Welsh bunkhouse combats power inconsistencies

The Wern Watkin bunkhouse in Wales solved its power issues.

The Wern Watkin bunkhouse in Wales solved its power issues.

Whether you’re halfway up a Welsh mountain, or sitting on the beach of a small island nation, the one thing you don’t want to trouble guests with is blackouts or power fluctuations.

But whilst a beautiful and remote location can be the perfect recipe for attracting tourists, it can mean big headaches for maintaining a consistent power supply. Solutions are often very far from environmentally friendly.

But the 5 star Wern Watkin Bunkhouse in Wales has solved the problem whilst retaining gold sustainability awards.

Set in the outstanding beauty of the Brecon Beacons National Park, the 5 star Wern Watkin Bunkhouse is one of the greenest bunkhouses in the UK, and the installation of some of the latest technologies has helped them scoop gold in national sustainability awards.

Situated in an environmentally sensitive area high up on Mynnedd Llangattock, the property has been awarded Gold by Green Tourism - the UK’s national sustainable tourism certification programme - thanks to the conscientious approach taken by management. From the very start sustainability has been placed at the heart of the business, with the latest developments in eco-technology employed to ensure energy efficiency; including ground source heat pumps and photovoltaic solar panels.

The bunkhouse offers homely accommodation for up to 30 people in seven en-suite rooms and is ideally placed for outdoor activities, educational field studies and training courses. After a full day exploring the stunning mountainous landscape, ancient woodland, caves, cliffs and industrial heritage, guests appreciate the comforts of home.

But the bunkhouse has been susceptible to regular power surges. These have resulted in recurring equipment failure; the water pumps being especially vulnerable. Not great when guests return to their rooms wanting a hot shower.

UK-based company VO4 was set the challenge of finding an energy efficient solution to the power supply problem. They installed an innovative voltage optimisation system which has turned out to have multiple benefits for Wern Watkin. Not only has the system optimised the inconsistent voltage supplied to the bunkhouse by the national grid to a constant 220V, but it also helps to significantly reduce energy consumption.

Following the installation, the bunkhouse has benefitted from energy savings of 17.6% as the system works with and improves the efficiency of the heat pumps and solar panels. This has meant that the combination of all three technologies is delivering an overall 32% reduction in electricity consumption. These savings are in addition to those made through the extended life span of equipment, most notably the water pumps.

Andrew Fryer, owner and manager of the bunkhouse has been impressed with the results. “Due to the location of the bunkhouse we used to suffer from regular voltage surges, which resulted in recurring equipment failure, particularly water pumps,” he says. “By installing the VO4 unit, power quality has improved and we have seen a marked reduction not only in electricity consumption, but also in the failure of electrical components. In fact, we haven’t lost a water pump since we installed the system.”

This is because the system also improves the power quality by balancing phase voltages and filtering harmonics and transients. This reduces unwanted heat and vibration in electrical appliances and helps to extend their life span, reducing maintenance and replacement costs.

By installing the latest eco-technology, including the VO unit, the ground source heat pumps and photovoltaic solar panels, the Wern Watkin Bunkhouse has, in addition to gaining Gold in the Green Tourism Business Scheme, also gained accreditation through the Green Dragon Environmental Management Standard. It has established itself as one of the most energy efficient bunkhouses in the country with a reputation for its responsible approach to sustainability and continued efforts to minimise its carbon footprint and environmental impact.

Hotels, restaurants and holiday accommodation all rely on their guests’ satisfaction and good reviews to promote future business and ensure ultimate success. A failure in power supply or equipment can have a direct impact on a guest’s experience and an establishment’s reputation. The units offer the perfect solution to businesses that require absolute reliability from their power supply.

With the reduction in energy consumption there is also the reduction in carbon emissions. For every kWh of energy used there is 0.5kg of CO2 saved. This means that a business using 10,000kWh per annum could save 1,000kWh per annum; a reduction of ½ tonne in carbon emissions.

Once fully operational the units do not require maintenance and with savings guaranteed they have a payback within five years. Adapting the technology employed in larger facilities, VO4 has now made this energy saving solution suitable for smaller enterprises, giving them the tools, which until now were only available to big business.

Hoteliers need not suffer from the embarrassment of power outages, nor the expense of fuel-driven and noisy generators as a back-up system. Solutions are available and they can even help save money and CO2.

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