often suggest installing a buffer tank – often its not needed.
    10 – Chose a supplier who can help project mange the whole job including arranging EPC’s, Green deal assessments and helping submit the RHI (and if before end of March( RHPP paperwork.

    The top ten tips are based on our experience – we persevered because we estimate that out LPG bill will drop from £ 3000 + to about £ 1500 for Biomass and on top of that the RHI will give us around 18% return on our capital compared to the 2 % we were getting in an ISA. It is well worth doing but it all hinges on finding a supplier you can trust. We also feel better about buying fuel that is sustainable (i.e, trees take 20 years to grow) compared to oil and gas which takes 250 million), As an aside we have a Rangemaster cooker which runs on LPG/Electric and we are planning to keep that as 90% of our LPG usage comes from heating the house/hot water so you mat consider splitting the two decisions and just focus on a boiler replacement alone.

    Steve

    • Hi Steve, thanks for your comment above, which is really interesting and useful for people coming to this topic on GreenWise blog for help and reassurance. I couldn’t agree with you more that there just not enough experienced biomass boiler installers to meet the demand and this is going to get worse, not better, so its so important that people do their homework and stay patient and wait for a good one. otherwise its so much heartache and you really cant’ afford to make a mistake when you are dealing with your heating and its costing so much upfront.

    • mark says:

      Paul, I am interested in talking with you about Solarfocus biomass. Clearly you are experienced and we as distributors are keen to identify quality install partners for our products. Mark Lowen mark@res.ie

    • mark says:

      Hi steve, this is some of the best advise I have come across To a would be biomass buyer. We have worked with solarfocus biomass boilers since 2005 and key to getting a project right is identifying a quality installation company who have a quality product with a good history, and pay appropriately. Measure twice and cut once.

  61. Alfred says:

    I have had a Hertz firematic fitted by Rural Energy last December and the boiler has been nothing but trouble. They have been very poor in responding to the many problems we have had. My advice to anyone considering a new boiler would be to avoid the Hertz product. If mine continues to go as badly I can see it ending up on the scrap heap and me in legal proceedings….

    • matthew says:

      Hello Alfred,
      I am an energy consultant working on a project where 2 Herz Firematic boilers were installed. I have spoken with a few other suppliers and consultants who have had issues with the boilers – notably the same problems we have experienced.
      The issue I have with this is that Herz must have known about the faults before we experienced them but have done nothing to warn of the likely failure – possibly resulting in more damage than if they had!
      My project has further complications in that the main contractor going under a few weeks ago leaving a complex supply chain for the boilers resulting in no clear indication of who will honour the warranty!

      • Hargykid says:

        To Alfred and Matthew: gentlemen, I understand your frustration and disappointment with your systems. I have attended a Herz boiler which was all but scrap. The turbulators (cleaning system in the tubes) had seized because the boiler was running so poorly. The service guys had a two ton block and tackle on them to drag them out!! One sheared and another tube was so choked they tried to hammer the tube clear, but snapped the broomstick which got stuck in the tube. I serviced and commissioned it expecting it to need replacing in the near future. That was August 2013 and hasn’t missed a beat since. The tank is exporting hot water nicely, the boiler is behaving itself and the client is thrilled (this is heating a large garden centre 60kW)
        The story here is, apart from the success of repair, is that the boiler is only as capable as the installing engineers. If they do a poor job, the boiler cannot function correctly and will inevitably suffer press and disappoint the user.
        The boiler manufacturers obviously want good feedback and it’s a shame their generally well made products are slighted by poor installation or service work.

        If you need to talk through the problems you have, by all means contact me for a chat.
        Just click the name on this post to take you to my website for details.

        Regards
        R L

  62. Paul Steele says:

    Hi all

    Very interesting comments – I own a commercial heating company that in part specialises in fault finding & resolving issues with new build large heating systems. We also deal with many commercial sized Biomass boilers/systems.

    We are in the process of becoming MCS accredited for the domestic Biomass & solar thermal market. One of the main reasons we are doing this is because we have been approached by quite a number of manufactures who are gravely concerned that ‘their’ reputation is being tarnished by the relatively ‘shocking’ quality of the installs. In their words (not mine) the market is awash with ‘house bashes & combi-swappers’.

    NB; Biomass boilers are not a black art – they are very simple & have less technology than a modern gas boiler; sales people etc would have you think otherwise…..

    I personally was on a Hetas Biomass course last month – 6 out of the 9 candidates on the course were to be honest, embarrassing with their lack of knowledge or understanding – they (quite rightly) failed the exams, twice; however, the third attempt is by oral questioning & guess what – they all passed! They are now all ‘qualified’ to come & install a Biomass boiler for you…. shocking!!!

    A few more bits of advice; Don’t always think the highest cost of boiler is the best -it isn’t! (Consider whole life costs). When looking for an installer, try & use one who has commercial experience – the technology now being introduced in the domestic sector (optimisation, compensation & back end protection) has been used in the commercial sector for around 30 years – your every day combi’ swapper hasn’t a clue what this is.

    Finally, get an install price without giving away your annual space heating KW/hrs – otherwise, you find that your price goes up the higher the kW/hr figure.

    • Debbie says:

      Hi Paul , thank you for a very informative post , what make of boiler would you recommend ? And would you come and fit it for us ..? I understand that you have to find a good installer but how do you know they are any good until they begin the work !
      We have been researching into getting a wood gasification boiler ( domestic ) , and I’m more confused now than I was at the beginning ! We have a budget we are trying to work within as we d like Pv panels as well , but just can’t seem to get it anywhere near , any advice is gratefully received.ps we live in suffolk.

      • Paul Steele says:

        Thanks for your comments :)

        We are based in Yorkshire, so I’m sorry to say Suffolk is beyond our reach – not for the install, but for the after sales service I wish to provide.

        The talk (behind the scenes, so to speak) is as follows; despite what you may or are led to believe; going ‘Carbon Neutral’ (in reality it’s at best carbon reduced…!!!!) doesn’t save you money. What you need to consider is your position in 7 years time; will Pellets per KW/hr be less expensive than gas – not a chance. Will they be less per KW/hr than heating oil – not a chance either. Therefore when the RHI payments cease (after 7 years of your install) it’s highly likely many, if not most Biomass systems will be replaced back to gas/oil for less cost than the difference than a years cost of fuel. This is where your ‘whole life costs’ come into consideration. Why pay for the best when (people are saying behind the scenes) they are likely to be ripped out after 7 years.

        Installation Companies; when they are carrying out the survey ask them simple (if they know what the basics are these are simple answers) what their thoughts are on weather compensation, optimisation etc, etc… If they look at you with the blank face, stay well clear.

        Installation; Ask how many fully qualified engineers will be doing the install? Ask for copies of their credentials/ certification prior to install!

        You want to be looking for Hetas H0005, Hetas H0006, Unvented Water Heating, Water Regs & of course manufacture approved installation/commissioning as well. If any of this is missing, they are not qualified!!!!!’

        With regards to some of the quotes the domestic market is receiving…. If we were to charge half the price we would make a nice tidy profit & you would be contributing to my pension very much; Purchase with care!!!

        • Fed-Up With The Noise says:

          Hi Paul…thank you for your blog, honesty and knowledge.
          Please would you tell me what causes the monotonous whine from a commercial sized biomass burner…that in the sales pitch was promised to ‘operate quietly’ and ‘sound from the boiler would not pose community annoyance’. Because this does not operate quietly and it is a huge annoyance.
          After complaints, the installers actually went to the Environmental Health Officer themselves (!!), cynically, I suspect, to get the decibel reading which probably won’t be high enough for action against them…but the droning eventually becomes distressing. EH cannot take action from the perpetrator!
          It is often noisiest after loading. I also have photos of the chimney (which is double height and then bent at an elbow) belching out smoke which spread all down the road. This is hardly a great advert for Green/Eco heating alternatives.
          I would be so grateful for some honest info here. Fed up with the fudging.

          • Paul Steele says:

            Sounds like the ‘monotonous whine’ you mention will be from the ‘cyclone filter’ system installed on the flue outlet of the boiler(s). These are being increasing installed to commercial appliances, more so since January of this year; its the only way the manufacturers can meet the emission standards.

            Probably requires an ‘attenuator’ installing on the flue just after the filter.

          • Hargykid says:

            One system I visited was suffering a droning monotonous whine, sounding like a vacuum cleaner. The speed of the exhaust fan was causing resonance in the flue, a bit like a church organ. I believe the fault was treated with a new fan (change of impeller).

            The smoke belching out will most likely be down to the commissioning setup. If this was at start up, the ignition fill level is wrong, but if it was during the heating cycle, was it after an auto clean cycle where the grate is burned down, the cleaning mechanism does its bit, and the boiler re-fires? Smoke is generated from over-fuelling or under-airing, causing incomplete combustion. Check the colour of the ash. It should be a nice even light grey colour. The darker it becomes it shows a tendency towards incomplete combustion, like soot. If there is a content of unburned fuel, it DEFINITELY needs recommissioning.

            Feel free to call if you would like to talk it through. Tap the heading name to access my website.

        • mark says:

          Paul, I am interested in talking with you about Solarfocus biomass. Clearly you are experienced and we as distributors are keen to identify quality install partners for our products. Mark Lowen mark@res.ie

        • Liz says:

          Hi Paul – what is the name of your company – we are Yorkshire based and could do with your advice.

      • Tarquin says:

        Hi Debbie and Hello Paul
        Good comments from Paul and sorry he can’t help. If you are still looking for someone local let me know. We offer our clients independent advice on the pros and cons of all renewables and then help them find the right people to install (if we can’t do it ourselves)
        Tarquin
        ReEnergise

  63. Peter says:

    ^ very good posts Paul.

    Absolutely spot on with regards to qualifications to check the installers competency. Although, I’d add in MCS biomass installer if the installation is <50kW.

    On the appliance side, If you go with a reputable manufacturer, with back up and spares here in the U.K, then you can cross off two of the major problems people sometimes overlook all too easily! I would perhaps also advise calling the manufacturer directly to arrange a site visit should there be the possibility of doing so.

    HDG, Froling, ETA, Strebel, Windhager and Herz have the products and back up to cater for UK requirements.

    • David A says:

      Actually, appointing an MCS installer is a requirement set by Ofgem for boilers less than 45kW capacity. This is because the Building Regulations (Part-J) only goes up to 45kW or to be installed using appropriate self-certification scheme. It is important to distinguish Oftem standards and Regulations. Similarly, there aren’t many installers that will inform you also, of section 4 of the Clean Air Act 1993 (CAA, prior notification and approval from the local authority) of any non-domestic boiler, nor what happens above 45 or 50kW. For the latter, you might be surprised your Council is supposed to keep an inventory of these emissions.

      Defra is currently reviewing the CAA, so might be wise to plan or get ready for the these changes i.e. Ensure the boiler has an emission certificate for the fuel to be burnt, and how can you ensure fuel quality standards and finally that flows to the boiler return at min. 50 degrees C.?

  64. Amanda says:

    Hi

    Does anyone have experience of viessmann boilers or burnit boilers? I have been quoted £25 k to install 40 kW viessmann which seems much more than others

    I’m hoping to get the rhi phase 2

    • Tom says:

      Thats a lot of money for a veissman or burnit boiler. You could have a top quality log boiler for that sort of money. I d get some more quotes.
      Also check on fuel chamber and accumulator size – not all 40kw log boilers are truly suitable for 40kw heating loads, especially when you factor in real life effficiencies if not lambda controlled

  65. Dave rivers says:

    I have an oil boiler at the moment and spending £1000 on oil per year (3bed farm house)
    We are looking at biomass
    We have a company coming to look at installing a £24000 unit for FREE if we sign over green payments to them and buy pellets for 7 years only off them
    Pellets are guaranteed to be cheapest for the 7 years if we find cheaper they will refund the difference
    It all seems to good to be true ???????
    We have about 3/4 of an acre spare that we can grow willow on with this in mind will it work out to be a good deal
    We can not use our own fuel (willow) till 7 year deal is finished
    So looking at planting about half way through deal so can harvest and dry ready for deal end

    • Hi Dave, I would say beware about the this company if they want to sign you up to their fuel supply for seven years – quality of the pellets is extremely important when it comes to biomass boilers – and if these pellets are not of high quality, then your system will break down and give you all sorts of heartache.
      See comment above from Brian (Aug 7 2013) which you may find useful

      Good luck!

    • Paul Steele says:

      Hi Dave

      Stay well clear of this company & any other like it.

      Firstly, no domestic biomass install should or will ever cost £24K! Secondly, the boiler will not be too good & thirdly if it breaks down, be prepared for a few days without heating or hot water, as the back service is poor.

      I am aware of a company not too far away from us who goes around door knocking with this sort of offer. They happen to have bought a 1000 cheapo eastern European biomass boilers for the poor people who fall for this….

      • John says:

        Hi,

        I have read, with great interest, most of these threads, as I am looking at Biomass and have no knowledge at all. I had one company quote for me and they recommended three systems. One was the ETA 20kw twin system, £26,500, the second was a 25kw Biotech £20,000, and the third was an EKO heat 25KW(Eastern European) at £17000.

        Another company has yet to give me a formal quote but verbally estimated £17000- 20,000.

        I have since looked at The company which I believe you dismiss as using “cheapo Eastern European for the poor people who fall for this….”

        If it is the same company then I can tell you that they are using KWB 35kw boilers, Austrian! I have been to see their own installation and was impressed with the set up. Boiler, 800 ltr buffer tank and silo bag. I am waiting for confirmation of domestic visits, so i can see for myself and question the house holders.

        At my age (retired) I am reluctant to take out my investments to fund this as the return, over seven years, would only just cover the installation costs. This is not taking into consideration the annual maintenance (quotes of between £100-£200) and possible break downs. The firm guarantees and maintains the installation for the full seven years.

        They use and insist on the highest quality pellets, as obviously they don’t want their boilers breaking down and causing them unnecessary expense! The company told me that their engineers / technicians regularly go to Austria for training on the Biomass and KWB also come out on a monthly basis to inspect their installations.

        We want to be “greener”, oil is only going to get dearer as there isn’t any regulatory body to stop this. We are trying to do “our bit” for the environment, and biomass would seem the way to go, as we use wood burners to supplement our heating and know that it is a green renewable source of energy. However, it is very expensive, and not everybody has the funds available to install it. At least this way you have seven years of free maintenance, whereas I have probably paid out £1000 in repairs to my oil boiler in the seven years it has been in!

        As I said at the beginning I had no knowledge at at all but after reading these threads and looking into Biomass, seeing it working, talking to different people, I feel a little more knowledgeable, but admittedly still “green”, as in this country it is comparatively new technology.

        I’m sure you have your reasons other than the comments you have made regarding said company, but I can only speak as I find. I am willing to listen to any other arguments. I have not yet made any decision.

        • Paul F says:

          Hi John,

          I am in the same situation as you and am considering the ‘free’ boiler as well. I like the idea of ‘no responsibility’ OK they will be making money out of me (or at least the government) but I am going to have to replace my oil oil fired boiler soon and this appears to be a simple way of doing it.

          I have a number of concerns regarding the system such as

          1) The pellet cost and how competitive that will be going forward
          2) Are the pellets more cost effective than oil
          3) How good is the back up service
          4) Will it enhance or reduce my house value should i decide to move

          I will be interested to hear how you get on with your visits to other customers. I have had my survey and this will be my next step I think.

          Cheers

        • Alex says:

          John,

          I can only tell you my onw experience as a private householder with no axe to grind.

          I installed a Biotech Toplight 15kW in my last house, which was excellent – completely reliable, very well engineered, and economical – 5 tons of pellets a year at £220 per ton delivered – to heat a 210 sq m solid stone wall house (27,000 kWH per year calculated heat load). I was making a profit of roughly £150 a month on the RHI at this cost!

          I am starting installation of an Ekoheat 15kW in my new house tomorrow. I would have another Biotech in a heartbeat, but it’s a fairly big unit, and my new boiler room is a bit smaller than in my last house, so it wouldn’t fit (the Ekoheat unit is pretty compact).

    • Tom says:

      A £1,000 a year on oil is nt too bad and therefore you would be looking at a saving of perhaps

      £300 per year if you switched to wood pellets. This is nt a huge amount if you have to pay for spares, servicing etc. You mention burning pellets for seven years and then switching to your own fuel. What boiler is it as most boilers are specific to one type of fuel, not any?

    • melon says:

      The terms of RHI state that you must own the boiler and the money is paid to you. I’m not sure how they are proposing to get round this.

  66. I’m not really qualified to contribute to a thread about wood chip and pellet boilers, because we just make multi-fuel and wood burning boilers … I’m just so astonished at some of the prices quoted here. Does the high efficiency of gasification really justify the initial cost of these units, let alone the installation and servicing costs throughout their life time?? We make log boilers of up to 60kw outputs, last a life time with no servicing or parts to replace; ok, only 72% efficient, but that extra 20% efficiency that pellet or wood chip boiler can achieve seems awful dear. Logs … pellets made by God!

    oh, and you don’t need to be be a rocket scientist to install them. There seem to be plenty of able chaps in the threads above, for designing and putting these systems in, but plenty of horror stories too. … enough to make an old boiler maker feel faint.

    • Hi Steve, Interesting point you make. We actually have a multi-fuel stove installed in a house we own on the Isle of Wight, the stove is manufacturered on the island and our central heating runs off it. Really easy to use, never had to service it (just get chimney swept every year) and we love it. Only negative I would say is the point about the efficiency compared to biomass – we only burn wood logs and it goes through them fast during the winter when we need to have it on all the time. We’ve used other renewable fuel sources, but we get the logs delivered and we like the heat they give off, but it does work out pretty expensive. But as you say the system is much cheaper to begin with.

  67. Simon says:

    Hi. When I built a large house about 6 years ago I did not think about the initial problems that I would have with a poor installer/and poor system.

    I installed a BAXI boiler wood pellet and had nothing but bother with it for 5 years. 4 fills a year were required (£200 per tonne), 4 tonne bin. With tweeking I got it down to 3 fills a year. The system was dirty, dusty and required fortnightly cleaning.

    With hindsight and information last autumn I upgraded the biomass boiler with the help of an incentive scheme here in NI. After a lot of research I opted for a Grant Spira Condensing wood pellet boiler. I can honestly say its the best move I could have made. The fills per year have been reduced to two and minimal maintenance is required (clear the ash pan every 6 months). I have an oil back-up system and comparatively the running costs are about 1/3.

    Grant are based in Ireland and the efficiency rating of the boiler is over 94%. I had a minor problem and they have been fantastic. I don’t work for the company but now on my second boiler I have learned some of the pitfalls of biomass but would suggest for larger homes it is a good solution.

  68. Mark Harrison says:

    Hi,

    we are looking at fitting a commercial system using a Schmid UTSL 240 Wood Pellet / Chip boiler,

    Could anyone advise on the quality of Schmid boilers?

