[7 minute read]
The changing future of our domestic heating industry has already begun. It’s happening- it’s all around us, to stay at the forefront of this heating revolution you need to upskill. It’s that simple. If you don’t get motivated to learn now and keep up it’s going to leave you behind working with the builders, social housing, landlords and the cheapskates.
The future is going to be Heat Pumps and upgrading old systems. The future also sees us being held far more accountable for what we do. The old days of ‘blagging it’ are coming to an end. Every manufacturer is gearing up for the Heat Pump Revolution, and the Government is aggressively financially supporting it. This is more than just the writing on the wall- it’s started. This latest chapter in our industry has begun, and you need to react now!
To understand heat pump systems, you first need to understand every day central heating. Just look how hopelessly inefficient it all is at the moment steered mainly by guesswork and oversizing. The most poorly set up boiler and system still eventually gets the radiators hot but how we have traditionally done things in the past just isn’t going to cut it in the future.
Anyone can be a combi slinger – bang it on the wall – pipe it up – switch it on – job done. But the powers that be and our consumers are realising that this approach isn’t creating anything like the 94-96% efficiencies claimed by the manufacturers.
Contrary to a lot of opinion gas boilers don’t condense straight out the box despite what it suggests on the packaging or manual. Various recent surveys and reports hover around 88% efficiency with some as low as 81% for our current condensing stock. That’s no better than the old cast iron age boilers. In 15 years of condensing boilers, we have achieved virtually nothing to increase efficiency.
The frustrating thing is that even combi slingers could make a noticeable increase in efficiency for virtually no extra time spent, work involved, or money lost, if they just understood a little bit more about the basics. These are the very same basics you must understand to install Heat Pumps. Just getting all the rads hot – is no longer acceptable in this age of energy conservation.
The S&Y plan disciples often don’t have the confidence to take on bigger and more lucrative work without guessing, resulting in massively oversizing everything. It only needs a modicum of design knowledge to get these more complex systems to hit room set points, be noticeably more efficient, and work correctly first time. This lack of knowledge has created an epidemic of plant oversizing and inefficiency. And it’s all for the sake of a smidgen of basic knowledge.
I get it the old brigade don’t want to change. S&Y plans are simple outdated pre-condensing 1980’s technology but everything Priority Hot Water is easier to install – from pipework to the wiring. Every aspect of a Priority Hot Water system is better than the S&Y plans so what’s the issue? Well, the issue is change – it’s that first step into the unknown. Well, if that small change is too big a step what happens when you have to design and install Heat Pumps systems?
You need to get ahead of the curve of this inevitable change right now to be at the forefront of all this and not forever hanging on to other people’s shirt tails.
COVID has thrown us headfirst into never-ending Zoom and online training. It’s got its place but just like the Uni students complaining of endless impersonal video tutorials I’m not a fan of it. There is nothing that beats face to face interaction. My events have usually taken place all over the UK, but COVID sadly has delayed this so until we have our freedom back all the events are held at the academy in Northampton.
Training is aimed at the domestic market from a 1 bed flat- right up to 70 Kw with enough content for you to understand all the basic stuff – and plenty more. The maths is only to justify where the numbers come from and to help explain how phone apps get their answers. Its set in a logical order and when the penny drops & I see that every single event you will be a far more confident & capable installer ready to take on the bigger and more complex jobs – including Heat Pumps.
This event has been a one-day affair for well over two years and over 900 attendees have benefited. The more I gathered about what wasn’t understood, the better shape the day took. The feedback speaks for itself. Value for money has always been high on my agenda so my events have never been about sales of any sort and cost less than £12 per hour. However, adding more necessary content was needed until it all just got too much for one day.
As a result, the two-day event was born. It allows time for a slower pace, more practical, more question time and a deeper understanding of a few of the more important topics plus the addition of Heat Pump criteria and design.
The event starts with an intro into flow velocity pipe sizing and pressure drop or ‘resistance to flow’ as I prefer to explain it. The maths to do this is the simplest of schoolboy maths little more than you need for ACS as I have removed all the complex stuff. This event is for installers not University graduates. I talk in Installer lingo and only use units that you already understand like degrees, litres, head, and so on! I go through the benefits of Priority Hot Water and the need for it on all new gas-powered cylinder systems along with the advantage of high recovery coil cylinders.
We move on to pumps and pump maps learning how to read the maps and size a pump. Continuing on to balancing and how it’s all about controlling flow to keep the return temperature down and actually what it is you are balancing to what?
We consider various TRV’s from the cheapo wax stat ‘normal ’ones, the better ‘pre settable’ ones and the new era ‘pressure independent’ ones. Correct radiator sizing is also critical – especially as we move towards lower flow temperature systems – again it’s all about keeping that return temperature low, whilst keeping the heat output correct.
Day 2 starts with designing from scratch a small 4 bed house using all the knowledge from day 1. We design with various pipe sizes in both copper and plastic to highlight the differences. Then again, the same dwelling but with a much lower flow & return temp as we all know low temperature systems are also very much on the horizon. We talk about VDi2035 the alternate way to keep systems clean without using endless chemicals.
UFH brings us back with a bang about flow as we move away from ∆t 20 radiator zones towards ∆t 7 UFH zones meaning hydronic separation is almost certainly needed. This introduces the very misunderstood Low Loss Header & Close Coupled or closely spaced T’s. As with most things they are uncomplicated in operation & easy to understand once the mystique and old wife’s tales of these simple but essential devices are dispelled.
LLH also open the option for twin boilers for extremely large domestic properties with multiple zones with maybe a swimming pool so we take some time to design a large multi zone property with multiple boilers & varying flow requirements. It’s all achieved using the same principles & calculations just with larger numbers. These much larger systems may benefit from using pump stations so we take a look at those and how if used in the right application they can be a real asset.
The last major section is preparing for Heat Pumps. With the accumulated wisdom of the training so far the ability to do an accurate survey on a Retrofit Heat Pump is now quite straightforward. The ∆t of these pumps is often as low as 5 so pipe sizing due to the larger flow requirements is critical- as is the system pump that powers it all. The much lower Mean or ‘Middle’ as I prefer to call it Water Temperature now also means radiator sizing is imperative but if we apply the simple formulas and use the same approach of everything else we have done so far – it’s just another simple & straightforward calculation. There is no room for guesswork or mistakes with Heat Pumps.
Retro fit Heat Pumps usually need a buffer so we chat about the pros & cons of different types of buffer and the difference between a buffer to aid in reducing cycling & not acting as a heat store.
We finish off with a look at some ‘choice’ pictures from the internet. By then you can all make educated and constructive comments about what you are looking at. It’s a nice light humorous end to the two days. Also at various times during the days – there is an ongoing quiz refreshing what we have been doing – and the lucky winner gets a bit of a prize.
All attendees are given an aide memoir with some really useful time saving cheat sheets and memory jogs to help you remember in the future.
My events are held regularly at the Heating Academy in Northampton however I do a road show across the whole of Great Britain each year with around 12 venues. So if you are a million miles from Northampton get on the list to be notified as these come up. Due to COVID this may take some time to arrange at present.
Anyone who has previously attended a one-day event will be offered a good discount if they wish to attend the more comprehensive two day event.
The days are relaxed I enjoy every moment of them so give yourself a couple of days to stay ahead and I really look forward to meeting you.