Plumbing Parts a Plenty

So the stoves in place the solar panels are on the roof the bath taps and shower are all in situation so all one needs to do now is connect all the bits to Richard (the thermal store).
The bits include a large expansion ballon, a 300 liter domestic hot water tank with twin solar coils and an immersion slot, domestic hot water manifold, domestic cold water manifold, underfloor heating manifold and pump, Ladomat valve/pump on back of warmsler range
circulation and control unit for the solar panels, circulation pump and manifolds for other central heating parts such as therma skirt and bathroom radiator.

Here is a small selection of some of the parts before we started

And that lot was only a fraction of it and so I can heartily recommend using a buyer when you have major project. I used TEKNOS ENERGIES SARL www.teknos-achat.com who worked with the designer (Rick) and compiled the main list of components required. WE still had to make several trips to the plumbers merchant but that is to be expected in a project like this.
Andrew (from Teknos) is an avid fan of alternative energy and has been on the fringes of our project since day one and it was he who introduced me to Rick who finally pulled all the parts together.
It is pretty apparent that Richard is nearly twice as big as it needs to be for house our size but us purchasing that model was as result of flawed advice at the start. Nothing wrong with having a thermal store as they make perfect sense but the bigger they are the bigger the appliances you need to run them.
What we don’t want is fucking great ugly log burner in the lounge that would have to be run every day as well as the warmsler to really “charge” up the size thermal store we have. We are looking for something a bit more aesthetically pleasing than a huge black high kilowatt (25+) burner in front of our picture window. It doesnt help that I only installed 22mm copper pipe that leads under the floor to the lounge and the warmsler which is one of those easy to make mistakes when you are years ahead of fitting any stoves and are nota professional plumber or builder. It is a minor irritation but one lives and learns.
What we will probably do is drop down a size with the thermal store (to either 1400 liters or 1000 liters) in this house later this year before the autumn and install Richard into the 2nd project with a gasification wood boiler.
Fitting one of those magnificently efficient ways of burning wood (up to 98% efficiency) into here now (which would only have to be loaded and burned once every couple of days to charge Richard) is not really justifiable considering it is only MrsB and I 95% of the time and half of that time I am at sea.
The system we have (albeit with a smaller thermal store) when fully tuned and set up is easy as peasy to run with it basically being “put logs on fire and hot water and heating comes out of the other end”.
During the summer when you have no fires the solar array is more than adequate to provide all hot water needs. Apart from humping the logs the whole thing runs automatically with thermostat controlled pumps and circulation and the reheating and redirection of excess heat into the thermal store to be used later when required.
I guess it is bit pricey to set up with all the equipment to purchase but now is the time to do it while I am still earning as my pension provision is poor I don’t want to be face with huge energy bills once retired and with this the only bill I will have is one for wood.

Some people would prefer to have the money in the bank and pay year in year out for ever increasing energy costs whereas I prefer to have the hardware installed now with the prospect of very small bills by comparison from now on and in the future. I am well chuffed that from now on every time the sun shines we are receiving energy in the form of hot water, and likewise every time we burn a log not only does it warm the room or cook a pie or heat the kettle it also gets stored for later use in the underfloor heating or radiators in the night. I would rather have that than concern myself that some thieving asshole banker might lose all my money or that I will have to be at the mercy of the power companies and profit led pricing policies.

I may have already mentioned it but number two project is being designed and built completely off gird so whoever buys it will never have utility bill

Here is the warmsler with its gubbins all fitted at the back

Here is richard the thermal store getting dressed up, fist with the solar panels and controller connected

And then more and more bits added

Here on the back wall you can see the domestic hot and cold water manifolds so you can isolate any specific hot or cold water supply to change out an item or add new etc

Hee is the two loops of underfloor heating complete with pump and thermostat however I am going to plum in a bypass to thermostat as it doesn’t seem to let the water through hot enough to really give the floor some warmth. It is still early days and there are many tweaks to perform such as fitting a time to the electric immersion element that is in Richard so that if we decide to bugger off for a week or three we can let the electric give the tank a quick squirt of heat in the night and then the UFH in the lounge should be just enough to prevent freezing through the house should cold snap prevail in our absence.

This one shows the domestic hot water manifolds more clearly and on the ceiling you can see the first of the central heating manifolds that operate the therma skirt towel rail and more to be added as we go along.

