Micro Combined Heat & Power (CHP)

Do not be confused by the elongated title, micro heat and power units are in essence a boiler – currently. When searching for this kind of mixed renewable energy source, look for MCHP boilers or Micro CHP boilers. They can easily replace any boiler in your home and are usually of the same size, although standing units can be bought also.

While they still use gas, you can cut your energy bills, earn an external income for a set period and recoup your investment. Though you will need to be clever in how you use the micro CHP boiler to make the most of its in-built electricity generation. Let’s find out how MCHP can change your lifestyle habits and lower your energy bills.

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What Are The Different Types Of MCHP And How Do They Work?

There are three different types of MCHP boiler and only one has managed to make it into the domestic market thus far, such is the relatively new aspect of the technology involved. working on the basis that every object in the home that creates heat can also see that energy flow used to make electricity, some of these new age boilers can generate a little electricity while they heat your water.

Two units that are currently undergoing standardisation are internal engine combustion CHP and fuel cell CHP. The former is pretty much the design of a motor car engine and unfortunately just as noisy. It is not quite yet suited for domestic use however they do generate the most electrical current from the heat transference over and above any other and more suited for non residential use.

As with many fuel cell technologies, they are keen to get to market but need fuel cell application needs manufacturers to take up the idea and engineer better boilers to do so. The tech is on its ways and may even generate more electricity than the two other types of MCHP boiler because it sources heat from the chemical level rather than the fuel as it burns.

Which leaves us with the only existing domestic micro CHP boiler in the form of a Stirling engine Micro CHP. As it heats water, transference of escaping heat from the water itself and other parts is conveyed into an electrical output which tends to be on a six to one ratio. It is the only MCHP boiler to have Microgeneration Certification Scheme accreditation which is the only way you will gain from any government run incentives.

In essence chemical energy and thermal energy can be accessed and and reused at wastage points. For example on a kettle or a cooker hob as it heats up and all this technology may well feed itself through from Micro CHP which is why the energy grouping does not just state boilers as its only form of implementation. It is new technology which will encompass more kitchen accessories and cooking devices in the future.

The issue with this form of renewable energy is it is only part of the solution. It’s a midway point between lo carbon and energy saving but still utilise LPG or gas to power it. However, that is much better than using electricity mains and once solar power batteries become more technologically advanced, you could in essence power the boiler off your own energy circuit in the future. It takes an open mind to think through all the current and future possibilities.

What Are The Benefits Of Micro Combined Heat & Power

MCHP is a new technology, prices will no doubt fall in the future and better technology will come online. The key aspect to consider is, do you need a new boiler and will you save immediately? If switching from an old boiler then yes the majority of the following should apply. Also with regards new technology, half of the expense is the actual dual installation and changes of gas and wiring installation. So should you need a new MCHP unit in the future, you will only bear the cost of change over and cost of the unit itself – which will be much cheaper in total.

When replacing an old standard boiler either from gas or electric, savings will be immediate. Gas usage will be down due to new boiler tech and electricity is more costly than gas.
You will be creating electricity when you use your boiler, which you weren’t previously doing, heat was being wasted. Your new MCHP boiler will not only create energy but earn you an additional income.
Via the Feed In Tariff you will receive a sum of money for every unit of energy you create, regardless of whether you use that internally or resell to the national grid.
While the MCHP boiler still uses gas to power it, you will be reducing your home’s carbon footprint. The population does not need the national grid any more, hence why government supports the use of renewable technology and helps fund its installation.

What Are The Costs Of Micro Combined Heat & Power And How Much Can Be Saved Or Earned?

There are a variety of different materials and experience required when considering the installation of an MCHP boiler. Firstly the boiler needs to have Microgeneration Certification Scheme accreditation, it also needs to be installed by an engineer certified to do so, as it needs both electrical and gas work being managed on site. Because the appliance generates electricity wiring has to be changed as well as taking into account output energy which might be sold to the national grid.

All of this work costs, plus the unit itself. Currently (2014), people are being charged between £5000 and £8000 which for a renewable source that still uses gas can need some calculations on return of investment. As previously stated an open mind and being creative is important with this mixed renewable source unit. Some cases state they use a third less gas with new units and less electricity. If you time the heating of water with other electricity uses, you will benefit much more.

For instance running the washing machine in the morning the same time you are having a bath or shower. The electricity gets transferred directly to the appliance, in addition to any further yield required form the national grid. You can benefit financially from the Government’s Green Deal, which can see future bills offset the cost of free installation and a free MCHP boiler and there’s also the Feed In Tariff and other RHI schemes.

Depending on the size of your property you will earn revenue from either the national grid or government scheme and may recoup your investment within eight to sixteen years. It really depends on how you maximise the use of the Micro Combined Heat & Power boiler unit. A return of 2% to 10% is possible. In other words, you shouldn’t make a loss but get a site survey completed to be more sure of the pros and cons.

Is There Much Maintenance With Micro CHP And Are There Any Other Issues?

Boilers are significantly more hassle to maintain than any other renewable. In part MCHP boilers require a certified engineer to check it annually as it is a gass installation, for both your peace of mind, safety and to check parts. British gas and a variety of other service providers can offer individual quotes. In essence, service charges, replacement parts and maintenance are similar to that of a standard boiler.

Is Micro Combined Heat & Power The Right Renewable For You And Your Home Or Business?

If you have recently installed a new boiler then the process of paying out again and reinstalling may not be worth it. In the long term yes, in the short term no. You need to look at the benefits and weight them against staying in your property for twenty years, waiting for better fuel cell MCHP boilers or how advantageous the technology will be when you sell the property.

If you are replacing an old boiler then you will probably save on gas usage alone and gas bills will fall due to new technology being more illustrious with its power source. You may also benefit from any cash for boiler exchange run by the government, manufacturers, retailer or installation service.