A Guide to Different Types of Heating and Boilers

19 - 11 - 2022

Here's our guide to different types of heating and boilers as well as their pros and cons.

You have plenty of options when it comes to heating and boilers and sometimes it can be quite daunting choosing the right one for you. That’s why we’ve put together this guide which sheds light on a few different types of boilers and explains their pros and cons.

Let’s dive right in.

Combi Boiler

A combination or combi boiler is the most popular boiler type in the UK. Its name is derived from the fact that it acts as a water heater and a central heating unit. These two functions work from separate heat exchangers, which are housed in the same unit.

A combi boiler works in tandem with your thermostat. When temperatures fall below the set point, the thermostat sends a signal to the boiler, firing it up, so that heat can be pumped into the central heating system. When you turn on the shower, the heat is diverted to the secondary heating exchange, which heats the water directly from the mains supply. Combination boilers provide instantaneous hot water instead of storing it in a cylinder.

Advantages of a Combi boiler

  • Compact size – A Combi boiler saves up on space because they don’t need a hot water tank. They are ideal for homes with limited space.
  • Energy efficiency – A Combi boiler saves on energy costs because it gives you access to hot water on demand without heating a whole tank of water.
  • Hot water on demand – A Combi boiler guarantees instantaneous hot water. You also get unlimited hot water because it’s straight from the mains.

Disadvantages of a Combi boiler

  • Requires a good level of mains pressure – Your mains supply must have high water pressure and flow rate. If not, the combi boiler will not work efficiently.
  • Cannot run more than one shower at a time – Hot water levels are affected when the boiler has to supply multiple showers within the home.

Electric Boiler

An electric boiler heats the water that runs through it using a heating element and then pumps it to where it is needed. Its compact size makes it an excellent option for smaller households, but the biggest reason for its popularity is its 100% efficiency rate.

Advantages of an Electric Boiler

  • High efficiency – An electric boiler can run up to 99% more efficiently than a gas boiler.
  • Easy to install –  Electric boilers are cheap and easy to install because there’s no pipework to be fitted. Also, because electricity eliminates the risk of carbon monoxide, you don’t have to use a GasSafe Registered installer.

Disadvantages of an Electric Boiler

  • Electricity is expensive – Although an electric boiler is highly efficient, the cost of electricity is high. If you’re not on an Economy 7 tariff, your energy bills will likely go up.
  • Not suitable for large homes – Electric boilers are not recommended for large homes because they have limitations to the amount of hot water they can produce at a given time. If you have multiple showers in the house, some might experience temperature and pressure issues.

Conventional Boiler

A conventional boiler is usually found in older houses. They are made of different parts, including a hot and cold water tank, a feed and expansion tank, a boiler, and heating controls. The boiler is fed by two tanks located in the loft; the cold water storage tank and the feed and expansion tank. The cold water tank draws water from the main supply while the feed and expansion tank feeds the boiler system. Once water is heated by the boiler, it is stored in the hot water cylinder until it is needed for domestic use.

Benefits of a Conventional Boiler

  • Can be used across multiple showers and taps – a conventional boiler can send hot water to multiple showers and taps without interfering with the water temperature and pressure.
  • Compatible with solar thermal panels – the boiler system is compatible with solar thermal panels.
  • A backup immersion heater can be used – you can use an immersion heater when the boiler breaks down.

Disadvantages of a Conventional boiler

  • Uses a considerable amount of space – A conventional boiler system takes up considerable space. You’ll need the loft and an airing cupboard to house the tanks and cylinder.
  • Hot water loses heat over time – the water stored in the hot water tank loses heat over time, so you can’t have instant hot water. Once the water gets cold, you’ll have to heat it again.
  • Can be complicated to install – All the different parts and pipework of a conventional boiler system make it expensive and complicated to install from scratch.

System Boiler

A system boiler works similarly to a combi boiler and a regular boiler. Like the combination boiler, it heats the water straight from the mains, but the difference is that it does not do this on demand. Instead, the hot water is stored in a hot water tank as in a conventional boiler. This boiler type is suitable for homes with high water usage.

Benefits of a System Boiler

  • Compatible with solar thermal energy – a system boiler is compatible with solar thermal energy.
  • Doesn’t require much space – a system boiler requires less space compared to regular boilers.
  • Works well with lower mains pressure – a system boiler is perfect for properties with a lower mains pressure.

Disadvantages of a System Boiler

  • Less compact – because system boilers require a hot water storage tank, they are far less compact compared to combi boilers.
  • Hot water loses heat over time – Water in the hot water tank loses heat over time, meaning you’ll have to reheat when needed.

Heating and boilers are essential components of your home. We hope our guide will help towards choosing the right boiler for you and your home. Be sure to check out our blog for some DIY ideas to keep your home warm and cosy this winter.

If you need expert advice on the best boiler for your needs, get in touch with us today and one of our friendly team members will answer any questions you may have.

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