What Support is in Place for New Renewables Installers?

Any heating & plumbing engineer thinking about taking the plunge into the world of renewable energy faces the challenges of learning about the new technologies and being able to supply an efficient system to customers.

So what is available in the way of support for those who want to make renewables installation a really effective part of their future business growth?

Nu-Heat has spent the last six months looking at what renewables installers need in order to offer a positive support package that covers all elements.

Installer Rob Smith of BSP Services gives his insights into what this support has meant for his company.

Training and MCS

“When we started out, I spoke to MCS directly and afterwards knew it would be very difficult to achieve accreditation and that there was a massive paper cycle involved. But I also realised that without MCS, renewable heating just wouldn’t take off.”

Installers tend to believe that the MCS is difficult to navigate and time-consuming to adhere to. MCS accreditation is, however, a valid requirement as it helps to ensure that renewable heating systems are installed to high standards and that the customer ends up with an efficient system.

Nu-Heat helped BSP Services to achieve MCS accreditation and has since developed a relationship with MCS training provider, Easy MCS, to assist other installers in the same situation. Easy MCS provides MCS accreditation support and an MCS quality management system that contains all required internal and external procedures and paperwork.

Design

“The amount of information and design detail given by Nu-Heat makes it easy for me to explain the solution to my customers and in turn all parties are confident in the system being installed.”

First rate design is absolutely crucial, both for performance and to ensure that a system meets the criteria of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

Nu-Heat’s experience as a design and supply company can give new installers total confidence in system performance.

Sizing is crucial with heat pumps and high level design support is available through Nu-Heat’s ‘Predictor’, a specialist software programme that ensures the correct heat pump is specified.

Free technical support is available throughout the installation period and when a system is ready, Nu-Heat offers inclusive commissioning support, including inspection of heat pump system prior to MCS inspection.

Handover

“We do a system handover with all of our customers. A lot of them are monitoring their electricity consumption and are interested in the flow and return temperatures, which I think helps them understand the technology better. They are happy to talk about their projects with potential BSP customers because they are pleased with the decisions they have made, representing both BSP and Nu-Heat well.”

Handover is an important time as it is crucial that customers are comfortable with the operation of their new heating system; therefore, Nu-Heat supplies installers with a comprehensive customer handover pack that fulfils a large part of the MCS requirement for each installation.

Relationship with installers

“Nu-Heat has a great reputation but doesn’t rest on its laurels, and is good at listening to our comments.” 

All sales staff involved with technical support have now been trained to an even higher technical level than before and have gained experience with the more complex technical issues associated with renewable systems and the MCS, and installers now have a direct telephone number for their account manager.

Field Sales Managers

“Customers will be understandably nervous when they are investing in a renewable heating system, and when it’s your first install it’s difficult to assure them how good it will be.”

Particularly for an installer starting off down the renewables route, it is useful to know that support is available from the word go. Field Sales Managers (FSM) will meet with installers to discuss all aspects of renewables, from training and accreditation to legislative issues. When the installer has achieved MCS accreditation, the FSM assists them in finding new business and supports them through the first install, from initial discussions with customers to commissioning.

A bespoke referral system matches enquiries for installation to a local installer with a proven track record. This is a two-way partnership, and as these customers increase the number of systems purchased from Nu-Heat, they can expect to receive more referral work.

“I have dealt with other companies in the past but found there to be a lack of experience in system integration.  Many are happy to sell you a heat pump and let you figure out the rest. I really like that my Nu-Heat Account Manager listens to me and that we look through a project together and end up with a system that has been designed to, and will meet, the criteria.”  

Rob Smith says that the support he has received gave him a real kick-start to get into the market. He sees a bright future in renewables and is pleased to be trained and accredited at this early stage, ready to handle increasing enquiries as the market grows.

Easy MCS Ltd Training Academy – officially open

 

The Easy MCS & Easy Green Deal training academy was officially opened earlier this month to an invited audience of industry leaders.

