|The Date: 29th July 2009|
The Place: a Garage somewhere in Buckinghamshire, UK
The Boiler arrives! See pictures below.
Paul Elliott-Smith, of Green Systems UK, started the installation in the first week of August. The KWB Boiler had arrived from the factory in Austria well wrapped in a sturdy wooden crate. It was very heavy and arrived with a sizable buffer tank (seen to the right if the boiler). After a couple of days the boiler was de-crated and moved into its final position. From there a network of pipes were establish that joined to the existing pipework around the Gas Boiler. The positioning of the boiler was dictated by the exit point of the flue and the need for the Pellet Hopper to be swung away to gain access to the Boiler for maintenance. It took seven days work to establish the pipework.
As you can see the Boiler and Buffer Tank are sizeable. It needs its own boiler room or garage. It will take up half the space of the garage leaving the remainder free for fuel storage (approx three tonnes). The average family home will need four to six tonnes of Pellets per year. Obviously the Boiler will need power and connection to your heating system. So a garage joined to the house is essential - preferably one where the existing boiler is there already. In our case we chose the house specifically with these points in mind. The garage here is a double garage so we retain the use of the garage whilst half of it becomes boiler room and bunker house.
The set of four photo's (above) show the initial chaos as the boiler is unwrapped and removed from its packing case. This is all still in the first week of August 2009. Within the day the buffer tank and boiler are tidied way into their final resting places in the corner of the Garage. Pipe runs are established between Boiler and Buffer Tanks then between Buffer Tank and the existing Gas Boiler (mounted on the wall next to the window). The two white semi-spheres, on the floor under the window, are expansion tanks.
The four pictures (above) were all taken in the same first week of August 2009. The spider's-web of pipework continues to grow and encroach upon the gas boiler as it curls itself around the window. The heating system is drained and the old gas boiler is disconnected. The old system is now joined to the new system. The KWB Easyfire will now be the master and the old Gas boiler will be slaved to it. The Gas Boiler now feeds the Buffer Tank.
The four pictures (above) show progress up to the 13th August when the flue was installed. Due to Planning Restrictions this has been fitted internally within the fabric of the building. It passes vertically up through the garage ceiling and then along the corner of the bedroom above. (See pictures below.) From there it passed up through the roof void and through the roof. It passes through a flashing kit to terminate above the roof line.
The four pictures (above) show the progress from the 15th to the 19th August concerning the external Flue. The two sets of photo's may look the same but there is a crucial difference. The first set of photo's has the Flue too high above the roofline. The Planning Permission was only waived on the grounds that the top of the flue would be no more than 1m above the ridgeline. Thankfully the problem was corrected soon after with a shorter section of upper flue.
The four pictures (above) mostly deal with the intrusion of the boiler flue through the bedroom above. This part could have been tricky as no one really wanted a boiler flue through their bedroom. Hence we quickly worked with a builder to have the flue boxed off with plasterboard. The area was quickly redecorated and the furniture put back.
As you can see from the photo's a good job was done with little inconvenience. This area is intended to be turned into an en suite shower room at some point so the flue may well "disappear" all together behind stud walling.
The four pictures (above) deal with the Pellet Storage area. This had to be next to the boiler with a 30cm separation for fire safety reasons. The space marked out on the floor (the white box) marked off this clearance zone and is approximately 2m x 2m x 2m allowing for 8 cubic meters of storage. (The other two lines on the floor represent the clearance required to close the garage door and get a car in the garage.) Eight meters cubed equates to approximately 4 tonnes which is about 80% of annual requirements. To be conservative we only shipped 3 tonnes to see how it would all fit.
As you can see there were some problems. The Pallets are 1m x 1.2m so three of them should have fitted in the space without unloading. However, when they arrived they were found to be stacked outside of the pallet footprint, ie, there were large over-hangs. This made it impossible to store more than two inside the box. Hence the third had to stay outside the garage. Surprisingly it only took 20 minutes to unload that one pallet. Hence the second pallet was also restacked giving us plenty of space to play with.
It is clear that the storage, put-away and man-handling of wood pellets (in 15kg bags, in this scale) is going to be a significant obstacle for most householders more used to the convenience of Gas. But if you are strong and like a bit of exercise.........!
The four photo's (above) show the final installation with all the pipe insulation installed. You can also see how easily a small car (Toyota Aygo) fits in the space left over. A bigger car would also have fitted easily even with three tonnes of pellets - this is not a problem at all if you have a double garage.
These photo's were taken on the 19th, 20th & 29th August. By this time we should have had the Boiler commissioned. However, we hit a snag. Although the boiler worked fine the buffer tank would not fill properly due to a mistake in the valve configuration on the pipework behind the boiler. A new valve had to be ordered and this was not fitted until Saturday the 29th August. Commissioning was not scheduled until the 4th September due to the holidays and non-availability of Commissioning Engineers in this period. Hence the entire installation had taken (on & off) five weeks.
Compare this to a Gas Boiler fit of only three to five days. Be prepared for inconvenience. Certainly if your install is a domestic residence then try and get it done in summer so no heating is required. We used the immersion heater in the Domestic Hot Water Cylinder for the period when the Gas Boiler was off-line.
The next set of photo's come from late September 2009. The Garage-cum-Boiler room got quite warm at times and it was quickly clear that there were significant gaps in the insulation on both pipes and buffer tank. The buffer tank has spare entry/exit ports that are capped but they penetrate the thick insulation providing an excellent and unwanted thermal bridge. At times they were very hot. The pipework had exposed metal at every valve, wall support and major joint where the standard insulation didn't fit. To resolve this problem we took spare insulation and a sharp knife to cut what we needed to shape. It was a loose fit but secured with cable-ties. On the Buffer Tank we added circular cones cut from Radiator Foil (thin expanded polystyrene sheet backed by foil) over the exposed metal. This was glued on with wallpaper paste. Then a sheet of foil-backed bubble wrap was added over top secured by silver gaffer tape. The results can be seen in the photo's above with the work-in-progress on the left and the finished result on the right. The picture (left) shows the before and after for the pipe insulation. See how the pieces are carefully crafted with a knife and secured by cable-ties. Valves are not covered nor should they be.