Boiler Types: A Guide to Choosing the Right One
When it’s cold you want hot radiators and when you turn on the hot tap you want hot water. This is all thanks to your boiler.
The government has introduced proposals to stop the installation of all natural gas boilers by 2035, as part of a plan to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels. But what are the alternatives and what are the current boiler types?
Typical home gas boilers can be categorized into three main types: combi boilers, conventional boilers, and system boilers.
Modern (although the tech has been around for more than 100 years) heat pumps extract heat from the air outside and pump it into your home. Heat pumps use electricity, removing natural gas from the equation. It’s using this tech that government plans are proposing to meet its carbon neutral goals.
- A combi boiler, also known as a combination boiler, is a compact and efficient unit that provides both heat and hot water. It’s ideal for homes with limited space, as it does not require a separate hot water cylinder or cold water storage tank. Instead, it takes water directly from the mains supply and heats it on demand. Combi boilers are also easy to install and maintain, making them a popular choice for many homeowners.
- A conventional boiler is a separate heating unit that provides heat to radiators and hot water to a storage tank. Typically found in older homes, it’s best suited for those with multiple bathrooms or large families. Conventional boilers are also ideal for homes with high hot water demand. They tend to be more expensive than combi boilers, due to their separate components and installation costs.
- A system boiler, also known as a sealed system boiler, is similar to a conventional boiler, but with some important differences. A system boiler also provides heat to radiators and hot water to a storage tank, but it doesn’t require a separate cold water storage tank. Instead, it takes water directly from the mains supply, similar to a combi boiler. This means that a system boiler takes up less space than a conventional boiler, making it a good option for homes with limited space.
One of the main advantages of heat pumps is that they are highly efficient. They can extract up to four times more heat from the air or ground than the energy they consume, making them a much more efficient alternative to gas boilers. Additionally, heat pumps emit no carbon dioxide, making them a great option for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint.
There are different types of heat pumps:
- Air source heat pumps: which extract heat from the air outside,
- Ground source heat pumps: which extract heat from the ground,
- Water source heat pumps: which extract heat from a nearby water source such as a lake or river.
What’s more, a heat pump can last 20 years (a gas boiler lasts around 10 years) and requires less maintenance.
Buying a Boiler for Your Home
- Size and space: Consider the size and space available for the boiler. Combi boilers are compact and require less space than conventional or system boilers.
- Hot water demand: Consider the hot water demand of your home or flat. If you have a large family or multiple bathrooms, a conventional or system boiler may be a better option.
- Efficiency: Consider the efficiency rating of the boiler. Look for boilers with high efficiency ratings, as they will use less fuel and produce fewer emissions.
- Fuel type: Consider the type of fuel that the boiler uses. Boilers can be powered by gas, oil, or electricity. Gas boilers are the most common and probably the most cost-effective option. Oil boilers are also a good option, but they tend to be more expensive than gas boilers. Electric boilers are the least common, but they are considered to be the most environmentally friendly option.
- Reputation and warranty: Consider the reputation of the boiler manufacturer, as well as the warranty offered on the boiler. Look for boilers from reputable manufacturers that offer long-term warranties.
- Installation and maintenance: Consider the cost and complexity of installing and maintaining the boiler. Combi boilers are generally easier to install and maintain than conventional or system boilers.
Ultimately, the type of boiler you choose will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Consider the size and space available, the hot water demand, the efficiency rating, the fuel type, the reputation and warranty of the manufacturer, and the cost and complexity of installation and maintenance.
It is also advisable to consult a heating engineer or plumber who can help you to select the right boiler for your home or flat and install it properly.