Brecon Beacons Biomass and Heat Pumps – have a look see

Long day today. Tredegar house for a meeting this morning. looking forward to working with the property to get under the bonnet of this new mansion. can see lots of quick wins.  But that is a series of blogs to come

Beili Gwennol on the left (converted barn volunteer accommodation ) and Dan y Gyrn on the right. workshop, offices and volunteer base camp.

Paul and I spent this afternoon having a look-see at what has and is happening in some of the Brecon properties. Namely Dan y Gyrn and Beili Gwennol. If you’ve even driven from North to South Wales along the A470? as you near the highest bit of the road near the Storey Arms  bellow you nestling in the Tarell Valley the National Trust has its countryside base (Dan y Gyrn) and volunteer house Beili Gwennol. Of late these two buildings have been touched with the sustainable energy wand. Energy efficiency is of course the first port of call and nice it was to see all of the new LED lights but of interest for this afternoon was to see the new 25kw biomass system being installed at Beili Gwennol and a series of air to air heat pumps being installed at Dan y Gyrn.

Eureka – biomass system which works on reports, consultations and strategies as Paul is demonstrating by feeding the latest batch into the burner. Only kidding its a 25kw wood pellet system. Only just arrived and being installed

We have become fans of the air to air heat pumps. Namely for their simplicity and cost (about £500 – £1000 ish each) and four hours to fit. The challenge with upgrading the heating in Dan y Gyrn was the issue of having no distribution system for hot water and so any new system would have to expensively install a hot water system for a biomass or water based heat pump to replace the incredibly inefficient storage heaters. The storage heaters distributed their heat when there was nobody in the building and electricity can also be the highest carbon form of heating. In this situation we opted for £3500 worth of heat pumps (7 of them) rather than £25,000 for a biomass system. Budget, time and disruption were major factors. Air based heat pumps have had a bit of a bad press but more based on design and management rather than the technology. Yes they will be on a par with a convector heater when its -12c but for 95% of the time we should get decent COP’s but not the manufacturers 5 -7 COP – if its that warm outside then your heating should not be on. It must also be remembered that Dan y Gyrn also has a large log stove for the main communal area inside and they are well aware of the need to manage the heat pumps and refrain for the ‘sub tropical’ setting on the controllers. It will be interesting to see the results next winter when the heating is being driven in anger by the weather.

Two of the 7 air to air heat pumps. These two are hidden away at the back of the building and are feeding the base camp volunteer accommodation at Dan y Gyrn

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2 Responses to Brecon Beacons Biomass and Heat Pumps – have a look see

  1. Jo Horsley says:

    I’ve never been much of a fan of heat pumps, although I accept they are the answer in some situations and anythign is better than storage heaters but your point about the COP being good when it is warm outside Keith made me think there may be situations where this could be exactly the right form of additional heating. We have had not heating in our office for about a month due to a leak. Because the builidng is very old with very thick walls we have all been freezing and going out doors at lunch times to get warm. This makes me think that additional heat pumps for summer heating of hard to heat places such as the Inner Courtyard Office, and many other Trust sites, could be a more efficient alternative to having to run the central heating to take the chill off of the building in the early mornings in all but the warmest weather which is what must happen now. Keep up the blogs, they are brilliant

    • Keith Jones says:

      that is a very very good idea. few small issue around the condensate and where to pipe it to from the collectors. fan coil and exchanger don’t like being that far away. but worth considering thanks

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