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Elemental Heating

Patrick Wheeler background

-Started as an apprentice in 2003 commercial pipe fitting and installation for a small Surrey based commercial heating firm.  Worked on a diverse range of appliances from open flued domestic back boilers to huge oil fired commercial greenhouse boilers, air heaters and school plant rooms.

Formed Elemental Heating in 2009 primarily working in domestic installation and servicing but still maintaining a few commercial properties.

“I like to take on ambitious projects and learn about industry boundary pushing innovations like air source heat pumps, mCHP (combined heat and power units which create electricity from gas combustion at far higher efficiency than traditional methods), solar thermal and of course modulating controls.”

-I am particularly interested in efficiency and energy reduction.  Our current power plants run on mostly fossil fuels, they are between 30-40% efficient once we take into account the losses from source to point of use.  Once thing that commercial properties and large domestic properties already take advantage of is on site production.  This can be as simple as photovoltaic cells on the roof feeding back into the grid or as complicated as gas powered heat and power units which heat hot water and spaces and run a turbine or similar to create electricity.  Although CHP units still rely on natural gas and therefore are a fossil fuel consumer they are far more efficient than current production and replace the existing boiler.  As on site storage technology is improving I would like to see a huge reduction in the next decade of reliance on wasteful power plants and individuals creating power from renewable and more responsible sources.

-Efficiency is not only the amount of gas used to power a boiler, reliability and longevity of an installation should be considered as efficiency.  The lifespan of some boilers is given as less than ten years by some manufacturers and I have seen some last far less than that.  If a boiler is well specified, installed to a clean system, protected from contaminants and run with a compensated flow it should last well over a decade.  Boilers used to last twenty to forty years, we should get back to that.

– In summer 2016 I was fortunate enough to be one of the Ecotechnicians who met with BEIS (formally the DECC) to discuss potential strategy for energy saving legislation.  We as a cooperative specifically recommend the use of modulating controls, that is heating controllers that actively modulate the output of the boiler to match the requirements of the property at that point in time taking into account internal (and often external temperatures).

Since that meeting (and presumably many other meetings with industry professionals) BEIS have recently announced that legislation will be brought in to make it mandatory for any new installation to have modulating controls, this may be achieved in any number of ways but will be a shock to the system of any installers who have been simply fitting a combination boiler and an on/off programmable stat.  It has also surprised at least one boiler manufacturer who had not one modulating controller in among their products.

-Modulating controls don’t have to be difficult.  The change from “dumb” controls to smart ones can be very straight forward, for instance the Honeywell SM927 wireless programmable thermostat is OpenTherm* protocol, it can be wirelessly bound to an Intergas Eco RF or installed with the enclosed receiver and additional bridge to give full OpenTherm control for the same price as an average controller.  Despite the in-built fuzzy logic intelligent learning it is very simple to use, I usually program it for my clients and ask them to leave it learning for at least a week.

*OpenTherm protocol is an HVAC specific communication language for thermostats, controllers and appliances to relay information about the demand (temperatures and recovery times mostly) to modulate the output of the boiler (for instance) and reduce the cycling of the unit.

“The best value installer isn’t the one that costs you the least but the one who saves you the most money”.

Areas Covered

  • South East
  • London

Services

  • Installations
  • Repairs
  • System Design

Credentials

  • Natural Gas
  • Renewables
  • Domestic
  • Commercial
 

Blog Posts By Patrick Wheeler

  • BEIS Boiler Plus Document – Open Response, 19 Oct 2017

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