Questions? We have the answers.

  • As an authority in independent energy solutions for high rise residential buildings, Rikos Energy provides continuous, qualified consultation.

COGENERATION Q&A

Is electricity really becoming more expensive in Ontario? If so, why?

According to the Ontario Energy Board, mid-peak electricity prices increased from 8 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to 11.2 cents per kWh between 2008 and 2014. This equates to a 40 percent increase, or 6.7 percent year over year.

So, in short, electricity is definitely becoming more expensive. Big time.

But why?

With increasing pressure to look to more earth-friendly energy sources, the province has sought out electricity from solar and wind power, which costs three to five times as much to produce as water or nuclear power.

Additionally, non-profit hydro utilities once owned by the province have been privatized and those companies profit from increasing electricity bills.

What does combined heat and power (CHP) mean?

Combined heat and power, or CHP, is the very essence of cogeneration. Equipment that generates power also generates heat. The natural-gas powered reciprocating engines that will power your building produce electricity from exhaust heat as well. That heat is then harnessed to be used for both space and water heating within your building.

Are there other options besides natural gas-powered reciprocating engines?

Aside from reciprocating engines, micro-turbines have also been used for generating electricity and heat.

Why does Rikos Energy prefer reciprocating engines over micro-turbines?

Reciprocating engines are roughly 25 to 40 percent efficient in converting natural gas to electricity, while micro-turbines are about 20 to 30 percent efficient in their conversion. When looking at overall efficiency, micro-turbines are slightly more efficient at converting gas to heat, and so, both types of generators reach 70 to 90 percent efficiency all told.

But Rikos Energy wants to save you money.

Since heat is only required part-time, building residents will notice more savings when their electricity,(rather than their heating) is most reduced. The choice to use reciprocating engines becomes an easy one.

Is it true that reciprocating engines are louder than micro-turbines?

Reciprocating engines are, in fact, louder than micro-turbines.

But don’t worry, you’ll never know it.

That’s because each Rikos Energy installation comes following a thorough evaluation of your building’s infrastructure. Determining the precise location, causes minimal disruption in the building. Further, the generator is housed in a soundproof chamber and mounted on shock absorbers that make it virtually impossible to hear, no matter what floor you live on.

Will the generator last long?

Rikos Energy provides systematic maintenance on every generator installed, ensuring that it not only lasts the 12 years required before transfer of ownership, but at least an additional eight years beyond that.

How long will it take to have the generators installed?

From the first visit to the board room, to the moment your building begins to generate its own power, take roughly a year.

Why so long?

Rikos Energy must apply and then wait to receive all pertinent approvals for provincial energy grants. In that time, our dedicated professionals will outline the Energy-to-Ownership program and evaluate the building’s existing infrastructure to ensure a seamless transition.

BOOSTER PUMP STATIONS Q&A

What does a booster pump system do?

A high-rise residential booster pump system is designed to increase the water pressure in a building’s domestic cold-water supply, so that units and mechanical equipment on the upper floors have adequate water pressure. Most residences tend to notice significant impacts to daily water usages when the pressure is below 40 psi. Some newer appliances may not operate properly with pressures less than 40 psi. A booster pump will increase and maintain a constant water pressure to the building thus resolving impacts caused by low pressure.

What is a VFD?

A VFD, or Variable Frequency Drive, is an electronic controller device that modulates  the speed of the pump based on real time pressure requirement data fed from the building’s domestic cold water supply system. The VFD adjusts the speed of the pump motor up or down, so that the pumps work only as hard at necessary, which conserves electricity.

Why are booster pump systems packaged as a three-pump set?

The Triplex, or 3 pump system is recommended in most cases to increase efficiency and reliability from a an inefficient larger pump set-up. The three pumps in a triplex system, operate in tandem to share the water demand requirements in a cascade configuration, where a second or third pump will run only when necessary. This saves a great deal of electricity vs. older booster pump systems where the pumps run continuously. In a triplex system, the pumps are also programmed to “rotate” which extends the lifetime of the entire system by sharing “lead” pump duty.

