Gas, electric and other hot subjects

I asked on one ng, was sent to another and the one answer there suggested here, and I see that there are several vaguely similar questions here, so here goes.....
I'm here to ask for advice about heating. Our gas back-boiler system died with a spectacular bang recently, and we have a couple of estimates for replacement. One estimate was firmly for Combi, the other firmly for a wall-mounted boiler feeding our trad system. I think I favour trad, wife and son think Combi as it sounds newer and might sound that to a future purchaser of the house. So the central heating part will have to be one of the types of gas installation and we will fight that out, but I've been getting really confused about whether to replace the fire part with a gas or electric unit. It needs a quick decision because of chimney liners etc. As an aside, I'm not really sure that I understand why the not-all-that-old chimney liner for the back boiler system can't be re-used for a new gas fire and would have to be replaced.
The requirement for the fire is that it should produce efficient radiant heat to please the daughter or whoever else wants to lie on the rug in front of it. General circulating air type heat will be from the central heating radiators. All the info on the web I've looked at seems very vague about real efficiency, and a lot of the 'efficient' fires seem to get the name from their heat exchange convection features.
The British Gas estimator seemed to be saying that electric was the more cost effective type of fire after the fuel price rises. We looked at fires in B & Q today, but got totally depressed at the fake flame effects and general cheap and phoney look of the offerings. This also applied to their selection of gas fires.
I'm not particularly bothered about which supplier of gas or electricity is the cheapest, as any decision about that can come later.
Any advice about cost-effectiveness for a system? Are there any really useful websites or other sources of info?
Sorry to be so long winded (lots of hot air) in my first post here.
--
Bill

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Bill wrote: <SNIP>

Someone will be along shortly with detailed advice I'm sure, but don't trust a word BG utter. They will say anything to flog stuff at extortionate prices IME.
--
Dave - The Medway Handyman
www.medwayhandyman.co.uk
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

A combi uses no hot storage tank, so is useful in small flats. However they deliver terrible hot water flow, making baths and showers miserable. I've heard stories of them taking 1/4 of an hour (!) to fill a bath.

thats easy, gas. Gas has been way cheaper for decades. Its not today though, but as ever electricity is generated from fuels so the most probabl future prediction is that in the longer run gas will be significantly cheaper. No-one has a crystal ball though. Theres also the fact that gas CH outperforms electric fairly easily.

not the people to listen to
NT
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 05 Aug 2008 16:07:22 -0700, meow2222 wrote:

A combi gives unlimited hot water which doesn't run out. I've heard stories of people waiting 3/4 of an hour (!) for a hot water cylinder to heat up so they can have a bath. Actually it's happened to me. There's nothing as miserable as sitting in a lukewarm-and-cooling-down bath waiting for the system to recover enough to top it up with some hot water.
If you've got a good traditional system you can fill a bath in less time than it takes to get undressed and get into it ... and if you get side-tracked for a minute you've overfilled it and run the hot water cold. With a combi you (I mean I) start running it for a couple of minutes before getting in and continue filling it, adjusting the temperature as it fills and I get used to the temperature, until I have a nice bath full of steaming hot water, just as I like it. Maybe that does take 10 or 15 minutes altogether, but a bath is about relaxing, not hurrying.
And as for showers there's nothig quite as miserable as a shower off a traditional system, unless you've got a fairly serious pump. If you've got decent mains water pressure a combi effortlessly gives a good shower.
--
John Stumbles

Hypnotising Hypnotists Can Be Tricky
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I have an Aqualisa fed via carefully routed and installed 22mm pipe from a storage system and it's very, very good. It's pretty old and I dunno if showers designed to work properly off a low pressure system are still available. It gives a higher flow of water (at the required temperature) than my mains supply is capable of - regardless of how it was heated.
--
*Therapy is expensive, poppin' bubble wrap is cheap! You choose.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

"The British Gas estimator"
Whatever you do, PLEASE don't go down this road. Any road but that one.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

British gas prices (dual fuel, after the recent price increases) Electric 20.5p per kW falling to 9.6p per kW with higher usage. Gas 7.1p per kW falling to 3.6p per kW
In general, per kW gas is around a third of the price of electricity. You may find that with some flame effect gas fires most of the heat goes up the chimney as some of them are less than 50% efficient. However you could go as low as 30% efficient and gas would be comparable with electricity, price wise, for heating.
Get a quote form someone else. BG estimators have a reputation of quoting at least 30% higher than a local reputable heating company.
--
Alan
news2006 amac f2s com
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Quite seriously, the BG estimator is good for one thing. Whatever quote he initially gives you will probably be roughly double what a good local person will charge.
--
The information contained in this post is copyright the
poster, and specifically may not be published in, or used by
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

The snag with this advice is that we have been to the local known good non-BG supplier and his preferred scheme took a gas pipe through a child's bedroom and the flue up through a long and winding road through the loft (which is full of books and other memorabilia that were being saved for our retirement and would take months to get back down and to the tip. To give access would mean a huge amount of work). BG say they will run the gas externally, and would install the boiler where we prefer. That just puts the flue through the kitchen wall. They were only slightly more expensive, but I, personally, have had very negative experiences with them in the past, and would never, ever have a maintenance contract with them again. It's all decisions....
SWMBO gets very stressed about gas inside the house anyway, and we did know someone whose baby was blown through the lounge window of their bungalow onto the front lawn by a gas explosion..It bounced, I understand, and is now a happy teenager.
Local man suggests combi, BG man suggests non-combi. I favour the latter, SWMBO and son thinks the former sounds "more modern".
But I was really looking for guidance about the gas/electric fire aspect of the change. I have carried on searching and found no real info about the radiant heat efficiency aspect of simple fires. Current dead Baxi has ceramic grid thing to radiate, and seems good to me, SWMBO thinks it looks old fashioned. It's a hard life and a decision must be made pretty soon as I seem unable to manually control the immersion to anyone's satisfaction here.
--
Bill

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Are you really saying their is only one alternative locally to BG?
--


Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
To e-mail, change noise into sound.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 6 Aug 2008 06:52:18 +0100, Bill wrote:

The old fire may well have its power output on the ratings plate, probably a max and min. Knowing this will give you some idea as to how big an electric fire you would need and thus help with the cost calculations.
As others have pointed out the "real flame" gas fires have terrible efficiency, the ceramic radiant bars are the way to go.

