Warning over non-compliant heating pumps

Circulator pumps are used in heating and hot water systems (image: Wilo)
The pumps are used in heating and hot water systems (image: Wilo)

The heating pump industry has called on the government to clamp down on non-compliant products which it says are being imported into the UK.

The British Pump Manufacturers Association (BPMA) has warned about the cost to consumers of non-compliant pumps.

The BPMA says more than 100,000 non-compliant pumps manufactured abroad are being sold “over the counter” in the UK annually. The association blames the UK’s “very lax” policing of the non-compliant heating pump market.

“We estimate that circa 10% of the one million central heating pumps, technically known as circulators, being brought into the UK are non-compliant,” said Steve Schofield, BPMA’s chief executive. “Once fitted, they are costing consumers hundreds of pounds every year on their heating bills, and it is seriously impacting the UK’s ability to meet its net-zero obligations.

“Continental European countries have much stricter regulatory policing regimes and are not being targeted in the same way.”

Fake markings

Schofield says the global microchip supply crisis is making the problem worse. He says the imported pumps use AC motors that are less than half the cost of permanent magnet motors that use microchips to vary the speed of the pump to reduce energy consumption.

Non-compliant three-speed pumps use around 100 watts of energy, compared with 30 watts for the permanent magnet design.

Pump systems provider Wilo claims non-compliant pumps seen by its engineers are being manufactured to look like genuine OEM pumps and some even carry fake CE markings that stand for ‘China Export’.

Comparison of two CE marks, one fake and one authentic. The China Export mark is on the right (image: Wilo)
Comparison of two CE marks, one authentic and one fake. The China Export mark is on the right (image: Wilo)

Lee Tebbatt, managing director at Wilo UK and incoming vice-president of the BPMA, said the key problem is in the standalone pump replacement market. “The standalone market, where a non-condensing boiler is being used with a hot water cylinder and header tank, is the target for non-compliant pumps. Typically, this market is a million units per year.”

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