Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Tyranny of Gas

I just hate being regulated, whether being told I'm not allowed by law to maintain my own motorcycle, or fit a new spur socket, or buy an outboard with a lightweight, powerful 2-stroke engine. Being forbidden to fit my own gas boiler is just on the cusp of acceptability - thinking of the incompetent next door who shouldn't be let within 10 feet of a power drill and who comes knocking for help each time he accidentally destroys some small part of his home. Last time he smashed his clay foul drain while digging a tree pit. No, I wouldn't let him near a candle, let alone a gas supply. But now the bloody gas people have gone too far. 

It's coming to that time to renew my boiler. It's over 18 years old, which is about 90 in boiler-years. I found a replacement model from the same manufacturer and phoned my tame service engineer to quote for fitting. "What's your supply from the meter?" "Uhm, half-inch. Twelve mil. No problem - I checked the boiler spec and it's got a 12mm gas inlet." I replied. "Can't do it, Radders. New law says the feed has to be three-quarters from the meter" "But the inlet's only 12!" "Yeah, we have to fit a reducer". 

The full tyranny of gas regulations is even worse. You can't run a gas pipe in a void any more, and the gas co will insist on replacing the old under-stair cupboard meter with a huge ugly grey box bolted onto the distinguished Edwardian facade of your home. With a big yellow plastic pipe that will mean digging up your exquisite encaustic-tiled path. No way. Particularly as I won't see any change from two grand for the boiler and all the hideous gas works. And gas is about to soar in price as the muppets in government load on the green taxes. Is there no way round this? Yes, I think there is. This:

It burns wood pellets or pelleted smokeless anthracite and is certified to all Euro standards. It can go in an enclosure outside the back door. I can install it myself (though it needs a building regs nod-through for the flue) and maintain it myself. Fuel is currently about the same price per KWh as gas. The cost of the above is about £1.2k or less (bought in Poland), plus say £300 for plumbing bits. But the best bit is that it will almost certainly qualify for a £950 sustainable heating grant from the Department of Energy from this October, presumably paid for by the increased green levy on gas. 

Why not? 

23 comments:

right_writes said...

Thanks for the hat-tip Raedwald...

I keep thinking that I should change my 30 year old glow worm boiler... But as my cousin the heating engineer said... "Do not replace this if you can avoid it, it should run for years and years... It's not full of condensing crap and electronic stuff."

Well that was ten years ago anyway... I changed the fan assist when the old one seized, but that is all.

Anyway... practical Polish boiler added to my bookmarks... Cheers.

right_writes said...

Actually... Having said that I bookmarked it... I lied beautifully, I thought I would be able to find it on the interwebs with ease...

There are thousands of them...

Which one is that in the picture?

I think we should be told.

Raedwald said...

ha! I wondered if anyone would ask

http://www.ceneo.pl/Kotly;017Per_Eko_P0-82328.htm

With a bit of mech eng nous and a welder, if you built the hopper and screw-feed yourself the boiler alone would be peanuts

right_writes said...

Thanks sir...

Of course the next logical step, bearing in mind the report today from Christopher Booker:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/9575598/George-Osbornes-CO2-tax-will-double-UK-electricity-bills.html

Is this sort of thing:

http://www.greensteamengine.com

Generate one's own electricity...

We might need this once the powers that be have installed smart meters and then turned everything off, for "essential services".

G. Tingey said...

OH SHIT

Our gas boiler is bahind the back room fire - fedds the centrl heating & exhust goes up old chimney, thus distributing waste heat to house ...
So when that finally dies, what do I do?

Come to that ... NEW GAS METER - again WTF?
WTF?

Raedwald said...

It depends how far it is from the meter; the regs say no more than 1mb pressure drop between meter and appliance. Mine is a long run of half inch, which is why no-one will fit a new boiler without replacing it.

The meter thing is in compliance with the EU's requirement that 80% of UK homes are fitted with a new smart meter over the next 7 years, and they won't fit an internal meter any more unless your frontage is right on the pavement.

meltemian said...

Just bought a log-burner myself.
Our boiler is only 4 years old but it's OIL! Rumour as it this year's price for heating oil will be around €1.50/litre, thst's if Greece doesn't go bust completely this autumn. I think the jury's still out but I expect something to happen after the US POTUS election.