    • Tarquin says:

      I would benchmark it against the likes of Herz, Eta and Froling. I’ve not come across Schmid. Very important to drill them on UK support and spares. Also check the experience of the installer. Where are you based Mark?
      Tarquin

      • Andrew says:

        Agree with Tarquin. Check on the UK company behind them – how long they have been going, finances/resources behind them etc. From the research I did there are probably 6 or so decent quality boilers from Austria/Germany, and of these I could find ony three which had a good uk company distributing/supporting the product. The research I did suggests the best commercial boilers have a stepped/walking grate and vertical heat exchanger – I may be wrong but heard this off may potential suppliers. Also, dont believe everyhting the installer says – I had one guy come to site originally trying to sell me three 60kw boilers rather than one large single unit – checking the company after it seems 60kw was the largest boiler they did!

      • Steve says:

        I absolutely agree with this. Great advice.

  69. steve says:

    Hi,
    cannot say anything about Schmid.
    Just wanted to mention that when it comes to biomass boilers I would look for the Austrian biomass specialist brands. They produce only logwood, wood chips and pellet boilers and they know their stuff. One of these companies – OKOFEN – focuses 100% and wood pellets and really mastered that technology. Their boilers are highly efficient and completely maintenance free for the whole year.

  70. Gareth says:

    I’ve had a lot of experience with biomass, as I come from an agricultural background.
    All wood was kept for keeping warm in winter, if it burns you get the idea.

    I converted from expensive oil heating to a large boiler house log boiler, the key to all systems is sizing the boiler correctly & ensuring the boiler has a suitably sized buffer tank.

    Current recommendations are for each boiler Kw, the the buffer should be multiplied by 50l (25Kw x 50 = 1250 litres or much larger).

    For example i’ve a 25Kw DEFRA approved Eco Angus Super boiler with 1500l buffer and Laddomat valve, from cold it takes approximately six hours of burning until the whole 1500 litre tank is at 90c and stores the heat for use over several days.

    Most poorly installed systems don’t have the buffer or boiler sized correctly, causing the boiler to cycle and fail prematurely.

    The key to success is to ensure the boiler once lit runs for as long as possible, within reason of course. This ensures the boiler runs at the designed operating temperatures, which clear any smoke deposits and ensure things like the auto start systems aren’t repeatedly cycled.

    Unlike gas, a solid fuel requires a lot of energy to start the combustion process and as a result these starter mechanisms and controls will ultimately fail.

    One start a day versus a cycling boiler, one start per day Vs 3 per hour (365 starts vs 26208).

    I should also point out that everyone buying a system should ensure they choose a DEFRA approved appliance if its mandatory, most of the UK is covered by these rules and anyone found breaching can be fined £1000 per smoke emission!.

  71. Helen says:

    Hi, We are renovating/extending our cottage in Cornwall – when done it’ll be 6 bed/4 bath + an annex with kitchen/bathroom in an outbuilding. We were looking at Air Source Heat pump but recently told we’d be better off with Biomass. they’ve suggested a Solarfocus 25kw. We are thinking about putting this in an outbuilding (same building as annex) which is about 5m away from the house – is this OK? Seems odd to be piping hot-water from another building?!

    Also, the installer has installed SF in commercial property – i.e. hotel locally but doesn’t have any domestic users for us to talk to… should I be worried?

    We were planning to add a Thermal store with solar thermal and PV panels… but reading comments it sounds like Biomass is farely unreliable – should I have a back-up system too?

    any advice most welcome!

    • Hi Helen,

      An airsource heat pump is certanly an option, but only if your house is well insulated. Heat pumps work best with low temperature differences, if the heat pump has to supply a leaky house (temperature wise!) you won’t even get close to the quote efficiencies. Often an installer will recomend a technology because that is what they specialise in. If they do offer both techs and the house is well insulated, ask them to quote for both to compare like for like.

      A 5m pipe run is no problem. This should go via so called “zero loss” piping, there are of course some losses but the pipe is very heavily insulated, so this should be nominal.

      In regards to a comercial vs a domestic setting, the hydronic (wet heating) design is the same but typically with a higher usage (i.e. more can go wrong!) on a comercial system. I’d visit the hotel for a drink and ask to have a look at their handy work and talk with the whom ever the touch point was on site for the instaltion to see what they think.

      If you have space for a buffer tank (thermal store) your system will be more efficiently, so would certanly recomend!

      PV in Cornwall can offer a great paybacks given your solar gain is the highest in the country and the FiT was designed to insentivse the whole of the UK. Whilst we don’t cover PV on a domestic scale , we are developing a solar farm thier. Th Uk Average PV output per installed kWp (kWp – installed system size in panel generation capacity) is around 860kWh/kWp (kilo Watt Hours – units of elec per kWp per annum), whilst for our site its around 1,030kWhkWp. Quite a lot better than the avaerage! If thinking of a heat pump this can act to offset the elec costs of runnning it.

      If properly installed you really don’t need a back up for biomass. As mentioned by i think Jason, earlier on, having a local experiance installer is key. Both in terms of technical ability and being able to come at short notice should any issues arrise.

      Happy to answer any particualr questions you have. Although we don’t install in the South West.

      Best,

      Anthony

  72. Ian says:

    I had an Okofen installed 7.5 years ago and have had no stoppages due to the boiler. The four stoppages I have had related to fuel supply and I was able to sort these out fairly easily. It has got through three burner plates but these only needed to be changed at the annual maintenance. The burner plate design has now changed so I expect the current one to last a considerable time.

  73. welshman says:

    Anybody got any feedback on WES boilers?

  74. maisie cattanach says:

    I have read the comments and everything said is true because it wasn’t an Eco forest boiler made in Spain. The Cantina Nova 38kw boiler that I have has fitted will dispel most of these comments. As Ecoforest has taken all the problems related to earlier models and cleaned up their act and have installed a heat exchanger automatic cleaning system which cleans every hour . The built quality and electrics are of the highest standard. It is true that the quality of the pellets have to be first class and have an en number. We are very pleased with this boiler and would not go back to non green heating or water. All information and models can be found on their web site http://www.ecoforest.es

  75. maisie cattanach says:

    had ecoforest pellet stove for years 2007 have heat all year long now have a cantina nova 38kwboiler and a tank in tank 1000/250

  76. Debbie says:

    Does anyone know anything about the tecnika 28 wood burning boiler ? Good or bad information welcome . We are prob about to have one installed but we are quite keen DIY ers with some knowledge so don’t mind getting our hands dirty but just want to know if there are any common faults with these boilers or a common install mistake that I can keep an eye on , or even if there are spare parts I need to have in stock ready !

  77. Rob says:

    FYI – latest update – my last contact with the installer ‘New World Solar Installations’ was back in April when they still denied they had wired up the boiler original boiler correctly… even though it was proven adn the same faults on the second boiler, they said they would need to arbitrate this to find who was liable for the cost of the new boiler !! disgraceful behavour !!

    New World Solar went into Liquidation about 4 weeks ago so i’m left high and dry.. I’m trying to contact MCS who said that installers have to offer a 2 year installation guarantee as well as the manufacturers warranty… so i am hoping that MCS have something (insurance/an agreement with another installer) in place to cover me for the next 12 months… any thoughts on this?

    Also the same 2 directors from the failed New World Solar have now set up New World Energy in Cheltenham but as a new entity they would have no obligations to their previous companies customers..

    • gwadmin says:

      Hi Rob, Very sorry to hear that. It sounds like you are taking the right route to try and get this problem sorted via the MCS. You may also like to visit this blog/forum which names and shames bad solar firms – http://www.heatmyhome.co.uk/solar-panels/bad-complaints-of-solar-panel-companies-have-your-say#.U3XfU1hdXvg

    • Jason Blake says:

      If your initial deposit / installation was insured as per the RECC requirements by New World Solar, then you should have received a 24 month installation policy in the post. We insure all our MCS installations via QANW, but there are a number of companies that offer this insurance. If you have no policy, then New World Solar may have not insured the installation/deposit from the start. If they were in financial trouble, the insurance company may have refused to offer them cover.

      We install and repair MCZ boilers and have installed around 20 Italian boilers and stoves, all are working fine, yes we have done some upgrades and had some issues, but these are usually resolved quickly, but generally the boilers run well, provided they have been set up correctly. Correctly setting up the boilers and correctly designing the flue, reduces the chances of problems with ignitors, turbulators and braziers. We keep igniter’s in stock and replace them every year to avoid problems.

      This year we are seeing a marked move to Austrian brand pellet boilers, we are fitting and quoting more Froling and ETA auto clean, bulk pellet systems in the sub 30kW domestic market. That has been the main effect of the Domestic RHI scheme. The Grant Spira is also a very good boiler, basic, but reliable and efficient with no buffer tank required, we have fitted 4 units and they have performed very well without any failures. They have been working for more than a year and hassle free.

      Currently installing 3 log gasification boilers from Eco Angus, one 80kW and two 100kW on a Non Domestic RHI scheme. As biomass boilers go, these are heavy, basic and reliable. They are well backed up with spares in the UK, log boilers are generally very reliable and really don’t have many issues after correct set up provided that dry fuel is burnt and they have a decent sized buffer tank. It is however usually an outhouse product due to the space required for buffer tanks.

      I would never do a DIY log boiler install. You miss out on 5% VAT on the whole boiler and installation and you won’t get any Domestic RHI payments. These are usually many thousands of pounds over the 7 years. You are also dealing with more than a thousand litres of very hot pressurised water. If the log boiler is incorrectly fitted and power is lost the log boiler doesn’t go out immediately, so various safety systems are employed to prevent overheating of the boiler and buffer.

  78. JCHLondon says:

    Thank for your informative blog. I do not know these facts about biomass boilers. I only believe on a trusted boiler repair company. They only know how to repair or install a new boiler properly.

  79. MARIA says:

    we have had an mcz musa hydro 15 for 4 years and it is running well, we had it serviced every year. The first company went bust and now the second company has gone bust so yet again we have to find a good and reliable service engineer, one trained by mcz. We are in somerset

    We are good owners and clean the stove regularly, servicing was not essential as we are in an eco house and only use about 1 tonne of pellets a year but hey ho servicing is good for peace of mind, as is flue sweeping

    Now how the heck are we going to find someone to do it for us once a year. Tbh a pellet stove is a nightmare in the making, without follow-up maintenance

  80. Kevin Ellis says:

    I have worked in the industry for over 10 years now and we still seem to have the horror stories of biomass boilers! There are many things to consider when looking for a biomass installation, space, fuel, maintenance, manufacturer and of course price.

    My guidance would be:

    Go for pellet over chip, the reason I say this is that you are getting a better product. If you look for pellet providers make sure they have ENPlus pellets, this means they have to provide you with a moisture content of less than 10% and it also needs to be the size it say’s it is i.e 6mm pellet.

    Use an established company: Do not use a Solar company that are now jumping on the biomass truck, make sure the company has been around for a good number of years and look as if they will be there for 20 years more. This is a big investment that needs looking after, the last thing you want is to be installed and forgotten.

    Ask for a main manufacturers boiler: You may be paying a little bit more for the boiler now but in the long run it will save you a fortune, ones we tend to use are: Hoval (british) HDG (German) and Hertz, others to consider are ETA and Froling.

    If you have any doubts or just want some questions answered please go to our website: cplrenewables.co.uk

    Best wishes

    Kevin

  81. Mike says:

    I have a neighbour who is installing a biomass boiler in an upwind outbuilding. Apart from the proposed 2m high flue, I’d like to know if the boilers are noisy when in constant operation and if there is any smoke or smell associated with them?

    Many thanks.

  82. Hargykid says:

    Hi all
    I could not agree more with the list of things not told to us about biomass.
    I’ve worked on many different biomass boilers and systems. All boilers are capable of good service and fit for purpose if they are specified and installed correctly. I have found numerous cases of incorrect pipe work, no flow control to establish the correct output (kW), which translates to not knowing how much fuel is required to feed it. Most boilers I correct are over fuelling thus burning rich(sooty) or tarry. The flames are slow and lazy and the boiler is in on/off all day as the tank is not being satisfied. Any self respecting commissioning engineer should feel duty bound to set the parameters on each boiler according to the system and it’s duty, and not just light a match, get it hot and walk away. If the boiler is set up properly AS WELL AS the system, then it can be reasonably expected to give good service for many years without breakdown. Those companies who offer multiple breakdown callouts (for a hefty fee) should be ashamed, because if they are doing their jobs properly, there should be a high level of confidence in their work!

  83. CAMCumbria says:

    We are looking at moving from oil to a ETA 350Kw HACK boiler for our busy 30 bedroom hotel in the Lake District. Set up cost is an obvious concern (£90-100,000), but our main problem is confidence in the whole system from installation to daily running to after sales service/breakdown/maintenance etc. We cannot afford to have the system fail at any time. This is crucial. Basically, are these things bulletproof given the correct maintenance and installation?

    Secondly, are these boilers noisy or do they have any ‘side effects’ that your average tripadvisor trigger-happy hotel guest might pick up on!

    I hope you understand the concerns and reservations we have. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Hargykid says:

      There are many stories, good and bad, about biomass boilers. You are absolutely right about getting a reputable company to install and maintain the system. It is crucial to get the boiler output sized correctly, so that it can match the load easily without switching off/on all the time. A thermal store will also be very important to size correctly. Biomass boilers are slow to heat and cool, (relatively speaking) while a gas or oil system is almost immediate. Biomass boilers are generally quiet, but larger units can be more noticeable due to fan size and wood transport mechanics. I am a commissioning engineer so I’m biased I suppose, but set up correctly, a biomass system can be very rewarding financially, and very easy to maintain if done properly and regularly. Eta is a very good choice. I’ve worked with them and completed their training course, and I must say I was VERY impressed with their re-working of fuel and ash handling, ease of maintenance and their attention to detail.
      See my comment just prior to your post. I believe biomass engineers should be regulated to a higher degree, but we have to live with what we have.
      Biomass IS a big investment, but there are many success stories to be told about them. Choose wisely and you will be pleasantly surprised. If you wish to contact me with any questions please feel free to do so. Happy shopping.

    • Kevin Ellis says:

      HI

      We would be very happy to discuss your project with you, we use ETA’s and I have to say they are a very good boiler and very reliable if installed correctly. We generally remote monitor our installations, yes there is a cost involved in that but the first thing you know of any problem is us phoning you to say we are on route. We also over engineer on sensitive sites, this means back end protection, twin head pumps(if one fails the other continues to force water round the system) easy commissioning packs and most importantly I feel for you is we install a top up/back up oil option. By doing all of this unless you have a power cut you should never be without heat.

      Please feel free to email me on: kevin.elis@cplindustries.co.uk

      We also offer maintenance and service packages as well as being a wood pellet provider ourselves, so we become an energy partner not just an installer.

      Hope this helps.

  84. SCBEvans says:

    I had a Grant pellet boiler installed in February in an outbuilding to replace an internal oil boiler. It has worked flawlessly so far but I am starting to be concerned about fuel use.
    Based on historic info about oil use and the nominal heat loss of the building, my installer predicted that my fuel cost would be about 75% of oil. In fact, it is looking as if it is about 50% more. And that is even with a very mild winter.
    Recently, I switched off the central heating and left the boiler on for hot water. It was still using about 10 x 10kg bags a week, which works out at £25 to heat hot water for three people. That suggests to me that a huge amount of energy is being wasted as it would cost a fraction of that to heat water electrically.
    Even during the coldest weeks, the boiler was using about 13 bags a week. Oil used to cost me about £1,000 a year for heating/hot water.
    I appreciate that I have only been able to monitor the boiler over a short period and next winter should provide a better test. However, as more and more people switch to biomass, I would be interested to know whether others also find that fuel cost predictions tend to be optimistic in the industry.

    • Hargykid says:

      Do you have a copy of the combustion analysis (flue gas). The flue gas temp should be in the region of 160 – 180 degrees C. Oxygen should be 8 – 10%. CO less than 400, but 50 – 100 should be easily achievable. CO2 around10%ish. The ash should be light grey and fine. The darker the ash the more it tends towards incomplete combustion, and if there is unburned fuel in the ash, it definitely is not combusting properly.

      Feel free to call if you wish. Tap the name tag to access my web site for contact details.

      Russ L. (Hargykid)

    • Pete says:

      We have had a domestic (12kW) pellet boiler for about 5 years now and fuel use has definitely been a saving over the old gas boiler that we replaced.
      We have a drafty and not very well insulated terrace house and the gas bill was around £1000 per year. We now use around 2 tonnes of pellets per year (so <£500).

      This winter we experimented with turning the boiler down but having the heating on almost constantly (including overnight which we've not done before). This proved to be more expensive even though winter was milder – about 20kg per day (about the same as your 13 bags a week) for the winter months. This has meant we'll probably end up using about 2.5 tonnes this year.

      When we run the boiler for just hot water (heating up a normal family sized hot water tank) then we use about 20kg per week and always have sufficient hot water any time of day.

    • Dan Hunt says:

      Hi, Im regularly put 80 kgs of pellets in my boiler every 2-3 day not 100kgs a week like the sales person said I would when we were sold boiler, its cost me over the year nearly £1500.00 and that was with a mild winter, havent yet had my first RHI payment be interesting to see if thats anywhere the suppliers predictions too.
      watch out for the cowboys, theres loads about, sure my oil boiler was cheaper

  85. Ferryhub says:

    We are a large community centre and have a quote for installing 2/3 or 4 90kw ETA biomass boilers,plant room and all necessary equip. I have read the many problems re these installations and am at a loss what to do. Our current gas system is in bad repair. We have a fuel supply within 2miles of our premises. Can anyone answer me , should we be scared of biomass installations.

    • Hargykid says:

      I understand your concern about biomass, and the fact that it is a sizeable investment to undertake.

      I have been commissioning biomass boiler for over five years and previous to that spent a lifetime in process control, a good part of that in power generation.
      I love biomass work and it is a great heat source medium. The biggest problems for biomass are poor fuel, bad installations and poor set up (commissioning).
      The boilers are generally all at a good standard, some of course being a better quality. ETA is a very good make and you should not be wary of these. A reputable installer would consult with you all the way, sell you a boiler matched to your requirement, sell you a system (tanks, pumps etc) correctly specified for your load and set it up so that you have the BEST combustion (most efficient and cleanest) possible. This will obviously ensure maintenance is quicker, easier, and therefore cheaper by not needling replacement fans and hearths that have burned out.
      It is more difficult to find that installer who fits that bill, but they are out there. With RHI you get the financial benefit of course which makes it very attractive.
      If you would like to chat about your requirements please feel free to call. Tap hargykid at the top to access my web site for contact details. Don’t worry, I won’t try to sell you a boiler…
      (Unless you want me to)

    • Dear Ferryhub,

      I agree with HargyKid. ETA are a good manufacturer, we are certanly a fan of thier technology.

