Ecotechnicians: reliable heating installation by a knowledgeable heating engineer
Over the last twenty years, gas-fired condensing technology has developed significantly. Modern condensing boilers offer numerous benefits, including:
• Increased comfort
• Energy efficiency and associated cost-savings
• Reduced emissions and noise levels
• Improved design, with reduced size
• Flexibility to handle fluctuations in heating and hot water demand
• Internet connectivity for easy control, decreased gas usage
• Peace of mind (your boiler can be monitored for fault codes by remote servers)
Condensing boilers, when correctly installed, are impressive to live with. They provide copious amounts of hot water and warm comfortable homes. These benefits can only be realised if condensing boiler installation is implemented as intended by the controls and boiler design engineers.
Ecotechnicians is a group of reassuringly knowledgeable heating engineers, who understand fully what the design engineers intended and can guarantee a reliable and efficient heating installation.
As well as using our skills as heating engineers, we run professional development programmes for gas safe registered installers. These introduce installers to the different working practices required to fit modern, efficient heating systems in the best way.
Choose an Ecotechnician heating engineer for your boiler installation
Ecotechnicians was set up by boiler installers who believe in sharing information about optimum heating system design, and the importance of correct high quality boiler installation.
Appointing an Ecotechnician assures you that your boiler installer has a thorough knowledge of modern boiler technology.
Jennings Heating is an Ecotechnician-qualified boiler installer.
Why it’s important to choose a knowledgeable heating engineer to install a new boiler
Spending money on a new boiler is rarely welcome, but commercial property owners and homeowners could do without a stressful, costly and hurried purchase. Many opt for recognised brand names and pay little consideration to the requirement to calibrate an existing heating system to the new boiler. They trust that their appointed heating engineers know what they are doing – and this is where problems can arise:
• Many heating engineers and boiler installers are not familiar with modern condensing boilers.
• Boiler controls are rarely upgraded, leading to modern condensing boilers being controlled by technology developed over 50 years ago.
• As a result, new condensing boilers can work inefficiently, waste gas, and may fail prematurely
So, what is an Ecotechnician?
An Ecotechnician is a heating appliance installer, such as a Gas Safe Registered Engineer, who installs, repairs, services and commissions gas condensing boilers and other heating appliances to maximise reliability, efficiency and comfort.
They observe northern European and other cold-climate regulations and practices which require high efficiency. By implementing these practices your Ecotechnician can give a system over 15 years service life with regular boiler servicing and maintenance, typically reduce gas bills by 15-20%, and considerably enhance system reliability and performance.
Why use an Ecotechnician?
Ecotechnicians have high standards of competency and technical understanding of modern heating technology. They are required to undergo regular Continued Professional Development (CPD) training, and participate in the Ecotechnicians peer-to-peer training forum to ensure their premier status in the field. Training and information sharing on the forum keeps engineers up to date and aware of the many pitfalls and advantages associated with changing technology. They also have access to in-depth training and direct support from manufacturers and other industry experts. This enables them to maximise your heating system efficiency and life, to make the most of your investment.
Ecotechnicians continuously review new products in the European market to develop their methods and their understanding of heating for optimum performance and efficiency. We also monitor and keep abreast of the ever-changing standards of the industry. This gives the customer the opportunity to make the most well informed decision for their investment.
Ecotechnicians are vetted and accepted according to their level of current training, enthusiasm, commitment, ability to adopt new working practices and to accept support from peers. The foundation course is “an appreciation of the CIBSE heating system design guide” that covers topics as wide ranging as heat loss, radiator sizing, pipe sizing, boiler sizing and pump sizing.” From then on they are divided in to two categories.
An accredited Ecotechnician is required to display a full understanding in the following areas.
• Condensing technology
• Modulating controls
• Heating system water treatment
• System design and its importance
• System material and product quality
An associate is someone aware of all the areas above and are actively participating in on going CPD to better themselves with in the industry. They are conscious about system efficiency and design and show willingness to set themselves apart from the ‘typical heating engineer’.
No property is the same and all have different usage patterns, which directly affect efficiency. The way you control your heating is just as important as, if not more important than which boiler is chosen. To make the best use of efficient controls the person installing them must have a full understanding of system design and heating theory. Control of the heating system directly affects energy efficiency, comfort levels and reliability.
Buildings broadly fall into three types of usage patterns:
• Almost continuous occupation
• Interrupted occupation with a regular pattern
• Interrupted occupation with an irregular pattern
And further broken down in to two sub categories
• High occupancy
• Low occupancy
All this as well as the building structure will be taken in to consideration when designing your control strategy.
From all this information your Ecotechnician will select and advise on which strategy to choose, which may be any one of, or a combination of the following.
These are your typical wall thermostats and programmers that most people in the UK are used to. They are the absolute minimum standard of control set in the UK, and because of this, used the most. The problem with these controls is that they do not make enough use of the potential efficiency of condensing gas boilers. They are not out of place where the heat producing appliance does not operate at low temperatures, the property has low occupancy, and the usage pattern of the house is regular, but there may be benefit from using more intelligent controls.
Weather compensation controls enable a condensing boiler to work at its optimum efficiency. The controls allow the boiler to vary its operating flow temperature automatically to suit the weather outside and the temperatures inside the house, rather than heating up, overheating and turning off again (i.e. on-off control).
Weather compensation works with a sensor outside and another in the boiler. These communicate with each other and vary the boiler’s flow temperature, rather than continuously turning it on and off and wasting energy. The aim is to keep the temperature as low as possible so that the boiler condenses for virtually all of its operating period. To get the most from weather compensation, radiator sizing and condensing theory must be understood.
