Frequently asked questions
Is this a new technology?
No, we have been burning wood and solid fuel for a long time, Biomass technology is relatively new in the UK, but it is a major form of heating on the continent, where for instance Germany gets 60% of domestic heating demand from Biomass boilers, and mostly pellet boilers.
How reliable are these systems and how long will they last?
Any boiler installation whether gas, oil or biomass; is as good as the product that is installed and the way it is installed. A well installed Biomass system will be as reliable as any fossil fuel system. The boilers are designed for a long life and will outlast any new condensing boiler. The fuel feed system is more complex than for fossil fuels but again a well-designed and executed feed system, should be hassle free and last as long as the boiler itself. The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) payment term is currently 20 years so a Biomass boiler must be capable of lasting for at least this 20 year period. Contact Artizan to discuss your requirements.
How much maintenance does a biomass system need?
The amount of maintenance for a biomass system will depend on the manufacturer, and the amount of automated cleaning that the system will do for itself. It is very important to fully understand the maintenance schedule that the manufacturer expects you to do, as this could affect the warranty of the system.
Who services the equipment and what about guarantees?
We have gained a wealth of experience over many years in looking after all types of traditional and renewable heating systems and can tailor make a service contract package for your exact requirements. The Austrian made boilers that we offer are guaranteed for 5 years. We are so confident with this premium quality product range that we can include a 5 year service and maintenance package within our quotations. Call us for details.
Are they noisy?
Not really, depending again on the make and the type of fuel delivery system, if the pellet is on a vacuum feed you will hear the turbines running, a bit like a vacuum cleaner, this can be timed to suit your situation, screw feeds or augers are quieter, and then you may hear the pellets tinkling into the burn chamber, and some boilers with automatic cleaning will strike the rods in the heat exchanger, again this can be timed to suit your requirements and generally speaking the noise level is about the same as a fossil fuel boiler.
Is Biomass smelly, will it make a lot of smoke?
All Biomass systems in the UK have to conform to very stringent conditions determined by the Clean Air act. On a well installed Biomass system, there will be a small amount of white smoke at the initial ignition of the system, and then all you will see will be a slight heat haze shimmering above the chimney, and a rather pleasant smell of burning wood in the air.
What fuel type should I use?
The simplest answer to this is how much work you want to put in. A log boiler is the most labour intensive fuel type, first you will need to source your logs, and have somewhere to keep them dry, and that is not far from the boiler, you will need to fill the chamber possibly two or three times a day in the heating period, and you will also get a lot of ash to remove. For chip, this can be easier and you can get a good amount of automation with chip boiler systems, but the store needs to be reasonably close, and you will still need a drying shed if you want to harvest and season your own wood fuel. If you buy in already prepared woodchip, some form of bulk handling on site is a must for any chip installation. We have a flexible boiler system that will operate with split logs and revert to using pellets when the logs burn out. Contact Artizan for details and suitability.
How much space do I need for the boiler and fuel store?
The size of the buildings heat demand will determine boiler size and depending on the make of the boiler, will determine the size of the plant room and fuel store. You will need access for servicing and cleaning of the boiler, the fuel store will depend on the heating requirement, you will get about 4,500 kWh from a ton of pellet in most biomass boilers, so if you require 20,000 kWh you will need to burn about 4.5 tons of pellet, therefore your store should hold around 3 tons of pellet, and need a refill every 6 months or so. The cost of delivering 3 ton is the same as 6 ton so this factor needs to be taken into consideration at the design stage. Contact Artizan to discuss your situation.
Is the fuel supply secure, wont it just go up in price when everybody is using biofuels?
The UK can be self-sufficient in the supply of wood pellets for heating, and we have a very well supported indigenous pellet production in the UK, but at the moment we are buying in a lot of pellet from Scandinavia and North America, where they have an overproduction at the moment, we will probably see a small rise in the cost of wood pellets over the next few years, but a lot slower than any fossil fuel and in Austria since 2000 to 2013, the price of pellets has only increased by 6% over this period.
Do I have to shift bags of pellets?
You can do, if you want, but at Artizan probably 90% of all our installations pellets are delivered into large hoppers that we have designed and built ourselves. These will be filled by a lorry the same size as an oil delivery lorry and simply blown in to the store.
Where can I store my pellets?
Pellet storage is very important as the pellets must be kept dry, if you get bagged pellets keep them on the pallet for as long as possible, for blown deliveries we can either build a purpose built store in the property or externally, or install an off the shelf internal or external store, we can also supply and install subterranean stores that can be hidden completely.
Can I start with pellets and change to chip when I have found a good local supplier?
Yes, this is very popular and will need to be specified at the design stage so that a suitable boiler, fuel delivery system and fuel store can be specified. Contact Artizan to discuss your requirements.
How do I order Biomass fuel?
There are many ways of getting fuel, for pellets either we can arrange a regular pellet delivery, or we will give you a list of local suppliers that you can call to make a comparison. We can also put you in touch with chip and log suppliers local to you.
Is there a fire risk from using Biomass?
With any combustible material there is always a chance of fire, but all biomass systems have built in safety mechanisms, to minimise the risk of fire, and areas safe if not safer than standard fossil fuelled systems.
Can I see one working?
Yes, we are more than happy to arrange a suitable time to come for a demonstration, Artizan has 7 biomass boilers in the showroom, or we can ask one of our existing clients to show off their installation.
Call us on 01344 356900 to discuss your requirements or visit our showroom to see a system working.