In general, I'm pleased with the decision to go for a wood-fired boiler to heat the gîte. I like the idea of its eco-friendliness, and I like the fact that the heat costs me about 4 (euro) cents per kilowatt-hour. On the other hand, it does need looking after to make sure that all is well: The quality of the after-sales service is an important consideration, and not one that was taken into account when making the purchase.
The boiler is made by Heizomat, a German manufacturer, 100Kwatts and, like many things German, built to last. However it was installed by Nideck Chauffage, a French outfit, who were the sole Heizomat distributors in France at that time. I had been unhappy with the after-sales service from Nideck, and I was recently delighted (and relieved) to discover that Heizomat are setting up a direct sales and support operation in France. I can now go the the manufacturer for any help I need, and this gives me considerable comfort. I do stress out when I imagine having guests in the gîte and no heating.
The concept of the boiler is basically quite simple. Wood chips are fed in one end, and as they enter, air is blown over them to get them burning quickly. The hot air and smoke exits at the other end of the boiler having passed over the water jacket. All this is regulated by a computer control system mounted on the wall. It's great when things are going well, but when the system is out of kilter, the effect can be dramatic. This happened the other day, and the boiler room filled with smoke. I was very glad the boiler was some way away from the house.
The problem was a simple one, resolved after a careful investigation and some calls to Heizomat France. I feel much better but I am keeping an eye on it.