      A further note is because of the income these systems generate via the RHI, it is possible to have a system installed for free, where the financer gets the RHI and you in retrun get the use of the boiler (but have to pay fuel costs). Against gas the fuel costs can be slightly higher, so this may not be the best option. Otherwise traditional asset based finance (i.e. a loan) can cover your costs, where the debt is covered by the boiler income with change.

      Having multiple boilers is a more expensive tha a single larger boiler but it does build in some failsafe capacity. If one boielr goes down then you still have the back up of the reminaing. Althgouh if properly maintained the back up issue is somewhat mute.

      It sounds like you’ll have a great system!

      Kind regards,
      Anthony Agnew
      http://www.teec.co

  86. Hans says:

    Hi all!

    I am interested in purchasing an apartment in Germany. I’ve found a new 15-unit apartment building that I like very much, but I am concerned about the heating system.

    They are planning to use the Fröling P4 – 48 KW wood-pellet boiler (http://www.froeling.com/en/products/pellet/froling-p4-pellet.html) to generate heat to a underfloor heating system (http://www.cosmo-info.de/produkte/waerme/fussbodenheizung/ ) that will be installed in all rooms of the apartments. Moreover, the apartments will also be provided with hot water from the same wood-pellet boiler.

    Can anybody tell me if a Fröling P4 – 48 KW wood-pellet boiler would be good enough to provide heating and hot water to all 15 apartments without a problem?

    Most of the apartments have an area of 90 m² , and the total area of all 15 apartments is 1360 m².

    Any comment will be greatly appreciated,

    • Dear Hans,
      It depends largely on the insulation of the property. If the building is well insulated then it won’t need such a high output .
      Also a large buffer tank will give help the system supply, as it will allow more heat to be stored form the boiler for peak times.

      Short of running full heat load calcs, which measure each room and its external wall and window dimensions along with their U values (thermal conductivety), I’m afraid its very hard to tell.

      Froiling, whilst we’ve not yet installed any are a good quality manufacturer.

      Sorry we coudln’t help more,

      Anthony
      http://www.teec.co

  87. Justine says:

    Hi we are looking at a Nibe biomass boiler. Does anyone have any experiences of this manufacturer?
    It is for a domestic building . Thanks

    • Steve says:

      They are not bad. At least this is the feedback I had from one of my clients. The cost comes between six and ten thousand pounds. There are two models avaiable- the F2015 and the F2025. The F2015 can produce either a 6KW, 8KW or 11KW capacity output and the F2025 has a 14KW output capability.

  88. David says:

    Hi

    Has anyone had a biomass system installed by Prescient Power?
    They seem very impressive but until it is running I wont really know if they are any good. I am intending to use a Froling boiler

    • Lou says:

      Might be worth asking if you can go and look at a similar installation they have done and have a chat with at least one customer about their system/experiences of the company. Its certainly something we do as we appreciate that when a customer is spending so much money they want to be 100% sure they are choosing the right company. We have personally had dealings (addressing the issues with yet another badly installed Biomass system) with someone who is taking a large impressive Worksop based company to small claims court because of the problems they have had and are having with their Biomass boiler. MCS and RECC response has been they have a huge waiting list of complaints they are dealing with, which speaks for itself so have advised them to deal with it through small claims. In this case the large company were subcontracting the work so perhaps something else to be aware of

  89. Ralph says:

    Does anyone have knowledge or views of wood pellet price and availability over the next few years? Will the RHI drive up pellet price? As far as I can make out the RHI in my case makes installation just about (hopefully) cost neutral so relative pricing of pellets to oil will determine whether I should go ahead with ETA boi!er and 6 tonne hopper. The difference in cost has to be balanced by the service costs and hassle. Clearly there are environmental advantages to biomass. Thanks

    • Dear Ralph,

      A further consideration on the price of the pellets is the delivery cost. If you have a 6 tonne hopper, then you might expect to have 5 tonne deliveries. The smalles trucks run around 8 tonne deliveries. Delivery costs is pretty much fixed, so a 5 tonne load and an 8 tonne load will have the same delivery cost. Meaning overall the 8 tonne load will be cheaper.

      Space allowing we tend to recomend ten tonne silos and above in order to reduce the longer term costs.

      We supply and FiT ETA boilers, a quality Austrian brand, you’ll be very happy with.

      Servicing costs should be braodly similar to a oil boiler perhpas £170 a year. Depending on the oil boiler your replacing (i.e. its efficiency), from a new high spec oil boiler you might expect 10% savings on oil, for an old one perhpas up to 35% savings. The boiler efficiency should be on a plate on the side of it or be able to look it up. Then run this against the ETA efficiency, taking off perhaps 5% from the quoted figure to allow for real world conidtions. Then run this against you annual kWH usage to compare costs. Your installer should run a comparison for you showing there workings.

      If prices do go up then imports should start coming in which could create a ceiling for the price. Over the last two years prices have gone up on wood pellets by around 5-7%. I’m not sure what the oil equivalent is.

      Kind regards,

      Anthony Agnew
      http://www.teec.co

  90. Caroline says:

    Hello,

    Does anyone have experience of Strebel boilers? Apparently they make boilers for more expensive brands which are then ‘rebadged’. I believe they are quite new to this country and am keen to learn as much as possible about them before making a decision which will affect my home for many years. Naturally I am looking to avoid some of the awful breakdowns and problems some of the posters on here have experienced.

    Many thanks.

    • Gareth says:

      Looks like a burnit boiler, from the pictures on the website.

      Choice is partly down to what you want to burn and where you are in terms of which brands you can use for satisfying the emissions controls.

      Boilers that burn logs aren’t complicated, very very few moving parts when you look closely.
      Once you know what you want to use as a fuel it focuses your search, just remember you need space for storage. I burn around 15 tons of wood, that’s a huge pile!.

      But wood is cheaper than oil :)

  91. Bob Roberts says:

    One thing which you all have failed to identify is the emission level and will your boiler comply to the RHI level?
    We have installed over 400 ceramic filters units on biomass wood fired boilers throughout Europe and boiler combustion is dependant on the quality of both boiler and fuel! !

    • Wil Williams says:

      We have rubbish Burnit log boilers and am fascinated by the ceramic filters which may enable us to clail RHI (eventually !!)

  92. David Knox says:

    Some very interesting comments here, most of which Treco couldn’t agree with more. A well-installed biomass system will be a joy to have, but a badly designed and installed system can be a nightmare. In the 8 years we have been going, we have literally seen it all. With so many new and inexperienced biomass installation companies entering the marketplace, the best advice I can give anyone considering a system is to work with someone who has a long track record installation-wise and who can take you to see a working system. An added bonus if they will leave you alone with the person that runs the system as their experience will inform what yours is likely to be.

  93. Garth says:

    The list of “10 things” sounds to me like you’ve bought a very cheap boiler and/or you’ve had a bad install, probably both.

    Top quality boilers clean themselves and mine runs for month after month without missing a beat and if you’re emptying your ash pan more than once a month then the boiler clearly isn’t a very good one. “Weekly check” ? Goodness me what on earth have you bought? I don’t open the door on my Hargassner boiler from one month to the next and it burned over 4 tonnes of pellets before I have to empty the Ash Bin. When I did my “Spring check”, I opened the door, confirmed everything was correct ie: it was clean, there was no clinker, the door seal fine, I just closed the door again and … job done. Roll on the Wintertime.

    My tips are:

    1 – Buy an Austrian Boiler, mine is Hargassner, I can’t fault it, though it was over twice the price of the MCZ equivalent. My friend ought an ETA and he’s never had a problem either. My installer gave me a SEVEN YEAR WARRANTY on the boiler and electrical components.

    2 – Get a Heating Engineer, not a plumber, to install it. The two are not the same thing.

    3 – Find somebody with MCS but who also has a track record of larger commercial heating systems as those system show that they know what they are doing. Commercial heating has far more demanding standards than MCS, Just looked at all the lousy dangerous Solar PV installations carried out by so called MCS Approved Solar Installers.

    Garth

  94. Darren says:

    The only way to make sure you get the right Biomass for your requirements is to get multiple quotes. If you about to shell out £12k plus you need a good MCS approved installer with experience and who’ll provide previous customers to contact. There are some great online companies who can get quotes for you –Boiler Guide

  95. Bob says:

    Totally agree that it is essential you use a qualified heating engineer with the right credentials to support your installation. The other major issue is flue design and especially for domestic installs. Make sure that your installer provides a system design to you as part of their service. Don’t buy cheap because you will be buying problems. The RHI should pay for your system over 7 years with the continued benefit of cheaper fuel costs for the remainder of the lifetime of the boiler (usually 20 years). So budget your purchase to be paid for by the fuel savings and RHI for the first 7 years. The installer should be able to give you these figures.
    There are installers out there who don’t know enough about this business. Always ask for references from your chosen installer. Buy a good boiler such as an ETA or Ekoheat and make sure you buy good backup and long term support from an expert.

  96. Henry says:

    I am in the process of an installation from hell. started in March was told it would be a 2 to 4 days installation and nearly 6 months later still at it. Used reputable local heating engineers who have done numerous commercial installations. They told me MCS accredited but discovered that was not for domestic Biomass but for ground source heat pumps and solar. They are now going through the process of getting MCS accreditation. I am concerned that when MCS come for the inspection they may fail it due to the crap service I have had as I understand they look at the full package including customer service. This concerns me that I will not get my RHI payments at the current rate as I obviously cannot apply until I get my certificate. Has any one else had a similar experience?

  97. John says:

    Has anyone had any experiences with a Burnit Pelleburn boiler?

  98. tallia says:

    can anyone help please??? I have the budget for a Windhager but cannot decide between a windhager and KWB. its a 45kw boiler. The installer says both good but leans towards KWB . As there is ‘only’ 1k between the prices I am keen to hear of anyone’s thoughts/experiences. Thank you

  99. Mark says:

    Hi
    I’m looking for any information on La Nordica Extraflame pellet boilers Caldaia HP 14 or any general info on La Nordica equipment in general……

    • Gareth says:

      Search “la nordica stoves”, they’re made in Italy.
      It’s a little confusing, the name suggests Scandinavian origins

  100. George says:

    Hi there. Very interesting blog site. We are thinking of having an ETA 32kW installed without a buffer tank. We wanted to buy a quality boiler and this blog would appear to support our choice of manufacturer, but I have two questions:
    1. Will it be a problem not having a buffer tank? (there is no room for it)
    2. Lots of people mention “flue design” – what is it about flue design that we should be aware of?

    Many thanks for your help

    George

    • Gareth says:

      Which version of the ETA boiler you were looking at and what fuel ?.

      • George says:

        Thanks for replying. It is an ETA PC 32 – a wood pellet boiler.

        • Gareth says:

          Seems like a good boiler, but I would definitely wouldn’t contemplate any install without a buffer tank.

          Solid fuel isn’t like a combi boiler, they aren’t designed to be turned from off to full power such as when having a bath or shower as the buffer tank ensures clean and efficent burning and acts like a storage battery ensuring you don’t run out of heat over the course of the day.

          I would steer away from any installer that didn’t want to fit a buffer tank, if space is a concern there are slim line tanks available and without over complicating the advice, you can’t replace a equal kW gas boiler for a wood version.

          • George says:

            Thanks for the advice. Any comments re the flue design? I guess there are standards for safety reasons but flue design seems to get a lot of mentions here but I thought a flue was a flue..?

          • Gareth says:

            Well, a flue is a flue to some degree as almost all flues are stainless twin wall.
            Just ensure it’s fitted with a draught regulator, this ensures the draught remains constant in high winds.

        • We have installed several ETA PU15 and PC25’s without buffer tanks. However, a PC32 would need a large 300litre hot water tank instead with 1.5m2 of heat exchange surface area instead of a buffer. We usually have to use a twin coil solar unvented tank with both coils linked together to get an adequate heat exchanger size. The boiler needs full control of the heating circuit and hot water cylinder, so for a retrofit the plumbing will often need quite a few changes, additional sensors and additional pipes will need to be run from the boiler to the hot water tank. Once all is running, these boilers are a fantastic, they run really quietly and look far better than any other boilers I have seen. They also have the advantage of being able to take the inlet air from outside and can easily be internet connected for remote operation and diagnosis. As you can see I am a fan of these baby ETA units.

  101. Andy says:

    Has anyone had an Irish WES boiler installed (Wood energy solutions) I have been offered an install but can’t seem to find out a lot about this boiler it’s being supplied from North Yorkshire company.
    Please help

    • Gareth says:

      Looking at the pictures on the website, and the lack of any documents regarding the MCS accreditation. Such accreditation would document who produces and tests them.

      But it looks very similar to the Trianco Greenflame External Biomass Boiler

      • Andy says:

        Thanks. Would you stay clear and go with one the bigger names ? I am concerned about on going service costs. As I currently pulling out a 3 year old Grant condensing oil boiler and not sure if it’s right choice. However as my house is 1700s farm house it’s poor on installation. And listed so can’t do a lot.

  102. Debbie says:

    Any feed back on the Angus orligno 200 gasification log boiler ? We were going to have the MCZ tecnika but it’s been taken off the RHI eligibility product list .

  103. Gareth says:

    The Eco Angus are a good range of boilers, can’t fault the Angus Super that I’ve been running for the last two years.

    The Angus Super is much cheaper than the Orligano 200, build quality is supposedly better but why spend more when you don’t need too.

    Both are MCS and Listed on the Defra list of smoke exempted appliance, just ensure you have the correct sized buffer tank.

  104. Richard says:

    Hi, im currently building my own home in the scottish borders and looking to a fit biomass boiler. has any one fitted the sht tda thermodaul 40, and if so are they any good?

  105. Helen says:

    Does anyone know anything about the Think GB biomass boilers? I think they are NWS boilers. We may be eligible for a free one but want to make sure it will work out better & cheaper than our current oil one- we normally pay around £60-80 a month for oil..

  106. Steve says:

    Has anyone purchased or have any experience with Faci Caldai boilers please?

  107. Bruno says:

    Hi,
    Like all heating systems, a pellets boiler needs:
    – To be properly calibrated for the house.
    – To be properly installed (some installers are not that competent…)
    – To burn DIN+ pellets.

    Now there are obvious differences between a high quality boiler and a cheap one…. Windhager or Okofen are safe bets, cheap unknown imports less so!

    Pellet heating does work extremely well when done right.

  108. Pellet Mole says:

    The old addage, “pay cheap, pay twice” springs to mind….there are very good reasons why Austrian/German kit is more expensive than others. That said, if an inexperienced fitter installs the best boiler in the world they will inevitably make a mess of the job.

    Flue design is a vital health and safety issue – CO poisoning from biomass is as deadly as it is from gas or oil.

    Don’t forget the pellet store!

    Please ensure your designers/installers are familiar with the UK Pellet Council’s Guidance on pellet stores:
    The UKPC has a pellet storage and handling guide which comes from over twenty years of wood pellet experiences in Germany. To download this guide visit here:
    http://www.r-e-a.net/upload/ukpc_storage_guide.pdf

    Pellet Mole.

    • keithywig says:

      Hi guys

      very interesting threads- thanks for sharing your experiences and expertise.

      We are going biomass pellets for our old detached house, probably about 35kwh ,but can’t decide between the firms who do the lot but keep the Government Grant and the other option ,- to buy a system/installation/servicing pack.

      Any thoughts?

      Keithywig

      • Craig Lackie says:

        My best advice Keith is to keep the government grant and go for a system/installation/servicing pack. There’s a reason that companies want to keep it – there’s some good returns to be had!

      • Denise says:

        We have just had a biomass boiler installation to replace our aged oil boiler, we opted for NWS who do the installation and supplied a ‘pod’ (shed) for free, they claim the government grant. However, its a great option if you need a boiler, are on oil and don’t have the ready cash for the boiler and installation. The pellet fuel is cheaper for starters, the boiler is maintained by NWS, critically its working more efficiently than the old boiler and there are a number of people locally who have the same boiler and the company are only an hour away. They have committed to 1000 boilers already so there should be sufficient expertise and availability of an engineer should it develop an issue. Very pleased with the boilers credentials and 97% efficiency. They recommend Billingtons pellets so we should not have issues with pellets getting blamed. I think the expensive possibility that the old boiler could have failed equally as much as a new boiler was worth the risk. So far so good.

  109. Andrew Parton says:

    Has anyone had any experiance with the Ocofen range of pellet boilers

  110. IanC says:

    I am being offered at 25KW ETA wood pellet boiler, a hopper with filling tube and some kind of new tank (but not a thermal store) fitted to existing heating system for 30K. Replacing two gas boilers – the burner will go in the same place as the boilers (moderate size outhouse) and the pellet hopper about 10ft away in a en existing store on the other side of drive.

    Seller has already called back with a 2k off because we doing some work in the area – which always makes me suspicious.

  111. Dominic says:

    Hi

    We used to sell Biomass boilers and for all the reasons you mentioned we stopped!

    A better and healthier way to heat any property is Bee Infrared Heating, no maintenance, no chopping trees or shipping/trucking pellets and they provide a healthier heat as they heat the mass of the room rather than heating air.

    Its only new to the UK not Europe and the panels are made in the UK!

    Dom

  112. Paul says:

    Has anyone any experience of Ekogren range of wood pellet boilers (polish manufacture)? We are looking at a 25kw boiler?

    • Allan says:

      Hi Paul,

      I have an EG 25kw pellet boiler (Polish manufacture) installed. I live in a very rural area with no gas and qualify for the RHI. It was put in during May this year and the installation was professionally done so far as I can tell as a ‘non professional’. I load from 10kg bags which are delivered on a 1 ton pallet. There were some issues in the early stages and I put these down to bedding in and getting properly set up for what I needed. What was excellent was that whenever there was an issue both the installer and the importer were working together to sort things out. It turned out they discovered an electrical earth fault with my garage electrical supply which had been combining with a defective heat gun which had been causing my issues. Once these were rectified there has not been a single problem. In the process of the investigation to find the wiring issue I offered to work with the team to upgrade and update the manual and the words and phrases used on the display panel as these had been clearly translated ‘very formally’ from Polish into English and needed to be made more user friendly. During this time we had excellent co-operation from Poland with emails and texts and pictures going back and forth until the issue was found. I was lucky enough to have a controller upgrade during the process to find the earth fault. I am told the revised wording in the form of a ‘firmware’ update will be installed for me in the near future. Whilst it is not winter yet and so I have only used hot water so far and the heating a couple of times all seems to be well. The boiler seems to produce negligible amounts of ash. I run it from the same controller I used for the oil burner which was taken out and I am looking forward to being able to view what the boiler is doing from my iPad app via my WiFi once the interface is installed.

      I hope this helps.

      Allan

    • BART says:

      Hi Paul,

      Let me know if you are still interested in EkoGren, we are their distributor in UK and can recommend one of our installers to you.

