Replacement chaudiere with biofioul/fuel

Hi we are moving to a new house in the countryside. We do not know what system to buy to replace the 28 year old chaudiere fuel. We have told that PAC pompe a chaleur can’t cope with low temperatures ie from - 4. The chaudière granule will cost about 20000! Has anyone experience of the new alternative Biofuel which is now available. We have had plumbers giving devis but will promote their own products they represent. Thanks so much Fiona

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My PAC can cope down to -20 according to the maker (Mitsubishi).


Our PAC will provide heat at -20, but the efficiency is shot below -5 so you are heating with pure electricity. Since we got our linky we can see the difference when the temperature drops! The big issue to me which we didn’t realise (didn’t ask the right questions) is that we have to keep the place at 10-12 degrees even when we are not there to stop the pump itself freezing. The hors gel setting of 6 degrees no doubt works fine in moderate geographic regions, but not here! And we even built the thing its own cosy insulated room inside the barn. I think it cost 9k.

Our oil chaudière is around 30 years old now, and still chugging along. We cosset it with a good service every year, and by it premium qualify oil. This year we reduced its workload by installing air source system for the hot water, in the hope of extending its life. We are holding out in case the gov’t launches a scrappage scheme to persuade people to replace them. Fingers crossed.


There are a lot of subventions / grants etc available so worth looking into. My friend has had a company around and looks like she can get a system installed with almost no cost to herself.

Huh! There are many eligibility criterion and we failed most of them. We got credit impot on the windows, and a 15€ refund on our new air source water heating …

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You are obviously too wealthy Jane :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: Seriously though it changes EVERY year and the lines change. And there are weird things. I went through a HUGE online form and was so excited until I read the small print that said for the biggest bit of grant I needed to be working for a small company employing between 12 and 20 people or something - WTF - just weird and crazy!

It’s changed relatively recently in that you can get grants for replacement central heating systems currently using oil or gas if they are replaced by air source heat pumps or pellet boilers or something else I cant remember plus certain sorts of insulation including the very ugly external stuff being offered locally to us. Makes houses look like a cross between a prefab and a certain sort of 1930s council house. I lost interest when it was explained to me that, not having a central heating system of any sort, I didn’t qualify. It looked good for people in @fiona_mcclean 's situation though so I’ll have another look for that particular link.

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If it is not broke, don’t fix it.
First move into your new home and get a feel for the place and what is available in the area.

In regards to wood granulates, you need to take into consideration, storage for the bio material as well as the different qualities and the prices available near you.

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The hors gel setting on mine just circulates water from the heat store around the heat exchanger. The catch being that if the water in the heat store is too cold it sulks. So it is pretty useless for frost protection, the only way to actually protect the system from frost is to keep it switched on.

Needless to say, as I thought I’d get out in November the water is on and the heating isn’t. I can only hope it’s OK - at least Breton winters are generally mild.


Great tips and ideas and info. I think that because our finances are so tight we will move in make use of the remaining oil and just be until we have an idea of what could work the best. Thanks so much. A great site!

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Also it is more than likely started using electricity and if you have a power cut you have nothing.
This was the reason that we rejected pellets because it would have meant replacing the wood cheminee. To keep the cheminee, albeit unused, we bought air to air and still have a lot of wood as a backup.

We will have power cuts as we are in the middle of the countryside but have decided just to use up existing oil and research all possibilities! Thanks

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Yes can be an issue but also can be prevented by the use of low energy heating tapes around the pump.

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I have a generator for electricity outages, but I have not been forced to use it yet. But being prepared is part of living in the country side.
The use of solar panels is something I am doing research on, because I find more and more home owners using that technology!

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Generators are a lot cheaper than solar panels and batteries for occasional backup. A good solar setup will cost a bit if bought from a one stop shop installer. Done correctly though it could cut electricity bills by 80%.

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Hi Annie
I wondered if you could tell me which generator you have as we will get one of those too. Plenty of power cuts where we are going to live!

Hi Fiona,
just to add to your research pile.

We’re currently on three log-burners and the only issue is that someone needs to start them. For convenience, we’re looking at

  1. wood gasification boilers to thermal store
    eg Eco Angus Wood Burning Boilers - Home
  2. replacing an old logburner in the kitchen with something that gives a longer release of heat
    eg Ecco Stove | Poêles de masse & à bois | Accueil

Be very interested to know which way you go

Will be in touch! For the time being the previous owner has left a third of an agricultural size oil tank for us to use up and in the meanwhile we are learning about life in the hills and doing research. The best info is on this site as all the plumbers and organisations just want to sell their stuff!

We heat entirely with logs in a huge woodburning stove, linked with the hot water and driving 12 radiators in a big old Breton farmhouse.
I love it, but wouldn’t unreservedly recommend it. The thing is, it’s as much a lifestyle choice as a heating choice. It doesn’t come on and go off on its own - you have to make and maintain a fire everyday, and almost certainly spend a lot of time processing wood. You have to be pretty strong and fit - and not too old!
It also lacks flexibility in other ways. We can’t have hot radiators in the bedroom without a big fire in the living room. This was fine when the kids were kids - and we had a proper family life - but when they all became teenagers and started living mainly in their separate bedrooms, not so good.
But if you like a bit of hard physical work, and especially if you have lots of trees of your own, it does combine low cost, low environmental impact, a beautiful focal point in your living room, and the equivalent of a home-and-garden gym!


Just out of interest - do you have a pneumatic log splitter?

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