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Question for ASHP installers: What proportion of your initial surveys/ site visits follow through to an installation?


hamish mcmichael
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Question for ASHP installers: What proportion of your initial surveys/ site visits follow through to an installation?

Hi- I'm doing some research for a possible project with the Energy Systems Catapult and BEIS. I'm interested in the typical customer journey for an ASHP installation, and I'd like to hear some feedback from installers. 

What proportion of your initial sales enquiries and/or site surveys convert to a completed installation?

I.e how much of your time and resources are being wasted by indecisive homeowners, who call you out for a survey and then dont follow through with an installation as they are confused or surprised by the design proposal, cost and performance?

Our view, is that there is an opportunity to assist and educate homeowners who are interested in installing an ASHP, to stop them wasting the time of installers with unnecessary site surveys and abortive design work... are we correct?

As an installer, If you had a sales funnel of credible potential leads, who'd done their homework and really understood what they were planning (and the ones for whom it wasn't a good fit were pre-filtered out) would that make the overall installation process more efficient?

If they already had heat loss calculations and surveys of existing emitters available before you visited to quote, would that simplify your sales process?

And are some of those cost savings likely to filter back to the consumers in the future?

Any feedback would be useful - thanks in advance.


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Kev M
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Posted by: @hamish-mcmichael

Question for ASHP installers: What proportion of your initial surveys/ site visits follow through to an installation?

Hi- I'm doing some research for a possible project with the Energy Systems Catapult and BEIS. I'm interested in the typical customer journey for an ASHP installation, and I'd like to hear some feedback from installers. 

What proportion of your initial sales enquiries and/or site surveys convert to a completed installation?

I.e how much of your time and resources are being wasted by indecisive homeowners, who call you out for a survey and then dont follow through with an installation as they are confused or surprised by the design proposal, cost and performance?

Our view, is that there is an opportunity to assist and educate homeowners who are interested in installing an ASHP, to stop them wasting the time of installers with unnecessary site surveys and abortive design work... are we correct?

As an installer, If you had a sales funnel of credible potential leads, who'd done their homework and really understood what they were planning (and the ones for whom it wasn't a good fit were pre-filtered out) would that make the overall installation process more efficient?

If they already had heat loss calculations and surveys of existing emitters available before you visited to quote, would that simplify your sales process?

And are some of those cost savings likely to filter back to the consumers in the future?

Any feedback would be useful - thanks in advance.

I don't think there are many installers here; not ones that admit to it anyway. 

You said

"...there is an opportunity to assist and educate homeowners who are interested in installing an ASHP, to stop them wasting the time of installers with unnecessary site surveys and abortive design work... are we correct?"

I think no. While there are some good installers, before it thinks about educating customers, the ASHP industry needs to get its own act together, learn some of the basics of how heat pumps work and stop installing poorly designed and set up systems that cost customers a fortune to run. It's really not that hard.

A lot of installers want to charge to do a survey and quote anyway.   

This post was modified 4 months ago by Kev M

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cathodeRay
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Posted by: @hamish-mcmichael

I'm interested in the typical customer journey for an ASHP installation

The last time I heard mention of the customer journey was from an ASHP installer who took me on a journey to hell and back, until I fired them in Dec last year. In a sane world, ASHP customers don't go on journeys, they stay at home. Most of the problems in the ASHP market/industry are government, (non-)regulator and rogue supplier/installer related. It took me 12 months to get my installation done, and if I had not had the determination of Attila the Hun, it would never have happened. And it's still not fully sorted.  

Midea 14kW (for now...) ASHP heating both building and DHW


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hamish mcmichael
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@kev-m   Thanks for replying, I recognize the point you make about finding a knowledgeable and quality installer (and there's lots of talk about the Government and others training up thousands of installers).

Re:  " A lot of installers want to charge to do a survey and quote anyway" .  I saw someone else's post on this site who said they approached 5 or 6 ASHP installers to find a good one. If each installer is carrying the overhead of a 1 in 5 or 6 success rate and a lot of wasted resource from bidding, this has to be a cost that is added onto the install of each successful project.

If this site is frequented more by customers, I guess the flip side of the hypothesis question would be: "How many installers did you approach / get site surveys from?"  "How much did you pay for that process"?  "How long did it take?"

I think the other relevant issue, is if the quality of the survey is poor and rushed, this is more likely to lead to an installation that is not fine tuned to the property; mis-managed expectations about the predicted performance; and a disparity with actual running costs.

Sounds like there's still a lot of learning required across the board.


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hamish mcmichael
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Posted by: @cathoderay
Posted by: @hamish-mcmichael

I'm interested in the typical customer journey for an ASHP installation

 In a sane world, ASHP customers don't go on journeys, they stay at home. 