      Contact me @ bart@mowlandltd.co.uk

  113. Tom says:

    I just came across this blog and as an installer find it quite interesting. Some of the points mentioned are correct:
    -The boiler will require “considerable more time and effort to ensure it runs efficiently and gives long service” compared to a gas boiler
    -The weekly checks and clean-outs you are required to carry out will not prevent breakdowns from occurring
    But some of the other points are the result of customers not being fully informed before purchasing the boiler.
    A responsible installer will inform a prospective purchaser of the potential issues and maintenance commitments required so that the customer can make an informed decision about whether this is right for them. I tell my customers that you will get to know me well because there will be hiccups and I will be back. It all goes back to the fact that the customer should be well informed so that a good relationship is built between the customer and installer.

  114. Julia says:

    We installed an Okofen 20kw about two years ago. It has been fantastic with brilliant service from the installer – Sustuburn.

    We put a lot of effort into speccing it correctly – checking fuel usage and seeing what we really need not what a crude calculation based on floor area would suggest. We actually only required one half the size our house size would suggest and that has even been modulated down to 17kw to ensure the burning cycle is optimum at about 60min.

    Our RHI has now been approved and we are delighted. Okafen are an Austrian make – top notch but worth the money and the RHI more than compensates for the outlay and fuel costs.

    • Sue Williams says:

      Have you got a buffer tank in your system? I have been given a quote for an okofen pellet boiler system but they are not recommending a buffer tank. Thanks

  115. John Brown says:

    Hi
    Is anybody aware of any service engineers for Gerkos wood pellet burners in Northern Ireland. Would appreciate any information.

    • Niall Kelly says:

      There is a man who works for H & A mechanical Draperstown Ivan Moore who works with these boilers as he looked at mine.

  116. Nick C says:

    Hi, I’m thinking of putting in a biomass boiler but am concerned by some of the installers. Has anyone got any experience of Eco home Services based in Bournemouth? They cold called us from a call centre and sent a sales guy round on Friday evening. They are offering an ETA boiler with heat store etc for £25k.
    Also are there any problems with the supply of pellets that people have experienced?
    Any help greatly received
    Nick

    • Hi Nick,
      I do not find any particularly positive or negative reviews of the company you mentioned. If you are looking for a second quote, we also install, ETA, we are based in Bridgwater Somerset. I have completed 50 plus biomass installations around in the South west and lots of happy biomass pellet customers. If you let me know where you are I could arrange a visit to an existing domestic ETA installation.

      Jason Blake

    • tom says:

      Nick, just a caution – a friends 86 year old mum was contacted by a call centre followed by visit. They visited giving it the hard sell stating that the RHI was going to drop 10% and she needed to sign, more worryingly is that they said the 25 year old gas flue that’s has a 18ft horizontal run is fine for the biomass boiler. Fortunately the ladies son was present on the second visit and got rid of the rather sheepish salesman.

      Its a great shame that biomass is being hijacked in this nature. As a word of advice, look for a company who has been trading for a while and can take you to customers who have had a biomass boiler installed for a couple of years.

  117. Rachel M says:

    Hi, we are in the final stages of deciding on a boiler/installer. We need a 25kw biomass which we will have to bag fill as space is limited. My local installer is very keen on the ekoheat (which I haven’t heard of until yesterday whereas I had been looking at a Froling P4 or maybe an Okofen as we would have room for one of their small fabric silos. I am keen to go for the best quality we can afford on the assumption we get what we pay for (naive?). Comments!
    Thanks

  118. gavin says:

    Phew just finished reading this thread to help confirm my decision to put a pellet system in a cottage refurb. One issue which concerned me was the cost comparisons between kerosene and pellets on the pellet vendor websites. My own calculations didn’t back up their claims but what is needed is some independent calculations which are updated regularly. I have found this site when carries out a regular (used to be monthly) comparison of the cost of fuels.

    http://www.nottenergy.com/energy_cost_comparison/

    I have a few quibbles (eg it doesn’t say whether the pellets are bagged or blown and the oil price has fallen significantly) but it does refute some of the claims by the pellet vendors. Currently oil is cheaper than pellets. Anyway i’ve decided to go with oil rather than sacrifice a lot of valuable space with a pellet system.

    • Hargykid says:

      Gavin
      Has no one mentioned RHI? Renewable Heat Incentive is a tariff paid to you by the govt to encourage biomass. Have a look on their website for details and tariff. The pay back time for your boiler could be three to five years depending on cost, usage etc etc. worth checking out.

      Regards Hargykid

  119. chris says:

    i just stumbled across this blog site, im on the lincs/norfolk border, with a 3 bed house on electric storage heaters and want to reduce my bills. can anyone recommend an mcs accredited company nr me please, so i can talk about my options?

  120. Niall Kelly says:

    Hi has anyone heard of the Burnit wood pellet boiler range 40KW , I have had Gerkros wood pellet boiler fitted for 7 years which I want to replace. I would like to know the best averaged priced boiler I should be looking at? I want something that as little maintenance , strong reliable parts especially glow plugs. I have had a lot of problems with my first wood pellet boiler so would appreciate any advice. Thanks

    • Seamus says:

      Hi Niall
      In relation to you question about Burnit Pellet boilers. I’ve never actually seen one in operation but have studied the literature available on them and the seem a fairly low spec boiler and this I think is reflected in the price.
      I’ve been selling and installing biomass heating systems from 2006 and one of the most important things to consideration when compering two different boilers is the dry weight of each appliance,(Heavier being better) as this will indicate what has gone into making it.
      there are many other factors to take into consideration of course.
      The very fact you are having to replace the original boiler after such a short time speaks volumes.
      As indicated by many contributors to this site, the cheapest installation may not work out the the most economical in the long run.

  121. David Shotton says:

    Can anyone recommend a domestic biomass installer in North Yorkshire??

    Cheers David

  122. Con says:

    Hi
    Am looking at installing a biomass boiler to replace current oil boiler. The company the came to quote reckoned the best boiler they would suggest would be a Hargassner – but I haven’t seen any feedback or mention of this make, although it is Austrian, and they seem to have a good reputation

    • Hargykid says:

      Hi Con
      Having worked on Hargassner boilers for over five years as a commissioning engineer, I can honestly recommend them as a top notch manufacturer.
      Most biomass boilers are pretty good, and the makers certainly want to carve a good reputation for themselves.
      The common Achilles heel for them (manufacturers have no control here) is finding the reputable installer who not only assembles it correctly, but who in the first instance has sized it correctly and designed the system correctly.
      Commissioning it, (setting it up to combust efficiently), is also hugely important as this will affect the lifespan and effort involved in maintaining it.
      I generally find that all boilers are fit for purpose, IF they are installed in the system as they should be.
      Be wary of a commissing engineer who lights it up, gets it hot thens says “job done”. Remember, it is you who will be paying the fuel bill. The commissioning engineer can throw as much fuel as he wants to achieve output but… His job is save you money!!!

      Hargassner? Absolutely!

      Regards
      Hargykid.

  123. Derek Bates says:

    I’m sorry the OP has had a miserable experience with her pellet boiler. My tips for a happier experience are :-
    1. Word of mouth ——— Get feed back about installers, boilers & pellet suppliers direct from people already running systems.
    2. Buy quality ————– Skimping on the cost of the boiler and ancillaries will cost dear in the long run.
    3. Read the small print — A some unscrupulous installers will offer an inexpensive install which carries a VERY expensive service contract. Avoid them like the plague.
    4. Use quality pellets from a reputable supplier and supervise delivery if blown to make sure they aren’t fed in too fast.

  124. Allan says:

    Hello,

    This is quite an interesting blog, thanks. I might be in a slightly different position to most people on here. I am a British expat living in Italy and I was considering getting a pellet stove. Either one that heats a single room or perhaps one that will sit alongside the current gas boiler and provide hot water for the house. We are in the countryside so mains gas is not available and we have a hideously expensive GPL system run by a thieving company called Liquigas. Italy seems to have quite a long history of pellet stoves with quite a few companies offering installation. There is a manufacturer I was looking at called EdilKamin; there’s even a shop nearby that stocks their stoves and does installations. Anyone have any thoughts on/ experience with EdilKamin? The Italian government have a good incentive scheme where they reimburse 50% of the cost so it may be worth taking the plunge. The guy in the shop was saying they could install a system that runs alongside the GPL system with the possibility of switching between the two. I was hoping to get rid of the GPL entirely but perhaps this isn’t the cleverest approach. Thoughts?

    Cheers
    Allan

  125. John says:

    Unfortunately the word breakdown is scary reality. Trianco Greenflame (using pellets) installed along with a buffer vessel just over 2 weeks ago, this morning (Sunday) it is not working, error ‘system blocked’, after removing all the pellets from the hopper and burner the error disappeared, on refilling, it is making the right noises but the burner still won’t ignite, I guess this would contribute to the fuel saving if we didn’t have to use the electric immersion heater for hot water and electric fan heaters for heat until the installer opens on Monday and sends an engineer out sometime after that, I am starting to visualise higher energy bills on top of a hefty installation bill this year.
    Could this be the next con, already been stung for solar hot water that doesn’t work most of the year?

    • Terry Bloomfield says:

      Hi John, had a Bioflame 28kw biomas pellet boiler installed Sept 2014, this unit is same as Trianco and I’m told comes from the same factory, had many problems, unit keeps blocking, had problem with flue fan which was caked a black tar, boiler people blame pellets pellet people blame wrong settings on boiler, what a nightmare, had oild boiler in for 14yeard no problems, this morning blocked 3 times in an hour, product not suitable for purchase, all annoyed customers need to get together.

    • karen says:

      Hi John did you get a solution to your issue? Ours does exactly same green flame 25. Goes through motions but won’t ignite. Then we clean out pellets and start again….Still happens. Waiting for trianco and installer to come back to me. Triancos website is down so panicking in case they have gone bankrupt. Not thrilled as it was -5 this morning.

  126. Paul Wieczorek says:

    I would add the following warning to the problems already mentioned (many of which I have experienced with the wood pellet boiler I have had installed). Ask to see a sample of their Certificate of Compliance or Completion before awarding the contract/project. Not having these certificates may leave your insurance vulnerable. Also, ask to see copies of the training certificates of the people doing any service or repair work, otherwise you’ll be paying for them to learn on the job. If the installer is a member of HETAS, MCS or REAL, theoretically, you shouldn’t have a problem. But, this is not always the case.

  127. Mark says:

    Hi.
    Just had a quote to install a shed (pod) with a Trianco greenflame 25kw with buffer and 1 tonne hopper for £23k

    Company is Euro Energy services does anyone have any experience with either company installation or the boiler?

    Ta

  128. Jayson says:

    Hi.

    I run a guest house in North Yorkshire and concidering changing out the oil boiler (10yrs old) for a WES 18KW pellet system. The figures being shown regarding the RHI, cost of running and fuel saving all look fine and profitable (surprise surprise).

    My concern is the reliablity. Running a guest house, it is important that i have constant hot water and heating when required. Any interuption to services due to a boiler breaking down (and on a regular occurance) could have a huge impact to the business. The oil boiler maybe 10yr old but is 94% efficient and does the job its meant to. Am i about to spend £18k on a Green System that breaks down more than it works?

    So the questions i have is:
    Has anyone had a WES BioMass boiler installed?
    Is it and cost effect as these companies state?
    Is the WES system a reliable one?

    Any help would be very much appreciated.

    Thank you in advance.
    Regards
    Jayson

    • Dawn Hubbard says:

      We have a WES , and i say don’t do it! one year on and we still have no hot water or heating….
      Is it GBS bio mass installing it? lots of promises and no follow ons.

    • Hargykid says:

      Hi Jayson
      I would support what Dawn says, inasmuch as be careful which installer you choose. It’s probably more important than which boiler you choose, as boiler manufacturers generally produce reasonable to good quality machines and it’s the installation and service which lets the whole thing down. Properly designed systems allow the boiler to do what it should correctly, and save/earn you money while doing so. Biomass boiler operation differs from gas or oil by having different heat up, safety and control characteristics which many installers aren’t savvy with, and once the money has changed hands can’t, or won’t, put right things they’ve forgotten or didn’t understand. This makes calling them back a waste of time anyway.
      Tap my name tag if you would like a chat to get more pointers as knowledge of pitfalls and possible concerns can help make a more informed choice before taking the plunge.

      Best regards and good luck

  129. richard says:

    i have had an eta hack 200kw running on a commercial premises since january last year I read up on it prior to instal and used a very large buffer tank 14000 litre so the boiler almost never turns off it just modulates, the tank is an old distillery tank and I paid to have it insulated cost about £4000 the eta has run extremely well and is very stable burning wood chip. my experience of quotes is that they are very variable for my job they ranged between £62000 and £105000 for exactly the same thing same boiler same spec obviously we went for the lower quote. there are companies profiteering from the rhi i have found prices for the same boiler this time a 500kw ranging from £62000 to £100000.
    I have attached a link to a digital catalogue from spain that helpfully has some prices in it for domestic boilers as well, look very closely it is in euros of course http://issuu.com/igniwat/docs/catalogo_igniwat_v1_julio_2014

  130. Gill says:

    We purchased an MCZ Compact 24 two years ago and had problems with it from day one. The boiler broke down on numerous occasions over the next 18 months The company who installed it have gone bust and we were left in March of this year with no heating or hot water (yet again) and nowhere to turn.
    Because the installation company had lapsed their membership with the MCS, we had no way to take action against them and no hope of getting our boiler fixed under warranty to a condition where we felt it would be reliable. As I have seen in previous posts, it’s the same recurring issues that cause the failures; igniters, overheating thermostats that blow out the burn pots and the motherboards.
    The manufacturer didn’t want to know and didn’t even bother to reply to my letters – they got the British distributor to call me and offer me a new igniter as a ‘goodwill gesture’ as the boiler was 18 months old, even though they had no idea what was wrong with it and it was still under warranty. They refused to even come out and compile a report on the boiler unless I agreed to a repair (only to replace the igniter, even though I knew that both the motherboard and burn pot were damaged), which I refused on the grounds that I wanted a replacement boiler. We have had nothing in writing from them at all – extremely disappointing and more a little worrying, given that their reputation is at stake here.
    Our boiler has now been sitting broken for seven months and I would most certainly not recommend this manufacturer to anyone after our experience.
    I would welcome hearing from anyone else who has had problems of a similar nature.

    • Gareth says:

      What size buffer tank did they install ?.

      • Jason says:

        The MCZ compact 24 is not normally installed with a buffer tank. I have installed them with and without buffer tanks. As long as the base load of the heating system is >3.5kW the boiler modulated and it will will keep running. These are designed to work best without a buffer tank. From ignition to delivering heat to the system is about 20 minutes. If a buffer tank is used very often , then will cycle more as they switch to full power, hit a temperature of the buffer tank and then switch off, buffer then cools, causing a lot of re ignitions. I have an MCZ in our office with a buffer tank, I wish I hadn’t bothered with it., it takes a lot of tweaking to get it to modulate properly. The brazier (burn pot) often burns through relatively quickly when a buffer tank is used. The brazier will also burn through if the holes get blocked, so with some pellet brands it needs daily checking/cleaning. We carry many of the spares for MCZ compact 14 to 35 boilers in our service van, so usually get a broken boiler fixed in one visit. However, many installers don’t fit the flues correctly and neglect to install the anti condensation valve which will cause problems down the line.

  131. Heidi says:

    Have had a Nordica Extraflame LP14 for just over 18 months, beginning to wish I had never had it installed. Have had numerous problems including the installers not doing so correctly and being from the other side of the country after doing a leaflet drop in my rural area seemed to do a “install and scarper”. Yes the fuel maybe cheaper, but what good is it if the system doesn’t function properly. They are a faff to clean out and load. Am now without heat and hot water yet again due “no ignition” and despite following all the diagnostics it is not remedied so faced with the possibility that the pellet feed motor is broken. The manufacturers are in Italy and rarely bother to respond. I feel the whole industry and initiative is a big swizz and am stuck with an expensive piece of impressive looking kit which is unworkable in the long term.

    • Hello Heidi

      Sometime the pellet motor just falls off the auger shaft on these boilers. You can rescue it from the bottom of the boiler housing and using an allen key to re attach it to the shaft. You have to make sure the two white power wires are still connected. This must be done with the stove power off.

    • Prem says:

      I can thoroughly endorse Heidi’s sentiments regarding the Nordica Extraflame. I’ve been stuck with one for 5 years and the ignition problem has been a headache every winter. (For some reason it it seems to light OK in the spring and summer which is not much consoltation). As I live in a remote mountain region in central Italy about 30 kms from the nearest town I don’t have many alternatives. Everyone around here heats their home with wood boilers as the only other fuel available around here in LPG which is exorbitant. I later discovered my neighbours have massive boilers in their cellars which they stoke up manually with local firewood like pizza ovens. They also drive tractors and are perfectly capable of doing their own repairs/maintenance. I am sick of calling out (and paying for) the service company nearly every week and have learned to light the thing in the mornings by adding a handful of pellets to the burn pot during the ignition cycle (when it’s cold), which is obviously a huge pain in the neck..

  132. sarah says:

    Sarah:

    We are considering fitting a domestic biomass boiler into a large Victorian house. Does anyone have any feedback about Strebel Biotec Pellet Boilers? All the negative comments about reliability relating to biomass boilers are concerning us considering the initial outlay of £25000. The paybacks we have been quoted re the RHI also seem too good to be true. Any comments?

    • Gareth says:

      Sounds like a rather large investment for a 25 or 40Kw boiler.

      Personally, I would see what the price without the RHI.
      RHI should only be seen more as an Sweetener than an incentive.

      Remember the system needs a suitable buffer tank 1500 litre for 25kw, 2500 for 40Kw.
      Its not like gas boiler, if the system is cold the tank needs to get up to temperature 1st.

      Once its hot, the system runs like any other, maintaining the temperature etc.

      • Jason says:

        Are you sure a 25kW modulating wood pellet boiler needs a 1500litre buffer tank and a 40kW 2500litre!! These buffer tank sizes are for batch fed log gasification boilers, not automatic wood pellet boilers. Why would you want to store so much heat in a buffer tank with an automatic wood pellet boiler.

        In the <25kW wood pellet boilers area, buffer tanks are not always mandatory. On a 40kW system, most manufacturers would recommend between 800 to 1000litres, some 36kW boilers don't need buffer tanks if the house has a larger thermal mass.

        • Gareth says:

          Yes they are sizes from batch burning, so they could be reduced slightly.

          Just to give people a rough idea, heat times from stone cold to 80c are :-
          (Normally its a case of topping up, so heating times would be considerably reduced)

          1000 litres @ 25kw is 3 hours 45 minutes
          1500 litres @ 25kw is 5 and a half hours
          2500 litres @ 40kw is roughly 6 hours.