It all probably looks complicated and bit of a mess but when we have finished plumbing in all the bits the tanks will be enclosed in their own room with a couple of big porthole style windows giving it a ships engine room feel.

This has been a far more expensive plumbing heating set up than I first imagined and some would say that it would be easier to just have very basic system without all the whistle and bells, and there maybe some merit to that viewpoint, however I wanted to reduce our dependency on the energy companies and solar water heating does that, likewise so does having a wood fueled heating system, so does having a thermal store to hold onto that energy that otherwise would be wasted and use it later in the night to maintain warmth to the house.
The Warmsler is a mighty beast and we will learn to drive it properly however it isn’t powerful enough to fully charge the thermal store on its own and we dont want a bloody great big ugly wood burner in the backtofront room in front of the big window preferring something more aesthetically pleasing as opposed to huge kilowatt effective. With that in mind we will probably retrofit a wood fueled gasificatiopn boiler in the utility room that would need to be filled with logs (about a wheelborrow full) and lit once every couple of days to make sure that the thermal store is really charged with heat and leaving the Warmsler in the kitchen to be more cooking and ambient heat and top up for the thermal store. The log burner in the backtofront room would be just for when we used that room although it wold have back boiler and send some heat to the thermal store every time it was lit.

I have learned many valuable lessons from this and they will be heeded in project two for instance the entire downstairs will be UFH and there will be heating built into any interior walls I have to construct.
I would go for the same size Thermal store but get a wood fueled gasification boiler big enough to charge it fully from day one and I would site it either outside or near the door to the utility room so wood transport is easy.
That would also enable the stove for the kitchen not to be the sole or main source of heat.
I would purpose build the area for this lot to go in with ease of access in mind and I would make sure I pre-laid and pre-insulated all runs of pipe work for domestic hot water and any upstairs central heating.

OK that’s it for a while until I get home and start in the next round of filling in the gaps.

I welcome any comments or questions on what we have done so far

Love and peace
Bentleyx

9 thoughts on “Plumbing Parts a Plenty

  1. Hi Bentley. I am really interested in your heating set up. I have just bought an old stone farmhouse in Mayenne that will I hope one day be a permanent home for us. I am trying to work out what is and what is not allowed in French heating systems and have to admit some of the Forum advice is a bit confusing. Mainly the issue I have is about vented systems. Like yourselves I want to fit UFH with solar and wood heating stoves supplying a thermal store. My UK knowledge is sufficient to plan a vented system, but would this be ‘approved’ in France? It would be very useful to have a Rick to talk to! Are you up for inspection visits to your property! It would be good to meet you and learn how you have got around the French regs on this issue.
    Best wishes and keep blogging, I enjoy your updates. Jane, my wife, has promised to start a blog on our project which should hopefully really get going in the spring.
    John.

  2. Aye Aye John
    Before I start I am hoping you are a genuine poster as I have had several attempts to infiltrate this site by a particularly fuckwitted internet troll called Brian who is the bane of many a French forum masquerading under names such as mysticmia, mysty (and host of others) on every forum that he and his sidekick are members of.
    If you are nthe reals deal then please ignore the above and you are welcome to as much knowledge as I have gained over the last few years on the subject.
    I have emailed you Ricks contact details and you can negotiate with him his consultancy rate (which I can absolutely assure you is worth every euro) and also that of Teknos who would be invaluable in obtaining all the right bits for you at a sensible price.

    I can tell by the content of your post that you have fallen into the same trap as me in listening to those on the various forums who delight in telling others what is and isn’t permissible under French regulations, or what is and isn’t allowed, and who can and cant do the work etc etc . All I can tell you is that some of them need to get out a bit more.

    I am not aware that I have “got around” any French regulations regarding the heating system as all I have done is fitted a system that suited my requirements.
    It doesn’t have to pass any inspections and there is no-one to come and check it or inspect it.

    I assume by vented system you mean one with an open header tank in the attic (but as I am not a plumber you could mean something else) but as far as I am aware all systems are vented, via safety pressure release valves, but I am not the bloke to get into a discussion with about the technicalities of plumbing. That would be Rick who I have sent you his contact detail.

