From pioneer to Europe’s specialist in pellet heating
The beginnings of the pellet heating specialist
ÖkoFEN was founded in1989 by engineer Herbert Ortner. Ecological research and development in the field of small-scale biomass systems was and still is our calling today. It is also reflected in our company name. The driving force behind the company's founding was the situation in the 1980s – the period after the first oil crisis. Herbert Ortner could not understand why billions were being spent on heating oil when the CO2-neutral fuel, wood, was right there on the doorstep. These were the natal hours of our passion for biomass heating systems, powered firstly by wood chips.
Production began in a cowshed belonging to Herbert Ortner’s parents-in-law. Back then the team was very small – Herbert Ortner, his wife and two employees who still work at ÖkoFEN today. Herbert was salesman. installer, customer service engineer and managing director all in one. Many people scoffed: “Ortner must be bonkers, working in a cowshed, welding heaters together.” But slowly, step by step, the company grew.
The beginning of a vision
Herbert Ortner sets out to make renewable heat a viable option for the family home. He resigns his post as Managing Director of the heater factory in Lembach and begins the biomass heating adventure in his parents-in-law’s converted cowshed. The aim was to defy the worldwide oil crisis in his densely forested homeland and to supply residential dwellings with heat from environmentally friendly, convenient wood-fired boilers rather than fossil heating systems.
The pioneering achievement
Herbert Ortner succeeds in winning over partners in the timber industry, allowing ÖkoFEN to present the world's first type-approved pellet boiler – the ÖkoFEN Pellematic – at the “Energiesparmesse” energy saving trade fair in Wels. This pioneering achievement attracts a great deal of attention and marks the beginning of rapid market development. The new level of convenience offers customers an alternative to heating with oil. Series production of the Pellematic also begins in this year. The timber industry follows suit, turning what was previously worthless sawdust into a high grade fuel and creating substantial added value.
Pellet condensing technology
The technology continues to evolve at a pace and ÖkoFEN presents the world's first pellet heating system with condensing technology. The Pellematic Plus marks the development of another pioneering pellet boiler, which allows the maximum output to be obtained from the fuel. Condensing technology enables utilisation of the latent heat of condensation present in the flue gas, since this is fed back into the heating system.
It soon became clear to me that condensing technology is an absolute “must” for modern pellet heating systems. We simply had to succeed in keeping heating with pellets in pace with the times.
ÖkoFEN founder Herbert Ortner
Culmination of the first growth phase
A total of around 6600 pellet boilers are sold during the course of this year. Furthermore, the heating centre is introduced as a new product segment. This provides the ideal solution if there is no space in the building for a heating system or pellet store, or the existing rooms need to be used for other purposes.
Expansion despite crisis
The unwavering belief in the success of the idea drives ÖkoFEN incessantly onwards. Despite a major market slump due to short-term supply bottlenecks with pellets, two facilities in Austria are expanded in order to be prepared for the future. The company HQ is relocated to Niederkappel. The new site consists of a 6500m² production hall and an 800m² administration building. In addition, component production is expanded in Purgstall.
It was not always easy to plan capacity correctly. We have always focussed on respectful and appreciative relations with our employees here at ÖkoFEN.
ÖkoFEN founder Elfriede Ortner
Like a phoenix from the ashes
After the serious crisis, ÖkoFEN records the best year in the company’s history. To meet market requirements, the Pellematic line is updated with a 56kW version and the comfort ash box. The product range is also extended with the Pellesol solar collector and the Pellaqua buffer cylinder.
ÖkoFEN's German head office in Mickhausen near Augsburg is inaugurated. The building comprises 3000m² of production space and 800m² for offices.
Together Stefan, Herbert and Elfriede Ortner lead the “innovation factory”. In the form of the Pellematic Smart, ÖkoFEN presents the world’s first heating system for low-energy buildings and “passive houses”, which combines heat from pellets and solar panels together with the heating hydraulics in the smallest of spaces. This year also sees development of the improved Flexilo Compact and the Pelletronic Touch heating controller. These enable convenient pellet storage and heating system operation of the highest standard.
Generate electricity with pellets
The latest vision of the pellet specialist is the ÖkoFEN_e project. Alongside heat for living areas, development of a combined heat and power system also aims to generate green electricity with pellets in future for households and for charging electric vehicles. Power generation is made possible by a Stirling engine integrated in the pellet boiler.
Pellematic CONDENS – A new dimension in pellet condensing technology
The concept of condensing technology has continuously been developed at ÖkoFEN. The revolution took place in 2015 when the backpacked system was optimally integrated into the boiler. The highly efficient condensing boilers were also equipped with the advantage of unlimited return temperature. Today, ÖkoFEN condensing boilers have hardly measurable emissions and convince with impressive efficiencies of up to 107.9%.
2017 - myEnergy365
the dream of energy freedom comes true
myEnergy365 from ÖkoFEN is the answer to the question of how to generate electricity and heat independently and ecologically in your own home. The energy system combines a photovoltaic system and a storage battery with the power-producing pellet heating system. The result is year-round independence in electricity and heat. This concept impresses the specialist world and becomes the spearhead of today’s pellet heating technology.
We are proud to be able to offer the world's only opportunity to supply a building with all its energy needs from renewable sources. After refilling the pellet store once, no more energy needs to be purchased for the rest of the year.
ÖkoFEN Managing Director Stefan Ortner
A record-breaking year
Thanks to highly efficient, convenient products and an increasingly conscious awareness of climate change, 2018 proves to be best year so far in the company’s history with sales of approx. 7500 pellet boilers. This is followed by expansion of the company’s facility in its anniversary year 2019.