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What Is Biomass Heating Used For

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  • 29-07-2021
What Is Biomass Heating Used For

What is biomass heating used for? If you are considering replacing your heating system, you may be considering biomass heating. We look at the uses of biomass heating and why it might be right for you.

Main types of biomass heating appliance

Stoves

Stoves can burn wood pellets or logs, providing space heating to an individual room. However, wood-burning stoves that take logs are not eligible for the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive. 

A back boiler can also be fitted with a stove, allowing it to provide hot water to your bathroom and kitchen. Stoves typically have an efficiency of 60-80% and use approximately 7kW.

Boilers

Boilers are capable of providing hot water and central heating to an entire household. They are usually larger than stoves, and their design is more industrial. 

An average domestic log boiler will use approximately between 20-50kW, and they are stoked manually. Pellet boilers, on the other hand, use between 8-30kW and usually include a pellet hopper, which will automatically feed the wood fuel to the boiler.

What Fuel Does a Biomass Boiler Use?

what-fuel

Wood Logs

Although uncommon, this type of biomass is useful for numerous reasons. 

They are suitable for larger properties where it may be important for the homeowner to have lots of control over the input of fuel. 

Provided you have space to store the logs, they can be a great fuel option as they are cheap. 

Unfortunately, the amount of logs required to reach decent heat levels is usually high.

Wood Pellets

Pellets are made out of tightly compacted sawdust, as well as forestry/woodwork waste and wood shavings. Domestic biomass boilers often use wood pellets for fuel. 

Pellets can be bought in large quantities, and they work effectively with automatic hopper systems. Wood pellets are very efficient, and they don't require much storage space. 

One of the lesser-known advantages of wood pellets is that they are a low moisture content fuel, making them easy to use. 

Wood-Chips

Wood Chips

General wood waste and small wood pieces can be turned into wood chips and used as fuel. Wood chips have many advantages over alternatives. 

Firstly, they are widely available and extremely cheap. Furthermore, they are useful for heating large buildings, and the chips come in a range of sizes. 

Unlike logs, you can automate the feeding of wood chips by using a hopper. The main disadvantage of wood chips is that they are not very efficient compared to pellets. 

Can I Use a Biomass Boiler on Its Own?

Regardless if you're working with a residential or commercial property, it's possible to use a biomass boiler either as part of your existing system or on its own.

As Part Of An Integrated/Hybrid Heating System

By integrating your biomass boiler into an existing system, you can significantly boost its effectiveness. 

The biomass boiler and traditional gas or oil boiler can both provide heat to a home, and you'll always have a backup in case one fails or needs additional time to be cleaned during its annual maintenance. 

Additionally, you can switch between the boilers to achieve optimal heating. For any intricacies involved or advice that you might need, be sure to ask your gas safe engineer.

With Another Renewable Heating System

If you're looking to significantly reduce your carbon footprint, using multiple renewable systems in your home can be an excellent option. 

You can use your biomass boiler in combination with an air-source heat pump or other renewable systems to manage heat in your home. 

Similar to a hybrid setup, you can alternate between different systems for optimal heating. 

As A Standalone Heating System

It's perfectly fine to use a biomass boiler on its own, as that is one of its main benefits. A singular biomass boiler can provide enough heat to provide for your home year after year, provided it is well stocked with fuel. 

Biomass heating systems usually perform better than alternative renewable heating systems during the winter. 

Why Choose a wood-fuelled heating system?

Many choose to replace an existing heating system with one that uses a biomass boiler as it can save you money through RHI and lower your carbon footprint. 

Additionally, biomass systems have a much better efficiency rating than older gas or oil boilers. 

Before you install a biomass boiler or stove, you must consider the following:

Will you use pellets, Chips or logs?

Pellets are significantly more controllable and easier to use than logs, making them a better option in most cases. 

Chips are useful at providing heat for large buildings or multiple houses. Both chip and pellet burners can use an automated system using hoppers to feed the boiler, so you don't have to worry about remembering to fuel it every time by hand. 

Log stoves are less used as they require more work than alternatives, and much space is required to store the logs. However, in some cases, logs can be cheaper than pellets, depending on the local supply.

Do you have a Boiler or stove?

You can use a biomass boiler instead of a traditional oil or gas boiler to provide hot water and heat to your entire home. 

A biomass stove can be used to heat a singular room, and it is usually used alongside other heating systems in your household. Stoves can include a back boiler for providing hot water. 

For a stove to be eligible for domestic RHI, it must be a pellet stove and has to include a back boiler. 

Do you have a local fuel supplier?

As biomass boilers are becoming more popular, companies are opening up to the idea of long-distance deliveries throughout the UK. 

The Renewable Heat Incentive, provided by the UK government, is one of the main benefits of choosing a biomass boiler.

To utilise it, you must purchase and use biofuel from a supplier on the official Biomass Suppliers List.

biomass-boiler

This list helps homeowners identify which suppliers can offer sustainable biomass fuel. It is essential you check your supplier is on this list before purchasing from them or initialising a supply contract.

Do You Have Enough Space?

Biomass boilers are typically larger than oil or gas boilers, so more space is required. 

Additionally, you will need to find somewhere to store the fuel, especially if you use logs, as they take up the most space. The space must not be cramped, as you will need an area for deliveries and boiler feeding.

Can You Install The Flue?

The flue that you use must meet the wood-burning appliance regulations. 

To meet the requirements, you can install an insulated steel flue pipe or use your chimney (chimney lining is sometimes necessary to ensure safety).

How Different Is a Biomass Boiler From A Fossil Fuel Boiler?

Biomass boilers have a lot in common with traditional boilers that use fossil fuels, apart from a few key advantages. Here are some examples of the differences and similarities between them:

Similar to gas/oil boilers, modern biomass boilers can utilise automatic fuel feeding, making them easy to work with. 

One exception of this is log-based boilers, which require manual input of logs whenever the boiler is needed. Trucks can deliver wood pellets to your home, which is then fed into your fuel storage. The pellets are usually gravity fed or blown.

Biomass boilers use a process called gasification, which is different to how an open fire or traditional stove works. 

Gasification works by heating fuel to 600ËšC to turn the fuel into natural gas. The gas is then reheated to 1,200ËšC. This extreme heat is used to provide hot water as well as warmth throughout the home.

Fuel stores can come in three forms: they can be custom-built, supplied in a pre-fitted container, or built into a converted building. 

The store needs to be large enough to require only three/four fills per year. As it is storing wood, the fuel store must block off moisture and be far from contaminants.

By using biomass boilers, you could save significantly on not only your fuel costs but your environmental impact too. 

Heating biomass releases carbon dioxide similar to regular boilers, but the fuel it uses absorbs the same amount of carbon throughout its lifetime, making it an effective carbon-neutral option. 

Biomass boiler users qualify for the RHI scheme, which will pay you for using renewable energy sources.

If you use your own fuel, you have the potential of being able to save up to...80%

Using woodchips has the potential to save you roughly...50%

Wood pellets can save you somewhere between...20%-40%

New biomass boilers will generate up to 1% of ash for each volume of fuel it uses. As such, you only need to clean out the large ash bin once every two months. 

Similar to oil and gas boilers, it's always good to have a biofuel boiler checked by a professional at least once a year to ensure it is running optimally and safely.


Are you considering biomass heating installation in Essex, Suffolk and the surrounding areas? We have years of experience in providing tailored energy-efficient and affordable home heating solutions. So if you need any further assistance  with biomass heating, follow the link below.