          Modulating boiler output may all be well and good, but you can’t use heat you’ve not got stored, especially on a cold winter morning. Thermal stores lose tiny amounts of heat as they are highly insulated, so it’s never wasted heat.

          Like gas systems, solid fuel boiler must run regularly at full power.

          It ensures the boiler reaches its maximum operating temperature, during which the high temperature cleans all of the inner workings and removes soot and tar, these build up when running for extended periods of time at modulated power levels.

  133. rob morgan says:

    we are having problems with our system recently installed current auger not sucking up pellets although plenty can be see ,the manual overide and re run lasted just a few hours last night we have been told to order more pellets as when a bit low dust can block auger any thoughts

    • Gareth says:

      Depending on the system, wood pellets do flow quite freely.

      But the sides of the store must have a decent slope, I’ve seen references to 40 degrees.
      That way they all funnel down to the auger system, if its located in the trough at the bottom.

      There are so many types of stores & silo systems available i couldn’t comment any further.

  134. Peter Thornton says:

    I used to own a one hour processing lab so am used to high tech equipment that is packaged for the consumer.
    I used equipment that gave me lots of trouble along with some of the best machines in the industry. I learnt that you can tell by looking at the machine whether or not its been properly engineered. I also learnt never to buy without several recommendations and never to be the first with any model.
    I’ve just had a Windhager Biowin 2 installed and I’m confident that it’s one of the good ones. The Austrian engineering just shouts at me that this is properly designed and built. I was a little surprised to find one of the installation sheets titled “Anschluss Plan” but have since looked it up and found it has nothing to do with a German occupation of Austria!
    It’s not been turned on yet, so all may go wrong, but I’m pretty confident it’s going to work well.
    It was installed by a local plumber who specialises in these and who has been going so long that I took his wedding photos over 30 years ago!
    Again, my experience from the photo trade is to never use anyone who has not been around for a decent length of time. These are complex machines, and need experts if they go wrong.

  135. Wil Williams says:

    Having installed 2 50 kw log burners from Burnit , it is strange that they never reply to my enquiries, they must be a very very shy and retiring company. Why are they so coy ?

  136. lynn pink says:

    its 24th December and the boiler has gone to block for the third time in as many days so its christmas without any central heating! What a surprise. We had the boiler installed in 2009 and it has nearly caused a divorce. My husband does blame me for going green and is contemplating going back to oil. I must say that I have shouted at it and kicked it a few times. The installer has said since that we were the guinea pigs and was’t that great of them to give us such an honour. The firm went into liquidation in April (woodpecker,please don’t laugh)and the only one who can service it comes from Devon this service comes in at £400 just a bit cheaper than from Woodpecker themselves. Its an expensive journey that I wish I had never taken.I am having issues with the shoddy paperwork the installers gave us which is making it difficult getting the RHI. The joys of Biomass. Think very hard before embarking on the journey as its not the first time we are without heating, thats why we have a wood burning stove (and going to put another in) and portable gas fires . Happy Christmas

    • Gareth says:

      Whats the model of the boiler ?.

    • Hargykid says:

      So sorry to hear you’re having such a bad time. I’ve recently serviced a Woodpecker pellet boiler after it had been running for 18 mths or so, and I couldn’t fault it. The engineer who commissioned it had set it up brilliantly. I was very impressed, which pleased the owner of course.
      Happy to help if I can over the phone. Tap the name tag to get my contacts from the website, (based in Doncaster.)

  137. Dawn Hubbard says:

    Hiya, WE are in the middle of a melt down with our bio mass , it began last February and still we do not have any heat from it, firstly its the contractors, then the pellet type then this then that its a complete and utter nightmare.Is there any legal body that we can go to to get an independent complaint submitted… So this does not happen again to others…

    • Gareth says:

      As with everything these days, the internet is your best bet at finding a good installer.

      What system have you currently got installed ?

    • Hargykid says:

      Sorry to hear you’ve had such a bad experience. Biomass could be and should be trauma-free. I would suggest you collate ALL the necessary information first from someone who knows systems and can advise you exactly what is wrong with yours. There may be more than meets the eye! A site survey would be needed, but could be well worth it. Contact me if you wish on my website and I can offer some tips as to what you should be looking for as a starter. You can then decide if you need to call someone in or that you have enough ‘evidence’ to persue any claim.

  138. Florence says:

    Hi – we had a Grant Spira pellet boiler installed a year ago. All was fine until a couple of months ago – now it breaks down at least once a day if not more – always the same error message Servomotor blocked. We have done everything we can think of and the engineer who installed it has been out several times but the problems persists – Any ideas??

    • Gareth says:

      Looking through the manuals, its the servo motor in the combustion chamber.

      The manual is “Grant-UK-Spira-Wood-Pellet-Boiler-installation-servicing-instructions-DOC42-Rev01-May-2013” Page 69.

      Part number WPS04

      Best bet it to open it up after its turned off and cold, vacuum around and make sure its nice and clean. It clearly says in the manual that its not adjustable, so check if it functions using the manual.

      If not order a new part direct from Grant.

      • Jason says:

        The Grant burner drawer is probably jammed. It probably need stripping down and re assembling using the spacer plate to set the clearances that is provided with the boiler. It is supposed to be stripped and cleaned every 500 auger run hours. The servo pushes open the burner so the ash can fall into the ash box, if it can’t throw out the ash, then it won’t run for long. I can’t say much more as this should only be done by authorized Grant trained engineers, not DIY. It isn’t a very easy thing to to either. You can start by calling the Grant support team in Devizes, they will either fix it, or give you details of a suitable local engineer.

        • Graham says:

          I have worked on the Spira with the same problem, I noticed the burner draw was sticking when opening (sometimes it would open but occasionally it would stick)
          It turned out to cure it I filed a small chamfer on the burner drawer which would catch sometimes when opening! No problems since:-)

  139. Nigel Watson says:

    Does anyone have experience of Palazetti Hydro stoves? We had one installed in July 2013 and it never ran for more than a month before breaking down. The problems were all electrical and software related. The installer and manufacturer eventually agreed to replace the entire stove a year later in August 2014. This worked fine and we were optimistic that the problems were a one off. However after the first two months of heavy winter use we are having more issues with the electrics.
    Anyone else any experiences to share?
    Although the installer is helpful – he always says that every other stove works perfectly!!!

  140. Bruce says:

    Hello! Mark.Thanks for sharing and I am sorry to hear your problems with biomass boiler. But,accordingly to my experience as a Biomass related machinery sales,I really have less complaints with biomass boiler. I think all the problems could be summarized as one, that is frequently breakdown resulted by poor quality.

  141. chetn says:

    Hi,
    I have one pellet burner & I want to connect it with a Bakery oven for Diesel Burner replacement, But due to Ash Out from Pellet burner I am failure.
    Cn any one suggest to prevent the ash flow from Pellet burner

  142. Bob says:

    I have installed a pellet/chip boiler which is running at the moment on pellets, which are bought from Verdo.
    The boiler seems to be set correctly with minimal ash being produced.A small dustbin worth for 14 tons burned.
    I am interested to find out the KWH per kilo other boilers are achieving. Reading through the blog this has only been mentioned once. I think his boiler was producing 2.6 kwh which seems very poor.
    The net worth of the pellets should be close to 4.8kwh. On a 14 ton load our boiler produced 54250kwh
    which is 3.87 kwh. So just over 80% efficient, but was not running flat out because of a smaller heating demand. But still less than I would have hoped.
    I would be really interested to hear of other boiler outputs, on pellet and chip.

    • Gareth says:

      What boiler model are you using ?, having read many makers documentation over the years.
      Some of the smaller Kw boilers, that burn either wood chip or pellets, produce less heat when running on pellets.

      Verdo pellets are 4,800kWhr/tonne with less than 0.7% ash, according to the pellet spec sheet.

    • Bob says:

      Have you got a thermal store fitted in the system? Pellet boilers can not stop and start instantly like a gas or oil boiler so a thermal store is important to avoid wasting energy, particularly when the heating load is low.

    • Steve says:

      Since installation in March last year, my pellet/chip boiler’s direct output has been at a very disappointing 61% efficient – 2.9kWh output even though there appears to be good combustion/ash colour and quantity etc. I have managed to increase that to about 67% (3.2kWh) by installing an inexpensive small chimney fan which is controlled by the boiler. However, needless to say I am still very disappointed. Taking into consideration other system losses (another 15%+), my commercial RHI payments fall well short of even the cost of the pellets to run it. From what I can gleen, RHI payments should be about 180% of the cost of the pellets!!

    • Hargykid says:

      What is the flue temperature, if you have one displayed? Chances are you have too much fresh air going up the flue.
      True, you’ll have good looking ash, and you won’t see smoke, but by the same token if you have too much air up the stack, you’re burning pellets to heat air that won’t do anything to warm YOU.
      If the boiler is only running around 80% has it been commissioned properly? It should modulate to be as efficient as possible throughout its operational range.
      Click on my nametag if you would like to discuss.

  143. Bill says:

    hello

    can anyone recommend a company for a biomass install to a rural domestic dwelling north of the border? Tayside area. Thankyou.

    • Jon says:

      Hi Bill

      Try Dan Gates at EcoHomeInstaller based in Glasgow. Very experienced and covers your area.

    • david says:

      I’m in the proces of getting biomass installed ..I found his blog ,very interesting. I’m probably going for a 28kw external biomass boiler fitted by ell explained VIRO from Bathgate who gave the most Impressive sales performance with maximum effort to explain system, costs ,benefits etc.

  144. Daniel price says:

    Has any one got a burnit 30kw combiburn boiler fitted looking for some reviews are they any good.

    • Gareth says:

      You may wish to look at something a little more energy efficient, such as the Gasification types.
      If your running a 30 Kw boiler, your going to be burning a large amount of wood.

      Gasification boilers have the added advantage of being considerably more efficient, some have a efficiency of around 92%, meaning you can burn considerably less fuel.

      Plus, depending on the brand they can be DEFRA smoke exempt, which also means your burning much more efficiently and producing no smoke and not annoying the neighbours in the process.

  145. Spike says:

    We are considering installing a hargassner,okofen or eta pellet boiler.

    Circa 35kw .

    Can anyone suggest the preferred manufacturer?

    We are also looking for an outdoor timber clad building for boiler and tank,does anyone know any suppliers.

    Many thanks

    • Lou says:

      We have installed number of Okofen boilers in the last year. All our customers have been extremely happy with their boiler, in fact I came across some very positive feedback one customer left on a forum about how happy he was with his Okofen Boiler and Organic Energy(the UK supplier). We have found Andy Burrows at Orgainic energy very helpful. If it was up to my husband he would happily fit an Okofen boiler every time. The company is growing so I guess the challenge (like any growing company) will be whether they can continue to keep delivering such a great service

    • Lou says:

      We have installed number of Okofen boilers in the last year. All our customers have been extremely happy with their boiler, in fact I came across some very positive feedback one customer left on a forum about how happy he was with his Okofen Boiler and Organic Energy(the UK supplier). We have found Andy Burrows at Orgainic energy very helpful. If it was up to my husband he would happily fit an Okofen boiler every time. The company is growing so I guess the challenge (like any growing company) will be whether they can continue to keep delivering such a great service

      Sadly as Avoid says some companies are not offering such great after-care. He is not alone, we have and are trying to help customers who have had an appalling service. Fortunately one did mange to get his money back. A lot of our work is spent rectifying badly installed over priced solar heating systems, installed by all the companies that consequently went bust. I think we are going to be kept busy with Biomass for the same reason

    • Andy says:

      We sell the ETA boilers and build our own timber clad buildings, we are based in Bracknell

      Look at our website for pictures of our buildings and sevices

      Andy

    • Hargykid says:

      My nametag might be a bit of a giveaway but I was considered pretty good at installing Hargassners. But, both Okofen and Eta have good names too. I was very impressed with Eta kit when I attended their training course. I consider it well built, well designed and I think well supported.
      Most important though, be sure you get a reputable, qualified and trusted installer. He will make all the difference. I have been to many sites where the installer basically didn’t know what should be done, (or didn’t care). Commissioning the boiler isn’t just lighting it, getting it hot and taking the money. It should burn correctly, be controlled properly, and be safe (correct value safety valve), efficient and cost effective. Don’t be oversold on size of boiler. If 35kW is your PEAK demand and this is only for perhaps an hour each day, you may only need a 25kW boiler with a tank. The bigger the boiler the more you pay!
      Good luck.

  146. Avoid says:

    We have a [biomass] boiler , the after sales care is terrible / non existent , we have been without heating several times , our installer makes it up as they go along despite being euroheat approved.

    We are going back to oil ASAP, avoid the pain ……stick with oil, this industry is awash with lies. unless you intend making fixing , cleaning , unclogging , and praying this weeks wood is acceptable to these sensitive boilers a hobby / pastime …avoid.

    You have been warned by the author and another.

  147. paul says:

    Can anybody help I am so confused. Because of my low earnings & being on disability under the Nest Scheme (wales) I have been offered to have a Trinco Greenflame slim external pellet boiler fitted with no costs. I know that in theory I will have to empty the ash can & fill the internal hopper every week. But I am more concerned about running costs especially with oil coming down in price so much because this could also be an option under the scheme. So basically which would be cheaper to run & has anybody had experience of the trianco boilers?

    • skindi says:

      Stay away from Trianco we’ve had nothing but problems and everything is every one else’s fault and their techinal back up leaves a lot be be desired.

  148. Andy W says:

    Hi, last year we had a biomass heating system fitted to our property. First of all I find the system is not economical at all we use between 3 – 4 10kg bags per day. Costing on average around £12.00 per day. This is with a thermostat setting of between 15- 20 0C. Initially I was told by the Serveyor from British Gas and later by the engineer from the company that fitted the system that it would use between 10- 15 kg per day; and the bags generally cost about £2.80. This I later find was a bit wide of the truth. The average 10kg bag is around £4.00. If you are signed up to NEST you can get a small discount when buying Balcas Bright A1 pellets from the Plumb Centre. To get the discount one was required to order 44 x10kg bags. The discount was a reduction of the VAT. This was before the new year. Since then Balcas has changed this [I am told by the Plumb Centre Staff] to 36 bags to get the discount. 36 bags is not enough for us to use as previously stated. If I order 44x 10 bags, I will not get the discount on the other 10x 10 kg bags, only on the 36 bags. I was then told I need to order 72x10kg bags to get the full discount if I require more bags. The cost of 72 bags each month I cannot afford and makes heating my house even more expensive. The company that fitted the system is reluctant to send a engineer when you report a problem as I have found out ringing them every week over a 6 week period. I had to complain to nest to get my problem solved.
    Basically, I wish i had kept my old Multi Fuel Rayburn heating system.

    • Hargykid says:

      Aside from your predicament with the discounts etc, and not seeing the system, I can only assume that the boiler system has been poorly/incorrectly installed, and/or the boiler has not been commissioned properly and is burning horrendously inefficiently.

      If you have any photos or sketches to hand, you can send them to me to check the system, ie is there a tank, what size is the boiler, what is the load (how many rooms etc)

  149. paul says:

    just had ashadegreener knock on the door they want to do a survey on our property , sounds to good to be true,7 years parts & labour warranty, free boiler and installation , trianco greenflame boiler described as 91% efficient , any one had experience dealing with this company ?

  150. Phil says:

    anyone have any information on what size of ash the pellets should be after they have combusted and are in the ash pan. I’m finding pellets being quite considerable in size when I empty my main ash pan. They are slightly smaller than coffee granules, have obviously been burnt, but still look like they have some heat value in them if re-ignited with a lighter. Something doesn’t seem right.

    • Hargykid says:

      These are unburned residues of pellets and still contain energy. The combustion process is not complete until you have a fine ash which is a grey shade of flour or talc. Could be acceptable if it is like fine sand, but anything grittier is still fuel. The shade may depend on the constituents of the wood mass.
      The boiler is either over fuelling or under airing. It could be the airways in the boiler are clogging up. Very important to keep the grate segment slots clear for primary air, any secondary air jets (holes) in the sides or back etc. The flue might need a good sweep or perhaps any flaps/dampers on the primary or secondary air ducts may be stuck closed.
      It really sounds like a good service and re-commission, (setting the combustion parameters) is in order.

  151. adam mendel says:

    Here is a practical guide to biomass boilers

    http://mhandbook.com/biomass-boilers/

  152. Adrian says:

    Have just been approached by sales reps hoping to sell us a Domusa pellet boiler made in Spain. Does anyone on here have any experience of this brand as Spain would not be a country with much need for heating systems and therefore little experience compared with colder countries?

    • Liz says:

      We are just starting to look at the possibility of a biomass wood pellet boiler to replace LPG so I can’t give any advice on the Domusa system. I wouldn’t discount the brand purely for being Spanish though as there is a good sized market for heating in Spain as the North does get very cold.
      Domuas seem to be fairly new to the UK form what I have been able to find out but the prices are lower. It would be great if anyone could share any experience of buying, fitting or servicing the Dormusa bioclass.

  153. Paul Wieczorek says:

    Anyone thinking of buying a biomass wood pellet boiler should think very carefully about it —— then forget it. We did a lot of research on the best boiler for us and decided to go with one of the most highly recommended. We then checked out the accreditation of the distributor in our area, Devon and Cornwall, to ensure that they belonged to a suitable professional body, which they did. Unfortunately, it has turned out to be a disaster. The distributor did not keep to the agreed installation schedule by a very significant degree. It also turned out that they were using unregistered tradesmen to carry out the installation. I also spent over eight months chasing them for the necessary completion/compliance certification which should have been handed over within two weeks of commissioning. Added to this, the boiler is less than twelve months old and is forever breaking down having had numerous faults, which are ongoing. The distributor appears to be learning on the job —— when they eventually turn up. And, when they they do attend to a breakdown, they remove any record of it from the memory of the boiler software, which makes me very suspicious. The latest problem is hard clinker building up in the firebox every few days causing the boiler to shutdown. The distributor has blamed this on the pellets even though the pellets are appropriately certificated and supplied by a reputable supplier. My opinion is that a lot of ‘Cowboys’ have jumped on the biomass bandwagon and no real assessment is made of their ability to ‘do the job’ therefore providing a service that is not fit for purpose. So, all in all I wish we had never changed from our old oil boiler, which was never any problem, to a wood pellet boiler which has been nothing but trouble.

    • Hargykid says:

      Paul, you are having a nightmare of a time and I’m infuriated that these so called professionals are doing their best to kill the industry in which I work.
      The clinker is undoubtedly due to too high a temperature in the combustion chamber which fuses the ash and forms chunks of clinker. This has a bad impact on the combustion quality by occlusion get air paths. The primary ends up unable to penetrate the fuel efficiently, the secondary ends up all over the place.
      The flue temp should be around 180 deg c, depends on the size of course but a good general temp to aim for 150kw and up.
      The O2 in the flue gas around 8%, again general, but certainly not 3-4% or 14% ish. The water flow should be set correctly for the size of boiler output and delta T which is the heat rise across the boiler ie 60 return heated up to 80 deg flow is delta T of 20 deg. Delta T of 10 deg would be flowing twice as fast. Rule of thumb is 1.2 litres per second per 100kw at 20 delta T. Or 2.4 litres per second at 10 delta T.
      I’m guessing you getting RHI so this is v important to you.
      If you want any further info or just to talk it through tap my nametag to get to my website and give me a call.

