Living with a wood pellet range cooker for a year – National Trust Hafod y Llan

 

The Klover 120 has been a success at the farm.

The Klover 120 has been a success at the farm.

it’s been almost a year and so what has living with the Klover 120 wood pellet range cooker been like? These series of blogs have been by far the most popular of we have written about. If some of you remember the purpose of the ‘experiment’ was to look for a viable, economic, manageable biomass cooker and central heating appliance which could simply replace the host of oil heated range cookers we have in the National Trust (Aga, Stanley, Rayburn,  Esse and so on) overall it looks like we have found one! Arwyn the farm manager at Hafod y Llan and I had a review yesterday to see what it’s been like to live with the Klover. Arwyn was the victim of the good idea!

Heating. No problem at all to heat his three bedroom farm-house. We did improve the windows to give the Klover a fighting chance. If Arwyn was home all day then two 20kg bags a day would be consumed. But with his morning and evenings routine he wound go through a bag a day and half a bag a day in summer for hot water. Arwyn’s system has been set up as a bivalent which means it’s linked to a fossils fuel boiler which could be called on if needed. This has never happened! If we are to claim RHI payments then we need to remove this second boiler or we move into the dreaded heat metering and claiming instead of a simple deemed payment.

Cooking. Overall it performed well…if a little less refined than an Aga. The oven could be a tad hot (200c+ top and 180c bottom of the oven) it was a mater of trial and error at the start. The hob plate again needed getting used to but had a range of temperatures across the surface. Arwyn would advise buying a simple slot in electric plate cooker for finer cooking as he called it or for simply boiling an egg if you don’t want to bother cranking the oven up

some time clock foibles. pellet loading is easy

Some time clock foibles. Pellet loading is easy

Other aspects. The day and weekly controls are not very intuitive but once you get used to them then it’s ok. Arwyn did jam the auger feed once but he thinks it was to do with the fact he did not let the small pellet hopper empty and dust then built up. In winter heating mode Arwyn also felt the pellet was burning much cleaner and only leave a very fine ash. In Summer mode he would see some partially burnt pellet but this was not an issue. There has been talk from Klover of a hot plate cover and a vacuum feed tank to avoid having to lug 20kg pellet bags. We have yet to see. This would be of help in terms of cheaper fuel (cheaper by the tanker) and convenience. Arwyn estimates he is saving about £400 per annum with the Klover but also the house is much warmer than it used to be

Over all  trial has been a success for our need and looks like we have an option for replacing oil range cookers.

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56 Responses to Living with a wood pellet range cooker for a year – National Trust Hafod y Llan

  1. Steve Roberts says:

    Keith, a small word of caution. There is a debate about whether these “cookers” are eligible for the RHI. The regulations specifically exclude cookers. We’re in a discussion with Klover and Ofgem about the definition of cooker in this context.

    • Keith Jones says:

      Thanks for this Steve. I missunderstood and thought it was ok. But if EPC assessment, rdSAP, Green Tick and MCS were in place then the RHi payment would be based on heat loss and not pellet consumed. Deemed payment would be then be quite straight forward? But i might be over simplifying the sitiuation. if not on heat loss but on heat generated then a class one heat meter on the hydraulic system should sort that out? The cooking bit being secondary. this technology has the potetial to be used in thousands of locations based on oil range heating systems but can also be retrofitted without too much cost. Lets see what Klover submit and how it lands with Ofgem. Cross fingers. Thanks again

  2. Steve Roberts says:

    That’s right Keith if the system is used as the only heat source then it can be deemed using the EPC figure for heating and hot water taken from a Green Deal Assessment. You only need to get the loft and cavities done (assuming there are lofts or cavities) in order to be eligible. Obviously the system needs to be MCS certified which the Klover is.

    I assume you’d need another cooker as well as this unit? From what I understand there are no controls at all on the cooker part. As you say it’s essentially a pellet boiler with a hot plate and oven bolted on rather than a range cooker. I’m interested that you think it would have wide application in the NT. Let’s follow up on this when we speak next week. I’m supposed to be on holiday!

  3. Keith you talk of an additional hot plate for general cooking, have you investigated induction hob’s? We are seriously considering replacing our standard electric hob’s with a new induction cooker. Any thoughts?

    • Keith Jones says:

      Mark. yes we have used them in quite a few places and yes they are more efficient but there are limitations. we have looked at a simple two pan induction hob for the farm but Arwyn is ok with the pellet cooker as it is. in terms of what saucepans and overall increase efficiency there is a nice piece on wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induction_cooking

      • Thanks Keith, I like technology and gizmos according to my wife, hence I want to do it. But she raises a very good point the existing cooker works fine, the hobs are not the main use of electricity when it come to cooking, the grill and the oven are, so why change something just for the sake of it. Its hard to argue the case when the figures dont stack up (never marry an accountant!). Saving vs Cost of purchase means there would be a long way to go before we break even and by that time our circumstances would have changed. Still it doesnt hurt to explore these options and thanks for keeping us up to date on your experiences as well.

