You may not have heard about micro CHP, this technology combines heat and power output from a single unit making it more efficient. The idea is that heat that would otherwise be wasted is made into useable energy. The Baxi Ecogen is one such CHP unit that is designed to replace a standard conventional gas boiler or gas combi boiler.
At the time of writing this is the only micro CHP unit in the UK to get MCS certification which means that you can claim the feed in tariff payments just like you can for solar panels. There are a number of other domestic CHP boilers that also run off mains gas but are yet to be accredited under the micro generation certification scheme.
It is plumbed into your mains gas and heats water for your heating and hot water supply just like a conventional boiler. In addition to this it also produces electricity via a Stirling engine located inside the boiler. This free piston engine Stirling engine generates electricity by turning the heat from the boiler into electrical energy.
The price of the Baxi Ecogen is more than a standard boiler with the cost being around £6,500 inclusive of VAT. This is more expensive than a standard gas boiler but you should make an annual saving on your fuel bill of around £600 according to Baxi. Additionally they claim you will produce 40% less carbon emissions.
Essentially it is just an ordinary boiler with a few extra bits added. It is about twice as heavy as and slightly larger than a standard boiler. It needs to be installed on a ground floor and is wall mounted, this means it will usually be installed in the kitchen or in the garage.
It works the same way as a conventional boiler except when it is actively heating water the internal Stirling engine is also generating electricity. The Ecogen can be connected to your existing domestic electrical circuit.
Baxi claims that even with the integrated Stirling engine the boiler is no nosier than a conventional system. It is rated at 46dB at a distance of 1m from the front of the boiler. As it is based on the ground floor it shouldn't disturb anyone's sleep.
As with any boiler it will need a once a year service by a Gas Safe registered engineer, but they do recommend that you use someone who has been on the Baxi Ecogen course. This makes sense as you want someone who is familiar with CHP technology.
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