  154. Michelle says:

    Can anybody advise how many kg per day on average they are using for a standard domestic system (approx 21Kw winghager).

  155. Laura says:

    Hi,
    I was wondering how long takes to install a biomass boiler (approx 200 kW) from high level feasibility to it being in operation? I’m looking at installing one to heat a leisure center.
    Thanks

    • Hargykid says:

      Hi Laura. The boiler will be the best part of a day to site it and build. The other works , electrical and pipework will depend on how local the services are to the boiler (in a container outside or plant room inside the building etc) to commission the boiler one to one and a half days (pre comm checks to make sure all services are correct and working, firing, setting all parameters then final checks and TRAINING) very important you understand what you have purchased, how to operate and maintain it!
      If properly co-ordinated could be finished in a week, again depends on the amount is service work (civics) required.

    • Hello Laura,
      We recently installed 2 x 80/100kW P4 Frolings on a cascade district heating system. The requirements where discussed with the client, we produced an in house 3D model of the boiler house and bespoke pellet storage for discussion. The whole process of conception, building the pellet storage, ordering equipment, installing, commissioning the boilers took about 10-12 weeks.from start to finish.

      However, we do install small domestic bag fed boilers like a Grant 6-26 in a 2 to 3 days. An ETA PU 15kW with a new cylinder we completed in 5 days. Our log boilers with large accumulator tanks are typically around 10 days to install, it can take 2 days just to fill a 6000 litre accumulator tank with softened water!!.

  156. Kevan says:

    Hi Paul,

    What make of boiler did you have installed?

    Regards,

    Kevan

    • Paul Wieczorek says:

      Many thanks for your advice. It’s good to know there’s someone in the industry with an interest in the customer. I have now managed to get the pellet supplier and the boiler supplier to talk to each other, so I’m hopeful that between them they’ll resolve this particular problem. I’ll keep you “posted” on the outcome.

    • Paul Wieczorek says:

      Hi Kevan,

      It’s a 70kW Solarfocus.

  157. Gordon says:

    Louise,

    I agree wholeheartedly with your 10 points but would add an eleventh point.

    11 When we provide the operating manual don’t expect to be able to understand it as it will have been badly translated from the German original and use incorrect technical terms.

    I wonder if anyone else has had this experience with Austrian boilers?

  158. Jason Blake says:

    I haven’t any experience of the Solar Focus unit. I understand it uses a down firing burner unit. The grate appears to be fixed, so the ash has to be pushed through the grate to the ash pan below. Clinker looks like it will block the air flow and back up the pellets.

    Clinkering is caused by excessive combustion temperatures in the grate. A correctly set up flue draft regulator on the flue may help if one is not already installed as excessive draft / fan speed could contribute to this issue. Small badly broken up pellets can feed too quickly causing over fueling combined with too much draft can cause excessive grate temperature and clinkering. The lambda sensor should keep this in check, but maybe the boiler draft or lambda sensor hasn’t been commissioned correctly.

    Bark in the pellets, dusty pellets, hardwood pellets, pellets that are pressed too hard can cause problems for some boiler designs. The ETA 70kW boiler that we regularly install has exhaust gas re-circulation system which cools the grate when burning dry fuels by lowering the oxygen level in the grate. The ETA grate rotates to dump ash that will have built up on the grate surface. It is an upward firing boiler, it will also burn high ash fuels like wood chips and elephant grass so will easily deal with any grade of wood pellets. Which is another reason we get issues with this boiler.

    We have installed over 70 biomass boilers now from a variety of manufacturers since becoming MCS approved in 2011 and I’am pleased to say they are all working well and customers are enjoying biomass fueled heating without headaches. Our own team of experienced surveyors, installers and service engineers only work with biomass boilers that we know how to configure and have been properly tried and tested.

    A biomass boiler is a large investment that won’t earn a penny for our customers if it is not working !! As we have to look after our biomass boiler installations for the next 20 + years we always install to ensure correct access for, maintenance, flue cleaning access, service isolation valves and connect them to the internet wherever possible for remote control, monitoring and set up, this allows us to diagnose most problems before we go to site.

    If one of our customers has a problem with one of our installations we do whatever is required to get to them back up and running as quickly as possible, we don’t run to the hills and make up excuses like many installers out there appear to do!! Our customers don’t just buy a boiler, they buy a fully supported heating solution for the next 20+ years. It makes a lot of sense for my company to install tried and tested boilers and components, to commission them correctly and to provide full documentation / certification package, that way we just have to visit our installations for annual servicing only. Our existing customers are our best source of referrals for new installations.

  159. Sophie says:

    I have a Musa Hydro pellet boiler – manufactured by MCZ. It was installed 5 years ago and I have always been worried about the amount of dust generated and the incidences of fine black dust blowing back into the room. When I received notification from MCS in October that there were incidences of these boilers exploding I was deeply concerned. Once I persuaded Specflue to come and check it (it took some convincing!) they found it to be unsafe to use. In their phone assessment they had deemed it low risk! Whilst all of the agencies involved have pledged to be assisting with resolving this I am still without heating or hot water 5 months later and being asked to be patient! These stoves have been removed from MCS certification and are only allowed to be re-registered if they have a “safety” device fitted. This seems to acknowledge that there is an actual fault with the stove and not just an “installation problem”. The device is supposed to prevent the glass shattering in the event of an explosion. Works done to try and rectify the problems have now generated further problems and the stove is still unsafe. I am concerned that there may be many other families unaware of the danger as they will have been deemed “low risk” by an inadequate phone assessment. I have absolutely no faith in the stove and am trapped in a situation with no working boiler or hot water. The agencies are clearly nervous about this scenario as they have a vested interest in these stoves, and despite repeated requests I have had no written report of what works have been done to my stove or installation since it was decommissioned in October. I am concerned that with this relatively new technology, not enough is known about problems that develop once the stove has been in use fore a few years….testing seems to be done on shiny new ones? I wouldn’t wish this situation on anyone else.

  160. Mark Pilling says:

    Good morning.

    I a looking at 40kw GEE unit, but have struggled to find any feedback on the manufacturer anywhere on the internet, does anyone have any experience of the units, either from an install or usage perspective, either good or bad.

    I have been supplied 3 contacts who have had installs, but of course they may be the 3 best installs, and whilst I will speak to them and visit at east 1 would be interested to hear thoughts from others.

    Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Mark

    • john sparks says:

      Hi Mark, I spotted your email and as I am in conversatioon with GEE at the moment, I wondered if you had progressed with them ansd if so, how you got on……

      thanks,

      John

  161. Liz says:

    Why are we allowing this industry to treat us in this way.

    I too have had a nightmarish 2.5 year experience with biomass which goes on and on. Why aren’t trading standards involved – there are laws protecting consumers in this country ( forget NICEIC – they act on behalf of their members not consumers – I have experience of this organisation)

    My installer has said there is nothing more he can do and wants to draw a line under it i.e. wash his hands of the whole thing and keep raking it in for repairs. In the meantime my husband can’t leave the boiler unattended for more that a few hours!

    I have decided I am going to take legal action and would appreciate any support from all you other poor people.

    • Lou says:

      Hi Liz,

      You have our sympathies. We are currently helping yet another biomass customer with a Biomass boiler that has given him endless problems. Sadly for him it now looks like he is going to have to replace he 3 year old Biomass boiler with a better quality one. We have already helped another customer get a full refund but he had a battle on his hands and had to threaten legal action. Was your installer MCS approved? If so have you been in touch with MCS and http://www.recc.org.uk though whether you can get any joy from these is questionable.

      My husband recently had to redo course and exams for Biomass installation. He was absolutely appalled at the standard of the course, its content and delivery. The course leaders knowledge left a lot to be desired. Unfortunately there are a lot of tick box courses out there who are passing people who really don’t have the necessary expertise, knowledge and competence to go out and install Biomass.

      Anybody reading this please make sure you do your homework for both appliance and installer. Ask to speak to some previous customers. Baring in mind you could be spending £15,000 + that should not be to much to ask

      • Hargykid says:

        Agreed Lou. Liz, Lou is spot on regarding the general lack of knowledge and experience in this industry. Unfortunately, customers can easily be hoodwinked into accepting their biomass contact as ‘experts’. Many so called experts believe that installing it, lighting the match and getting it hot is all it takes. This couldn’t be further from the truth, so again it seems that the boiler manufacturers don’t make bad boilers (some exceptions of course), but the good boilers can only operate in the manner that the system and the commissioning set up will allow. Many times I find that fixing the system and/or commissioning settings can really ease the pain.
        People like Lou and her husband obviously feel as I do that the industry needs a more rigorous control and monitoring system. These are the people you need to seek out, and there are such people. Perhaps finding someone to give you a complete engineering report listing faults, mistakes etc would give you some ‘ammunition’ for litigation.

  162. Rachel Cleary says:

    Hi, I would be grateful for some advise. We are considering Biomass in our renovation property. We have had a couple of ridiculous quotes one £27k, Which boilers would people recommend. We will need a largish system over 30kw.. Any advise would be appreciated

    • BART says:

      Hi Rachel,

      Please get in touch we distribute EkoGren biomass boiler and can recommend somebody in your area – our boiler are usually installed at below 20k mark.
      bart@mowlandltd.co.uk

    • Lou says:

      Contact http://www.organicenergy.co.uk to find an installer in your area for a quote for an Okofen boiler. Their Okofen boilers are top of the range and the back up from the company is excellent. Just make sure you do your home work for both appliance and installer. Ask to speak/visit a couple of previous customers. This should not be to difficult assuming they have happy customers

  163. HeidiP says:

    This is so true. After the most recent breakdown, have been without heat and hot water for over 8 weeks. neither party are showing any interest or duty in fixing the fault. The boilers are manufactured overseas they don’t care. The installers leaflet and campaign drop in areas they have no presence in – typical installation and depart. Now having reported to MCS, RECC and it being apparently with NAPIT whoever they are, am still awaiting acknowledgement of the complaint some 3 weeks since lodging. The industry do not care – I am £10,624 and counting down with a white elephant in the garage. My advice – avoid biomass like the plague.

  164. J Harding says:

    I have a neighbour, who is in the energy business, and has installed a domestic biomass boiler in his garage. I’m now plagued by puffs of white acrid smoke once or twice a day. I’ve contacted the local environmental health people who have confirmed that the system has been installed as it should be and that I will have to prove nuisance to force any action.

    Yesterday, we had the windows open and were engulfed in a cloud which brought on my wife’s asthma badly. I can’t see why I should have to keep the windows closed over Summer if this is a fault which could be solved. I can’t talk to my neighbour, as he is an abrasive character, but can anyone give me a reason for the white smoke. Most installer say that a well designed and operated biomass boiler burning fuel within the specification of the boiler should not produce any smoke, or is this just more spin?

  165. Liz says:

    I have asked our installer for a refund – I think the issue is the boiler is undersized – 32 kw for a holiday business with 9 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms. They basically wanted to sell us a particular product and hoped for the best. He is ignoring us and it will be going through the courts. Can anyone help us – we need a report which assesses the correct size of our boiler requiremtns by someone with good professional credentials.

    • Liz says:

      The company has now gone in to ‘voluntary insolvency’ – avoid biomass like the plague is my advice. Please contact me if you have had issues with a Beverly based biomass installer. Trading Standards are gathering information for its rogue trader wall of shame.

  166. Iain says:

    An interesting read through this blog. Makes me think that an LPG boiler is the way to go as even with allowance for RHI, pellets don’t really cost in for 10 years and even longer is some of the service costs identified on this blog are likely. But before I go off pellets completely, anyone got experience of Windhagers MES versus a buffer tank on a 25kW system heating a barn conversion with UFH all round

    • Sami Osman says:

      Hi Iain, just having my periodic scan through this comment board. I am the technical manager at Windhager UK and would be more than happy to talk through the Windhager MES controls with you, please contact us 01225 892211.

  167. Caron Hall says:

    Geez, i would be here all day writing about my experience with my Biomass boiler none of it positive. I would love to talk to someone that speaks plain english. I’ve just ordered it to be taken out as ive totally had enough. Ive battled with copious amounts of issues over the last 5 years and i cant take any more. Its totally ruled my life reduced me to tears and made me ill. DONT EVEN GO THERE!…………never again!

  168. Lee North says:

    Taking the time to dig up some details before making a purchase is definitely recommended. Besides, biomass boilers are not cheap! I think most buyers will be able to save on these investments if they are wise enough to ask the sellers the right questions.

    • Sami Osman says:

      Hi Iain, just having my periodic scan through this comment board. I am the technical manager at Windhager UK and would be more than happy to talk through the Windhager MES controls with you, please contact us 01225 892211.

  169. skindi says:

    Hey Guys, Could do with a bit of help.
    We got 2x60KW Trianco Greenflame boilers installed last yeau , have had nothing but problems. One of them just went on fire, looking to replace the system.
    We live in an old house, big thick walls,
    Our independant heat loss survey show heat loss 100kw for the house.

    Any comments on which brand, sinlge boiler or 2 . any comments would be really appreciated.
    Thanks

  170. skindi says:

    Hi Folks,
    swithering between Eta OR Froling (2 boiler system), which one would anyone recommend.

    • Anita says:

      Hello Skindi. Has anyone helped you with this yet? If not, I would be happy to.

    • Hargykid says:

      Hi Skindi

      Eta is a super range of boiler, and I believe Froling engineers left Froling and created Eta, re-engineering things like fuel transport and ash handling/cleaning. Very solid and high quality. The menu system is really good and tech support excellent.
      Tap on my post tag (Hargykid) which will direct you to my site. You will find my contact details, and I would be happy to supply a list of references.

  171. Ian Fay says:

    I thought I would add some positive comments about BIOMASS boilers.

    I had a MCZ Primula hydro installed. It went live on 5 Nov 2012. So it has been running non stop over 3 winters, apart from Eco Stop and cleaning, a few minutes a day. During the summer it is off most of the time. Hot water is produced by PV into immersion using Solar Iboost switching which also supplements hot water heating in winter

    Servicing takes a couple of hours once a year, strip down and clean the combustion chamber and turbulators vacuum every thing out and put back together. I do it myself after being shown how to by my heating engineer who is brilliant, very clever and knowledgeable.

    I have just replaced the burning grate. That is all. Nothing else, it just runs, no jams, no problems. It burns 20kg a day on average over the worst part of the winter costing £5 per day, including all the hot water we need (see above PV). This last winter we burnt two and a half tons. Since April when it has been cooler than usual we have been using about 10kg per day.The house, built in 1761, is as warm as toast .

    In conversation with the heating engineer, it is true some boilers are more reliable than others. But the installation and flue design are critical.

    We had the Lone Ranger and Hop Along Cassidy round to quote and it was quite pathetic listening to them, I knew more than they did.

    After appalling experience with an oil boiler in a previous house we decided not to be guinea pigs when the manufacturer decided to make pellet boilers. Thankfully, it turned out to be a good move.

    Sorry to hear that there have been so many poor experiences. I am sure there are plenty of other success stories but people tend to report the failures.

    Good luck in getting things sorted.

    • Hargykid says:

      Absolutely right Ian. Couldn’t agree more.
      It’s good to hear some positive feedback, because that means it’s true there are some good biomass engineers out there. The fact that the installs are an income source for many years requires them to be robust and reliable.
      I think a lot of installers consider biomass a cash cow. It can be, but like all jobs, to make it work, the installers must be dedicated to the job, not just turnover. At the very least, it should be to make the system economical, but can be to make it profitable for the client.
      Hope you have many more years of good service from your system.

    • Eric Barlow says:

      Hi I to have a MCZ boiler great never an issue apart from replace ignition rod and grate
      Could you pass details of your engineer
      My installer went bust nobody in my area will service a MCZ and Specflue distributor of boiler very unhelpful
      Sincere thanks
      ERIC

  172. Paul Wieczorek says:

    I’ve copied a comment I made on this site in 11 Feb 2015 followed by an update on the ongoing problems we are experiencing.

    “Anyone thinking of buying a biomass wood pellet boiler should think very carefully about it —— then forget it. We did a lot of research on the best boiler for us and decided to go with one of the most highly recommended. We then checked out the accreditation of the distributor in our area, Devon and Cornwall, to ensure that they belonged to a suitable professional body, which they did. Unfortunately, it has turned out to be a disaster. The distributor did not keep to the agreed installation schedule by a very significant degree. It also turned out that they were using unregistered tradesmen to carry out the installation. I also spent over eight months chasing them for the necessary completion/compliance certification which should have been handed over within two weeks of commissioning. Added to this, the boiler is less than twelve months old and is forever breaking down having had numerous faults, which are ongoing. The distributor appears to be learning on the job —— when they eventually turn up. And, when they they do attend to a breakdown, they remove any record of it from the memory of the boiler software, which makes me very suspicious. The latest problem is hard clinker building up in the firebox every few days causing the boiler to shutdown. The distributor has blamed this on the pellets even though the pellets are appropriately certificated and supplied by a reputable supplier. My opinion is that a lot of ‘Cowboys’ have jumped on the biomass bandwagon and no real assessment is made of their ability to ‘do the job’ therefore providing a service that is not fit for purpose. So, all in all I wish we had never changed from our old oil boiler, which was never any problem, to a wood pellet boiler which has been nothing but trouble.”

    The problem caused by a build up of cllnker was eventually found to be caused by the pellets burning at a temperature that was too high for the boiler, even though they were A1 standard EN14961-2: 2011 rated. Once the problem was identified, the pellet supplier dealt with it in a satisfactory and appropriate manner.
    Unfortunately, software/control problems continue with the boiler which have yet to be resolved by the local agent/supplier. The boiler is now just over 12 months old and has had endless problems and to ‘cap it all’, the agent has told us that it is now out of its warranty period and wants us to start paying for the ongoing repairs. Past experience with them has made us lose faith and reluctant to use them because we believe we will be paying through the nose for an inferior service provided by inexperienced and poorly supported service engineers. But.it seems we don’t have any real choice.

    Based on this experience, I can only repeat; be very, very careful before installing a biomass boiler.

