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Last updated: 22 March 2018

Why To Choose A Biomass Boiler?

The PROs and CONs of this technology.

With the prices of fossil fuel rising, people have become to search for alternative ways to heat their houses. There is no hiding from the pain of this rise in energy costs even if more conservative people no longer attempt to heat the whole of their house, still having rooms suffering from damp, mould and mildew damage as a result.

Open fires may look lovely, but they are not an efficient way to heat a room. Most of the heat goes up the chimney and, as the fire draws in oxygen to burn, it creates draughts in the room that can cancel out the benefit of the heat. Wood is hardly a new fuel for heating houses, but what is really new is the technology which has improved considerably to make it more efficient.

Read more: How Much Does a Biomass Boiler Cost?

New Heating Solutions

Modern wood-burning stoves in fact are a huge improvement on the open fire for room heating. They convert 70 per cent of the fuel into useful heat. If you attach a back boiler, they can also help to heat water and supply some radiators. More efficient still are automatic pellet stoves, which operate at 85 to 90 per cent efficiency. They spread the heat through convection, rather than traditional radiation, which means the room is heated more evenly and efficiently using a fan.

Pellet stoves are clean and easy to use, with automatic ignition and a thermostatic control. They have an integrated hopper, which automatically tops up the fuel. They generally hold enough fuel for one to three days operation. The ash pan needs to be emptied about once a month. It is also possible to add a back boiler to these pellet stoves.

Biomass boilers can replace oil or gas boilers to heat hot water and radiators (or under floor heating). They burn logs, wood chips, wood pellets or other forms of biomass. In addition, the most advanced boilers are fully automatic. They control the amount of fuel and air supplied to the combustion chamber. As a result, they are highly efficient and emissions are low.

If you’ve got space, manufacturers recommend a hopper that is big enough to hold a year’s supply of fuel. This minimises transport and delivery costs for fuel, as well as work for the owner. Maintenance is minimal – although you will need to clean it and remove the ash about once a month. If that isn't possible due to space or budget, you can get wood pellet delivered on pallets of 10kg bags, with which you manually fill a smaller hopper.

At a final look, the main disadvantage claimed when proposing these wood burning solutions to new clients is the initial investment cost required to install them because this is likely to be 4-5 times greater than the cost of installing a fossil-fuel-based system. However, biomass fuel is roughly half the cost as fossil fuel and it allows to gain all the benefits described above on a long-term perspective which will be hard to renounce.

Read more: All You Need To Know About Biomass Boilers