Interview: The Future of the Industry

Ken Bone is a long-time advocate for the development of heat pump technology and an expert in renewable energy. With our 2022 theme as Installing the Future. Now! we asked if InstallerSHOW delivered.

Were there any new products you saw at this year’s InstallerSHOW that you feel will help pave the way for a low carbon future?

I was really pleased to see so many electric heating products at InstallerSHOW. For me who’s already been installing heat pumps for over 15 years, it was great seeing a lot of major heat pump manufacturers there. In all honesty I wasn’t expecting to see so many and it’s a great step in the right direction.

The cynic in me does still feel the industry is only sticky plastering the urgency of what we need to do when it comes to climate change, CO2 reduction and reducing customer energy consumption with efficient systems.

This is also how I feel about the new Part L regulations. So many things could have started us down this path 30-40 years ago. Low temperature and weather compensation for example, are measures that just haven’t been pushed hard enough by the industry.

I personally was installing Low Temp gas systems (heat pump ready) nearly 15 years ago. Heat pumps are expensive, mainly because of the lack of previous changing policy/regulation, too many systems installed that are allowed to run at stupidly high flow temperatures, with simple on and off controls. Now we have millions of non-low temp systems that need upgrading to low temp, which once done can then be more efficient with a gas boiler or a heat pump.

InstallerSHOW this year was a great opportunity to speak to likeminded individuals about all this!

Was there an opportunity to learn about new and innovative solutions at InstallerSHOW in relation to a low carbon future that you may not have been aware of before?

Definitely for those who haven’t been installing heat pump and low carbon technology, or are just starting to explore this area. InstallerSHOW would have been a great stepping stone for them. For me it was simply really exciting to see so many renewable products on display.

What do you think will be the biggest change to happen within our industry?

The change is already happening. Customer awareness about having an efficient system is growing and the times are truly changing fast. There is no time to get left behind. Gas boilers or heat pumps, times are changing fast, don’t get left behind.

In my opinion, gas is on its way out. Every project I’ve been involved with over the last 3 years has been renewable technologies or combinations of various low carbon tech. Not once gas!

Do you think it is important for the next generation of installers to take up opportunities and learn about new technologies and the wider decarbonisation of energy?

Absolutely, there are so many good engineers out there going against the grain of the last century dinosaur thinking. This is an exciting new chapter for the heating industry. Gas and oil are finite, whereas the Sun shines every day somewhere giving us power in so many ways. If the company you’re working for is not installing renewables, ask them why. If they are never going to change, then find others with the same renewable vision.

Wouldn’t it be great to say to your grandchildren, I helped to make the heating industry better, helped reduce carbon emissions and changed people’s thinking!

Why would you recommend young installers to attend InstallerSHOW?

Anybody in the heating industry needs to go, but for the youngest they need to see that there are other alternative technologies that are far cleaner and can still give us heating and hot water.

There are a lot of systems now that are very smart when it comes to controls, looking at weather data, grid CO2 data and so on. Trying to make use of that free/cleanest energy, some systems (including my own) are accumulating data all the time, weather conditions, consumption, various temperatures, running hours and much more.

With this I can fine tune beyond what just comes out the box, it is not just plumbing, its coding, programming, analysis, data correlations, IFTT rules that bring my heating on when it’s cold and the wind blows above a certain speed.

All of this can be explored and learnt about at InstallerSHOW. So if you are new to the industry definitely go along to find out more!

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