      • Keith Jones says:

        yes but you also need stuff to keep the interest going. you either have the economic and carbon decision but we also look at the demonstration value and keeping the discussion going. Entropy.

  4. Joe Fergusson says:

    Regarding Steve R’s question about cooker controls and the need for an alternative cooking system, the only form of cooking control over the Klover Smart is a setting which tells the unit to ignore a ‘turn down’ message from the room/buffer stat and keep going until the boiler stat reaches its cut out (the factory setting is 75 degrees within the water jacket, at which point it modulates and cooking is interrupted). Every other owner I’ve spoken to has at least one alternative such as electric cooker, microwave, Geo. Forman grill or gas hob, and it’s hard to imagine anyone making themselves uncomfortably hot just in order to cook their tea, particularly given the price of pellets. It reacts slowly and doesn’t grill and can switch off mid-bake, so living without something else means major compromise. In any case it doesn’t change a deemed RHI payment and any excessive heating that could result is carbon neutral, so what argument remains for blanket exclusion from the dRHI? I look forward to any comments and wonder whether mine will be the only divorce resulting if the Smarts aren’t made eligible by 9th April 2015 when the dRHI application door closes on the legacy installations!

  5. Suzie May says:

    i hope this is sorted quickly we too were expecting rhi, we have spent a fortune on a very green system of klover 1000ltr thermal store and solar thermal to now have the whole lot in question….. potentional we may not get rhi for being TOO green. where is the logic in that!

    • Joe Fergusson says:

      ‘Excluded for being too green’ – that’s very apt, Suzie. Presumably sales of Klover Smarts to householders have now stopped. I hope Steve can give all us anxious ‘Legacy’ purchasers an update – has there been any movement on the exclusion of this type of stove boiler from the d-RHI, Steve? Does the issue need a boost up DECC’s agenda? I’m sure once they are able to consider it and will appreciate that it actually is a prime candidate for support, and it will be a simple matter to fix the definition and turn that red cross into a green tick on the PEL. Of the family finances ruined by this error, Suzie May’s and three other families’ I’ve spoken to, and mine, will be just the tip of a large metaphorical iceberg.

      • Suzie says:

        Heard from Klover and sounding promising, hopefully we will know June/July time. We and others have written to the minister for DECC as well as Klover pushing do fingers crossed

      • Keith Jones says:

        cross fingers and thanks for letting me know

  6. Martin morris says:

    Keith, I was planning on coming over from N Ireland on Saturday 21st June to view the Klover in Hafod y Llan. Will you be there or someone else who could show me it and talk about it? I am concerned that it may not be eligible for RHI! Thanks, Martin Morris

  7. Conrad says:

    Any updates on the klover 120? Spoke to someone today , large online retailer, who told me it would take a change in legislation. Must say not convinced of the truth of this but if this is the case I guess it will not be anytime soon !
    Taggarc

    • Joe Fergusson says:

      It is indeed the statutory instrument that contains the ‘erroneous’ clause excluding whole house heating systems that can also cook whilst they heat, alongside specialised cooking appliances that obviously don’t fulfil the scheme’s objectives, so it does need to be amended. I hope Steve Roberts at DECC is still following this discussion and might be able to update us, particularly in the light of Suzie May’s intelligence that DECC might announce such an amendment in June/July. Is there truth in this, Steve? Many thanks, Joe

      • Suzie says:

        I’ve not heard anything else yet except our solar thermal is currently also excluded as it goes into a thermal store that does our dhw but also our heating as does the majority or solar thermal set ups! We really where to green in a 300yr old farm house on the edge of the moors and bt have just told us we are in the 3% of Cornwall that’s not getting super fast but no our bill isn’t cheaper. A long year our trying to get things changed ahead as well as actually fifishing restoring our farm house!

      • Steve Roberts says:

        Hi, we are working on a solution to this problem. We would like to allow the affected Klover products to be supported under the domestic scheme but at present the regulations don’t allow it. It will probably require a change in the legislation. Exactly when this will get resolved is difficult to say but look out for futher announcements from DECC.

