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The Complete Guide to Biomass Boilers

When people first think of taking up a renewable energy source, their minds may first turn to Solar PV, Solar thermal, or air source heating systems. Biomass boilers are often not the first port of call.

However, biomass boilers could be a great option for you. They are sustainable, the fuel is relatively cheap, and the boilers have a long lifespan.

With this guide we aim to open your eyes to the potential benefits of installing a biomass boiler.

What is a biomass boiler?

A biomass boiler is similar to a normal gas or oil boiler, except it uses organic material as a fuel source. This reduces the consumption of fossil fuels.

This organic material is called Biomass. Biomass can be anything that used to grow, but wood is most commonly used today in boilers.

A biomass boiler burns this organic material, using it to heat the water that comes through your taps.

5 advantages of a biomass boiler

  1. Cheaper fuel costs than oil or gas boilers
  2. A much more sustainable form of energy than using fossil fuels
  3. More efficient at heating a room than an open fire
  4. Many modern biomass boilers are fully automatic, requiring minimal maintenance
  5. Different styles of boiler are available to suit your specific needs

Biomass boilers are a great option for those looking for an environmentally friendly heating system.

Before you go out and purchase yours though, there are a few things that should be considered first.

Do you have space for a biomass boiler?

Biomass boilers come in a range of shapes and sizes, so you can often find one that fits your needs. They are usually significantly larger than a traditional boiler though, so where it is fitted should be considered.

You may also need to think about where you will store biomass fuel. A lot of suppliers provide regular wood fuel deliveries if necessary.

Alternatively, many biomass boilers can be installed with a large fuel hopper used to store wood pellets or chips. These often automatically feed into your boiler, removing the need to manually refill the fuel.

These automatic hoppers can store up to a years worth of fuel – ideal for those who also want to reduce the impact of fuel deliveries on the environment. Such a large store does of course take up a lot of room though. If you are thinking of taking up this option, planning where to store fuel is vital.

Which type of wood fuel should you use?

Wood fuel for biomass boilers comes in the form of logs, pellets or chips.

Logs

Cost: The cost of logs varies largely depending on where you are and how many you buy at once. Those living in rural areas may be able to find a good rate.

Usage: In order to be used in a biomass boiler, logs will need to be cut down to size and manually loaded into the stove. To ensure maximum efficiency of your biomass boiler, any logs will need to be kept as dry as possible. This may mean using or building a large log store on your property.

Wood Pellets

Cost: Bought in bulk, wood pellets can work out at about 5p/kWh (kilowatts per hour – the standard energy cost measurement). If you have space to store larger quantities on your property, this may drop to around 4p/kWh.

Usage: Wood pellets are just compacted sawdust and wood shavings. They are the most efficient wood fuel, achieving up to 90% efficiency from burning. Pellets are usually stored in a large hopper and fed directly into the biomass system. They must be kept dry, else they will be unusable.

Wood Chips

Cost: Wood chips come in at the cheapest kind of wood fuel, costing around 2 – 3p/kWh.

Usage: Wood chips are less efficient than wood pellets, and must be kept dry. If they get wet, they will turn into an unusable pulp. Wood chips are also suitable for use in an automatic feeding hopper, so less manual input is required.

Biomass Boilers and the Renewable Heat Incentive

The renewable heat incentive is a government scheme to reward those who install a sustainable heating system.

If you install a biomass boiler, you may be eligible to receive this funding. This can help you with the costs of the installation of your biomass boiler and with the ongoing costs of maintenance and fuel.

Surveying and Installing Your Boiler

Once you’ve decided you’d like to have a biomass boiler installed, the next thing you need to determine is the suitability of your property.

At ecoames, one of our expert biomass installers will visit your property and advise you on where and how is best to fit your boiler.

We advise on the ideal size of the system for your property, and where it would be best located. We also take into account where fuel would be stored.

Once we’ve agreed on all this, we then supply and install a top quality, high efficiency biomass boiler into your property.

We only use the very best manufacturers, and we are fully MCS and HIES certified members.