Becoming MCS Certified – an installer perspective 

More than 1,800 contractors became MCS certified in 2023, marking a 70% growth in its contractor base since the end of 2022, and bringing the overall number of certified contractors to more than 4,000. 

Heat From Air Director Andy Norris gives an insight into the MCS certification journey.

In April, the certification body held its annual contractor survey to find out how it can further ‘enhance the value and experience of MCS certification’. 

So, when Heat From Air got in touch with us recently to tell us about their recent MCS Certification, we took the opportunity to dive deeper into this process for a new company and spoke to Director Andy Norris for an insight into the journey, from his perspective. 

To start with, tell us about your company 

Heat From Air is based in Shirley, Solihull and covers the West Midlands (currently). We are a small company with aims to grow quite substantially across the coming months. We have been operating for just over a year on both residential and commercial properties. 

How did you decide to get MCS certified? 

We decided to become MCS certified for two reasons: first, to be able to offer the boiler upgrade scheme (BUS) grant, which is now £7,500, and, secondly, so that our installations would be done to the highest possible standards as set out by MCS. A recent study by Heat Geek showed that there is a direct correlation between the quality of the installation and the efficiency of the heat pump i.e. the better the installation, the higher the efficiency. 

Also, having to go back to an installation to fix a problem would erode our margins and damage our reputation with our customers and, therefore, our ethos is “the right system for the customer, installed right, first time”. 

How did you find the process of getting accredited? How long did it take, and were there any challenges? 

It took four to five months – much longer than it needed to in hindsight. The first challenge was figuring out what we needed to do to become MCS certified and to be able to offer the boiler upgrade scheme grant. It didn’t help that the various organisations I contacted interpreted the process differently. 

In a nutshell, this is what we did: 

  1. I spoke to several assessment bodies and decided to register with APHC. The assessment body audits the quality management system of the applicant, an installation and the qualifications of the engineers who installed the heat pump system. Our engineers trained at Heat Pump Central and it took a month for BPEC to award the certificates which delayed our MCS certification. 
  1. After spending a few months trying to work with HIES, I went to RECC, the other consumer code, and found them much easier to work with. We adopted their model consumer documents such as the quotation form, contract, warranty etc. 
  1. MCS certified installers must insure any deposit taken from customers and the warranty for the installation. I engaged one of RECC’s recommended insurers, IWA and they were easy to work with. 
  1. We wanted to be TrustMark registered, and I made the application through RECC and this was also simple. 
  1. Once we had joined RECC consumer code and passed the assessment with APHC, we became MCS certified. 
  1. We then contacted Ofgem to register for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme and this took about a week. 

What’s changed since getting your accreditation? 

We are one of the few MCS certified installers in our region and you can probably see why. We modified the website to reflect this, and the benefit of being able to offer the £7,500 grant. We are also listed as an approved installer on several heat pump manufacturers’ websites. 

How has being MCS certified changed your organisation operationally? What’s the time commitment? 

We would have always installed to a very high standard so there is no penalty there. The paperwork is done via online portals, and being able to self-certify for building control saves us time and money. The Ofgem process to get the grant is somewhat cumbersome, but not particularly difficult. 

What tips do you have for installers and companies considering accreditation? 

  • APHC will also assess an installation for building control which is needed for every heat pump installation. Heat From Air is now registered with the Competent Persons Scheme so that we can self-certify for building control which saves time and money. 
  • Every heat pump over 0.6m3 will need planning permission and, in Solihull where we are located, this can take up to 12 weeks. 
  • If you haven’t created a quality management system before, it could be worth checking out Easy MCS. 

How do you communicate with consumers about your accreditation? Have many people asked about it? 

We use our website and social media to communicate the benefits of using an MCS certified installer, and Heat From Air in particular. Few people have asked for it, and I think organisations like Ofgem or MCS could do much more to promote take up of this green technology. 

Are you MCS Certified and would you like to share your experience? Or have you opted not to get the accreditation and want to share your reasoning?  

We’re interested in hearing both sides of the story, so we want to hear from you! Email with your thoughts – and we’ll be in touch. 

Image credit: MCS