Anonymous said...

Regulations? What are they? Never took any notice in the past - won't now, or in the future.
If 'they' don't know, 'they' can't do fcuk all about it.

Dave_G said...

@r_w that steam engine business?? What about the losses? Surely it would be MUCH more efficient to drive a motor directly from the output of a solar panel than use the solar panel to generate steam???
The average person couldn't generate anywhere enough efficiency through steam to make the system worthwhile.
If you want a system that can generate power relatively cheaply then look at wood gas generators.

Jublet said...

Love the idea of the pellet burner but any idea where to buy the fuel?

Anon 2 said...

Hear, hear, Anonymous @ 13:50. What are they going to do? Refuse to give us all meters and deprive themselves of that much income?Well, they'll do that anyway as more of us resort to alternatives.


Overall, however, there is an extraordinary logic behind an economy that deprives people of work (and income), but simultaneously puts up all the prices. Just what do they expect to sell -- and/or for how long?

Anon 2 said...

Clarification: 1st para -- "that" refers to depriving themselves of income. Sorry.

Anonymous said...


http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/01/16/smart_meters_no/

PoppaBear said...

To G Tingey - this probably wont help, not sure if its the same anyway, hope for your sake its not. When I last moved house (2007) I had to get one of those stupid HIPS done. Surveyor noticed I had a cracked ceramic flame spreader (?) - on the front (This was a back boiler with front fire) Gas engineer said he couldnt replace it as they (back boilers that is) were now illegal ! except under VERY SPECIAL circumstances. Needless to say I didnt qualify. Checked with Baxi who were advertising them in their catalogue. After much pissing about they admitted they were now illegal and only made them for those very few cases that qualified. THe only thing I could legally do was replace the boiler with a condensing one which it was also illegal to fit in the Lounge where the back boiler was ! The only possible location was in the upstairs airing cupboard after removal of the hot water tank which meant a whole lot of work. There were a whole raft of regulations about other things not least the outlet for the condensate - you wouldnt believe. It was only after I had all this work done - over £4K in total - just cos the 'regulations' wouldn't let me replace a £5 flame spreader ! All that just to get a HIPS. Best of luck my friend.

English Pensioner said...

Unfortunately it still needs electricity. Unless something major is done in the way of new generation plant within the next few years, my contacts all assure me we are likely to face frequent brown-outs at periods of high demand. Which is another reason that they want to fit new smart meters to the electricity supply.
At least in an emergency I know how to connect a small petrol-electric set, although it certainly won't be accordance with the wiring regulations!

Anonymous said...

The answer is, no to unnecessary regulations [granted we need some but smart meters?] - therefore we have to say fukc off to to the EU.

Sat Nav, smart phones + cashless society, smart meters - at every minute of the day 'they' will know where you are.
The EU and it's insane energy policies need to go.

right_writes said...

Dave_G...

I was actually referring to the idea that a pellet heater could be used to run a home turbine, because our government is shutting down all the reliable methods of power generation, and the lights will soon be going out all over the UK.

Dave_G said...

@r_w

I concur - we need to make our own arrangements as those we pay to look after our interests are failing us spectacularly.

Second-hand generators converted to gas would be the best solution though.

Anonymous said...

Tip - and I mean this most sincerely - check out the availability of pelleted fuel, allowing for the number of ppl who will be changing over to solid burners.

Raedwald said...

Anon 01.23
Why I like this model is that it burns not only wood pellets and grain but anthracite pellets & grains in the hopper-feed, and also (by manual feed only) logs, house-coal and briquettes in the middle burner

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Won't you need to build a barn to store all the wood pellets in? The calorific value of wood is pretty low iirc.

And if many people go this road, where will all the wood come from?

G. Tingey said...

Poppa Bear
Yup, mines a BAXI too - I service it myself every couple of years (basically turn everything off, and brush it down).
Meter is 3 metres away in under-stairs cupboard, approx half-way between said back boiler/fire & big (old very ueseful) gas oven.

I refuse, point-blank to have an external meter of any sort, & I ain't moving - having been here sine 1948 ......
What, actually can "they" do?

Stuart said...

The tyranny of centralised utilities being owned by huge corporations.