Do booster pump systems require maintenance?

Yes. While the maintenance and service required by modern energy efficient booster pumps is greatly reduced when compared to older larger systems, they do require periodic checks to ensure smooth operation and maximum efficiency.
Older booster pump systems that were typically run harder and had to withstand years of hard start and stop operation, are prone to early wear issues on the motor bearings and pump impellers. Regular maintenance on older system’s PRVs (Pressure Reducing Valves) is a common and necessary maintenance concern.

How long will a booster pump system last?

The lifespan of a booster pump system depends on many factors, the most important of which is operational hours. Energy efficient pumps can reduce the number of operational pumps, as well as control how hard each pump and motor assembly are working. Rotating lead/lag duty of the pumps will also extend the lifespan of the pump system. Under normal operating conditions, and with routine maintenance, a new energy efficient pump system with VFDs is expected to last at least 25 years.

If there is a power outage, will the booster pumps automatically restart once power is restored?

Yes. Booster pump systems with even a basic control panel will automatically switch back on once electrical power returns to the building. Booster pump systems are not typically included in those building systems that run off an emergency back-up generator. In newer Combined Heat and Power (CHP) generator systems, booster pumps are included as they are a key component of sustainable occupancy during extended power outages.

Why are there differing opinions on sizing of booster pumps for high-rise residential buildings?

Opinions concerning pump sizing do indeed differ, however a building’s domestic cold water needs do not. The water supply and pressure needs throughout the building are based on a key set of data, these being: 1. Building height; 2. Number of suites; 3. Available “City Pressure”; 4. Efficiency data from the manufacturer’s pump curves; 5. The building’s plumbing design.  Most contractors for booster pump retrofits tend to err on the side of caution and install pumps that are oversized, with the hope that the larger system size will prevent any problems pertaining to pressure, or situation where one of the pumps going down. The extra pump and motor size (Horsepower) and the associated higher electrical cost to operate larger pumps, is unnecessary. In older buildings, some pumps are oversized to match the loss in pressure created by the installation of PRVs. Newer energy- efficient booster pumps coupled with VFDs eliminates the need for PRVs and water-expansion tanks.

How much does a new booster pump system cost?

Pricing for a new booster pump system varies with the size of the building in question and other data elements discussed above. Generally, the cost of a new energy-efficient booster pump systems ranges between $30,000 and $50,000. To help with the cost of this retrofit, the Government of Ontario is now offering an energy saving incentive to encourage building ownership to replace antiquated booster pump systems by way of the SaveOnEnergy program. Through this program – depending on the amount of annual energy savings – a building may be eligible for an incentive up to half of the project cost, creating a return on investment (ROI) ranging from 6 to 24 months on average. A quick return indeed!

How long does it take to install a new booster pump system?

On the scheduled install date, building management is asked to notify tenants that the water supply will be shut down between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. During most installations, the retrofit work is completed and the building’s water supply is turned on again within 2 to 3 hours time.

Is there a guarantee/warranty with new booster pump equipment?

Yes. Every good manufacturer or engineering firm offering a booster pump system should include, at minimum, a 10-year warranty on the booster system components, as well as the engineering work.

Are subsidies or government incentive programs available for booster pump upgrades/retrofits?

Yes. In Ontario, the SaveOnEnergy program offers booster pump retrofit incentives province-wide. Available incentive $ amounts range up to $25,000.00, or 50% of the eligible project costs. Eligible costs include all pump system components, installation costs, delivery, and disposal cost of the old pump parts. Many building owners/managers also choose the option of a filter on the booster pump platform, which filters out solid materials from the incoming municipal water supply. Material coming into a building through the municipal supply, includes sand and dirt, bits of metal and plastic, precipitates such as CaCO3, and sometimes even larger pieces of debris. The filtration system is an eligible cost that can be included in the energy incentive calculation.  All administrative work related to the energy incentive is handled by the manufacturer/service provider.