Why do *you* have manually control it? It should have a thermostat to stop the cylinder going above 60C or whatever. More to the point educate the family into thinking about their hot water requirements in advance and switch it on/off themselves. It's not "difficult" FFS!
--
Cheers
Dave.




Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I'm coming back to this because I am still very confused about my original question which was really about the replacement fire part of a back boiler.
But, to deal with Dave's point, I control the immersion because I know my family. I'm the only one who drives, can work the video recorder, can set up to watch freeview etc. etc. Luckily, they do the cooking, though. Suggesting that the family needs educating could severely compromise my access to culinary delights.
I've looked at electric fires. I hadn't realised that almost all the modern ones are fan heaters with a picture of a fire that lights up. My experience of fan heaters is that they are mechanical, throw away devices, so I'm not too impressed. I remember fan motor bearings gumming up and elements glowing red.
SWMBO doesn't like the ceramic gas fire like the one we are removing. Antique would be acceptable, old-fashioned isn't, I'm told.
Taking, for example, the current Valor catalogue has the typical ceramic radiant fire as 79% efficient. A flame effect fire that is radiant + convection quotes 89% efficiency. However the same fire quotes heat input 5kW and heat o/p 4kW or input 2.3 and o/p 1.8. How this translates to 89% is beyond my understanding of mathematics. In addition, I assume that the gas fire draws cold outside air into the room through the vent. The supplier who gave me the catalogues advised to take efficiencies with a grain of salt as the same fires quoted different efficiencies in different countries based on measurement methods and the likelihood of legal action.
We have been looking for a third quotation, but the most recommended man has retired, and we are in the holiday season. Maybe I'm taking all this too seriously. I keep having to tell the family that the reason the country is such a shambles is that we don't seem to have any politicians who think through the consequences before producing half-baked policies.
--
Bill

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 8 Aug 2008 14:19:04 +0100, Bill wrote:

Not had that but in general I don't like fan heaters because of the noise. The good old radiant bar electric fire is silent, if it ain't it's got a fault!
Can't say I've looked at electric fires in a very long time but I see that of the 27 that Argos have none are radiant bar. Presumably because people these days are so dim that getting to close or sticking things into them doesn't register as a stupid thing to do.

No mains gas here so haven't looked at gas fires for ages either, do they still have gas showrooms? I guess they are all the living flame type now as well. Why don't you suggest that if she really wants the living flame look that you put a real living flame stove or open grate in. Let that sit for a while then remind her that they are rather dirty and a nice clean efficient gas radiant fire would be so much easier to control and there would be no lugging of fuel or ash pans about.

You'd have to check the regs but a gas fire might not require a vent, just normal room ventilation. Your back boiler will have required a vent though as its demand for oxygen is far greater than a gas fire.

I get the impression you are stuck between a rock and hard place. I'd certainly take a hard look at the design of a living flame gas fire but I can't really see how they can match or better the efficiency a conventional radiant gas fire.
--
Cheers
Dave.




Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 08 Aug 2008 21:29:45 +0100, Dave Liquorice wrote:

Indeed. If it's a DFE (like a tray, trough or basket of gas-fired fake coals/logs sort of free-standing in the fireplace) then you'll need ventilation equivalent to leaving a fanlight open 24*7 all-year-round. (Likewise for flueless fires.)
If SWMBO won't go for the old-fashioned gas-fire look, then some of the fake coal/log effect fires that have a surround that fits into the fireplace can fairly chuck out the heat (OK, not brilliantly efficiently, but how long will it be running for?) and if it's 7kW or less you probably don't need additional ventilation.
--
John Stumbles

militant pacifist
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Very easy one to solve. Accept their quote or on condition its sited/ run where you want. Or better, ask another firm, specifying from the start where you want things run..

It is... but that isnt a reason to install something! Just tell her about bath fill times.

so what? Lots of technologies we use daily are old fashioned, and work great.
If you really want to modern-fashion it, you could paint incandescent salts onto the ceramic nodules so that it glows whatever colour you like. I dont know of any treatment that would change the non- incandescing colour of the plates, perhaps someone does. Maybe - and only a guess here - a dilute slip made from fire cement plus chosen metal oxide.

heh. Sometimes we make it so ourselves.
NT
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 05 Aug 2008 23:33:46 +0100, Bill wrote:

It can, provided that it is in a condition such that it can be expected to last the lifetime of the new fire. How old is "not-all-that-old"? Are we talking geoligical age here? :-) A back boiler that dies is generally out of the ark.
Of course the installer is staking their professional reputation and more on assessing the condition of the liner and may understandably err on the side of caution and say it can't be re-used.

Most efficient are traditional radiant-type fires, less so are fuel-effect with a back/surround and on a par with burning £10 notes for heat are decorative fuel effect (e.g. basket types)
--
John Stumbles

Press any key to continue or any other key to exit
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.