How to Heat an Off-Grid Home: LPG Boilers, Combi Boilers and Renewable Energy Sources
For the vast majority of us, heating our homes is a relatively easy process. Connected to the vast array of pipes that make up the UK’s gas grid, a simple flick of a switch and our homes transform into cosy, warm havens. However, while many of us may enjoy the ease of hot showers and warm rooms thanks to being on the grid, there are a significant number of Brits that don’t have the luxury.
From Cornwall to Northern Scotland, there are swathes of households that aren’t connected to the mains gas grid and instead must find other options in order to keep their home warm. While mains gas grid isn’t an option, this doesn’t mean that these communities don’t have access to alternatives.
Thankfully, there are a host of options an off-grid household can choose from, with many of them offering a host of benefits that traditional mains gas may not be able to. With this in mind, as expert plumbers who work with a variety of clients both off and on the gas mains, we decided to put together some of the options an off-grid homeowner has in order to help you make the perfect choice for your property.
As we’ve already mentioned, there is a significant section of the UK that lives off the gas grid - around four million households to be more precise. A vast majority of these properties can be found in the more rural areas of the British Isles, including Cornwall, Scotland and Wales.
However, while difficulties do arise from not being connected to the utilities that most of us benefit from, many find this more simplistic way of living to be especially enjoyable. It can also be advantageous compared to standard utilities.
Arguably the main benefit is that you have a lot more control over your fuel usage. In comparison to mains households who are required to pay monthly bills to utility companies, off-grid properties are able to pick and choose when they want to replenish their fuel supply. This also gives you the advantage of choice, as we mention further on in this blog.
Aside from the more pragmatic benefits of living off of the mains grid, many people find that being disconnected has a positive impact on their lives. With most off-grid homes being in rural areas, many who live or move into such communities find a level of peace and serenity that can’t be found in more built up areas of the country.
For many off-grid homeowners, oil heating is one of the most viable alternatives to traditional natural gas and is a much safer option overall. As natural gas is an explosive substance, having it heat your home poses inherent dangers. On the other hand, heating oil is a much more stable heating, meaning a much lower risk. It can also burn at a much higher temperature compared to natural gas, burning around 300 degrees hotter. Because of this, oil burners can be a much more efficient heating system for your home. These factors make heating oil a really useful option to warm your home quickly and for longer, all for less than you may think.
One issue with heating oil, however, is that it is not a particularly clean fuel, both in environmental and literal terms. Due to relying on a heating oil tank that you will need to maintain, cleaning soot and dirt out becomes a job that you’ll need to look into. It’s also potentially dangerous to the surrounding environment if you spring a leak.
Liquefied petroleum gas or LPG, is another option that many off-grid homeowners are relying on to keep their homes warm, however, it arguably offers many of the things that even heating oil can’t do. For example, LPG is a much more environmentally friendly fuel when compared to heating oil, as it produces significantly less carbon emissions. While both oil and LPG are more eco-friendly than coal, LPG is the much cleaner option of the two. It’s also literally cleaner than oil, meaning you won’t have to spend nearly as much time cleaning an LPG boiler.
Versatility is another advantage, as LPG can be used both in a boiler and for an oven or hob. Oil heaters, on the other hand, can only be used for boilers. Finally, it’s important to note that it requires a Gas Safe registered engineer to install an LPG boiler, while an oil system requires OFTEC certification. Gas Safe engineers are much easier to come by, meaning that if you run into issues with you LPG boiler, you’re more likely to be seen quicker.
One of the main downsides LPG poses in comparison to oil, however, is that it’s usually more expensive to buy. If you’re looking to keep costs low, then an oil boiler may be the better option for your needs.
Solid fuel options
Before oil, gas and LPG, people were kept warm with a roaring fire fueled by a log from their store. Surprisingly, many people across the country still use this kind of method to keep their properties warm, utilising solid fuels to keep fires and stoves lit. There are some benefits to this method of home heating, especially when it comes to ventilation. Homes with solid fuel options are usually designed with ventilation in mind, which can improve the overall air quality indoors and reduce condensation, one of the main causes of mold.
However, the main issue that occurs with the consistent use of solid fuel is the need to be able to both source and store your investment. This can make solid fuel heating for some off-grid homes extremely difficult. For those looking for a clean fuel will also struggle with solid fuel, as it will invariably create a large amount of soot and can become a real pain to clean.
For those looking to truly live off-grid, renewable energy sources are slowly but surely becoming a more viable option for the environmentally conscious homeowner. Back in the day, renewable sources to heat our homes and charge our electronics were a mere fantasy, yet, as the technology has developed, renewable energy has seen a surge in popularity. Solar panels have especially seen a rise in use over the last 15 years, becoming much better at effectively heating water and creating electrical charge. Biomass and pellet burners are also great ways of keeping properties warm whilst sticking to an eco-conscious lifestyle.
However, the main issues with renewable energy options such as solar and wind is that they are both expensive to install and don’t create nearly as much energy or heat as the other options. While the tech will continue to be improved, it’s probably best to mix renewable options with other sources.
Combi boiler installation to comprehensive repairs - get in touch with Gastech today for first class plumbing and heating services
Living off the grid can be the perfect lifestyle, however, without a quality heating system in place and a licenced professional to hand for when things go wrong, your off-grid dream could quickly become a nightmare. If you’re looking for help with your off-grid plumbing or heating, Gastech is here to help. Offering a range of gold standard heating and plumbing services, our team of highly qualified engineers can tackle any job, including tricky off-grid issues.
Whether you’re in need of a LPG or oil boiler replacement at your property, or could simply do with some help on plumbing repairs, you can rest assured that Gastech will have you covered. For more information on how Gastech can help your home or business, visit our website or get in touch with our team on 01495 222 792.