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Types Of Boilers & Guide To What Boiler You Need


by Bryan Mckenzie


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How many types of boilers are there? And how do you know which type of boiler you need? Learn more about the different types of boilers and the factors that you should consider to make the right choice when choosing an ideal boiler system for your home or business.

What Is A Boiler System?

A boiler system is a closed loop water heating system that uses a fuel source to heat water. The most common type of fuel used is natural gas, but other options include propane, oil, and electricity. 

There are three main types of boilers: combi, system, and conventional. Each type has its own set of pros and cons that should be considered before making a purchase. 

Some of the common questions that people have before purchasing a boiler are:

  • What are the 3 types of boilers?
  • What type of boiler do I have?
  • What is a system boiler?
  • What type of boiler do I need?
  • What are the different types of gas boilers?
  • What are the pros and cons of combi and conventional boilers?

Combi Boiler

Combi boilers can heat multiple zones with one unit and can reach lower temperatures for things like laundry or dishwashing. They require less space because they don’t have large storage tanks for hot water, but they do produce steam which could be undesirable in some applications. 

Combis may also require more maintenance than conventional units because there are more moving parts. If homeowners choose to go with a system boiler, they’ll get higher efficiency ratings, less chance of leaks since the storage tank is outside of the home, and no worries about running out of hot water during peak demand periods. 

Combis also don’t require venting outside the house, which can be an issue with regular boilers because all the heat has to go somewhere (even if it’s just into the room). Combis are generally more expensive upfront but might save money in the long run.

Pros Of A Combi Boiler
  • Economical to run. A combi boiler is less expensive to run than a traditional boiler system. The savings can be significant, especially in the early years of ownership.
  • Less maintenance required. A combi boiler requires less maintenance than a traditional system, which means less time and money spent on repairs, servicing, and replacement parts for your home.
  • Longer lifespan (10-15 years). The average lifespan of a combi boiler is 10-15 years, compared to 5-8 years for an average gas boiler (depending on usage). This means that you will not have to replace your heating system as often as you would with a traditional system and you’ll also benefit from improved energy efficiency over time too!
Cons Of A Combi Boiler
  • You have to make sure that the boiler gets enough hot water every day in order to avoid wasting energy through overheating or underheating. If you don’t turn it on often enough, you might end up with cold showers at night!
  • The price of natural gas is higher than that of other fuels like oil or coal, but this shouldn’t be too much of an issue for most people these days as there are many ways to reduce costs when using natural gas as fuel for your home heating system.
  • Can be noisy when running. A louder boiler may be better suited to a rural location where noise isn’t an issue.
  • Many people compare a combi boiler vs system boiler to get a better idea of what will work for them. In addition, there are pros and cons of combi boilers and conventional boilers.

System Boiler

A system boiler includes an indoor tankless heater called an indirect water heater (IWH) as well as a condensing hot water tank outside your home. The IWH heats up on demand when you turn on your faucet so it doesn’t run out of hot water during peak times when everyone in your neighborhood decides to shower at once! It runs using either natural gas or electricity so it’s cheaper than running a regular furnace all day long just to keep your house warm. 

The downside? You might end up with dry skin due to low water pressure and people who have allergies might not appreciate the possibility of experiencing mildew growth. 

Pros Of A System Boiler

System boilers are usually more energy efficient than the other two types of boilers. It is not only because of their size, but also because of their design. The system boiler is usually made up of a large number of small tubes which are connected together to form a whole. This means that it can provide more heat per volume than any other type of boiler. 

A system boiler may also have an additional feature called multiple heater elements or tubes within its body that allows it to better distribute heat around the room and thus increase efficiency even further.

  • A system boiler is more cost-effective than a standard boiler.
  • System boilers are easier to maintain and require less space for installation.

Cons Of A System Boiler

  • The boiler is more expensive than an electric heating system.
  • The maintenance cost of the boiler is higher than that of an electric heating system.
  • The boiler needs to be serviced regularly and it may need to be replaced after some time or you will need a boiler service.
  • There is no option to switch on and off the electricity board while using a system boiler, which can be done only when the water level in the tank reaches its maximum level and then switches off automatically due to safety reasons, but not during use.

Regular Boiler

Regular boilers work differently from combi boilers because they’re usually a part of a central heating system and only provide hot water if someone needs it, while a combi provides both hot water and heat. Regular boilers usually use less energy than combis do too, but they take up more space inside your home.  

Pros Of A Regular Boiler

  • They are less expensive than some of the other options.
  • They are more energy efficient and reliable than gas boilers.
  • They have a longer life span than gas boilers.
  • You can use them in the summer months without air conditioning and you can use them year-round without heating your home too much.
  • You don’t have to worry about using propane or natural gas, which can be expensive and hard to find.

Cons Of A Regular Boiler

  • Size – Regular boilers can be large and bulky, which makes them hard to store in small spaces. If you have limited space in your home, it could be difficult to find room for one.
  • Functionality – Regular boilers do not always work as well as modern furnaces, which means that they may not heat up as quickly or efficiently as they should do. In addition, they often require more maintenance than modern models do due to their age and condition.

