Solid Fuel Central Heating
Solid fuel central heating is, quite simply, the heating of your home from the combustion of solid fuel, for example coal and coke, wood, wood pellets, or peat. It can either take the place of an electric or gas heating system, or work in coalition with one via “link-up”.
Solid Fuel Central Heating Systems
In a solid fuel central heating system, you will have some form of solid fuel appliance, usually a fire or solid fuel stove, which then heats up a tank of water. This is then used to heat radiators in the house. As such, the advantages and disadvantages of using each type of fuel are similar to those listed on the ‘solid fuel stoves’ page. It should be noted here that solid fuel heating systems using an open fire are very inefficient.
Solid Fuel Boilers
There are, however a few variations in different systems. Some systems allow many radiators to be heated from one stove or fire. In this system, a large volume of water is stored somewhere in the house, in a hot water tank, which is then heated when the stove or fire is lit; this is what is meant by a solid fuel boiler (usually either a coal boiler or wood boiler). This mass of water then stores the heat, often for a period of time after the fire has been extinguished, and provides the hot water for the house as well as heating radiators. Due to the increasing cost of central heating provided by gas or electricity, solid fuel boilers fired by wood burning stoves, coal stoves or multi fuel stoves are becoming increasingly popular.
Central Heating Thermostats
Some systems allow prioritisation of hot water. This is similar physically to the previous system, with similar components, however with the addition of a thermostat which monitors the temperature of the water as it returns to the boiler. Only when then hot water in the tank is at the desired temperature does the pump to the radiators activate, ensuring that hot water is always available.
Linked Solid Fuel Central Heating
As mentioned earlier, there is also the option to have a “linked” system, whereby a gas or electric system starts the heating immediately until the coal or wood boiler has warmed up, and then switches off until the fire dies down, at which point it will switch on again to keep the house and water at the desired temperature.
Those are the three main systems, though other variations are available. In each system, the user is given the option to manually adjust the temperature of each radiator as if it wasn’t possible, the first radiator in the system would be very hot, and each subsequent radiator would be cooler. This is because the water pipes to and from the boiler form a large loop, so in reality there are two pipes passing through each radiator, one with hot water from the boiler, one with cold on the way back to it.
It should be noted that although solid fuel heating systems are regarded as more economic, this generally only applies if they are run from a closed appliances such as solid fuel stoves. They can take a while to heat up and require regular cleaning. That said, the fuel can be bought on an “as needed” basis and so costs may be reduced, and wood boilers particularly are a more environmentally friendly heating option.