    • russ linley says:

      Hi Paul, Hargykid here. Thanks for the email, I’ve sent a reply, but have now had a chance to read your update.
      Clinkering is as you rightly say is ash melting at a temperature too high for the boiler to deal with. So let’s look at the fuel/air ratio.
      If you have an O2 readout from a Lambda Sonde (Flue gas sensor in the stack) it should be running at around 8%. This could be 1% or so either side but not really any more than that. The flue temperature should be around 170-190 degrees C. If it’s over 200 degrees there’s too much fuel going into the boiler, even if the fuel air ratio is correct. The water flow through the heat exchanger is not great enough to absorb the energy given off in combustion, so the excess energy goes up the flue, and into the boiler itself.

      Is the water flow correct? The boiler is designed to transfer a specific energy through the tubes, so the correct water flow is quite crucial, too much flow the boiler could struggle to heat it enough, too little flow results in overheating. If the fuel/air ratio is correct and the temperature in the flue is ok, is the output correct for 100% fire rate ie 70kW?

      If all this seems ok, look at the way the tank is set up. Does the boiler spend most of its time hunting? (firing up, then down or off, then on again) in a regular/frequent pattern? The tank top and bottom sensors tell the boiler when to start/stop, for instance when the top sensor has cooled to 68 degrees the boiler will ignite and run on full fire until it modulates down and finally fully charges the tank when the bottom tank sensor sees 72 degrees. By this time, a boiler giving out 80 degrees hot water will have filled the tank where the top sensor will show 80 degrees, and the bottom sensor will show 72 degrees. Most of the tank will be 75 degrees+. The boiler should fire once, and stay at 100% output until it modulates down and switches off from tank bottom sensor.

      One more thing to check is that the tank does not se-stratify by the flow rates into and out of the tank being unbalanced.

      Check these points for starters and any problems/questions give me a call.

      Cheers, Hargykid

      • Paul Wieczorek says:

        Thanks Hargykid.
        The clinkering turned out to be a pellet problem even though they are A1 EN141961-2. The pellet supplier has accepted this and supplied pellets from a different producer. I’ve had no further problems with clinkering since the change of pellets, so have no reason to doubt that this is the cause of this particular problem.
        Nevertheless, I would still like to follow your advice and confirm that the boiler is working efficiently. But, I assume specialist test equipment is required to do this, so I’m back in the hands of the installer/distributor?? They are currently trying to sort out a control problem whereby,spurious alarm and warning signals from, it appears, two external modules wired in parallel, is causing the boiler to shutdown. After numerous visits and hours of work, the problem is still to be resolved. I would imagine it would have been cheaper to change the two modules? Without the right equipment for testing the internal solid state circuitry of the modules, the distributor’s engineers will be here for the duration.

    • James says:

      Hi Paul,

      We have installed over 150 biomass systems over the last 20 years in addition to gas and oil boilers. We are heating engineers and design and recommend the most economical system for our customer. We use only Hargassner or Viessmann (KoB) biomass products, expensive – yes but never have a problem with them. We have done installs all over the country and are currently working on two jobs in Devon. If you have not given up hope completely then we may be able to help you out, with what ever system you want to run on, where are you based? Thanks

      • Paul Wieczorek says:

        Hi James,
        I’m based in Cornwall and have a 70kW Solarfocus. If you can cover this area and can work on this manufacturers equipment (bearing in mind, it’s still under warranty), I may be glad of your help. Please let me know.

        • James says:

          Hi Paul,

          As we are not a Solarfocus approved installer any work we do may invalidate the warranty that you have. Is the installation company still working under Warranty for their work?

          If you are still struggling with the company who installed the boiler I would recommend contacting Solarfocus directly and asking for a list of their approved installers if you have not done this already.

      • MariusL says:

        Hi Paul.

        We are in the process of buying and then start renovating/updating an outdated property. The property is currently on heat storage and achieved an energy efficiency rating of E42. I am looking into the VIESMANN: Vitoligno 300P Pellet boiler, mixer heating circuit, dual mode DHW cylinder and solar thermal system, Vitoset underfloor heating systems.

        Is this something your company install? and if so, would you be doing the design and spec our requirements?

        Can you please provide an estimate for budget purposes?

        Kind regards, M Lotter.

  173. Mark Hudson says:

    On the positive side, I have had an Austrian Gilles biomass wood-pellet boiler which is working brilliantly, highly efficient, has needed zero maintenance or servicing and has not broken down (though it is still in first year). Even the ash only needs emptying every 4 months or so. The firm which supplied it is local (Dorset/Hampshire), honest, well trained and easily available – this is key. The warranty is for 20 years.

    Austria has been running biomass boilers for 50 years and their firms are meant to be the best – more expensive, but they work work and cost less in the end.

  174. Paul Wieczorek says:

    Following on from my previous comments; the saga of faults is never ending. The Solarfocus boiler I have had installed continues to give us endless problems. On top of all the previous headaches I’ve experienced, for weeks now we have had what appears to be a software problem. The ‘accredited’ supplier/installer calls in and attempts to ‘fix it’. It then works but then shuts down after a few days for some spurious fault. Reading the other comments here, I realise that I’m not the only one who has had a bad experience with biomass. I am now thoroughly frustrated with this and, therefore, are wondering if there’s a organisation which represents biomass users. If there is could someone send me the contact details through this website. Thanks.

  175. Henry says:

    Found your blog and read about some of the problems you have with wood-pellet boilers in UK.
    We have been using those type of boilers for many years in DK and we don’t have that kind of problems, maybe the person who installs it does not understand it god enough, or there are a lot of bad pellet boilers on the UK market. Check this page and se if you can find similar in the UK market.

    http://pillestoker.dk

    Cheers Henry

  176. New Forester says:

    Hi, We had been considering a Biomass Pellet or Woodchip boiler, but I think we’ll stick with Oil fired and wood-burners, until the market over here for installation & maintenance on the Biomass front is better regulated. A great shame…
    We are based in the New Forest and would be interested in positive case studies in our area.

    • we have an interesting install in Stockbridge, probably a lot bigger than what you are looking at but a great example of great boiler, froling T4 150kw and excellent installation.

      we installed a small district heating network to heat multiple buildings and a swimming pool. be happy to show anyone interested.

  177. Hi, great article, those issues are very true.

    However we are an Italian Pellet installator and our clients are very aware of pellet problems. Usually we install Austriac brands that have automatic cleaning systems to avoid weekly maintenance and higher quality to avoid breakings

  178. Peter says:

    MCZ igniters, Red igniters, Leister igniters fitted to many biomass boilers all give trouble in my experience as a biomass installer. In my opinion its all down to the mains voltage we have here in the UK. In Europe mains voltage is usually around 220volts. If you look on a MCZ igniter its rated for 230volts. In Lincolnshire we often have mains voltage in excess of 256Volts. So the poor igniters are well over cooked. The Leister units usually fair better but I often have to repair them. If you have a problem with a Leister igniter I can usually repair them rather than paying out £600 to a boiler manufacture.

    If your having problems with igniters, ask an electrician to measure your voltage.

    Best Peter

  179. david Andrews says:

    I have had a biomass boiler fitted under the RHI government plan, I have lots of complaints with the installers, they refuse to put right all the faults, a droning noise at night coming through our main bedroom ceiling . They sent a manager out who said who said it was our central heating pump which was my place to change, replaced pump £120 ,but it did not make any difference, now they will not return to fix the problem. Any idea what my next step should be.

    • Jo says:

      Is your biomass boiler with a shade greener? I have had ongoing problems with these since mine was installed in February and have asked for mine to ge removed.

  180. Greenerheat says:

    Greenerheat supplies and installs biomass boilers. We are a small family run business with over 15 years experience, and I am appalled and saddened that the industry has been so badly damaged by the ‘qiuck buck’ merchants who have no sense of responsibility or the sense to offer any decent level of customer service. Biomass is a brilliant alternative to fossil fuels but my company only installs ETA products. These are Austrian made, very reliable and offer remote access to the end user as well as the supplier, so we can solve many glitches from our offices without need for down time or waiting for an engineer to call. There are many cheap products available, and disreputable suppliers, both of whom have somehow achieved MCS accreditation. I don’t hold much stock by MCS as it just seems a money spinner to me, but my advice would be, don’t buy the cheapest, do your homework regarding the manufacturer, and get written assurances from your supplier/installer on the level of after sales service you can expect.
    I’d be happy to help anyone who has any issues and willing to provide free advice, but we won’t get physically involved in anyone’s installation unless it’s an ETA product as the last one to touch it, is always the one who has caused the problems! Just my experience speaking.

  181. Christine says:

    To add to the list of complaint about biomass systems, I had an MCZ compact 18 installed three years ago and I must say that the boiler itself has not given me any problem, apart from a cracked and distorted brazier which had to be replaced. Although I like the technology, I would advise anyone to stay clear of it, because the problems are with the installers, who are very enthusiastic when it comes to installing a system, but the after sale service is appalling. I agree with previous contributors that there are many rogue installers, and heating engineers, and the MCS certification is not a guarantee of expertise. Our installation was a nightmare, and we have had constant leaks in the pipe work which the installer never managed to fix properly. It means that we have to top up the boiler once a day and can only use it for a few hours a day. Our installers have now gone bust, and I have noticed that a few of the other local firms (in Merseyside) have also disappeared from the MCS list. I have been trying in vain to find someone to service the boiler and to solve the leaks issue for months now. I am getting a lot of promises of a return phone call, but the call never comes and it is causing me a lot of stress as well as wasting a lot of my time. On the occasions when the MCZ trained heating engineer has come to look at our system, I always felt that he knew very little about the boiler and was making things up as he went along. The service was a repetition of the weekly cleaning which I normally do and we were charged for it! It is a sad state of affairs for the renewable energy sector, as I am sure many people will be put off investing in them after their negative experience.

  182. Richard says:

    We have a Klover star 14 which has been fault free for the last 18 months, yes it needs cleaning out once a week and it’s not as simple as a combi boiler but it’s 100% more friendly In operation and in the pocket than an oil system. Not to sound like a Klover sales guy but they and their UK agents have always resolved any questions we have straight away.

  183. keith says:

    We have a B&B in West Yorkshire. It has 6 bedrooms and is 3000 square feet – we wanted to change our heating for a wood pellet boiler and have been speaking to http://www,madabouheat.com. They have been selling boilers for over 10 years – can anyone on here vouch for them?

    • Betty Davies says:

      Hello,
      We bought our wood pellet boiler of them about 3 years ago – it runs perfect and has never given us any problems. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them – lovely people.
      The house and water is warm all the time – we decided not to go down the MCS route as we found it not to financially viable in the end – as with other people here we felt many installers were out there to make a quick buck. Our system was installed in a day by a good local plumber – very happy
      Regards
      Betty

  184. Philip says:

    Having read through quite a few messages, I feel i ought to add my own experiences of biomass. I was a little sceptical at first, given the amount of negative feedback but managed to qualify for the non domestic RHI and bit the bullet last December. We used a very good local installer, 5D and decided on a Froling 100KW P4 pellet boiler. We had to construct a 10 tonne store next to the boiler and also installed a 2500 litre buffer tank. I should also add that 5D also installed the optional pellet “de-duster” which essentially sucks any dust into a seperate chamber during the twice a day filling. I have to say that so far, we have not had 1 problem, it has far exceeded my expectations and we are due our annual service next week. Yes it is more expensive than similar boilers but we decided on the Froling p4 as it was the only boiler designed from the ground up to be a pellet boiler (most of the rest are wood chip conversions) and it has won numerous awards. So my advice would be, get 5 quotes from reputable certified installers, do as much research as possible but the top end Austrian boilers are acknowledged as the best and i repeat, we have never had a problem, in fact to date I have had to empty the ash bins maybe 3 times and the pellet de-duster container twice. Design is very important as you want to ensure as large a store as possible, and definitely install the pellet deduster or similar as I think that may be where the majority of problems arise, too much dust getting into the boiler….finally, I have to say although it is hugely expensive, the payback for us is around 6 years but for the first time the house is properly heated (old victorian stone house) and given the reductions in RHI since we installed, very lucky to have done it when we did…best of luck and hope this positive experience helps..

  185. Chris Button says:

    Very good article and all the points are absolutely spot on. We had a carborobot biomass boiler installed four years ago and it has been nothing but trouble, always breaking down (it’s the quality of the wood they say even though it’s been kiln dried). It’s stupidly costly but we’ve blown it because it will be too expensive to change it for an oil boiler. The one thing that upsets me the most is that we originally thought we would be able to claim on the incentive scheme, but the installer put in a boiler that’s 70kw, way too powerful and ineligible. Can anyone help me try and get round this?

  186. Karl says:

    Hi. USA here. I too just read this informative thread. The pellet de-duster thing is quite interesting. Might not have any applicability for me, since I built a 4x4x4′ box as a store, and pour in the bags of pellets every once in a while, and I understand most of the dust issues result from bulk delivery.

    I installed a Windhager BioWin 10/15 kW pellet boiler by myself last fall. It’s been working great, but I have to say that with the heat pump electric water heater for the summer, and the use of a firewood insert, it hasn’t received maximum use. I kept the existing oil boiler for backup.

    I believe that if the current prices (over here) of pellets and oil are compared, oil is the winner. Poor timing of the pellet boiler install decision, I guess, but that’s typical for me. I am now thinking of burning oil for a while.

    Is anybody there switching from burning pellets to oil?

  187. Stuart says:

    I read this article after we committed to a log gasification boiler last year. I thought I was well versed in alternative heating including biomass. What I have learned is that I hadn’t learnt enough! One year on from installation I say to people “if I win the lottery I’d put back my oil boiler”. I wish I’d obtained the services of an independent heating consultant. I wished I’d picked a heating engineer with proven experience with successful installations to back them up. I wish I hadn’t chosen a plumber that also called themself a heating engineer. I wish I wasn’t greedily swayed by the domestic RHI.

    Our situation isn’t as bad as others. My decision to go ahead was mine alone but looking back then and looking at the market now there is a massive void of genuine expertise in the biomass installation market. Judging by some of the comments above there are a few installers that seem to know their stuff but unfortunately they are the wheat amongst the tsunami of chaff that come from the scool of double glazing and solar PV.

    At the time I got four quotes having identified a well commented-on brand of eco boilers. Most installers were pure salesmen. The only one that seemed convincing and certainly came across as knowing their stuff, whom we chose, in fact turned out to be a standard plumber who was, in hindsight, learning on the job the intricacies of biomass.

    If you’ve decided to get a biomass boiler, put the idea to bed, wait a month and then ask yourself if it is still the right decision. Put it to bed for another month and ask the same question again.

    Having a biomass boiler is rather like making an ill-judged decision to get a dog. You may love the idea of a pedigree breed with a glossy coat, the reliability, efficiency and faithfullness of Lassie but what you actually get is a genetically sick overbred dog from a breeder that turns out to be dodgy as a politician on expenses. The pooch needs to be walked five times a day; it needs extra stimulating activities to stop it ripping your sofa to bits; the breed has endless recurrent health problems; it eats twice as much food as you were expecting; the food costs twice as much as normal food (oil); the food can only be bought from a restricted choice of distant suppliers (BSL); the expensive food gives it the runs; you can’t leave it alone at home longer than three hours; the breeder can never be contacted or bothered to help; the dog bites you and farts a lot.

    I still like the idea of having a dog but I keep reminding myself that it would tie me down. In fact I should have got such a dog as it would have been far less hassle than having a biomass boiler!

    Be warned.

  188. mags says:

    a friend has had a Verner boiler installed.. what a farce! It has spent more time stopped than working! fitter comes out and messes with the controls or changes something, works for a short time then breaks again.. He doesnt have a clue! She rents so has no say but it eats wood, gives limited water and you either freeze or boil in the house! Is Hetas best people for her to contact?

  189. Marco199 says:

    Am looking for biomass installers, has anybody heard of or used Bluetech Energy? Thanks

    • Robs82 says:

      A friend of ours used BlueTech, said everything was spot on, they have a few reviews on the Energy Saving Trust website. I have a quote off them for Biomass, just trying to get through the Home Energy Scotland finance and think I’m going to put one in too.

  190. Mr beef says:

    We installed an Eco Angus boiler October 2014. Worst thing we have ever bought !!!!!!!!!!
    They fitted 3 heaters in the workshop and didn’t lag the pipes.
    So the seasoned oak we had, which would have lasted our Rayburn about 5 years, was burnt in a matter of months, simply heating the air in the workshop.
    They claimed we could install 1 heater in a wood store to dry the timber to put on the boiler.
    I’ve been struggling to keep the house with warm water and some radiators on, let alone drying wood !!!!!!!!!!!
    There is a lever on the side, which you have to move back & fore every time you load timber.
    This broke about 2 months ago. We phoned the company that installed it and I had a phonecall from the importer.
    He said he wasn’t trying to cast blame etc, but went on to say that what you take to the boiler in the wheelbarrow is important. In other words the timber I was burning was not dry enough.
    they did FINALLY come out to repair it- we had to sit in a cold house !
    This lever has now broken again. However, I am burning timber with a moisture content of 18-20%. Well within the recommended range.
    When they removed the lever the last time it broke, it was plain to see it is a design fault.
    There is a 10mm diameter bar on the lever which is supposed to move the bars at the back of the boiler in the heat exchanger tubes. Clearly inadequate for the job it is required to do.
    I wish I had never installed this system.
    Had a look on eBay and they are for sale there for about £3000. Why did we pay so much for our system then???????
    So annoyed,wish we had stayed with out trusty old Rayburn.

    • manmountain says:

      It is disappointing to hear you have had a bad experience with your Eco Angus boiler. We installed a 80kw Orlanski 200 in July 2012 under the non-Domestic RHI and it has been fantastic. One service a year has sufficed, it is successfully heating 3 houses coupled with a 4000l accumulator. Wood quality is paramount but we have put some less than great stuff through it when unavoidable but it has handled it all very well. In three and a half years I have had 2 thermostatic cartridges go in the Laddomat ( an easy replacement and doesn,t actually stop the system from functioning when its not working) and the heat exchanger cleaners bunging up once. This was my fault for getting slack with religiously riddling at every refill. They were a right bugger to free off and clean but it has prompted me be more diligent about riddling.

      Our installers were very good and properly understood what they were doing. From reading many submissions to this site it appears that many cowboys jumped on the RHI wagon whereas our installers had been doing it for twenty years. Mr. beef above was complaining of a design fault in the riddling system. I’ve yet to find that and we’ve given it some serious teddy! I assume he knows that the chimney flap has to be shut before riddling can take place or you will break something!

      • Eco Angus says:

        Glad to hear that yours has been going ok. Surprised to hear it. Our engineer is top notch and informed me last week of another of his clients who has simply swiched his 100kw Eco Angus off as it simply was not performing.
        As I stated in my post on this site I wish I had never seen mine. It has been a waste of time and considerable amounts of money from start to finish and with the oil price where it is I wish I had hung onto the money.
        Given that yours is performing what do anticipate the pay back will be? Mine earns in RHI terms more than the fuel cost but with all the time tending it taken into consideration it is running at a loss so is unlikely to ever pay back.