System Boiler Vs Regular Boiler

System boilers vs regular boilers: A system boiler works similarly to a combi except that the water is heated by electricity rather than gas; so it doesn’t have any of the drawbacks that come with gas-powered appliances. 

The downside is that these systems tend to be much more expensive and may not suit your building’s needs, as well as some other types of boilers, would. 

The system boiler is an advanced technology that provides the highest quality of heat at a lower cost than traditional boilers. It is designed for commercial and industrial applications that require high-efficiency heating and cooling, such as office buildings, industrial plants, schools, hospitals, and other large facilities.

The system boiler has several benefits over traditional boilers:

  • Higher efficiency – With a high EER (energy efficiency ratio) of more than 80%, it can save up to 30% on your energy costs annually.
  • Lower operating costs – The system boiler operates at a lower temperature than traditional boilers which reduces energy consumption by up to 30%.
  • Low maintenance requirements – As there are no moving parts in the unit, there are no moving parts to wear out or need replacement. This makes the unit much easier to maintain than traditional boilers.
  • Longer life cycle – The system boiler requires less maintenance than traditional boilers which means it can be operated for longer without requiring regular maintenance checks.

What Boiler Do I Need?

There are many different types of boilers on the market, each suitable for different purposes – deciding which one you need depends on whether you want space heating or just hot water or whether you want an open vented flue (the least popular option) or an internal flue (less likely to release dangerous fumes).

Because there are different types of boiler systems, it can be frustrating to figure out which one to get.  Some may want a combi boiler and others might want a system boiler. 

Let’s go over some of the situational advantages where one might fit your scenario better than another:

Combi boilers will heat your water as well as provide hot water for the tap, whereas system boilers will not provide hot water for the tap but will heat your water more efficiently than a combi boiler. 

Combis use about 50% more energy than system boilers, so this is something to consider when deciding between the two. One other consideration is how much space you have in your home or office to install the boiler. 

System boilers are smaller than combi boilers and take up less space, making them ideal for small homes or offices where installation space is limited. If that’s not an issue for you, then go with a combi because they heat water more quickly than system boilers. 

Another factor to keep in mind is noise level. Combi boilers make more noise than system boilers because they have internal pumps that run all the time; if silence matters then go with a system boiler instead of a combi. 

All in all, each type has its own benefits and drawbacks depending on your needs. The best way to find out which type of boiler is right for you is by getting quotes from suppliers who specialize in each type. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. 

In addition to determining whether you want a system or combi boiler, you’ll also need to decide whether you’ll be heating just your house or the whole building, whether you require instant heat, and many other factors. 

As such, it is important to ask questions before you purchase a boiler like these: 

  • What kind of fuels are used at my place of residence? (gas vs electric) 
  • How big is my home/business? 
  • What kind of heat do I need? (instant vs slow) 
  • How often am I using my stove/heat source in the winter months and how large is the area heated by said stove/heat source? 
  • What kind of fuel am I using to heat my home? (natural gas, electricity, propane) 
  • Where does the room containing the furnace reside in relation to the rest of my house? 
  • How often am I using my stove/heat source in the winter months and how large is the area heated by said stove/heat source? It makes sense that someone living on their own who rarely cooks during cold weather seasons could go with a cheaper heat only boiler whereas someone living alone year-round should invest in a natural gas or propane-fueled unit. 

So what type of boiler do you need? That’s up to you and the specifics of your living situation. With that being said, we hope our post was helpful in giving you a basic understanding of why choosing a particular type boils down to personal preference based on several factors including price, function, location, fuel availability, etc. 

How Much Will A Combo Boiler Cost Me?

Combi boilers are a great way to heat your home, but they do tend to be more expensive than other types of heating systems. If you’re planning on installing one in your home, be sure to calculate how much it will cost before you make the decision.

The cost of a combi boiler is based on the size of the system and how many rooms it will heat. For example, if you want to install a 4kW system in your kitchen and bathroom, it will cost around £3,800 ($5,200) for installation and £1,200 ($1,650) for yearly maintenance.

Depending on how quickly you need the heat and how much energy you use each month, this may not be an option right now. If you live in an older property with no central heating or hot water already installed, however, it could be worth investing in a combi boiler now so that you’ll be able to upgrade later on when necessary repairs become too expensive

Bottom Line

If your home has robust and hot water running through it, a combi boiler and system boiler are similar in functionality and price. Both work on the principle of extracting more heat and pressure from multiple components, resulting in a consistent flow of warm water for baths and showers. 

On the other hand, if you are looking for a boiler that operates with just one or maybe two taps or shower heads, a combi is probably not for you but rather a standard or system unit would be much more reliable.

Bryan Mckenzie
Hi there — my name is Bryan McKenzie. Before I’d got into gardening, I worked as a landscape designer at landscape design and consultation company in Jacksonville. I enjoy sharing the vast gardening experience I’ve accumulated throughout the years with like-minded green thumbs. Read more about me and my wife.
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