How does Micro CHP work?
Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems are highly efficient, making use of the heat generated by your heating system. This produces electricity for your home that would otherwise require you to burn additional fuel, thus saving energy and money!
Micro CHP systems contain a condensing boiler that heats water for your hot water and heating needs. Most domestic micro CHP systems will have two burners, one small (engine burner) and one large (supplementary burner).
Technical information made simple
There are 3 main micro-CHP technologies, and the main one in use today in a domestic setting is the Stirling engine. The others, Internal Combustion engine and Fuel Cell, are still being developed for use in domestic environments and are not very common today.
Stirling Engine micro-CHP is relatively new to the market and is being installed in homes in the UK. The technology was pioneering in the 19th Centenary by Robert Stirling and relies on the expansion and contraction of heated and cooled gas to drive a piston which in turn drives a generator to produce electricity. The gases are heated by steam produced by the Micro CHP’s condensing boiler as it heats the water. Stirling engines are both efficient and quiet. A standard Stirling engine can meet around half of an average home’s electricity needs. To maximise efficiency, it’s essential you choose the right sized system for your house – too large and you won’t use the system enough to generate much electricity.
Micro CHP systems are designed to be able to replace your existing boiler and are of an equivalent size, but will need to have an electricity connection. It must be fitted by an accredited installer to qualify for the Government’s finance schemes.
Find out more about the Installation of Micro CHP here.
- What is micro CHP?
- CHP stands for Combined Heat and Power and micro CHP describes a boiler that generates electricity from the waste heat produced by your boiler, suitable for use on a small scale, such as in a domestic home. This allows you to generate some of the your electricity from the same fuel that you are using anyway to heat your home. This is essentially free electricity, and saves energy and CO2 at the same time.
- How long does it take to recoup the additional costs associated with buying a micro CHP boiler (compared with a high-performance boiler)?
- It is expected that the payback will be five years more, although this will depend on many factors, so it is difficult to give a definite answer.
- Are micro CHP boilers easy to install?
- Yes, installation is comparable to that of a high-performance boiler.
- When does a micro CHP unit supply electricity?
- The micro CHP boiler is controlled by a thermostat, just like your current boiler. When the unit's burner is running to heat the house, electricity is generated at the same time. When the burner is not running the unit will not produce electricity.
- What is the service life of a micro CHP system?
- The lifetime of a micro CHP unit is similar to the average service life of a normal central heating boiler.
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