When house owners need a new heating system and oil is no longer an option due to environmental concerns, then a gas heating system is considered in most cases. In combination with a fuel cell system, heating with gas becomes even more efficient and eco-friendly. Recently, PACE partner Sunfire has launched its new fuel cell system Sunfire-Home 750, which operates on natural gas or liquefied propane gas (LPG) and is based on the solid oxide fuel cells technology (SOFCs). As the German family Wicke was looking for a new heating solution, they decided to switch from a traditional heating oil burner to Sunfire fuel cells. House owner Hilmar Wicke talks about the advantages of the new heating system.
Mr. Wicke, why did you decide for a fuel cell system instead of continuing to heat with oil?
As our oil-based heating system was more than 30 years old, we decided it was time for something new. We were looking for a more efficient solution tailored to our individual needs. Easier said than done, because most of the alternatives were unsuitable. Wood heating would have been too big, pellet heating too maintenance-intensive, and solar heating would have been inefficient due to our home’s unfavorable location. After weeks of research, we decided to install a clean and highly efficient fuel cell-based combined heat and power (CHP) system – the Sunfire-Home 750 – delivering not only heat but also electrical power.
Did the environmental impact also play a role during your research process?
Yes, of course. We also kept our ecological responsibility towards future generations in mind. A new oil heating system was therefore not an option – but also because the heating costs for oil will rise rapidly in the future. Due to the introduction of the CO2-pricing in 2021, heating an older single-family home like ours will become more expensive every year. So, gas is not only the environmental friendlier, but also the more economical alternative for us. And by using LPG we still have an independent energy solution.
Was the installation easy?
The Sunfire-Home 750 operates on liquefied Propane gas (LPG), so the installation was very easy – although our family home is not connected to the local gas grid. A Sunfire partner company installed the system and commissioning was remotely carried out by Sunfire’s service staff. After the old oil tanks were removed and the new fuel cell system was installed, we had way more space in our basement.
Can the fuel cell system cover all your home’s heat demand?
The Sunfire-Home micro-CHP solution has a nominal electrical output of 750 watts and a simultaneous thermal output of 1,250 watts, making it suitable for covering the electricity and heating requirements of a conventional family home like ours. The heating requirements for our 150 m2 living space are covered highly efficiently by the fuel cell together with a tailored auxiliary heater. Moreover, our own electricity production and use leads to an electricity self-sufficiency of almost 50 % and reduces our annual electricity costs. In the wake of rising energy costs, this is an amazing solution. Overall, our annual savings compared to oil heating add up to almost 3 tons of CO2 and 1,100 EUR.