Everything you need to know for your new boiler installation.
You may have heard hydrogen ready boilers being talked about, especially if you’re looking to purchase a new boiler shortly. You will be aware that the majority of UK homes use natural gas for heating.
The government has highlighted this as an issue with a third of the UK’s greenhouse gases coming from the current infrastructure of heating UK homes. Whilst a complex matter, there have been changes implemented to meet climate change targets in the form of how we heat our homes.
Boiler manufacturers have started replacing their product lines with boilers that are hydrogen ready. This is considered the solution for reducing our reliance on natural gas and will be eventually phased out completely.
You may be wondering what this means for your boiler and how this impact you? In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know and how it may impact you.
What Is A Hydrogen Ready Boiler?
Hydrogen ready boilers are capable of running a blend of fuel. There are plans to introduce a fuel blend into the national supply of 20% hydrogen and 80% natural gas. Nearly all gas appliances in use today can run on this mixture.
A hydrogen ready boiler means that when the government decide to increase the use of hydrogen, customers with hydrogen ready boilers can be confident that their boiler will run for its lifetime without any issues.
There are some design changes to hydrogen ready boilers as hydrogen burns in a different way to gas. However, a lot of the principles remain the same so there are no noticeable changes to UK households.
What Are The Advantages & Disadvantages Of A Hydrogen Ready Boiler?
Hydrogen-ready boilers do a really good job of being compatible with an existing high-temperature heating system. Combined with energy efficiency improvements throughout your home they can save you a significant amount of money on your home energy each year.
Hydrogen is renewable energy and there’s no worry of running low. Burning hydrogen to heat our homes doesn’t release any harmful toxins into the atmosphere – so it is great for the environment as well as being highly efficient.
These advantages largely outweigh some of the drawbacks of hydrogen. Hydrogen is highly volatile and flammable which makes it very risky to work with. However, there are many safety measures in place to correctly install and burn hydrogen when the time comes to start using the fuel. It can also be expensive to produce.
Are Gas Boilers Being Banned?
Not anytime soon. There has been no announcement that gas boilers are being banned and whilst we cannot rule it out in the future, it won’t happen anytime soon.
You may have seen headlines with a 2025 date for a ban on gas boilers but this is only for new build properties. So you can confidently buy a new combi-boiler today without worrying that you will have to replace it before it has lived its full lifetime.
How Does A Hydrogen Ready Boiler Work?
A hydrogen ready boiler is constructed and looks very similar to an existing condensing boiler. There are a few subtle differences but most components are identical.
When hydrogen is introduced, it will enter the main gas supply along with an intake of oxygen. The hydrogen ready boiler will then mix the fuels before being ignited in a catalytic burner. Hydrogen is more flammable than gas so the burners are designed to keep the flames limited if too much gas is flowing. Hydrogen ready boilers will have a flame detector to safely manage this as hydrogen flames are invisible.
After this, the heat exchanger will kick into action and hot gas will travel through pipes heating water than can then be used in your heating system. You can get boiler cover for hydrogen ready boilers in the same way you would get boiler cover for other units.
The result of burning hydrogen and oxygen is water, so condensation will be produced and exit the system via a flue.
When Will The Change To Hydrogen Happen?
This change will happen gradually over years. This means that there should be no pressure on households financially to get work completed. The UK has already started this transition and is well into the first phase. This means that many boiler manufacturers are introducing hydrogen
The next phase is introducing 20% hydrogen into the UK national gas supply. This will happen no earlier than 2028. Hydrogen ready boilers are already widely available on the market and are a popular choice given the future plans for hydrogen.
The last phase will be when the UK switches to 100% hydrogen. It is estimated that this won’t happen until the mid-2040s. Everyone will likely have a hydrogen ready boiler by that date.
What Is A Hydrogen Boiler?
Many people confuse hydrogen ready boilers with hydrogen boilers. Hydrogen ready boilers are ready to handle the 2028 introduction of 20% hydrogen into the national gas supply. Pure hydrogen boilers are still in testing and are not available for purchase yet. This will likely be the case for many years and the UK’s switching for full hydrogen is only expected in the mid-2040s.
If you’re in the process of purchasing a new boiler, choosing a hydrogen ready boiler is advised with the view that hydrogen will be slowly introduced in 2028. It’s likely purchasing a hydrogen ready boiler today means that it will comfortably perform fine for its full product life.
What You Need To Do
At the moment, nothing. If you’re considering a new boiler installation in the near future, it is a good idea to make sure that your boiler is hydrogen ready. As the average lifespan of a boiler is 10-15 years, this will set you up to be ready for the introduction of the 20% hydrogen in 2028 (if that isn’t delayed).
Why Hydrogen and How Will This Improve Climate Change?
Hydrogen boilers mean moving away from harmful natural gas. Natural gas produces CO2 when burned and is one of the biggest contributors to UK climate change. Burning hydrogen is very carbon-efficient and is central to the government’s net-zero target.
The change seems very far away. However, making this switch is a very big job. That is why this is being introduced over many years in several phases.
With the mid-2040s in mind, manufacturers of hydrogen boilers are still working through prototypes to ensure they’re ready for 100% hydrogen. Whilst we are ready for the 20% introduction in 2028, there’s still a long way to go before the UK can introduce 100% hydrogen.
There’s also the challenge of producing enough hydrogen to fuel 100% hydrogen boilers across the UK. Whilst there are many challenges still to overcome, net-zero will be here before we know it.
Where Will Hydrogen Be Stored In My House?
When hydrogen is introduced to the national supply, you will not need to store any hydrogen in your home. The hydrogen will flow automatically through the UK supply and automatically burned in your boiler.
Are you looking to purchase a new hydrogen ready boiler? Click here to get a quote from a local Gas Safe installer.
Will My Hydrogen Ready Boiler Work With A Smart Thermostat?
Most hydrogen ready boilers will support smart thermostats through a technology called opentherm. Investment into a hydrogen ready boiler will future proof your home ready for new changes coming within the years to come.