I like this line.  Sounds like you've been through a challenging process - how many installers did you speak to, to find the one you went with?


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cathodeRay
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Posted by: @hamish-mcmichael

I like this line.

I wrote it a bit too quickly, I should have written 'In a sane world, ASHP customers don't want to go on a journey, they want to stay at home and  have a competent installer come and install something that works'. The same installer who had me on a customer journey also at one point had me 'in the installation pipeline', which sounded rather suffocating, but is perhaps less alarming than being in a sales funnel.

The point is that when installers start spouting management psychobabble, you know for sure they have lost the plot and gone up their own sales spout. Getting an ASHP installed should never be a journey, it should be a straightforward process.

I approached over a dozen installers, then the attrition started. About half couldn't even be bothered to reply. About half of those who replied ended up producing quotes. All were different, sometimes substantially so, despite all being MCS approved etc etc etc, which told be something was wrong - given the same data, they should come up with the same basic results, maybe different brand of heat pump, but same basic solution. They didn't. 

I started the process during the GHG Voucher scheme, which required homeowner to get things going by getting quotes, hence my initial approach to a number of installers. I got to the point of shortlisting one, sensible chap, all seemed to make sense, mid price range (there was a wide range) then at the drop of a gnat's fart the government pulled the GHG Voucher scheme. Thanks, guys. Nothing like a bit of chaos to keep things going. I then latched onto the LAD scheme, which is actually more generous, if you count as low income, which I do, but likes to tie you to a preferred installer - I could use my shortlisted installer, but the LAD scheme had a (presumably thoroughly vetted) one lined up, so why not use them?

Bad mistake - utterly incompetent and time wasting. They took forever to do anything. Their initial heat loss survey was a joke. Luckily, I knew enough to spot that, because I had done my own heat calcs in the past, but what about Mr and Mrs Average? Maybe they would have spotted the kitchen (largest room in the house, three outside walls, three windows) had a lower loss than the dining room (much smaller,two outside walls, two windows), maybe not. Once we got to a sane heat loss calc, they tied themselves to the MCS or whatever it is rad sizing software that many installers use, and so couldn't use K3s, and so specified huge K2s that could never fit in the available space (small house, low ceilings with corresponding low floor to window sill heights etc). They failed to grasp you can't fit a quart into a pint pot. They also objected at length to using a Midea unit (no experience with them, dear boy) despite the fact it was baked into the install by virtue of it being the unit in the LBC and PP consents (G2 Listed so needed both, and that's another story I won't go into here). The Midea unit was selected because it is 'low profile' - wider than it is tall - in the necessary output ranges, and so has less visual impact on the listed building. The long 10 year warranty also vaguely appealed, implied they had some confidence in the unit, though we all know there is no such thing as a straightforward warranty - as I soon found out.

The installers refused initially to warranty the unit, saying it would be operating outside its design parameters, and so would most likely blow up in short order. I had to point out it would be operating within its design parameters, and so there could be no question of it not being warrantied. They finally gave in, somewhat with bad grace. One even began to wonder whether they might even leave a spanner in the works, to make things more interesting, though of course in a sane world no installer would be so stupid.

The whole thing took months, to achieve precisely nothing. The installation was going to happen in September last year, then October, then mid-December. On the Friday before the Monday they were due to start the installation, they 'discovered' their proposed hot water cylinder wouldn't fit in the available space, and cancelled again, no new start date given. At that point, I lost it, said enough was enough, fired them, and issued a statement that if they were seen within 10 miles of my house, I would send the cavalry out with orders to shoot to kill. What amazes me with hindsight is why I put up with them for so long. It was probably because they were the LAD scheme preferred installer, and so I assumed (mother of all f*ckups) they were fully vetted, known to be competent etc. They most certainly were not, at least in my experience.

Luckily I still had my original shortlisted GHG Voucher quotation, but time was now short, deadline for LAD installs was 31st March this year, and after that, at that time, who knew? (We now know it is the £5,000 scheme, definitely less generous, may have caused me to abort and revert to oil; I'm off mains gas, but had a working oil boiler, just needed a new tank). Worse, my preferred installer was going to be away for almost half of the three available Jan to Mar months, a long planned trip to see a grandchild for the first time. But by hook and crook we got it sorted - the LAD scheme administrators onboarded him (another red flag management term), and the installer himself bent over backwards to get things done - without him, and his sterling efforts, I would have missed the LAD deadline, and in the snakes and ladders game of trying to get ASHPs installed, I would have been back down at the bottom again, in a place where many people would lose the will to live.

