Wood chip boilers are very similar to wood pellet boilers except for the fuel itself. Modern wood chip boilers are highly efficient, clean burning and automatic. They tend to be more suitable for larger domestic properties or commercial applications. There are wood chip boilers on the market that are also able to burn wood pellets, however the same does not apply for pellet boilers burning woodchip. The market range is expanding all the time but the all share key common characteristics including a boiler, a chip storage facility and a feed mechanism.
What is wood chip?
Wood chips are made from whole trees, branch wood or coppice products which have been mechanically chipped. They are normally between 2 and 5cm in length and produced to create a chip rather than a sliver. Dried woodchips will then be delivered to the place of consumption (bunker or storage close to the boiler). They must be stored undercover and should have good airflow to avoid composting and mould.
How does a wood chip boiler work?
Wood chip boilers operate in a similar way to fossil fuelled boilers. When calling for heat they will automatically ignite and feed fuel to the fire, self clean and then switch off when there is no demand. The fuel is fed to the burner via an auger connected to the adjacent chip store or hopper. The feeder will control the amount of chips fed to the burner depending on demand called for. The hot energy generated from the fuel enters the heat exchanger, where the energy is transferred to the water for the central heating and hot water. Highly efficient boilers will also make use of any latent heat lost which can be anything up to 20%.
The boilers themselves are highly advanced and in the majority of modern woodchip boilers they have the following; advanced combustion control technology for constant heat performance, self cleaning operation and built in safety features.
Installation of wood chip boilers are relatively straight forward and they can act a direct replacement for a fossil fuel boiler. It is important to consider space requirements as chip boilers tend to be bigger than fossil fuel boilers. They also require space for fuel (pellet) storage and a dedicated boiler room.
Advantages and disadvantages
|Wood chips are cheaper than wood pellets||Higher installation costs compared to fossil fuels|
|Good for local economy||Requires occasional ash removal|
|Can have a remote boiler control over the internet||Requires annual service|
|Running costs are stable||Geared towards larger domestic and commercial applications|
|Certain chip boilers burn chip, pellets, sawdust and briquettes||Requires bigger store in comparison to pellets|
|Fully automatic control and feed system|
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