    When doing a renovation the only inspections you have to have on any aspect of your house, if starting form scratch (ie no electric or water etc) is “Consuel” who check the electrics and have to pass it fit before EDF will connect you, and SAUR (might be SPANC) who check your septic tank arrangements if you are not connected to mains drains. That’s it.
    There is no department of heating systems that do any inspection or if there is I certainly haven’t heard of them. If you use French artisans to do the installation I am sure they will have some sort of regs to abide by however if it is DIY fit then apart from making absolutely sure you have “safe system” you just get on with it

    Fair enough you may fall foul of a warranty or odd small print insurance clause (check your own insurance for details) if you fit the system yourself however as long as the system is safe and you are comfortable flashing it up and being in the same house as it then carry on and fit what you like.

    If it ever came to selling and the buyer wasn’t happy with the installation then you can either re-negotiate the price or find another buyer who is less fussy.

    There are, what some call, the French “norms” ie what is normal for the French to fit, but as any quick perusal of a stove shop or section in brico shed you will see that they don’t really do wood burners with a back boiler as a standard option.

    So yes the solar water is great and well worth the effort
    and yes linking that with wood burners with back boilers to a big thermal store is great in fact I cant imagine the point of having a fire without back boiler it is such a waste.

    The only thing I would do different to how we have done it is that I would have fitted a wood burning gasification boiler as the main grunt for charging the thermal store (in winter) first rather than retro fitting it as I am going to do later this year. The reason for this is that you would only have to flash it up every other day or so and it would leave you burning less wood in your main stove or secondary stove. You can still harvest heat energy from these stoves but dont have to drive them as hard to store heat in thermal store.

    I look forward to seeing the blog when it starts (please send me a link) if I have missed anything let me know

    Cheers
    Bentley

    ps

    Just a personal opinion but I would avoid pellet boilers as they have moving parts and they leave you reliant on supplies of pellets and the control of cost by the manufacturers and their profit requirements.

    • Bentley, thanks for your reply. I hope to be at a stage to start planning water systems by the autumn and will be needing to talk to someone like Rick. My apologies for not acknowledging your response earlier, we have been enjoying the snow in Italy. I can assure you I am not a Mystic troll. I am aware of the operative you refer to and the bolloxes that are in that circle….
      Hopefully the better weather will head North soon and we can get on and find out just what we have let ourselves in for. Like yourself I need to spend at least a few months of the year earning money, which is essential to bankroll the project but an arse when really all I want to do is mess about with lime mixes. Hey ho.
      On On to the summer.
      John.

      • Aye Aye John I have PM’d you the details of Rick and Andrew who were my gurus during the process of choosing and purchasing the right stuff for the heating / energy center of the house.
        Cheers Bentley

        • Good grief the months have flown by…I finally got a work free slot in march and have started the renovation process on our house. Jane has started the blog and this can be found at janeandjohnblog.wordpress.com. Hoping to return to France at the end of May to continue with the roof and other messy jobs. Cheers. John.

    • Krtstyna I am happy that you like looking at the pictures and there will be more to follow as we start to make the finishing touches inside
      Cheers
      Bentley

  3. I ended up here whilst googling french manifold plumbing!
    Gobsmacked by the amount of work you have done congrats
    Have you any advice on which plastic pipe and manifold type/brand to use for simplicity of fitting for a DIY novice?
    Thanks and good luck

    • Aye Aye Matey (you didn’t leave a name)
      Apologies for being a bit slow in getting back to you and I am glad you like the site and what we have done.
      I am on board ship at the moment so cant give you the trade name of the pipes I use but if you find your nearest “Frans Bonhomme” they will have what you need in terms of pipe. http://www.fransbonhomme.fr/
      You may be able to find slightly cheaper deal at BricoDepot but the type of pipe is pretty much the same its called PER. and comes in its own plastioc covering called “gain” not sure how its spelt.

      The fittings are clamped into the end and for this you need a special crimping/clamping tool. A pro model will cost you a few hundred but I manage to buy a fairly good (occasional use) one for about 85 euros. Keep your eye open in the plumbing section of the Brico sheds.
      The fittings are sold in all brico places as well as specialist plumbing places they are not cheap but if installed correctly wont fail And of course the bonus is no soldering.
      I hope you have signed up for the email notifications so I can keep you updated as the place continues to develop and project two starts to take shape as well.
      Anything I can help with in terms of advice or where to source materials I am happy to do so.
      Cheers
      Bentley

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