Meet the installer
Your questions answered
We have reached an exciting time at Boxergy as our concept starts to move from the test lab to the field. We now have a trial system in the field with more to follow in the next weeks and months. With this in mind, a few weeks ago, we decided to employ our first full-time installer, Michael Hale.
Michael comes with a wealth of experience in renewable energy. After working in oil and gas, he was self-employed for 7 years as a renewable energy installation contractor, installing heat pumps, biomass boilers, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic systems throughout Scotland.
“I was interested in renewables for a number of reasons. Firstly, coming out of oil and gas, it was obvious to me that the days of fossil fuels are numbered. It seemed like common sense to me to get involved in an industry that is not destined to die a slow death, but one that is only going to grow. Heat pumps and other renewable systems may only have a small share in the market now, but it is more than it was last year and not as much as it will be next year.
“Secondly, I love being part of an industry where things are innovating and moving on all of the time. I could have gone into installing gas boilers, but that will have no major innovations between now and when it becomes obsolete (2025 being the current date banded around). Heat pumps, biomass, solar, wind, wave etc. have all made massive leaps forward even in the time I have been in the industry. This promises to only be the start.
“When I heard about the Boxergy concept of applying air source heat pumps to heat and electrical battery storage, I was very intrigued. As I looked into it, I saw that this was a fantastic way to use heat pumps on much of the older housing stock that we have here in the UK. I recognised that this is an area of big potential and I was very keen to get involed.
“A huge chunk of UK housing stock is pre-1990 built houses. Currently, most of these are deemed unsuitable for air source heat pumps, at least without significant internal upgrades. Boxergy opens up the next stage for renewable heating-the retrofit market. As Boxergy and our supply partners continue to innovate, we will continue to hone our system to make it better and better!”
Why is Boxergy better than an air-source-heat-pump?
Boxergy IS an air-source-heat-pump (ASHP) and a lot more!
A standard ASHP installation works most efficiently by delivering heat at low temperature (40-45degC) to the heating system. When used on a well-insulated house this is fine as far as it goes. But the system can be improved. Electricity needs to be imported from the grid and most people want their heat at times of highest demand, in the morning and early evening. This means that under normal circumstances, a heat pump (an electrically driven system) is used during peak electrical load times. This is bad for the grid, which is becoming heavily overloaded during these times, and for the customer because energy is much more expensive at these times. As we move towards smart metering and flexible tariffs, buying electricity during cheaper times (when there is less demand) is now possible. What is needed is not just a heat pump, but storage.
The Boxergy system uses an ASHP to charge a heat battery at times when electricity is cheap so that the heat can be discharged when it is required. Additionally, an electrical battery is incorporated into the system so that electricity can be imported to power the heat pump once the heat battery has run out, or for any other household electrical use.
Tying all of this together is our smart controller which allows the different parts of the system to communicate with each other for optimal operation.
Using Boxergy on new builds is a big upgrade to a standard ASHP. But what really sets it apart is that is applicable to older, less well-insulated homes. A standard ASHP will struggle to work efficiently in poorly insulated buildings, meaning higher heating costs.
The standard in the heat pump industry is to focus only on improving the efficiency because electricity is much more expensive than gas. But this is only true at peak times. Boxergy, on the other hand, thanks to its storage capacity, takes the efficiency to the next level, by using electricity when it is much cheaper. The result is much cheaper heating, even cheaper than gas!
Who will take care of the system?
Our smart controller does all the hard work of figuring out when to charge the batteries and when to discharge them or use energy from the grid, all you do is turn your lights on or run the hot water. It's just like living with a combi boiler and being connected to the grid (as you still are); there is instant hot water and electricity, it's really simple.
Our controller is set up to put your needs first. It looks for the times that you are not using energy to make you money by either buying cheap on your behalf or selling services to your energy supplier or the grid. Either way your bills come down.
Sometimes energy is free or you can even get paid to take it. Our controller knows when these events occur and will ensure you benefit when that happens.
As for the everyday upkeep and servicing, we charge a maintenance fee of £120/year. This keeps up the warranties and includes servicing, repair and replacement of faulty parts. Unlike most systems though, we will be able to detect faults remotely even before the part has failed completely so we can arrange repair at a convenient time for you.
What’s the life time of a Boxergy system?
We expect a Boxergy system to operate at maximum efficiency for at least 15 years and under normal circumstances, around 20 years. This would be similar lifespan to other heating systems like gas or oil boilers or standard heat pumps. We have 7 years manufacturers warranties for the heat pump and the heat battery and a 10 year warranty for the electrical batteries.
Is a Boxergy right for my house?
We are putting systems into some very hard to heat homes. If your house can be described as ‘normal’ i.e. not a 16th Century castle somewhere in Perthshire, then we will almost certainly have a system that works for you.
Why did you join Boxergy?
I have been in the renewable industry for around 8 years, most of that time working as a self-employed contractor installing heat pumps and solar panels in domestic and small commercial buildings. Working on my own was great in many ways, but a lesson that I learned was that it is very difficult, maybe even impossible, to achieve something really special on your own.
When I heard about what Boxergy are doing, I knew that I wanted to be involved. The renewable energy industry is a great one to work in and has innovation at its heart. But like any industry, it naturally reverts to a tried and tested method. A consensus emerges around the best way to do things. This is fine until a problem emerges which requires a solution outside this consensus. When this happens, the consensus says that it can’t be done.
Because of this there are now a perfectly valid set of objections against renewable micro-generation which established thinking has no real answer to, such as:
- You can’t fit a heat pump onto an old house
- If heat pumps were universal, it would put too much strain on the grid
- Solar doesn’t produce electricity when you need it and batteries are far too expensive
These are just some of the objections that I would hear regularly. The most frustrating thing is that they all have a lot of truth in them.
Boxergy is providing answers to these questions. What’s more, we are building a smart system which can be upgraded to solve new problems as they emerge.
How do I control my Boxergy?
The Boxergy system is designed to work in the same way as any house using a combi boiler. You use your thermostat to set the room temperature and you turn the tap on to get hot water. The lights and othe electrical appliances work just the same.
The smart controller figures out how to minimise your bills by buying energy at the cheapest times, it does all the hard work for you.
The only thing you will notice is a big drop in your energy bills and cleaner air around your home. An the feeling you get when you are helping to save the planet and money!
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