Going all electric (boilerless)

Discussion in 'Electricians' Talk' started by john2502, Jul 29, 2021.

  1. john2502

    john2502 Member

    Hi all. This isn't a direct issue, more of a musing after a discussion the other day with my dad (ex plumber) and just wondered what people thought. We were talking about the 2025 gas boiler phasing out and I posed the question could houses go boilerless.....ok, I know, but hear me out.

    So with new electric tech (and obviously this will come down in price a little and get smarter/more efficient) could you do this:

    Radiators/towel rails: replace with smart electric
    Bathroom hot taps: electric instant heating unit
    Showers: electric showers (that ones easy!)
    Kitchen hot tap: boiling water tap or electric instant heater

    Could also go one step further and of course have all electric kitchen appliances so eliminate any gas need at all.

    Now obviously the downsides will be:
    1. Cost of installation and to run cabling for all these
    2. The fact electric bill will be BIG, if you frequently bath (which we rarely do) I suspect this would be very pricey.
    3. Mains draw will be significantly increased, especially in winter of course.

    But I can see advantages too, namely:
    1. Switching to smart tech (especially individually controlled radiators and only heating water when actually needed) may drastically decrease usage/wastage
    2. No boiler to service/maintain/have to replace (not sure how long lasting under sink heating units are but they would be much cheaper than a boiler to replace)
    3. Redundancy, any faults and you still have hot water/heating in a lot of the house if one part fails, as opposed to being solely reliant on boiler for heating and hot water.
    4. No pesky leaks or issues with pipes/valves/radiators corroding.

    Anyway, was just a silly discussion and wondered what others thought, (apart from just "the electric bill will be huge!!!) But replacing a boiler and sorting plumbing issues isn't cheaper either!
  2. Muzungu

    Muzungu Screwfix Select

    The total fossil fuel boiler "phasing out" in 2025 for new builds is, in my opinion, very unlikely to happen. As for other installations in older houses, can't see it happening for decades as the technology is just not up to it.

    As for electricity only, if cost is taken out of the equation and the grid could handle it, why not; but then we are talking about a situation that doesn't exist.
    The future homes standard, announced some time ago now is, to my knowledge, not yet backed up by any legislation or building regulations and is still in consultation. I should imagine that once reality sets in it will be not as prescriptive as some people fear.


    Quote from the article which, from anecdotal reports, seems to be fantasy:

    "Heat pumps offer a climate-friendly heating solution as an alternative to natural gas boilers, and they could save the average detached home with four bedrooms up to £1,300 per year, according to the Energy Saving Trust."

    I welcome being contradicted.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2021
  3. AnotherTopJob

    AnotherTopJob Screwfix Select

    Personally I would stick with gas as long as possible.
    Things like electric towel radiators or the odd wall heater are fine as a backup or for a loft room etc.
    Heat and air pumps provide a low level of heat which might just be ok in a VERY well insulated house. On an older or poorly insulated house, it will be using mostly electricity, which will be very expensive.
  4. jonathanc

    jonathanc Screwfix Select

    I don’t see going fully electric working without a massive upgrade in the grid. Currently I have a 36kw boiler which is undersized for the house. It works because we have good insulation. Add to that say a couple of electric cars and how does that power usage work on a 63A cut out???
  5. The Happy Builder

    The Happy Builder Screwfix Select

    You will have to pay the premium rates for electric and not be able to benefit from lower tariffs.
    David Steeley likes this.
  6. candoabitofmoststuff

    candoabitofmoststuff Screwfix Select

    The government, along with others, is starting to take the issue of climate change seriously.
    I think existing gas installations are safe for many years... but I think it no gas in new builds is very likely in the near future.
    I do agree that the existing electric grid infrastructure going to need much upgrading... and that wont happen in time for the phasing out of gas... but it will happen, I'm sure!

  7. Tony Goddard

    Tony Goddard Screwfix Select

    It won't happen any time soon, Covid isn't done yet by a good few years, and the financial implications of it will make the great depression look like a tea party. People who took mortgages enticed by low interest rates and payed high for property will probably end up in negative equity, facing eviction. The travel industry (at least those businesses currently operating are done for, along with huge swathes of the hospitality sector, because friends it ain't coming back in any big way soon), so ultimately the governments good intentions are doomed.

    Also there is the great hubris of mankind, that we can influence nature that much - sure, I don't dispute that our actions have had an impact on the environment, but also the climate shifts over time - the Romans grew grapes up on Tyneside and the Thames used to freeze over every winter, long before industrialisation - I would wager that nothing we do, however well intentioned will change the course of the climate.

    By the time our little spiky ball friend has stabilised to a variant that is dominant, but not very deadly, we will all be so broke that the climate will be the last thing on our minds, and bacause we won't be able to afford a holiday to spain the baking hot weather here will make up for it!
  8. Jimbo

    Jimbo Screwfix Select

    Going electric will cost you 4x as much - look at the comparative pence per kWHr.

