Hydrogen-Ready Boiler – What are hydrogen-ready boilers?

hydrogen ready boiler

Hydrogen ready boilers are the future of home heating, but how do they work and how much do they cost?

worcester bosch 100% hydrogen boiler

Sustainability is a key initiative worldwide and hydrogen-ready boilers could be the answer as a replacement for natural gas boilers.

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Both consumers and businesses are actively seeking to increase their levels of energy efficiency in aid of preserving the environment, so choosing to install a new boiler that is hydrogen ready in your home is another step toward a greener climate.

As a result of this, new innovations in technology using hydrogen gas are being introduced to help us reduce carbon emissions and live in a more eco-friendly manner. If you are unsure which is best for your home, read our heat pumps vs boiler page for more information now.

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Q What kind of fuel does your boiler use?

Why hydrogen-ready boilers for home heating?

Hydrogen-ready boilers are one of the most recent innovations in the heating industry. In the search for alternative fuel sources such as electric boilers, air-source heat pumps, and ground source heat pumps, hydrogen has the most potential.

100% hydrogen gas boilers though are not ready yet as burning hydrogen gas in our homes is still a long way off, but these new low-carbon boilers are expected to reduce air pollution and help us meet net-zero carbon targets.

viessmann hydrogen ready boiler logo

Want to find out more about hydrogen-ready boilers? You’ve come to the right place. In this informative guide, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know about hydrogen-ready gas boilers, including their benefits, how much a hydrogen-ready new boiler cost, and when you could potentially get one installed into your property.

What is a hydrogen-ready gas boiler?

A hydrogen-ready boiler is a type of boiler system that can burn both natural gas and hydrogen in order to generate heating. Most new natural gas boilers are now built with this technology included.

Hydrogen-ready boilers are being manufactured with a 20% blend of hydrogen fuel with natural gas, with a look to increase this to 100% hydrogen in the future to increase energy efficiency even further. The only waste product from burning hydrogen is water, compare to natural gas which produces carbon dioxide.

Burning hydrogen (H2) fuel to power domestic boilers for central heating

The use of hydrogen as a fuel can help to effectively boost eco-friendliness as this gas provides carbon-free energy. Plus, unlike fossil fuels, the combustion of hydrogen produces no carbon dioxide.

The blend of hydrogen and natural gas (methane) required for hydrogen boilers means that the UK’s current gas network can continue to be used for this innovative form of heating. This thus prevents the need for any significant new changes to be made to gas boilers or the pipework on the gas network. These green boilers can therefore become even more efficient

ideal hydrogen ready boiler logo

How do hydrogen-ready boilers work?

Hydrogen-ready boilers are designed to work in a similar manner to gas boilers. Other than their modified flame detector, most of their construction, features, and functions resemble that of gas boilers.

The method of converting a natural gas boiler to a hydrogen-ready boiler should usually take around an hour to complete. During the procedure, a few components will need to be changed, such as the system’s burner.

A Gas-Safe registered engineer should be able to perform this task after receiving adequate training. 

The process for how a hydrogen-ready boiler works is as follows:

  • Firstly, both oxygen and hydrogen enter the boiler system. The oxygen will come from the air and the hydrogen will be sourced from the connected mains supply. The boiler’s gas inlet contains a valve which regulates the amount of each gas that can enter the boiler. The amount of gas will affect the size of the flame ignited.
hydrogen ready boiler++
  • Secondly, the gases are combined and ignited in a catalytic burner. As hydrogen is more flammable in comparison to natural gas, the burners on hydrogen boilers are uniquely designed to limit the flame if too much gas flows through, as a safety precaution. Hydrogen boilers are also built with a flame detection component for safety, as hydrogen flames are not visible. 
  • In the next step of the process, the hot flue gasses which are created as a result of the combustion enter the system’s heat exchanger. This component features a number of pipes for the hot gas to travel through. Cold water surrounds these pipes and as the hot gasses pass through them, the water becomes heated. This heated water can then be transported through to your radiators and taps as required.
  • Lastly, water is produced as a by-product of the burning of hydrogen and oxygen. A condensate is required for this liquid to be dispelled from the system. The hot hydrogen and oxygen gases can exit the system via the flue, as well as some NOx emissions.

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What are the benefits of a hydrogen-ready boiler?

Once introduced, it is predicted that there will be many advantages of hydrogen-ready boilers over natural gas boilers not just saving money on your energy bills

Here’s a breakdown of the expected main benefits of burning hydrogen gas:

  • Energy efficiency – Unlike carbon-heavy fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, hydrogen does not produce carbon dioxide when combusted. This means that by using hydrogen-ready boilers, our carbon emissions could be significantly reduced, thus helping to combat global warming and improve environmental sustainability.
energy efficiency chart
  • No changes to existing gas infrastructure required – This is a key benefit of hydrogen-ready boilers. As hydrogen can be supplied using the existing gas network, no expensive and time-consuming modifications will need to be made to the current gas pipework. This will make the hydrogen supply easier to roll out, as only the fuel will be changed and not your heating system.
  • No need to change boilers – As hydrogen-ready boilers will feature virtually the same components as standard natural gas boilers, there will be no need for homeowners to fork out for a brand-new boiler system – they can simply get their existing system converted. Additionally, the familiar build of hydrogen-ready boilers will make it easier for users to adjust to these new systems, as their functions will be almost identical to that of gas boilers.
  • Hydrogen is a more efficient fuel than gas – It is estimated that 1 kg of hydrogen has the same amount of energy as 2.8 kg of gas. This means that you could heat your property in the same way with less energy by using hydrogen. This is likely to help users lower their carbon footprint as well as reduce their energy bills.