The installation is not perfect - documented in my other thread - basically, I ended up with a 14kW unit when I need a 16kW unit, and so it struggles in low outside temps. The problem is a so called 14kW unit is only a 14kW unit on high days and holidays, when it need to get down to business, its around a 11.5kW unit. My heat loss (old leaky listed building) is around 12.3kW, so a 14kW sounded like it was just the ticket, what could possibly go wrong? The rest is history (documented in the thread).  

  

 

     

Midea 14kW (for now...) ASHP heating both building and DHW


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Transparent
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@hamish-mcmichael the entire market for heat-pump installations is rather like the early days of double-glazing. The main difference this time is that the salesmen don't come around and door-step prospective customers. Instead they attend training courses, stack up a healthy wad of 'approved installer' badges and wait for the next consumer to fly into their web.

Successful HP installations more often occur when the customer is part of an existing 'energy community'. It might be an online one, such as this forum, or a local one like the Transition Towns movement.

There is a desperate need for much more energy knowledge within the wider UK population before embarking on such projects.

Ofgem know this. Over 4 years ago they highlighted the lack of public knowledge/understanding as an issue which holds back the deployment of effective domestic energy technology.

The current energy crisis is a perfect storm. Many home owners will engage installers this summer to 'upgrade' their heating systems to super-efficient, clean ASHPs. There will be all manner of claims made as to how this uses less energy and how good it is for the environment.

Then, in the depths of next winter, families will be eeking out food in order to satisfy the voracious appetite of their electricity meter.

Save energy... recycle electrons!


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HughF
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Posted by: @transparent

There is a desperate need for much more energy knowledge within the wider UK population before embarking on such projects.

Ofgem know this. Over 4 years ago they highlighted the lack of public knowledge/understanding as an issue which holds back the deployment of effective domestic energy technology.

The current energy crisis is a perfect storm. Many home owners will engage installers this summer to 'upgrade' their heating systems to super-efficient, clean ASHPs. There will be all manner of claims made as to how this uses less energy and how good it is for the environment.

Then, in the depths of next winter, families will be eeking out food in order to satisfy the voracious appetite of their electricity meter.

This is so true - when average Joe doesn't understand what a unit is, average Joe is really in for a shock when these energy prices go up yet again in October.

It's a lack of education that's to blame - this sort of stuff should be taught in schools, along with basic finance and economics.

As for your questions @hamish-mcmichael In the same way that I spec, purchase and install my own double glazing, I'm doing the same with my air source install, so I'm afraid I can't answer that question.

Off grid on the isle of purbeck
2.4kW solar, 10kWh LiFePo4, Outback power systems 3kW inverter/charger, solid fuel heating, 10 acres.

My wife’s house: 1946 3 bed end of terrace in Somerset, GSH, DG, work in progress


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Majordennisbloodnok
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Posted by: @hamish-mcmichael

...

Re:  " A lot of installers want to charge to do a survey and quote anyway" .  I saw someone else's post on this site who said they approached 5 or 6 ASHP installers to find a good one. If each installer is carrying the overhead of a 1 in 5 or 6 success rate and a lot of wasted resource from bidding, this has to be a cost that is added onto the install of each successful project.

If this site is frequented more by customers, I guess the flip side of the hypothesis question would be: "How many installers did you approach / get site surveys from?"  "How much did you pay for that process"?  "How long did it take?"

I think the other relevant issue, is if the quality of the survey is poor and rushed, this is more likely to lead to an installation that is not fine tuned to the property; mis-managed expectations about the predicted performance; and a disparity with actual running costs

....

Well I'm self-acknowledged as one of the lucky ones who found a good installer and had a positive experience.

In answer to your question, I approached perhaps 10 installers, had 4 round to take a look and provide an estimate (a non-chargeable visit) and two back to do a chargeable site survey (the second because the first installer didn't come back with either a quote or a bill for the site survey; hey, ho...). I wouldn't expect to be charged for an initial on-site chat but fully understand the need for a proper site survey to be a paid piece of work.

I think you can get a good idea about an installer from an initial chat, and in particular whether they are listening or just trying to sell. As a result, I looked on the site survey as a good faith next step to test the waters with the company I'd provisionally chosen. If the second more detailed visit didn't bear out my instincts from the first one, I saw the cost as a small price to pay for avoiding the expensive mistake later on.

I've made plenty of mistakes finding good tradespeople, but in this case we played it by the book, kept our bullsh*t radars on full alert and were rewarded as a result.

105 m2 bungalow in South East England
Mitsubishi Ecodan 8.5 kW air source heat pump
18 x 360W solar panels
1 x 6 kW GroWatt battery and inverter
Raised beds for home-grown veg and chickens for eggs

"Semper in excretia; suus solum profundum variat"


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