    I have an ASHP - R290 based with 24,000 kWhr per annum heating demand. It’s cost effective again oil. Gas would currently be cheaper.

    There is a country in Europe that is about to increase gas prices by over 50%.

    ASHP is effective when the system is correctly designed and gives between 2 and 4:1 when compared to resistive heating.
  9. Muzungu

    Muzungu Screwfix Select

    Always interested in those who have actually have the technology installed rather than me relying on third party stories. Hope you don't mind if I ask a few questions. I have a 25+ year old open flue combi which works really well, bigger than average 3 bed two bath semi, but realise it will not last forever although I am beginning to think it is bombproof.

    Do you have any sort of electric or gas boost on the system, does it cope Ok in really cold weather? Assuming you have a tank and the house is really well insulated; underfloor heating and bigger radiators perhaps?

    I see alot of companies are now pushing what they call "hybrid" systems which include a combi in the circuit to give the ASHP a boost when required. Seems a bit of a complication.
  10. quasar9

    quasar9 Screwfix Select

    The idea of an all electric household complete with an electric car is already in hot water as the magic date of 2025 nears. The power distribution cos have warned a committee in House of Commons that looks into this area that current infrastructure is simply incapable of supplying the proposed demands. Others have realised that for most people, the conversation cost to all electric home is simply unaffordable let alone the running cost.

    unless the building has been designed and built to extremely high standards (a level the current building industry simply cannot achieve as witnessed by the shoddy new builds, where speed and profitability takes precedence over quality) running on electric is a pipe dream !
    Muzungu likes this.
  11. Bob Rathbone

    Bob Rathbone Screwfix Select

    We have a perfectly serviceable gas infrastructure, do you really think that those with the investment in it will allow it to be scrapped? The simple answer is no. Hydrogen is the answer and it solves all of the issues with loading of the electricity grid and carbon emissions. I know their are issues, as their were when natural gas was introduced, but they were overcome as will the problems with hydrogen. Hydrogen will also become the 'go to' fuel for transport, especially large vehicles such as buses and trucks powering an internal combustion engine for some years to come. Electric vehicle technology is still in its infancy, the main barriers to use have not been addressed and the initial cost remains prohibitive for most. As for 'smart' electric heaters, it is all B.S. Electric heaters already have timers and thermostats, they use electricity as will the smart ones. Smart or dumb, the heater has to raise the air temperature to the desired level, this uses the same amount of electricity irrespective of the cleverness of the device.
  12. Muzungu

    Muzungu Screwfix Select

    I wish I was as confident as you about hydrogen. I think the issues with large scale generation and the physical properties of hydrogen make the supply in large scale to the end user more than problematical.

    The production of internal combustion vehicle engines running on hydrogen or domestic boilers is relatively simple. It is the infrastructure to support that which will be the issue, much more difficult to overcome than the introduction of natural gas which could use the same infrastructure with little modification needed, it was at the end point where a simple modification was required. I can see a low level mix of hydrogen perhaps being introduced but whole scale introduction will be many decades away, in my opinion, if ever.
  13. Jimbo

    Jimbo Screwfix Select

    I have an ASHP in a 1970s house. It works fine. It has retrofitted double-glazing and cavity wall insulation, as is required to get RHI scheme support. Electric doesn't need to mean resistive heating.
  14. Jimbo

    Jimbo Screwfix Select

    ASHP is not for all properties - on single phase the max is about 12-15kW of output (nominal). The best thing to do is pay £49 and get an EPC done. This will give a basic estimate of annual heating demand and would be the basis of the RHI payments from a system actually. Assuming the annual demand is less than 30,000 kWhr (once any remediation like double glazing, loft insulation, and cavity wall insulation if applicable) then a single phase ASHP would likely be suitable.

    R290 systems have a wide operating temperature. It will produce 75°C from -7°C outside and provide adequate flow for heating to -18°C without any need for emersions or gas.

    The RHI scheme has been extended to March next year and will pay almost the entire cost of fitting a system. The key is to minimise design flow temperature to 1) maximise RHI payments due to higher SCOP and 2) make the system more efficient. This is done by increasing radiator surface area and reducing heat loss of course.

    As you have a non-condensing boiler I would expect the running costs to be similar.

  15. MGW

    MGW Screwfix Select

    To go all electric clearly the 60 amp at moment supplied to this house would not be enough, and one would need some buffer of energy to reduce the demand when for example returning home, heat pumps are expensive and as with gas or oil it needs to connect in some way to the outside, to get rid of the heat or extract the heat depending if heating or cooling. So we will still have a central unit connected to rooms.

    This is to some extent already the case, I have 9 programmable TRV heads, but to work well time is important, how long it takes for the heating device to heat the room to required level without over shooting. And you are correct traditional radiators are too slow, what most people want is for the system to detect the position of your phone, and as you approach home to heat rooms which will be used on your arrival.