Easy MCS Ltd supports installers in entering the renewables sector and achieving MCS Accreditation, offering hands-on product training across a range of technologies using high quality equipment including an air source heat pump and solar thermal panel supplied by Nu-Heat.

Easy MCS has won a number of awards, including the Morgan Foundation Award for Best New Business in 2011. Steve Morgan OBE, founder of the Morgan Foundation, CEO of Redrow Homes and owner of Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. officially opened the academy with Easy MCS company directors Simon Roberts and Thomas Farquhar.

Not for the Faint-Hearted

Ryan Faint outside the NRTCRyan Faint has been working for over 17 years in the plumbing and heating industry. Initially a sole trader, he now has two employees working for him. He recently attended Nu-Heat’s National Renewables Training Centre (NRTC) where we caught up with him for a chat about the industry and his reasons for undertaking training.

Ryan thinks that renewables are the way the industry is headed, mainly due to rising fuel prices. Of the renewable alternatives available he says: ‘It’s not until you fit them that you find out if they’re any good!’

Ryan believes that the general public is becoming more and more aware of renewable heating systems, mainly from coverage on the news and in the media in general. From his experience, anyone who is seriously interested is already astute at researching costs (both for installation and running a system), to see if the option is feasible.

Ryan’s first heat pump installation was a massive barn conversion which specified an air source heat pump – primarily to achieve the required level of the Code for Sustainable Homes. Ryan looked around for heat pump and underfloor heating suppliers and decided on Nu-Heat due to the company’s integration skills. He also took the heat pump installation course at the NRTC.

The installation caused Ryan to get involved with renewables in more depth, and he has since installed two more heat pumps. Both of these were in refurbishment projects where the decision was taken by the customers who had to choose between oil or a heat pump. Ryan says that customers still need to be educated with regard to the importance of insulation and that new build is definitely a more viable market for renewables at the moment due to the high insulation levels now required. Good design is, of course, paramount, which is where working with a design and supply company is far preferable to buying a heat pump off the shelf. Ryan says that where a heat pump system hasn’t been properly designed, the householder is inclined to blame the heat pump rather than the design.

Ryan used to live in a 2-bed Victorian terrace and was not a fan of new houses. He has since moved to a brand new 4-bed townhouse and experienced first-hand the difference in the insulation levels. His heating bills in the new house, which is roughly twice the size of the old one are just about the same.

Ryan was attending the training centre for the solar thermal course. The reason behind this is that he has decided to install solar thermal on his own property, with a view to marketing himself as a solar installer – he thinks that by showcasing the product on his house it will be a good advert. Ryan believes that solar thermal should be on every new build. With its lower installation costs, it is garnering quite a lot of interest and of course the results are instantaneous. It is Ryan’s opinion that solar thermal is easier for customers to understand than heat pump technology, although as the public get to hear more about heat pumps this will change. Ryan is interested in installing a heat pump for his house but needs to look further into planning requirements. Nu-Heat has recently begun supplying a single fan Hitachi Yutaki-M air source heat pump which has been granted permitted development (although this must be checked with the relevant local planning authority).

Of the training centre, Ryan says that both the heat pump course he took previously and the solar thermal course were very good. ‘There’s a lot to cram in, but the courses teach you to get to grips with what you need to know and apply what you’ve learnt. A renewables installation is a bit like Lego!’ He says that Nu-Heat’s installation documentation is very clear and includes all the calculations needed, making things easier. The plant rooms are designed to be accessible, neat and are in general well laid out. He has also been really pleased by the performance of Nu-Heat’s underfloor heating.

Many installers have found the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) an encumbrance, and Ryan is no exception. He finds the paperwork a real burden and left to his own devices he will stick it at the bottom of the pile! To this end he is joining Nu-Heat’s MCS Support Network, which means that Nu-Heat will look after most of the paperwork so Ryan is free to get on with installing systems.

By training in the installation of renewables and gaining MCS accreditation now, Ryan will be ready for an increase in enquiries when the Renewable Heat Incentive kicks in. In fact, he says he’s slightly worried about it starting in case there’s more work than he can cope with!