What are the disadvantages of hydrogen-ready boilers?

Although there are a plethora of advantages of hydrogen-ready gas boilers, there can also be a few pitfalls of this form of heating that you should consider.

These include:

  • Hydrogen can be expensive to produce – At the moment, there are two methods that can be used to produce hydrogen – electrolysis and Steam Methane Reforming (SMR). Both of these methods are currently expensive to conduct, so it may not be feasible for them to be performed on a mass scale. 
viessmann vitodens 100-w combi boiler hydrogen ready
  • Hydrogen is a flammable gas – Hydrogen is highly a flammable type of gas. In addition to this, it does not have a smell. These factors pose a significant health and safety risk. Due to this, risk assessments and safety precautions will need to be conducted in order to make sure that all hydrogen-ready boiler systems are safe to use.
  • Hydrogen can be difficult to store – Due to the fact that hydrogen is lighter in weight than natural gas, it can be more difficult to store and transport. The most effective solution for this is for the gas to be turned into a liquid and then stored at a low temperature.
  • The production of hydrogen can cause carbon emissions – Although hydrogen-ready boilers are being marketed as a more low-carbon, energy-efficient alternative to gas boilers, it can be argued that the actual production of hydrogen adds to global carbon emissions. 

These systems may emit less carbon during operation, but the process required to produce hydrogen involves the burning of fossil fuels.

Thus, for hydrogen-ready gas boilers to become even more efficient, the carbon emitted during the hydrogen production stage should be captured and stored adequately. Another possible solution for increasing the energy efficiency of hydrogen-ready boilers is to pair them with a renewable energy source such as solar panels, wind turbines, or hydropower.

How much do hydrogen-ready boilers cost?

A Hydrogen-ready boiler cost £600 upwards, which is the same amount as an old natural gas boiler. This low sale price is one of the advantages of hydrogen-ready boilers.

A Hydrogen ready gas boiler can cost up to £2,500 to install on average, depending on the type, model, and size of the system selected. Boiler installation costs will also influence the overall price, as additional labour such as scaffolding or pipework modifications typically comes at an extra cost.

Do I need a hydrogen ready gas meter?

It is predicted that at some point, households with hydrogen-ready boilers will need to get a hydrogen-ready gas meter installed, this will help to calculate running costs. Due to the efficiency of hydrogen, hydrogen-ready boilers are expected to have lower running costs than standard gas boilers.

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Best hydrogen ready combi boilers for heating homes

If you are looking to buy a new hydrogen-ready gas boiler then you will be glad to know that most new boilers are. Here is a guide to some of the best combi boilers that are hydrogen ready on the market right now. All these gas boilers can run on 20% hydrogen right now and be easily changed to work on 100% hydrogen.

Viessmann Vitodens 050-w hydrogen ready combi boiler

The Viessmann Vitodens 050-w is Viessmanns latest hydrogen ready combi boiler. These are some of the best combi boilers available on the market. They are compact, energy-efficient, and come with a 10-year warranty which makes them excellent value for money.

Add this to the fact that they are hydrogen ready then you can be sure that this is a boiler for the future. You can get a new boiler quote for these Viessmann hydrogen boilers which start from £1,925 including installation.

viesmann vitodens 050-w combi boiler hydrogen ready
Viessmann Vitodens 050-w BOKA hydrogen ready combi boilerVitodens 050-w 25kwVitodens 050-w 30kw
Hydrogen ReadyYesYes
Efficiency classAA
DHW25.4 kW29.6 kW
DHW flow10.2 l/min12.2 l/min
Depth300mm300mm
Width400mm400mm
Height700mm700mm
Weight35kg35kg

Worcester Bosch 4000 Hydrogen ready combi boiler

All of the Worcester Bosch combi boiler range is hydrogen ready, but we believe the best new hydrogen ready combi boiler from Worcester Bosch is the Greenstar 4000.

Of all the Worcester hydrogen boilers, it is their mid-range combi boiler and is perfect for most homes in the UK. It has 2 different outputs, and can currently run on 20% hydrogen right out of the box. It is also ready to change over to work with. 100% hydrogen when the time comes when fuel sources are switched over. You can get a new boiler quote for these combi boilers which start from £2,045 including installation.

worcester bosch 4000 hydrogen ready combi boiler
Worcester Bosch 4000 hydrogen ready combi boilerGreenstar 4000 25kWGreenstar 4000 30kW
Hydrogen readyYesYes
Central heating output (kW)2430
ErP Efficiency RatingAA
Dimensions (mm) height x width x depth724 x 400 x 310724 x 400 x 310
Solar CompatibleYesYes
Hot water flow rate 40°c9l/min12.3l/min

Other hydrogen ready combi boilers you can buy right now

What is the difference between a hydrogen-ready boiler and a 100% hydrogen boiler?

