An interview with CEO Philipp Lüscher on the switch to environmentally friendly heating systems

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Protrait Philipp Lüscher CEO Schmid Group

"Switch to a wood heater or heat pump now!"

Finally becoming independent of oil and gas - and still having a well-heated home. With its wood and heat pump heating systems, Schmid AG, energy solutions meets the needs of everyone who wants to heat more sustainably, efficiently and cost-effectively right now. Managing director Philipp Lüscher shows how the heating conversion succeeds thanks to expert advice.

Protrait Philipp Lüscher CEO Schmid Group

Philipp Lüscher
CEO Schmid Group

Mr. Lüscher, almost everyone wants to heat in an environmentally friendly way and yet efficiently and cheaply. What do you advise?

First and foremost is greater efficiency, i.e. lower heating costs. But also more environmental friendliness thanks to lower emissions, CO2 neutrality, greater reliability and, last but not least, legal regulations that oblige people to switch to more environmentally friendly technologies when replacing old night storage and oil heating systems are the main drivers of the current development. My advice: Have your property assessed and calculated by a professional. This will help you avoid mistakes that cannot be easily corrected afterwards.

Already since 1936 you manufacture at Schmid wood heaters since 1936. How has this type of
of heating changed in recent years?

In the past, heating with wood was rather rudimentary. Put the wood in, burn it off, and start all over again. Nowadays, the processes of ignition and ash removal are fully automated. With an energy storage system, even the manual loading cycle is no longer a big deal. Schmid AG
has optimally incorporated its years of experience and expertise in control and boiler development into its current products. Modern Wood chips- and pellet heating systems are also very versatile and also work fully automatically. Thanks to intelligent heating circuit management, they are suitable for several heating circuits, are available with solar thermal function, can partly also utilize moist fuels and much more. In addition, the heaters can be combined with each other. For example, a pellet heating system automatically takes over when the desired log heating system has not been refilled - and also automatically shuts down again as soon as the log heating system has been refilled. In this way, tried-and-tested heating can be combined with modern heating. This way, heat is always guaranteed - even if it is vacation time or refilling was not possible or was simply forgotten.

Wood heating systems are CO2 neutral. What are other advantages?

The fuel can be procured regionally, so 90 percent of the value chain remains in Switzerland. Currently, wood fuel prices are very attractive in comparison. In our opinion, the current price increases for pellets and wood log are a short-term phenomenon, as demand has skyrocketed and the war in Ukraine has had an impact on this. This should return to normal in the next few years. Modern wood heating systems - whether fed with pellets, wood chips or logs - work very cleanly and efficiently. Schmid boilers (25-260 kW) have been tested according to the latest EN303-5:2012 regulations and have achieved the highest boiler class 5. Thanks to the sophisticated system of combustion chamber geometry made of high-quality refractory concrete, even moist fuels up to M40 can be fed to the combustion process. The robust design promises a long service life. Additional safety is promised by the combustion chamber temperature sensor, vacuum control and lambda probe. With the optimal burn by the Wood chips- and pellet firing UTSD of the Schmid AG already best emission values are reached. In order to reduce the fine dust even further, the exhaust gases can additionally be cleaned via a separator system. Until now, these particle separators or filter systems were installed separately from the boiler. Schmid AG has now developed an electrostatic particle separator together with a leading manufacturer that can be installed directly in the boiler: the e-clean. Wood heating systems are also almost infinitely scalable. This makes them just as suitable for single-family homes as they are for apartment buildings, commercial buildings and industrial plants. Wood heating is also currently very interesting for companies in the industrial and commercial sector for Hoch temperature applications is currently very interesting. As the only alternative to oil and gas, it guarantees process heat in addition to building heat.

How does the maintenance work?

Wood heating systems should be serviced regularly. With a professional service, the operational safety as well as the operating costs of a plant can be positively influenced. We have a nationwide service network that is available and in operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Whether directly on site or via remote access - it is our utmost concern to ensure efficient and trouble-free operation of the systems. However, this does not replace the chimney sweep. For their part, they clean and inspect thermotechnical systems (WTA) and ventilation systems in private homes and businesses.

You also offer heat pumps. What exactly is possible there?

