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InstallerShow Q&A – Paul Spence, Technical Manager, heatly

Paul Spence
Technical Manager
heatly

Is there a knowledge gap when it comes to system design for heat pump installations?
System design is crucial when it comes to specifying a heat pump. There are a number of factors that all have to be considered – flow rates, mean water temperatures, dt, pipe sizing and pressure losses to name a few. The depth of knowledge is extensive, but this should be part of a comprehensive apprenticeship or current new-entrant training programme. There shouldn’t be a knowledge gap for people training now.

Much of what’s required to successfully specify a heat pump is the same as what should be happening with a gas boiler. The wider margin of error and cheaper price of gas means that it is more common to approach a gas install in a more standardised way, hence those upskilling into heat pumps may lack practice. There are no shortcuts with heat pumps, however, cutting corners will lead to poor installs, high electricity bills and cold customers.

What are the most common pitfalls when carrying out heat loss calculations and how does heatly overcome them?
Inaccurate surveying, which doesn’t properly take into consideration factors affecting heat loss, such as fabric, ventilation changes and periodic upgrades since the original build, currently lead to incorrectly specified heat pump systems and dissatisfied customers.

At the moment, working out heat loss is lengthy, complex and open to human error. Heatly will make the whole process far quicker and more accurate thanks to the sheer volume of data we have collated to inform the heatly platform. The potential affect should not be underestimated – processes which take hours will soon be completed in minutes, with greater levels of standardisation for all heat pump installations that started life with heatly.

Do you think installers need a greater understanding of energy efficiency measures such as insulation in order to offer a more rounded service/improve the outcome of heat pump installations?
Apart from leading to reduced fuel bills, it’s important to remember that insulation and draughtproofing can significantly reduce the size of system products – the heat pump and also the need to make radiators bigger – therefore cutting both running and capital costs. A good heating installer needs to understand this, whatever the heat source, to improve outcomes for their customers.

Heatly will allow for simulated heat loss projections, based on the addition of certain levels of insulation, for example, so installers can easily demonstrate the benefits and cost-savings associated with different energy efficiency measures.

Where do you think the heat pump sector will be in five years’ time? How disruptive are the new digital tools coming to market?
In five-years’ time the heat pump market has the potential to be mainstream – the go-to heat source for the majority of buildings in the UK. The cost of installation and the current procurement process will have to be streamlined significantly, however. Failure to open the market to competent installers and access to the BUS grant via multiple streams places it in a risky position. With competition comes affordability – limited market controls stifle competition, which means prices remain artificially high.

To encourage the new entrants desperately needed to fulfil the market’s potential, we need high-quality technical apprenticeships that are seen as an equal career route to a university degree, increasing the volume and quality of entrants into the sector.

Digital tools like heatly will significantly disrupt and improve the sector, removing barriers to heat pump adoption for installers and their customers. Greater speed, accuracy and trust will encourage take-up and even the playing field for all types of installers, providing sole traders in particular with tools that allow for greater competitiveness.

www.heatly.com

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