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Sunday, 20 November 2016

Rainwater Harvesting dies. Caveat Emptor - especially with Kingspan Envireau

Ages ago on this Blog I posted about rainwater harvesting problems.   The trouble then was the failure of the main water pump, located in the 1,000 gallon underground tank in front of the tower.   We were teetering on the brink of being outside the warranty period for the Kingspan Envireau system but with goodwill all round a new pump was supplied and all was well - for a while.

Some months later the system failed again.   Sorry, said Kingspan Envireau, you're on you own now and it's £300 for an engineer to attend.

That sort of call out change makes rainwater harvesting uneconomic when compared with mains water.

I approached the rainwater harvesting industry's trade body who put me in touch with one of their members, Edward Daykin from  Ecoserve in Newark who called when he was next in our area.   He got us going again for a fraction of Kingspan Envireau's price.   What was the problem?   Edward could not tell - he had simply dismantled the system at the tank end and it had started to work on re-assembly.   A dodgy connection presumably.

This summer the system failed again, the fault screen announcing that the remote sensor in the tank or its connection was faulty.   The connection is some 40 metres of underground wire - even though Kingspan Envireau's own recommendation is that the wire should not exceed 15 m.

But hey, hang on - our system had been fitted by Kingspan Envireau themselves for two reasons
- our plumber had never fitted one himself and
- we were being televised so failure could be public and embarrassing for Kingspan Envireau.

So Kingspan Envireau KNEW from the start that our system had a connecting wire nearly three times their own recommendation and this connection was what had failed.   It's all to do with capacitance.  A call to the once helpful Kingspan Envireau helpline proved futile.  Out of warranty - now down to you mate, as it were.

I decided to abandon the system that had cost a great deal of money and to revert to mains water, putting the Kingspan Envireau decision down to one of life's bad ones.

But hang on another mo..  Did I really need a complicated box of tricks in our utility room to tell us how deep the water was in the outside tank?   The system had never accepted the full depth measurement anyway.   When after a dry spell it was showing empty,  physical inspection of the tank showed it was a least half full.

Does everybody with a rainwater harvesting system have this many problems?    I Googled - as you do these days.   I soon discovered that these systems can be as simple as a tank, a pump and a pressure switch to shut down the pump should it run dry.   The Kingspan Envireau system was grossly over complicated and any one of 101 possible problems resulted in the system shutting down and undue expense every time.   An alternative might be an annual 'service' at even greater expense.

So I called my good friend Edward Daykin and explained.   What did HE think about my plan to abandon the Kingspan Envireau system entirely, rip it out and replace it with a pressure switch?   "Sounds like an excellent plan" was his astonishing reply.   "Just one thing - install a float switch as well to make quite sure the pump doesn't keep going and burn out if it every gets dry".

So that, dear reader, is what I have done.

Here is the Kingspan Envireau gubbins that I have removed:

click to enlarge

Kingspan Evireau control panel - £339.07 + VAT


Kingspan Envireau sensor display - £82.89 + VAT

and here is what replaces them both:


Oh yes, and a float switch:

£8 - E-Bay

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