      • Joe Fergusson says:

        Hi Steve. We appreciate your responding to this. Could you please just comment on the likelihood of this amendment to the legislation going through before next April when the door finally closes for legacy installations? Can you also confirm that it would be retrospective so as to relieve those legacy owners who invested in good faith with every reasonable expectation of being included? Many thanks. Joe

      • Suzie May says:

        the whole rhi has left a lot of people feeling mislead. Not only do we have the Klover we also have solar thermal going into a heat store (the most green way of doing it) so that also doesnt qualifify.it is almost like the government is looking for loop holes to not pay out and delaying so it drags passed next April adds to that impression. At least we know morally we did the best we could to keep our very old building green, but the rhi was meant to help with the hugh extra bill we incurred as a result.

      • Steve Roberts says:

        Joe, our intention is to try and get this fixed so that legacy applicants can apply in time for the April deadline. We’re also looking at the solar thermal space heating question and trying to come up with a solution for that too. We simply didn’t have any real evidence on either of these issues before the scheme was lauched.

      • Joe Fergusson says:

        All things considered the RHI is, on the whole, a remarkable feat for DECC and the Govt to be very proud of. We’re in your hands to get the inevitable wrinkles ironed out in a timely way. Thanks.

      • Suzie May says:

        It is a good thing, Our frustration is only in that having ticked all the boxes very carefully we still missed out 3 weeks before the launch. A fair solution surely shoud be if (and i don’t see why it should ) it drags on past the april deadline then the deadline should also be moved.

  8. deb critchley says:

    can anyone tell me who the installer is? i’m not far away in rhosgadfan, and am interested in installing the klover myself, but want to know there is somone within a reasonable distance to me for any follow up/services, or repairs!

  9. deb says:

    diolch keith, nes i siarad efo’r wynne ar yr ffon, a ddidoedd o pwy oedd yr installers, dwi wedi ffonio nhw yn barod! 🙂

  10. Joe Fergusson says:

    For those watching this blog who haven’t already heard the good news, on 11th December Ofgem emailed interested parties confirming that “all applicants with eligible cooker stoves (including those who installed before 09 April 2014) will have until 31 July 2015 or 12 months from the commissioning date to apply [for the domestic RHI], whichever is the later.” “Eligible cooker stoves will be those which are predominantly designed for the purpose of space and hot water heating, but which can also be used for cooking, providing that the heat generated for the cooking part cannot be controlled separately from, and is incidental to, the space heating part. ” “The Klover Smart 80 and 120 are two products which will be considered eligible under this definition.” Hooray. Thank you, Steve and colleagues. Joe

  11. Joe Fergusson says:

    Good news though this is, it is a great pity that RHI payments will not be backdated for legacy installations to when they could have applied, ie. last October, given that DECC seems to accept that their exclusion originally was really a drafting error, as most of those people have been repaying large loans in the expectation of RHI payments from April last year. Is there anything to be done about this, Steve? It will not affect the RHI budget overall and have only a TINY cash flow impact in the scheme of things….
    Joe

  12. Joe Fergusson says:

    Do any Klover users have any tips for easing the cleaning-out process which has to done every three or four days at this time of year? The giant bottle brush supplied is useful but can’t clean the back wall or ‘roof’ of the firebox. The brass wire hand brush I found on the web is effective but it is a messy contortion to get to the back at full arms’ reach. Has anyone found the ideal tool? The recommendations I can make in return are for the pair of 25 litre ‘floppy buckets’ from the farming/equitation supplies shop which together give a full winter day’s fill of the hopper – useful if you have a bulk hopper as I do, to avoid paying the c.25% higher price of bagged fuel – and the de Vielle ash vacuum cleaner. Any tips on how to get the best out of the Smart gratefully received.

  13. Joe, glad that we could get this sorted out in a sensible way. I don’t think we’re going to be able to backdate any payments though. People will still get the full 7 years of support so they won’t be out of pocket in that sense.

  14. Joe Fergusson says:

    Pity about that. Oh, well, just because I can’t think of any good reason why legacy Klover claims shouldn’t be backdated to when all other legacy claims were allowed doesn’t mean there might be one, I suppose. If you don’t ask (as they say)…..

  15. deb critchley says:

    keith, where do you get your pellets from? i’m getting a couple of quotes for the klover, but want to make sure i can get the pellets reasonably easily in gwynedd. many thanks, deb

    • Keith Jones says:

      Currently getting pellets from Blazer fuel in Rhuthun (the manufacturing factory) depends if this is by tanker (blown into a hopper) or in bags? (bags come through on pallets) lots of coal merchants now supplying bags. worth having a stint on Google. make sure that the timber is FSC or UKAS timber or you are in danger of flying in the face of sustainbility

      • Always worth checking if your supplier is already registered with the RHI Biomass Suppliers List or BSL. From this autumn it will be a requirement of the RHI that participants buy fuel from a registered supplier. A large number of pellet suppliers are already on the BSL so it shouldn’t be a problem to find one locally. Worth hanging onto your receipts as well. In future Ofgem will be auditing people to make sure they are sourcing sustainable fuel.

