Heat Pumps – Unitherm provides the whole package

17 Jun 2022

Steve Rhodes is all about heat pumps!  He’s been working with heat pump technology for the last fourteen years in roles that have covered project management, sales and training. Just over a year ago, he joined Unitherm Heating Systems, a new company focusing on the specification and supply of air source heat pumps across the UK. 

Unitherm, based in Exeter, has recently become an LCL Awards approved centre. Steve Humphreys, one of our External Verifiers and Technical Specialists, checked in with Steve (Rhodes) to see how everything is going.

SH: Congratulations on becoming an LCL Awards centre, we’re delighted to welcome you to the family!  Can you tell us a bit of background on Unitherm?

SR: We are a team with a wealth of experience in the renewable energy sector. We already knew each other, having met and worked together at various companies over the years, and wanted to offer something a bit different.

Heat pumps are still a relatively new technology and often misunderstood. With our combined experience we’re real experts in the sector and decided to set up a one-stop-shop for engineers - somewhere they could get the support they need to specify the correct equipment to their clients and then purchase everything required in a kit form. The decision to move into training was an easy one; it makes sense to provide installers with the complete package from the very start.

The LCL Awards Level 3 qualification in the Installation and Maintenance of Air Source Heat Pumps gives people a great grounding and because we’ve got the kit and the experience here, we can cement their learning with additional practical training.

SH: The experience you have in heat pumps must help give your learners the confidence they’re looking for when choosing a training centre. 

SR: Indeed; heat pumps sometimes have a bad name and that’s usually because the installation or design is poor - the settings aren’t right or the size of the system is wrong. We spend time speaking to our learners prior to the course, to make sure it’s a good fit for them.

During training, we’re able to show candidates a wide range of hardware. We have three fully installed heat pumps set-up so trainees can take the panels off to get a proper understanding of their operation. We also set-up faults for them to find.

After the three-day course, when they’ve passed the LCL Awards qualification, we recommend our learners go on to do a day-long manufacturer’s course to explore the specifics of the equipment they’ll be installing. We offer those as an add-on. 

We’ve also been approved to run LCL Awards LTHW course, which means our qualified installers can register with the MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) and then gain access to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

We aim to provide flexible learning options - we run groups made up of individual installers, but can also put on special sessions for companies who want to train several installers at once. So far we’ve had a 100% pass rate. Long may that continue!

SH: It’s great to hear that things are going so well. What are your plans for the future?

SR: We’re just about to take on two new members of staff as the business is expanding. Although we’re based down in the South West, we also have a distribution centre up near Leeds with big customers all across the North interested in the systems we put together. Having a base up there has really helped with logistics.

Although we obviously support other renewable technologies, we’ve decided to concentrate on heat pumps and see the development of the training side of the business as our main focus now. If the Government’s requirements are to be met, we’ll need to train thousands of new installers and that’s our current challenge. We’re excited about the future and where the business will take us.

We’ve taken a stand at the Installer Show at the NEC later this month. We’ll be there with lots of information on heat pumps, under-floor heating and of course  - our new training courses. Come and say hello!

To find out more about Unitherm, please click here

If you’d like to offer heat pump training at your centre, please get in touch with us. For more information on LCL Awards renewables training courses, please click here