NuGen Properties

One in 10 heating pumps not compliant


The British Pump Manufacturers Association (BPMA) reckons that more than 100,000 non-compliant pumps are being sold in the UK every year.

Non-compliant pumps being manufactured to look like genuine OEM pumps, even sometimes equipped with fake CE markings that stand for China Export.

Lee Tebbatt, managing director at Wilo UK and incoming vice president of the BPMA, said: “We’re seeing pumps that are illegal in terms of their energy efficiency being disguised with fake CE markings. The installer won’t know that they are buying a fake pump over the counter and the consumer won’t know that it’s being fitted.”

He added: “The stand-alone 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 circa one million units per year.”

BPMA chief executive Steve Schofield said: “We estimate that circa 10% of the one million central heating pumps, technically known as circulators, being brought into the UK are non-compliant. It is a swarm; it is blatant and it is now over-the-counter. 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.”

The situation has deteriorated since April 2022 when the global microchip supply crisis was at its height, according to Mr Schofield. “The imported pumps use old-style AC motors that are less than half the price of permanent magnet motors equipped with microchips to vary the speed of the pump to reduce energy consumption. The non-compliant three-speed pumps use circa 100 watts of energy compared to 30 watts for the permanent magnet design.”

The UK government estimates that, based on 2021 energy prices, minimum energy performance standards from compliant pumps provide annual savings of £75 and greenhouse gas emissions savings of eight million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e). This saving is now likely to be much higher due to recent increases in energy prices.

Mr Schofield said that supply restrictions encouraged wholesalers to source non-compliant products. “Supply chain issues, specifically problems with microchips, has brought the problem into the mainstream heating product distribution channels, with Far Eastern exporters taking advantage of high levels of demand and insufficient supply.

“We have been very lax in the UK in terms of policing the market and eradicating non-compliant pumps. Continental European countries have much stricter regulatory policing regimes and are not being targeted in the same way.”

He concluded: “It is the legal responsibility of the importer to ensure that only compliant pumps are brought into the UK. However, legal responsibility does not stop there. It is the distributor’s responsibility to only sell CE marked pumps and it is the installer’s responsibility to ensure that what they are fitting is compliant. We need the government to step in, empower the market surveillance authorities and clampdown to protect consumers and its own climate change targets.”

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