Out with the old, in with the new: How does the ErP directive impact on Commercial Boilers?

Condensing boilers have been compulsory in the domestic market for over a decade, but now the Energy related Products (ErP) Directive has been in place for just over a year, the commercial sector has been nudged to follow suit.

So what’s changed?

The ErP Directive requires new commercial boilers with an output between 70 and 400kW to be condensing. There is a huge market for boilers of this size, so the industry has had a lot of work to do to make sure there has been a smooth transition from traditional cast iron boilers to condensing models, and there is still plenty of work to do.

The future of oil
This has been a huge challenge for oil-fired boilers, which tend to be cast iron. There are few oil boilers available that meet the efficiency requirements of ErP, so we’ve seen a shift towards LPG which is more accessible and cleaner. Oil typically has to be of a low sulphur type for it to condense and meet the ErP requirements, but this type of oil has limited availability and is often more expensive than LPG.

Out with the old, in with the new
Older commercial heating and hot water systems tend to be centred around a cast iron atmospheric boiler, so replacement installations can be tricky – but by no means impossible.

If a cast iron boiler breaks down and needs to be replaced, you need to consider how to adapt the existing system to accommodate the incoming condensing boiler. Here are some things you should consider.

1. The new boiler needs to be protected from deposits that could be circulating in an older system. While emptying, treating, and re-filling of the system will take place, old pipework is susceptible to regular build-up of particulate which can really take its toll on boiler performance.

2. Where existing pipework can’t be replaced, you should install a plate heat exchanger to avoid contamination of the primary boiler water and the secondary heating circuit.

3. Condensing boilers produce condensate, which needs be managed and disposed of safely. It needs to be routed correctly to protect the condensate discharge pipe from freezing. This could cause the boiler to shut down, so you need to think about how this can be avoided at the installation stage.

I’m sure you will already be aware of most of these requirements, but as the ErP Directive continues to drive improved efficiency and performance, you will need to follow condensing boiler best practice so that the true benefits of switching from a cast iron boiler to a condensing model are realised.

Pete Mills, Commercial Technical Operations Manager at Bosch Commercial and Industrial.