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Biomass boiler installation and commissioning – part 2

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3 Years on and I have decided that I really should finish my blog on the biomass boiler installation! So here goes:

Continuing the installation.

After that it was a bit like assembling a giant Meccano kit with one big difference; all the bits were jumbled up (not nicely packaged up as box 1, box 2 etc. and most weren’t labelled.

no where to move!

Nowhere to move!

Over the next few hours, the stack of boxes of components got smaller as assembly continued. This had the distinct benefit of being able to find the parts that we needed more easily. We just had to hope that the inevitable bits left over weren’t too important.

main body of the biomass boiler

starting to take shape

Some bits were more obvious than most … This auger was too long to lie across the room where is was going, as it also had to go through the wall to the next room where the biomass boiler was situated. And the wall it had to go through? This was 1.2m thick. substantially more than any core drill that I had. As I didn’t want to add the cost of hiring in specialist equipment I did the next best thing. I got a very solid metal bar and a very big sledge hammer, and hit, and again, and again. In fact I hit it rather a lot. I seem to remember that it took a good 4 or 5 hours, but it was fun!

auger

Over the coming hours and days, the boiler got bigger and bigger, and the available space in the boiler room got less and less. Once the parts came together and it began to really look like a biomass boiler it was time to start plumbing.

the assembled boiler

Boiler assembled

Plumbing it in

Adding the pipework turned it from looking like a boiler in a basement, into a proper industrial plant room! There are pipes, pumps, isolating valves and filters everywhere.

pipework

lots of pipes

 

An expansion tank, as I am concerned, is normally a small red bottle that sits inside the boiler. Ours, however, is about 4ft high bottle that looks more like a shipping mine!

expansion tank

expansion tank

 

Connecting to the existing pipework was a bit of a challenge, and is some cases it was easier and neater to take chunks out and replace them altogether. After the plumbing, it was time for the fuel store. Two potential issues with Biomass Boilers and wood pellets are dust build up and running out! To avoid both issues I decided to have two fuel stores, one feeding into the other. The idea was that the pellets could be delivered to the main tank, fed to the next one, and then on to the boiler. When the first store runs out, I can order more pellets knowing that I still have a week’s worth left in the second one. Because the first store is empty, I can clean out any dust and be ready for the delivery. That plan is working exceptionally well.

small pellet store

pellet store

3, 2, 1, biomass boiler ignition!

Well OK, it takes a bit longer than that. Typically, from first switching on, to seeing a flame, is less than 5 minutes. It then another 10 minutes for the whole system to heat up enough to start outputting heat. If you look at the first picture above, you will see two big black tanks (and in the previous blog you can see them being craned in). These are the thermal stores. This is where the hot water is stored, 5000 litres of it. The boiler heats these stores up to about 90 degrees and then switches off. When there is a heating requirement from radiators or the hot water tanks, the heating water comes from this store. This means that the boiler doesn’t have to keep switching on and off.

In the summer, it might only light once every 2 days, and in the winter, it is around 3 times a day. These are just estimates, I don’t sit watching it all day every day, well not any more. However, it is internet enables and does have its own IP address though, so I can log in to it on my phone if I want too!!

Was it worth it?

Definitely. In straight cash terms, we are saving about £4000 being the difference in what we were spending on oil vs what we now spend on pellets. our electricity bills have come down about £500 per month. But the big win, is that the building is warmer. The oil and electric combination just couldn’t to do the job. This has really helped us when we come to show people around for weddings in the winter months. People asked us ” does it warm up?” “do we put the heating on?” and sometimes this was when the heating was on!!

Now I just need to put radiators into all the apartments to make full use of the biomass boiler. I have started on this and have put about 1000m of new pipework in over the last couple of years in preparation for this.

Prescient Power  www.facebook.com/PrescientPower undertook the system design, installation and commissioning. They were fantastic. They didn’t even mind me hovering around all the time, and doing bits when I could!

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