Are we nearly there yet? Blog by Darren McNestry on the progress of systems controls
ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET? This has been a question asked from not only customers but engineers with years of experience. They are questioning if we have reached a point where our systems and boilers can be controlled any further than what we do now?
You can still hear a distant voice of an engineer saying under his breath “they’re not made like they used to be”. In some instances they are right. I remember before all of the up to date controls became common place in the industry, engineers would service and repair an old floor standing gas boiler that had been installed some 20 years ago, but was still operating at a good level and looked as though very few parts had been replaced. Even though I think they would be a limited numbers of new boilers that could boast that track record, we cannot stand in the way of progression.
Governments have and are still trying to save energy with incentive schemes and RHI payment schemes which were put in place to try and allow home owners to upgrade their current central heating system. However, despite the fact there was no bottomless money pit for everyone to dip into, unethical greedy hands have been put into the pot and abused the system, totally missing the point of the energy efficiency derivative and the KYOTO Agreement.
This was meant to be used to make the country more energy efficient but instead was riddled with loop holes allowing companies and customers to make vast amounts of money. I recently saw the first advert on television from a law firm wanting to speak to people who have not had the energy savings or returns being quoted by some installation companies at the time of system installation.
I think you will find a number of these installation companies will disappear into liquidation when pressure is put on them to answer questions about information used on customers to gain sales.
So we are now looking for new and less expensive ways to save energy. This has brought about the rise of smart meters and system controls that can allow a home owner to look at what energy they are using and allows them to control their house temperature and system operation via their phone or computer. Who would have thought years ago that we would be able to control our heating system and property temperature while sipping on a cocktail many miles away?
One of the biggest forms of energy waste is through people not understanding how energy control can make such a difference to their rising gas bills not to mention the environmental impact, which is why energy companies & boiler manufacturers are investing millions of pounds in the future of system control.
This is not a new thing, as energy management systems have been about for years and still are used today to control building comfort levels by using sensors inside the building, outside the building and on boilers and pipework, each playing their part in the control of temperature and energy saving.
Some companies have progressed even further than this with the development of self-diagnostic systems which basically allow the boiler software to check the performance of the appliance and send data to a given location. This then allows engineers to access the data, order parts, make customer appointments and fit new parts to the appliance before the system operation has been affected.
This, I think, is taking us to the next level of control. You may well have already heard about self-cleaning cookers and self-defrosting fridges. Where might we be in a few years’ time?
We could be seeing gas appliances that actually service and repair themselves by way of an on-board robot and a built-in spare parts compartment which has a selection of the common parts for that appliance ready to be used at any time then re-ordered by the boiler itself for restocking.
I am not sure we will get to a point where every household has its own robot to go round closing doors, putting lights off and turning down room stats but it is certainly something that would spark a debate.
So the answer to the question. Are we nearly there yet? I do not think so.
Thanks for your time in reading this article. This article reflects my views and my views alone.
Darren McNestry, Assistant Gas Training Manager at Gas Training at Kier.