      • Mr beef says:

        Of course I know the chimney flap has to shut before riddling !!!!!!!!! The problem with it is, there is a 10mm bar which goes from the handle to the frame which the vanes are connected to. This has broken several times, the latest being last week. I was told that it was my fault as I was feeding wet wood. RUBBISH. I have been burning pallets as we ran out of our well seasoned oak timber. They ARE dry !!!! Yet the lever still broke- and I riddle after every fill. Oh and the moisture meter they supplied does’t work anymore. We also have a problem now with the underground pipes- they leak !!!!! The installers’ son said it was rainwater getting into the lagging. What b******s ! Have to argue with them about this now. Really regret the day we phoned them enquiring about it.

    • Eco Angus says:

      I agree completely with your comments. I found the same boiler could be sourced from Poland at half the price. On informing the UK sellers they discounted mine down to nearly half the price that they originaly wanted.
      Wish I had never seen the thing. Not sure what to do going forward.

  191. martin says:

    Just read through most of the above comments. Not really any mention of the Klover 29 or 40 log burning boilers, Does anyone have one installed. If so could you provide some feedback. I am thinking about supplementing my current Oil system. I have access to plenty of wood and room to store it.

    Thanks

    • Fred says:

      Afternoon Martin

      Quite simply put, if you can raise the budget to accommodate a decent product first time around, you will not pay the additional penalty later on through replacement parts and callouts when the system miss-performs.

      My advise from having worked with biomass systems of many origins would be to avoid Italian and Eastern European and install Austrian or German first time around.

      Froling do a great range of Log systems, Google them, and if you want any more info drop me a line on ft@dunster.biz.

  192. Christina says:

    Hi,
    I had a biomass boiler, a bio-flame 40, put into my small family hotel in November 2014 and it hasn’t worked correctly since then. Has anyone had any similar problems with this type of boiler? It constantly breaks down and most of the parts have been replaced at some point and the heat gun 4 times.

    Thanks

  193. Thanks for sharing the truth about biomass boiler. I think I will need to reconsider this option, especially after reading some complaints about the quality and after sales services.

  194. Ruaridh says:

    There are good options available in the UK for dual fuel domestic biomass boilers (log and pellet) that are very affordable and give the option of expanding your system in the future. Please excuse the self promotion, but the Swedish made Varmebaronen Vedolux log boilers paired with the Viking Bio pellet burner attachment give you the flexibility to burn either logs or pellet. That way you can choose when you want to burn cheaper logs, or automate your heating with pellets. You could even use a solar thermal panel or heat pump in the summer months and reserve your wood boiler for when it gets really cold.

    The main difference between using an oil/gas boiler and a pellet/log boiler (other than the need to have fuel delivered) is the requirement to sweep the biomass boiler every few weeks. This keeps it running as efficiently has possible, and shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes if the boiler has been well designed. As long as your boiler is running correctly, there should be very little ash produced. I’ve seen people running their boiler for 6 months without cleaning! And it still functioned very well – the ash tray was very full by this point though!

  195. Chris says:

    Our builders installed a Sunsystem Burnit 25kw boiler. In 2.5 years we have had 6 occasions where we have not had HW or CH for over a week. This time we are up to 2 weeks, the fault this time being a blown PCB. The importers blame something else each time and seem unable to get parts. I love the idea of biomass but this has been a bad experience. The Burnit is from Bulgaria and seems cheap. The installation is poor and I am concerned about the safety of the system should we ever get it running again. I want to replace it and am thinking of a Froeling is we have local support. Either that or an oil system goes in. Thoughts anyone?

  196. Eco Angus says:

    ECO ANGUS 100kw

    If you are thinking of going down the log boiler route STOP – DON’T DO IT.

    Here are the reasons why :-

    1) High Cost circa £30k

    2) Needs a purpose building ie: lots of space with little or nothing else in it.

    3) Extreme fire hazard. If you take longer than 15 seconds to fill the hopper the chimney will catch fire.

    4) Flashover risk. When you open the door do it with your face turned away as frequently it will flashover up to a metre out of the door. This is dangerous.

    5) Do not put any wiring near the casing as this will melt when the chimney/fan box/heat exchanger catches fire and it will trust me.

    6) Poor return. Sure the house gets heated but I was quoted £12k per year return. Not a chance. I have run it from October to February and it has made circa £1500.00. I just paid £800.00 for another load of timber.

    7) You will smell and look like Casey Jones. Picture the scene early morning fresh from the shower, once you have loaded the chamber you will smell like a train driver. I mean the old type.
    Same in the evening. Just off out oh I better make sure there is enough wood in it. Better than Old Spice.

    8) Need dry wood. No I mean it, if the wood isn’t dry it will clog the boiler up in a very short time.

    9) Only burn wood. As in don’t try to get rid of some old TG4 etc. It will gum up the works pronto.

    10) Time. You will spend at least an hour a day pratting around with the thing. Like on your knees trying to reach in the the bottom door to get the ash out. Getting the ash out of the main chamber with a long handled shovel to let the fire breath. If you don’t do this the flame will not enter the heat exchanger. Again the risk here is quite high if you don’t let the fire go out first.

    11) Cold Weather. As soon as the mercury gets even close to zero the boiler finds it difficult to cope and will burn a boxfull in no time at all. Once the storage tank temp drops you need to switch off the circulation pumps to get the temperature back up. What a nighmare!

    12) Preparing the wood. Do you know what 40 tons of wood looks like? That’s the kind of amount required to run this thing all year. Sawing up and then splitting this amount of work is very time consuming and extremely dangerous as well as being very expensive. Add this time to the operation time and you can easily double the time spent on the systems overall operation.
    If you were paid only £10/hour you would get over £7000.00 per year if you stayed at work a bit longer instead of playing with this machine.

    13) Storage. The wood must be stored inside. Again refer to the do you know what 40 tons of wood looks like section. This is a big area.

    14) Longevity. Door fell of the front after the first six weeks. Riddle lever on side seized and need a major repair. Door seals leaked after one year.

    15) Routine maintenance. Oh yes lots of that. From raking the embers every time you open the door through taking the heat exchanger box completely apart to clean the turbulator vanes.
    This is a complete days work and needs to be done at least twice per year.by someone that knows what they are doing at a cost of circa £150.00 per time. The levers on the side will also break.

    16) Smoke inhalation. My unit is installed in an apex roofed shed 30′ x 30′ and 12′ to eaves. It’s quite big. This unit will fill this room with smoke in the time it takes to fill it. The fan in the flue is useless. You are going to breath in lots of smoke and fine black dust when you clean out. You will spit black. your nose will be black.

    SUMMARY

    Don’t do it, do not install this type of unit. You will never get your money back. You will be disappointed, it is dangerous in every way and is a complete waste of time from start to finish.

    You may have some thoughts of the rustic charm of feeding a wood stove. We are farmers we are well used to sawing wood and dealing with machinery of all types and the dangers associated with them. This unit is a piece of tat that only works well for a few days after it has been cleaned and with 15% wood in warm weather. Do yourself a favour do not go there.

    YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

  197. peter jones says:

    hi i had a biomass boiler installed just over a year ago it costs me 38 pounds a week to run it for five and a half hours a day i was told it would cost about three hundred and fifty it has already had two new motors and anew heater it costs four hundred and fifty pounds a year to service it i am already thinking of having it took out and having gas boiler installed ps it cost 12 thousand to install

  198. Sam Roberts says:

    Have read through the comments above with interest, and a growing sense of fear! We are looking at a house to buy which comes with a biomass boiler. It is a Tatano Mini K25. There doesn’t seem to be much mention of these in the thread above – is that a good thing meaning they are reliable and don’t often go wrong? Also are there reputable service companies and pellet manufacturers around north Yorkshire? Are there any key questions I should be asking about the boiler and installation?

    Thanks in advance for any advice.

    Sam

  199. Sean O neill says:

    Beware Solar Focus especially Therminator 2 as touted by Mark at RES.ie. They most definitely do not allow for combined log and pellet use and will require you to purchase a new grate every 6-8 weeks. Check any model in an existing installation before you buy!

  200. P. Shambrook says:

    Had a trianco 40kw greenstar installed just on a year ago. Boiler itself has worked well, external feed auger failed but was replaced under warranty in days. The heat guns for igniting pellets are a definite weak point, tending to last 4 months. These are just paint strippers costing £40 a piece, takes only minutes to change but not what i expected and obviously not fit for purpose, trianco have agreed to replace these for an extra year. Trying to finesse settings to improve ignitor life.
    Initial installation had pretty poor insulation to buffer tank and pipework, now having spent considerable time and effort improving insulation heat loss reduced considerably. Saving around 5kg of pellets a day.
    Biggest bugbear is the amount of cleaning boiler needs , taking around 2 hours every 6 weeks , ash emptying needed only every 2 weeks.
    In addition trianco have tried to reduce service interval from 12 to 6 monthly,despite all the paperwork and sticker on boiler saying its 12 monthly. This has become an ongoing argument/ saga.
    The above are more inconveniences rather than real problems, all in all system works well and pellet consumption is to date as expected and will hopefully be better in coming year as a result of the additional insulation.
    The installation ( insulation aside) is neat and professional and has given no issues.
    The boiler is however not a use and forget item, initially a lot to learn and needs an eye on it and cleaning as above.
    Certainly an improvement on the old lpg system and with rhi very cost effective, all being well we’ll be far enough in front to reinstate an lpg back up at the end of the 7 years.
    Would i do it now, with current rhi rates, no, especially if it was to replace an existing system. With current cost of heating oil if you already use it , keep doing so.

  201. sam says:

    We had a 40kw log gasification system put in for commercial purposes to heat 2 cottages and farmhouse. We have woodland so thought it was a good idea. We are using wood that is no more than 19.8%. We fill the chamber up 7 times a day from 7am to 11pm, the boiler temp struggles, there never seems enough hot water, we need sleep, it cannot be going 24hours a day and we have no back up. If there are people in the cottages we cannot be away from the burner for more than 3hours. We take the burner apart and service it once a week. This takes a good 1.5 hours. We were told we would need around 40000 kW per year, in 3.5 months we have produced 25000 kW so far. We were told that we would need to load the chamber 3 times a day in the winter. We load it 7 times. We have burnt about 30 tonne of wood already in 3.5 months. Any tips greatly appreciated.

    • sam says:

      To add to the above. We spent 25k.

    • P. Shambrook says:

      Assuming the wood you are burning is definitely dried to under 20%, 30 tomnes equates to roughly 120,000 kwh of possible heat if you’ve only achieved 25,000 kwh, you’re only getting about 20% efficiency. Truly dreadful. How big is your thermal store, where is the heat meter in the system? Assuming you have an adjustable pump between boiler and store have you tried altering this?, what are flue temperatures? Is boiler running within manufactureres parameters. How well insulated is the thermal store and system pipework? You can have huge losses alone from a,poorly insulated system, though on its own would hardly explain the inneficiency and i would expect the heat meter to be between boiler and store so should be giving total heat produced. What make of boiler is it?
      What sort of wood are you burning has it been debarked and what fuel is boiler designed for?

      • sam says:

        Definitely under 20%. Thermal store is just over 2000ltrs. heat meter is between boiler and the store. All done to mcs spec and photographs taken for rhi application. There is adjustable pump and we have tried altering, no difference. Flue temps on average 140. The boiler is not running within parameters of what the manufacturer says. The thermal store has a jacket on it and all pipework is very well insulated. The boiler is a CTC v40. The wood is a mixture of soft wood and hard wood, tried both separately as well as mixed, no difference. The burner has been going for 19 hours a day since its been installed. The manufacturer admits that something is amiss but they are dodging around sorting it Asap. They are getting the installer to replace a thermometer of some sort and see what happens. Since my last message we have used another 10 tonne. The thermal store should get up to 80 degrees in an hour and a half, so the manufacturer reckons but

        • sam says:

          80 degrees top to bottom, but it sits at about 50/40 after it been going for several hours, even if all heating and water is turned off the store struggles to get up. Its all really weird.

          • Gareth says:

            Have you a temperature regulator fitted on the pipe work from the tanks to your heating system ?.

            This helps maintain the stratification of the hot water within the tank, for example I have mine set for radiators only at around 40c.

        • P. Shambrook says:

          Evening Sam, me again, found a pdf of your boiler showing a cut away, since you’ve had the boiler have the turbolators been removed and the heat exchange tubes/ turbolators been thoroughly cleaned? If not that would be my first suspect, once these are properly cleaned along with the fan and any other comustion gas pathways,plus have the flue swept. If possible have this done by the installer in your presence Then refire boiler with carefully selected wood known to be below 20%. Weigh the quantity added to boiler. Monitor the burn noting any data you can aquire, temperature of store, fan speeds, flue temps, boiler temperature. Readings from heat meter before and after burn. Boiler is rated at 90% efficient approx, so you’d hope to get at a minimum 3kw per kilo of wood burnt and ideally nearer 3.5kw. Your store will need very roughly 2kw for each degree of temp rise, not allowing for heat losses from pipework tank etc.
          Then get back to agent/ manufacturer and send all the data through, you need the main man in technical support to take a look, you’ll get a far better idea from him than anyome else. Good luck

          • Sam says:

            Hi Shambrook, we have had the turbulators out at least three times. We have cleaned the whole thing and taken it all apart. We even took the top off the chimney and cleaned out the thing that stops the down draft, swept chimney etc. We have bought and knackered several brushes cleaning the bloody thing. We have done all the data that you have mentioned apart from weighing the actual wood and therefore working out more accurately the kw usage. We had a temperature sensor changed (from boiler to tank) and the boiler was reaching higher temperatures from this and there was a slight improvement. From 10am to 12 am it got 84/39 in 2 hours. After 4 hours it was 87/48. The tank started off at 39/38 though, so had a running start. We even saw for the first time EVER, the boiler went in to reduced mode. Once we opened the pumps to release the heat, it levelled off pretty quick to about 52/49. The boiler is still going from 7am till midnight and the amount wood we are putting on is highly concerning and not economically viable. We have worked out that at the current usage of wood we would need to spend about £8,000 a year to keep up. We have had every customer staying in the cottages complain about lack of hot water in the mornings, even after the temperature sensor change. The RHI payment does not even cover the wood. 70% or so of the wood energy is just literally going up in smoke. It wouldn’t be so bad if the kilowatts were actually clocking up! Sometimes I feel like a total idiot for taking out our oil burner system. Trying to save money and instead just bankrupting myself. LOL!

          • Gareth says:

            I think it’s very undersized for the job, 2000 litres heating three properties is way too small even if the properties are over insulated.

            I’ve 2500 litres doing just the radiators one on property!.

          • P. Shambrook says:

            Afternoon Sam, sounds as though you need to reject the system as not fit for purpose and instigate leagal proceedings, maybe get an independent biomass specialist in to give the system a look over and give an opinion.
            Whilst as commented below the store may be smaller than ideal, it does not explain why so little of the combustion energy is being transferred to the system. A 40kw boiler running efficiently 17 hours a day should be putting a huge amount of heat into the system.
            Have the intallers no explanation as to why performance is so poor?

            Atb phil

          • sam says:

            The manufacturer insists the problem is not with the burner. The circumference of the heat transfer pipes that carry heat from the burner to the storage tank are apparently too small so the heat from the burner cannot be transferred properly. A bit like having a 2ltr pop bottle full of cold water with pin holes carrying heat in to it and back out, it just can’t heat up. They are on now changing it. I really hope that this works now, otherwise we have to look forward going down ‘that’ road, which involves even more time, stress and money.

          • Phil says:

            Evening, sounds plausible, but somewhat suggests your installer is less than competent, if it solves the problem , I’d be presenting an invoice for 30 tonnes of wood and expect it to be paid.
            Hope it sorts problem for you.

            regards phil

    • Sam says:

      Does anyone have any information on how to approach this with regards to legal proceedings / advice? Is there a particular organisation to use first? We had an independent inspection and there were a few major issues. Mainly the boiler was undersized for RHI payments and therefore in the wrong tier for the amount of kilowatts we will be producing. It should be a 60kw burner not a 40 kw burner. There chimney flue is incorrect. The piping from the storage tank is incorrect so that the stratification of the water is wasteful. It’s a bit of a mess.

    • Russ Linley says:

      Hi Sam.
      Your system obviously is giving you heaps of trouble. Can you tell me if you have such information as boiler temperature, flue temperature, O2 (Oxygen) readings from the flue gas? If you could send photos or describe in some detail how the system is piped up, there may be clues as to what is going wrong for you. The wood moisture sounds reasonable, (it shouldn’t be too dry or the combustion temperature will be too high and start to burn the boiler components out) Nor should it be too wet, (comb temp will be lower and smoke and tar will collect and hinder good combustion). The majority of problems I have encountered is that the system does not allow the boiler to operate properly, or to achieve its target temps. It really sounds on the face of it that the majority of the energy is flying up the chimney and not being captured by the tank.
      Phoenix Biomass Heating Specialists are located in Doncaster, but work UK wide, and we have rescued so many boilers now from poor design/installation/maintenance etc. If your installer has left you with a plant room diagram I’d be happy to look at it to see if there is a reason for your problem.
      russ.linley@phoenix-bhs.co.uk

  202. Nigel Large says:

    “10 things your installer won’t tell you about your pellet biomass boiler before you buy it
    ………………………………………………………..”

    An alternative (for some commercial premises) is to get a free containerised boiler (ie delivered as a unit in a shipping container). Free includes the costs of installation and a full service and maintenance regime for the 20 years of the RHI payments.

    The advantages are:
    a) because it comes as a containerised unit, your old heater is left in place – so if there’s any breakdowns (or it doesn’t give you the claimed savings in running costs) you can switch back to using the old system
    b) you don’t have to worry about servicing it, or warranties – the installer takes care of all of that
    c) the installers/owners of the boiler (who are making their money from receiving the RHI payments) only get paid if the boiler is being used – so it’s in their interests to keep it in operating order, and to find you a cheap source of suitable fuel

    The disadvantages are:
    a) the installer gets to keep the RHI payments for 20 years, rather than you getting them
    b) it comes as a 40ft shipping container – so it’s not a beautiful adornment to your premises

    This is only available to commercial installations (at least 80kw) – mostly because the domestic RHI only runs for 7 years, so there’s not much money for the installers in that side of things.

    Disclosure – I’m working for a company that is offering free biomass boilers as described above.

  203. Gavin says:

    I had a Okofen pellet boiler fitted by Woodheat in Stockton in 2015. The boiler was fitted and made to run but never finished off. After numerous attempts to sort the issues, I’ve found out the installer has liquidated the company(changed company names) to avoid resolving a large amount of customer complaints. Unfortunately the manufacture just passes the buck to the installer. In short, don’t bother. The biomass industry in the UK is ten years behind Europe. Installers don’t have knowledge to install and Manufactures don’t have the knowledge of UK markets and servicing will require a mortgage.

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