With the advent of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in April 2014, and in addition to the existing one-off £1300 payment under the Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP), air source heat pumps (ASHP) are increasingly being seen by consumers as viable alternatives to replace their fossil fuel based boilers. This situation will provide a great opportunity for installers looking to expand their businesses in the area of renewable based energy systems.

Installers do, however, need to be aware of the additional knowledge and understanding required to ensure a successful ASHP installation. They must make certain that the system is both fit for purpose and that the customer enjoys the full benefits of their installation.

In order to carry out the work at all, the installer will need to be, or in the process of becoming, approved under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) for Heat Pumps. An alternative for installers not ready or prepared to gain this approval, is to work with an MCS approved organisation and install under their scheme.

When looking at an installation, the initial step is to quantify the amount of energy required to support the heating requirements of the home to the defined MCS standard (MIS3005). Once this has been done, the appropriate heat pump system can be sized and selected. Failure to do this will result in a compromised installation before the equipment is even delivered to site.

The type of system will also be defined by the heating distribution requirements. For example radiators or underfloor heating. It is very important that the system is designed as a whole as the characteristics of the distribution system will affect the operation of the heat pump.

To meet the requirements of the MCS standard (MCS020), the location for the installation of the equipment needs to meet local planning requirements. Although permitted development rights are granted in England and Wales, the heat pump outdoor unit must be sited so that noise levels do not exceed a defined level in proximity to a neighbour’s property.

Once installed, the correct commissioning procedures must be undertaken to ensure that the system performance is maintained and the equipment is free from premature breakdowns. Finally, when the system is handed over to the end user, the contractor must ensure that they customer understands the operation of the equipment. The manufacturer’s warranty must also be in place.

By following these steps you should have a happy customer and no costly call backs, while enjoying a new revenue stream to further grow your business!