The property is a working farm in Gwynfe, rural Carmarthenshire, with a traditional solid wall stone house, a cavity wall extension and a former smithy outbuilding. The farm has been in the Jones family for several generations. There was no central heating in the house but the kitchen was warmed by an oil fired Rayburn and a log burner heated the lounge. In addition electric storage heaters provided heating elsewhere and an electric immersion heater boosted the hot water generated by the Rayburn.
Whilst the kitchen was generally warm the rest of the house could be very cold in winter – using the electric storage heaters was very expensive and the log burner only really heated one other room. As the next generation, Huw and Sheila were moving into the farmhouse and it was decided that central heating would be needed to warm the otherwise chilly home.
As there is a plentiful supply of wood on the Jones’ farm, the Jones’ wondered if they too could make use of their own waste wood as a ‘free’ source of fuel. The Jones’ farm is not connected to the gas supply so the other options would be to use heating oil or Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) to fuel the new central heating radiator system that they wanted.
Considering the type of wood that was readily available on the farm, and the free space in the disused smithy next to the farmhouse, Nick recommended the Fröling S4 28kW log boiler with 2,000 litre buffer cylinder and completely new wet heating system (radiators) and controls.
This Austrian biomass boiler burns dried logs to provide heating and hot water through a highly sophisticated automated system. The Fröling S4 control panel allows for temperature and timing of heating in the home to be managed like a conventional central heating system.
Along with the 2,000 litre buffer vessel for hot water, this type of biomass boiler is ideal for homes with outbuildings nearby.
Running the system
The Fröling S4 is highly automated. Its control panel allows for temperature and timing of heating in the home to be managed like a conventional central heating system. All the owners need to do is supply the wood. The control display even tells them how many logs are needed to top up the system.
The biomass log boiler system includes external weather compensation, meaning it automatically adjusts the amount of heat generated from the biomass boiler according to the temperature outside.
With Nick’s advice, the couple could see that the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme was worth pursuing, despite the specific challenges related to their property. One issue was the requirement for the Jones’ to register on the UK’s biomass supplier list as approved ‘self-suppliers’, if they were to use the waste wood from their own land in a RHI funded biomass system.
Another challenge was an existing cavity wall; the RHI scheme normally requires all cavity walls to be insulated before the biomass system can be installed, to reduce the heat demand of the property. Following Nick’s discussions on behalf of the Jones’ with the a local surveyor it was agreed that it would be inappropriate to fill the cavity wall in this case and the necessary exemption forms were completed. Nick also worked with the couple to set up their self-supplier registration and discussed the financial detail of the RHI scheme.
Fuelled by waste wood grown on their own land and supported by quarterly payments through the RHI scheme (which will more than cover the cost of the installation and heating system) the Jones’ have found an ideal and sustainable heating solution for their future.
The installation process
As the biomass log boiler was to be located in the old smithy outhouse, a fair amount of preparatory work was needed to connect the electrics and plumbing to the farmhouse, not to mention the removal of the old heaters and installation of radiators throughout the property. The Birdshill Biomass team worked with local electricians, Martin Rees Electrical from Llandovery, to complete the works and to give the old smithy a new lease of life.
Huw and Sheila cleared and prepared the Smithy prior to work starting and generously provided a flow of hospitality (tea, cake and even bacon sandwiches!) for the team whilst the work was going ahead, so the only real challenge during installation was the team’s expanding waist bands!
New Renewable Heating System Benefits
• System paid for* by the Domestic RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive)
• Low carbon heating and hot water through sustainable and legal fuel source
• Centrally controlled and automated heating and hot water
• “Free” fuel into the future as the client can self-supply logs to fuel the system into the future.