Take care: How to get CHP aftercare right

Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems are growing in popularity due to their cost, fuel efficiency, and ability to help heat networks to meet key legislation. However, as a fairly new technology, you could be left daunted by maintenance, servicing and aftercare requirements. This needn’t be a concern though, as some fairly straightforward checks can ensure your CHP system is operating efficiently, and most importantly, safely.

Get in the habit of regular maintenance
Correct design and sizing during the planning stage will make sure your CHP system hits peak performance but Facilities Managers shouldn’t underestimate the importance of aftercare and regular maintenance to avoid breakdown and improve efficiency.

As with your car, oil needs to be monitored to prevent contamination or low-levels causing long-term damage. Oil can also congeal and thicken over time as it picks up metal and dirt in the unit, which will labour the engine. A simple service with a drain and refill can avoid damage and expensive repairs.

Servicing schedules should also include repeated spark plug changes and gas and air filter checks so the engine can pull in enough air. Also, the Lambda probe, which measure CO2, needs to be replaced every so often to make sure correct levels are being met for the engine to fire.

All hail the overhaul
General servicing check-ups can help extend the life of the engine, but a good CHP service plan should also include some engine overhauls. Don’t be alarmed – with such a hard-working engine, this is just part of the lifecycle of the system and will keep it running for as long as possible.

Plantroom practices
Maintenance and servicing will optimise the system’s efficiency. Granted, more in-depth servicing routines are usually carried out by the manufacturer or servicing provider, but there are plenty of ways Facilities Managers can ensure their system is performing to its full potential.

Water quality is key to peak efficiency. Contamination of system water can restrict the plate heat exchanger, reducing heat transfer and increasing internal temperatures so the system can’t stay on for long periods. On-site water quality management will promote a long-lasting system and daily checks will avoid dirty water entering the system and damaging it.

It’s also worth considering if return temperatures are too high - check other heat sources, such as boilers, are allowing the CHP to take the lead in the controls strategy.

A good control system will keep gas costs down and help CHP systems to run for as long as possible. Facilities staff should understand the basics of the system installed and most service provider technicians will be happy to give you training so servicing and maintenance can be at the forefront of any CHP planning.

Carl Main, Business Development Manager at Bosch Commercial and Industrial.