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Modular Energy Systems - interest?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by BrownianHeatingTech, Dec 7, 2007.

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  1. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    I have this notion of creating another company... Modular Energy Systems is the name I'm working with right now.

    The basic idea is that you send a blueprint, and a description of your current system (if existing construction) as well as what you want the new system to do. We would work with you to design a system that meets your needs, then construct it in modules for easy delivery/installation. Instructions (and likely some photo and/or video instruction) would be provided such that a skilled do-it-yourselfer or a heating tech could assemble the system at your site and have it running very quickly. I say "skilled" because it would still require work to connect to your existing system and such, so some soldering and minor electrical skills would be required, at least.

    The system would be be designed properly, so there would be no concern that your "guesses" as to how it should be done would lead to an expensive mistake. Most modules would be pre-tested on the workbench, before disassembly for shipping, so you would know that everything would work once re-assembled.

    I'm curious if the folks here think there would be a realistic market for that?

    Joe

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  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Sounds to me like it bridges the gap between hiring someone who may or may not know what they're doing and the hardcore DIY crowd. It would probably result in better warranty coverage for the consumer if you have a relationship with the vendors, since they would have some confidence in the installation that may be lacking in some cases now, regardless of who did the install.

    Marketing your service is the key, of course. Maybe vendors would like to have that option to offer their customers, resulting in referrals.

    Sounds good to me.
  3. Jim Post

    Jim Post Member

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    Yep, you could be on to something there...It all comes down to dollars though. I heat with wood to save them...would I be willing to spend a few of them to get a better result? Hmmm. I have to think on that some more.
  4. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    I've struggled with the same questions myself. Some random thoughts, in no particular order:

    - With energy prices where they are and no likelihood that they'll drop dramatically, there is a real financial case to be made for wood heat, even if the system is expensive.
    - For every tinkerer like us, there are twenty people who just want to set the thermostat and forget it. How many of these people could be happy with even the best system that could be devised?
    - There are real safety issues if an installation isn't done properly. Who owns those issues, practically, morally, and legally?
    - Even designed and installed perfectly, these systems are complex and require a lot of attention compared to an oil boiler.
    - How many oil boilers get appropriate service at appropriate intervals? What would the answer be for these systems?
    - What would it take for these systems to emulate OnStar and call you for help / allow you to make changes remotely?

    I think there's a huge opportunity, but I'm not sure where the sweet spot is in terms of cost / sophistication / simplicity of operation. I think you're on the right track, but something like real market research is needed.

    I really like the modular approach. I wonder what the appropriate sales channels would be? Time for a business plan review. Beer is required.
  5. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I think you're right on in that analysis, nofossil.

    For guys like me it's basically a hobby that pays a return. The vast majority of people wouldn't be interested. And as you point out, their results would not justify the investment.

    However, I think that as energy costs continue to rise and the equipment becomes more user-friendly, a growing segment of the population is becoming interested and making the necessary effort. Joe's idea seems to me like a potential bridge to bring even more people across to this side. Of course, you'd have to screen your prospects, but anybody who sells a wood boiler should be doing that already anyway.
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