Many people get hydrogen-ready boilers confused with hydrogen boilers or boilers that use hydrogen fuel cells. However, hydrogen-ready boilers use a 20% blend of hydrogen and natural gas, and they are capable of using both these gases as fuel. Contrastingly, hydrogen boilers solely use hydrogen as a fuel instead of natural gas. 

Hydrogen-ready boilers are thought to be the first step in the transition to more low-carbon heating. These systems can still use natural gas as a fuel, but they will also be able to utilise hydrogen if a 100% hydrogen network is introduced.

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Are 100% hydrogen boilers currently available to purchase?

Hydrogen boilers are not currently available to purchase just yet. Boiler manufacturers such as Viessmann, Worcester Bosch, Baxi, and Ideal have developed prototype hydrogen boiler systems, but research and trials of this form of heating are still ongoing.

In the UK, the government is actively working with researchers to test hydrogen as a fuel for boilers. Trials for production methods are also taking place.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the tests and trials underway:

  • HyDeploy – This is a project being conducted at Keele University in Staffordshire. A 20:80 blend of hydrogen and natural gas is being trailed with 100 homes and 30 faculty buildings being supplied with this mix. At the moment, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is reviewing the project. The 20:80 blend is expected to be launched in 2025.
worcester hydrogen boiler
  • Hydrogen Supply Programme – In 2020, the UK government made a pledge of £20 million towards the Hydrogen Supply Project. This is an initiative which helped to fund the HyDeploy project that took place at Keele University.
  • Hy4Heat – This project is trailing the possibility of a 100% hydrogen network. As of 2020, the Hy4Heat scheme was reported to be making encouraging progress. It is currently testing the safety of using hydrogen as a fuel to power appliances. Programme leaders are also seeking to ensure that engineers get the necessary training to install and work on these hydrogen boilers.
  • The National Grid Hydrogen Project – The National Grid has joined forces with SGN, OFGEM and the Scottish Government to trial hydrogen on the network grid.

This project is expected to feature the fitting of hydrogen boilers in over 300 properties in Fife, Scotland. These households will also be fitted with cookers and other appliances, and they will be fuelled with hydrogen by the end of 2022. The trial process is set to last approximately four years in total; around 1,000 properties will be included in the project.

When will hydrogen boilers be ready for homes in the UK?

The process of introducing hydrogen boilers is likely to take some time, especially since testing and trial processes are still underway. 

Most hydrogen boilers are still in their prototype stage. Plus, even when these systems are officially launched, converting all gas boilers to hydrogen systems is likely to be a time-consuming process, even if the job is small.

Additionally, there is currently a supply issue within the UK, which means that there is not enough hydrogen to supply to everyone’s homes. This is where the air source vs ground source heat pump debate is likely to be thrown into the mix again.

Although there seem to be quite a few hurdles that need to be crossed before hydrogen boilers are introduced, the industry is making promising progress and we can expect to continue to move forward towards a more sustainable, eco-friendly future.

ideal logic c30 hydrogen ready combi boiler

Are natural gas boilers being banned?

This is a key question on many homeowners’ minds as we are being increasingly encouraged to move away from the use of fossil fuels as energy sources. 

In 2019, the UK government released plans to ban the installation of gas boilers in new build homes from the year 2025, in line with strict sustainability targets. This is where new innovations in heating technology such as hydrogen-ready boilers come in. 

Once the gas boiler ban has been introduced, it is expected that hydrogen-ready boilers and heat pumps will become the most common alternatives to gas central heating.

Getting an energy-efficient hydrogen ready gas boiler with Boiler Central

As it stands, hydrogen-ready gas boilers are ready and available right now. Thus, gas boilers remain the most common form of heating in the UK and these hydrogen blend boilers are ensuring that they are here to stay.

Gas condensing boilers that can use up to 20% mix of hydrogen are highly rated for their energy efficiency, as they are able to recycle latent heat instead of allowing it to be wasted.

gas safe logo

If you’re looking to boost your levels of energy efficiency, an A-rated, efficient hydrogen read gas boiler could be the best solution for you. According to the Energy Saving Trust, a new gas boiler with hydrogen-ready technology could help you save up to £190 on your annual energy bill [1], plus it could help to significantly lower your carbon footprint. 

Hydrogen boilers UK – Be ready for the switch over

If your boiler is over 10 years old, its level of energy efficiency is likely to be low and it may be time for a replacement boiler. Here at Boiler Central, we install a range of high-quality, A-rated hydrogen ready boilers from some of the leading names in the industry – such as Viessmann, Worcester Bosch, and Ideal.

We could provide you with a first-class boiler installation at a time that suits you. Simply enter a few details about your home and heating needs into our free online quote tool, and in just a few moments, you’ll receive your free quote for your new boiler installation, as well as a recommendation for a suitable boiler for you.

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