OpenTherm is a communication protocol where sensors provide live feedback to the boiler so it modulates according to load. This gives a very responsive system but needs setting up correctly to achieve maximum potential efficiency.
Individual radiator control / multi zone
This allows you to have multiple temperatures around the property, controlled either by zone valves or battery powered thermostatic radiator valves. It prevents rooms not in use being heated, so saving gas. It can be extremely efficient in properties of low occupancy with regular usage patterns.
Modern app based technology also allows fully automated systems to assess how far you are from home and your likely time of arrival. These controls ensure that your house is at the desired temperature when you get home.
Heating System / Boiler Replacement
Here is where Ecotechnicians really come in to their own. Replacing your boiler or upgrading your complete heating system gives you the opportunity to spec and design your system to the highest standards currently available to maximise efficiency. An Ecotechnician will tailor your system to the way the property is used, taking into consideration heat loss of the property, emitter types and sizing, control strategy, fuel source and the most practical system design.
Modern condensing boilers are extremely well engineered and if installed and used as the design engineers intended will give 15-20 years of life. It is a sad reflection of the UK heating industry that many boilers are installed in a way that compromises their life span, with many being replaced after just 5 years of service.
Ecotechnicians use boiler replacement as an opportunity to install boilers as the design engineers would expect, using appropriate compensation controls to offer higher levels of efficiency and reliability. The controls use a communication system to ‘talk’ to the boiler and assess the amount of heat needed to maintain a set temperature. This contrasts with merely turning a boiler on and off at a fixed temperature, the common practice in the UK. The result is more stable temperatures in the building and energy saved. Modern heating appliances use ‘bus’ communication, similar to that used in computers, to communicate between controllers, boiler and valves.
There are several types of protocol, such as OpenTherm, Ebus, KMbus, EMS bus, but they all do the same basic thing - passing information from point to point. Use of weather compensation and indoor compensation controls offers higher levels of efficiency and reliability with increased comfort. All these controls are extremely user friendly, and in most cases the user has to do very little compared with managing traditional ‘on-off’ systems.
Controls play a key part in how much a boiler is used. They can vary the radiator temperature according to how much heat is actually needed to maintain a reasonable temperature in the building They can turn the heating on and off according to how soon you will be home, using an app and geolocation. Controls are the key to reducing energy consumption and to ensuring that gas is burnt efficiently, but there is more to the heating equation.
When designing a system, consideration must be given to usage, insulation values and practicality to determine which heating emitters are most suitable. Hot water supply and storage will also need to be sized to suit, along with the distribution system. The hot water cylinder is likely to be replaced, as newer hot water cylinders have much better insulation levels. Other considerations should be the fuel source, whether the property has a gas supply or not, is a renewable energy source practical and viable to install, etc. Once these decisions have been made, design can begin.
Ecotechnicians not only fully understand system theory and design but are hands on installers and know what is practical. This saves a lot of confusion and issues over situations where the designer is not necessarily the installer.
Heating System Repairs and System Upgrades
The fact that all Ecotechnicians have direct access to manufacturers and training to keep them completely up to date with the latest technology is a great advantage to customers considering system upgrades, or when fault finding and repairing a current system. Coupled with continued peer to peer education and training, this keeps the engineer consistently up to date with all aspects of repair and upgrades.
Heating repairs offer an excellent opportunity to upgrade your heating system to more intelligent controls. All modern condensing boilers are designed around intelligent controls. Not installing these controls is to miss an opportunity for energy efficiency, comfort and reliability, which may have prevented the issue in the first place. If you are repairing a heating system, discuss what improvements can be made with your Ecotechnician. This undoubtedly will enhance your boiler’s life span.
The main enemy of heating systems is corrosion (rust). Four variables that affect corrosion in a heating system - Velocity, Heat, Water quality, and Materials.
Excessive velocity in pipework is avoided by understanding system design and calculating pipe sizing, and Ecotechnicians will be well versed in this. Heating systems invariably use heat but its corrosive effects can be minimised by effective efficient intelligent controls like weather compensation and indoor OpenTherm controls. Water quality and materials used are almost part of the same problem. The fill water must be suitable for the metals in the system, which is why water treatment is important.
When we talk about water quality people tend to think mainly of tap water and water hardness. Water quality in non-domestic and domestic central heating systems is vital to keeping the system working correctly and for maintaining efficiency. By looking at the best international standards Ecotechnicians can offer bespoke solutions.
The German VDI (Association of Engineers) have thoroughly researched water quality and its effects on the workings of heating and cooling systems. It removes a lot of the myth that we have taken as fact due to lack of independent research. With this knowledge and the ability to diagnose water quality issues, Ecotechnicians can easily apply preventative measures before your system fails, simply by testing the system water.
Water testing determines the best way to help slow or cure excessive corrosion. The average heating system creates six grams of magnetite a year, reducing its efficiency. Monitoring this corrosion and using our knowledge to minimise it will keep your appliance running at its best for longer. Removing trapped gases in your heating system is essential and will make many noticeable improvements, and there is a direct link between oxygen levels and corrosion rates. Capturing and removing debris in the system will reduce damage, improve efficiency and maintain system life. Understanding which metals are suitable and selecting materials at the specification stage will maximise system life and minimise maintenance costs.
With so many potential issues like oxygen ingress, pH levels, conductivity, hardness, electrolytic corrosion, water quality is probably the most important preventative measure of system failure. We can offer bespoke solutions and with annual monitoring to keep warranties protected and avoid costly failure.
For more information, please go to www.ecotechnicians.co.uk and see what it is all about.
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