Heating with a heat pump, i.e. air, water or geothermal heat, is currently a very popular option. It can be installed easily and quickly.
quickly. This type of heating works mainly with electricity. Therefore, the combination with a photovoltaic system makes sense. Depending on accessibility,
location, size and type of heating - radiators or underfloor heating - of the property, one or the other is the better option. In addition, heat pumps are low-maintenance, durable, quiet and inexpensive to operate - as long as the electricity prices are right. Here, too, quality, modern technology, reliability and correct calculation of the output are paramount. Intelligent control is also very important, because only in this way can maximum efficiency be achieved. Ideally, heat pumps are combined with floor heating systems. 

How to know which heater to install at your place?

It is important to weigh up exactly which options are available. This is very individual and therefore cannot be answered in a general way. The only way is to obtain competent advice from an experienced, reputable installer, from us as a neutral manufacturer, and from specialized institutions such as the cantonal energy consulting service. In this case, it is important to have a specialist on hand for advice and to sound out and calculate all eventualities. At Schmid AG in Eschlikon and Oey, we have both wood heating systems and heat pumps on display in our showrooms. This gives people a live impression - and they can see, among other things, how compact modern wood pellet and lump wood heating systems, as well as heat pumps, are designed. One thing is clear: every new building and every heating system renovation requires comprehensive, individually tailored planning. A heating system is cost-intensive and is operated for many years. This means years of accumulating additional costs with poor efficiency - and years of increasing savings with optimal efficiency. Therefore, it always pays to invest enough time in planning and calculating the heating system and to get the right partners on board. This way, a well-founded decision can be made as to which type of heating - wood or heat pump - is best suited for the respective new construction, conversion or renovation project, how much power it must have and which features are necessary.

A new heating system is also subsidized with climate premiums. What should homeowners look out for?

The replacement of a fossil heating system is currently supported with considerable subsidies. Up to 75 percent of the purchase costs can be refinanced. It is important to clarify this undertaking in advance. It is not possible to apply for subsidies after the fact. Here, too, it is important to seek extensive advice in order to avoid unpleasant surprises. Subsidies are generally available when a gas or oil heating system is replaced by a wood heating system or a heat pump. However, there are pitfalls that you need to be aware of. For example, the cantons calculate the subsidies for heating replacements differently than Energie Zukunft Schweiz. In addition, Energie Zukunft Schweiz also subsidizes heating systems in non-residential areas, for example in office or administrative buildings. This means that you have to compare exactly where you will receive how much money. In addition, the application must be submitted correctly and in good time - before the heating system is ordered or even installed.

Ultimately, the same applies here: Laypersons are dependent on competent, neutral advice from the installers, suppliers and manufacturers - and should
and should also inform themselves and read up on the subject on the usual Internet portals of the cantonal energy consultants and institutions such as Energie Zukunft Schweiz.
and read up on the subject. Of course, our sales staff at Schmid AG can also answer any questions you may have.

The climate targets are to be achieved as soon as possible. Nevertheless, some homeowners are still hesitant about retrofitting. Why is that?

The expense of converting from a fossil fuel to an environmentally friendly heating system is certainly one reason. However, with the high cost of fossil fuels, this has been put into perspective rather quickly. In today's climate, utility costs have risen to such an extent that fossil fuel heating operators have to deal with the situation. With gas heating, there's also the fact that there could be supply interruptions.

They also point out lead times. So don't wait, but start?

Quite right. The current demand for environmentally friendly heating systems has risen sharply in the short term. On the one hand, there are bottlenecks in the supply
supply chain, although wood heating systems are not yet as badly affected as heat pumps. On the other hand, heating installers are very busy and cannot simply react to the exceptional situation because of the shortage of skilled workers. So you should make the request early to be able to realize the conversion of the old heating system as soon as possible. My tip: Plan now!

District heating is now used in many communities and areas. How do you support this form of heat supply?

This type of heating is increasingly important to consider. Thus, not everyone has to install a heating system, but you can be connected to an existing network
can be connected. This is because many communities are building up or expanding their capacities. The regional added value is promoted and the security of supply is guaranteed. Schmid AG also has the optimal products for local and district heating networks in its product range.

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