  16. deb critchley says:

    thanks so much for the advice keith and steve. cilcain fires came out today, a rough estimate of the smart 80 is looking affordable….. i’m hoping i will be a bit warmer in a few weeks! this blog has been so useful in helping me to make up my mind, thanks loads for posting! 🙂

    • Debs says:

      Deb did you get cilcain to fit your klover 80? We are looking at the klover 80 and cilcain are our nearest suppliers/fitters. Would love to know how you are getting on with the Klover, how many radiators it runs and the size of your thermal store? Regards Diolch Debs

  17. suzie may says:

    so tried to but my RHI claim in not realising i was to early!!! still the RHI man did say it was in parliment now so watch the DECC and Ofgem pages over the next week or 2. Still on another note loving the lids they have made a huge difference.

  18. Joe Fergusson says:

    That’s exciting. What lids are these, Suzie? Have the long-awaited insulated lids actually been launched/released by Klover? If so, I’ll be chasing up my supplier who was meant to be on the case for me….

    • Keith Jones says:

      ours is on order. will let you know how it goes. i was always uneasy with the 5kw heat loss from the hotplate. should change the way it will be used and be better in the warmer months. Close the lid rather than open the front door!

    • suzie may says:

      tried to post a photo, we got ours just before christmas, Although we have a very old stone farmhouse on the edge of Bodmin moor next to a wind farm we have a well insulated albeit vaulted ceiling in our kitchen and even with all the internal doors open the kithen was 24’plus to keep the heating running. Now its lovely and looks good, not a hint of retro fit ……

  19. suzie may says:

    to good to be true, despite all the experts telling me we don’t need metering. I knew we couldn;t apply for our solar as we have a thermal store, so haven’t.
    Now it looks like although we cant apply for solar we need to be metered to deduct the solar gain from our rhi.on the klover…… so confused….no idea how to even meter it, all my forms from my MCS installer say i don’t need metering, i hope those of you with just a Klover do ok…. so much for being too green….and the clock is ticking as i cant apply untill i have a meter reading from a meter we don’t have….and i suspect can’t afford.

    Two or more different technology types.

    One product (unless one is solar thermal, then both products may be eligible)

    If you install more than one technology type that is used for space heating then only one will be eligible and you will need to install meters.

    A note on solar thermal systems: applicants who install a space heating system alongside a solar thermal system that only provides domestic hot water will not be required to install metering. Applicants can receive payments for both solar thermal and a space heating technology installed at the same property. Each product will require a separate application and will be paid separately.

    You can have solar thermal installed to supplement space heating but your system will need to be metered and you will only be able to apply for the primary space heating system under the Domestic RHI, the solar thermal component will be ineligible.

  20. suzie may says:

    ironically, finacially it looks like it would pay for us to tale out the £3k thermal store we put in…

  21. Zelah Pengilley says:

    Hi everyone

    Slightly off-topic as it’s not to do with the RHI, but we’ve just had a Klover 120 Traditional installed and wondered if any of you have any tips for cleaning the hot plate? We used to be able to scrub carbonised food off the Rayburn hotplate with a stiff wire brush but I’m scared of ruining the shiny new surface of the Klover. What do you clean the hot plate with?

    Thanks

    Zelah

    • Joe Fergusson says:

      Hi Zelah
      I’ll be interested in other responses. I’ve had mine a year now and have only ever wiped/rubbed the top with a damp soapy cloth during every cleaning out session – which I’ve been doing after roughly every 80kg of pellets has gone through – and although it is picking up a bit of a ‘patina’ it has stayed pretty clean with just a couple of dark marks near the cooler edges that I would like to see gone.
      Joe

  22. Gemma says:

    You are not the only one my mum and dad have also been ripped off with the klover smart been told they have to have heating on just to cook a meal

  23. ken richards says:

    Hi Just seen your blog for the klover. After two years are you still happy with the klover? Also the hot water is it tank stored in an invented tank? Also how’s the running cost?

    Ken

  24. Peter says:

    Thanks for article! Nice saving.
    Peter

  25. Peter says:

    Here in Ireland is hard storage pellets in dry.

  26. Kevin says:

    loving our Klover 120 had it installed June 2016, RHI eligible, due our 3rd payment of £300 in Feb used two tonnes of pellets so far, lashings of hot water, used for cooking, house never been warmer, less filth on kitchen surfaces. Only lit two fires in the snug this winter so far. supplemented by electric cooker if needed. Programmable, rather than asking mum and Dad to go round and build the Rayburn up for us. Had to jiggle the kitchen a little to fit it in as its considerably wider than the Rayburn was but it looks as if it’s been there forever. wish i could post a pic!

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