    This house the radiators are too small, however late mothers house did have large radiators so speed was in theory possible, however in practice it did not work, two stumbling blocks, one moving air around the room, and two the TRV head working out when to close to stop over shooting, I ended up setting the head to 22ºC for hour then 20ºC as the built in anti-hysteresis software was too quick to close the TRV.

    My old house slightly better, the Myson fan assisted heater circulates the air, so on arriving home, central heating on, (6 kW in living room) and gas fire on (4.5 kW in living room) and within 20 minutes the room was warm. So I had radiant heat from gas fire, and a fan moving the air around, plus 10.5 kW of heat, so working on what said we would need.

    A heat pump heating a heat store (cylinder of water) and fan assisted radiators to be able to allow home to cool and be able to re-heat within an hour, the new Myson fan assisted radiators control the output with automated fan speed, so once the room is warm, the fan speed and associated noise is reduced.

    Two problems, one the ivector fan assisted radiator costs around £650 so this house with 14 radiators looking at £10,000 for radiators alone, add the control system, heat pump, and heat store and looking at £20,000, so a little over what I can afford.

    The second is the way the fan assisted radiator works, with TRV's every radiator is in parallel, and control is by water allowed to flow though each radiator, this ensures cool return water which is required for a gas boiler, but the fan assisted radiator does not restrict water flow, so hot water is returned to the boiler, very bad for gas boiler as can't gain the latent heat, but even heat pumps want cool water returned to them.

    So the plumbing would need to change, so all radiators in series, so the whole system would need re-plumbing.

    Clearly with a new build this could be done, but to retro fit a new system in an old house, the cost would be silly.

    The whole idea of electric heating has been tried, we had storage heaters which warmed up when little demand then delivered heat when required, at least that was the idea, you got a lovely toasty home over night and in the day, then in the evening when you wanted the heat, you were cold. It may be with solar power cheap rate is day rate, and night is expensive, so it may be that we can take power as required and store less.

    However as well as heating the home, we also need to charge the car,
    it continues
    so what we are looking at is where the car will be charged, at work we have two 3 phase charge points at 22 kW but we pay around 15p per kWh at home, but 25p at charge points where charged, some firms are allowing free charging, other charge, and it is all well and good having an app on your phone to tell you car fully charged move car from charging point, or charge point free your next on the queue, but that means you leaving the work place to move the car.

    We have always had the problem [​IMG] be it a forklift or milk float we have had to have multi-chargers, but lead acid could not be fast charged, it took a whole shift, and charge rate was slow, the problem is I for one don't know when I will want my car next, or how far I will need to travel, so it will need recharging as soon as I return.
  16. seneca

    seneca Screwfix Select

    Just about as sensible (NOT) as electric cars I think!
  17. quasar9

    quasar9 Screwfix Select

    Things will only work if we invest in nuclear to back up the wind and tidal power neither guaranteed of continuous availability. The power captured by former can go up and down over a wide range while the later is more consistent but timed twice a day. However, nuclear is not popular with the voters and besides it takes large investment and has a long lead times.

    curiously, Britain which accounts for 1% of greenhouse gases takes it seriously while those countries that produce this in double digit numbers are paying lip service. China which is the leading producer of CO2, is only riding the green cause because they see it as an opportunity to take the lead in EV production.

    last week Jeremy Clarkson challenged Volvo on the real level of pollution created in production of lithium batteries. They came clean and admitted than their EV had already accumulated equivalent of 48,000miles of motoring in one of their petrol cars, before even leaving the factory.
    Mrboomal and seneca like this.
  18. candoabitofmoststuff

    candoabitofmoststuff Screwfix Select

    The thing is... It's EASY for the gov to implement a "No gas in new builds" policy.
    Given what is trying to be achieved, it seems to me that it would be absurd for them not to do this.
    Existing gas installations will remain for many years certainly... but for many decades? I suspect not.
  19. Bob Rathbone

    Bob Rathbone Screwfix Select

    I did not say it would be simple, you are correct, it will be a difficult job. But will it be more difficult than building power stations, upgrading the grid and strengthening local distribution.
  20. quasar9

    quasar9 Screwfix Select

    Once the reality ( costs) hits, people and business may not be so keen and the govt sensing this to be a vote loser will rapidly kick various policies in the long grass, insisting at every opportunity that they are being fine tuned. A good many developing countries including Brazil, Mexico, India among others have already decided there is nothing for them in these climate talks and have hinted so openly. One recently said, promises made last year could be implemented “starting” in 2050. Even among the well developed nations reality is sinking in. I believe Germany is using more coal today than a few years ago.

    A lone scientist from Israel, whose voice has been drowned out by the current herd of climatologists, has suggested that the Sun is getting brighter and warmer over the years, the real driver behind the climate change. Like the 11year sunspot cycle, there may be longer cycles of which we know little of. What we do know is that stars do go through periods of instability and Earth has gone through many ice ages and by logic periods of thaw out.

    More recently since mankind started keeping records, are periods mini ice ages every 500 years apart. Thames froze regularly around 1700.

    climate change yes, but cause ? The jury is still out.

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