When it comes to either installing a heating system or changing out your existing system with a new boiler, it can be quite a confusing as there are a lot of different types of boiler available. This raises the obvious question, what type of boiler do you need for your property? The answer to the question what type of boiler you need isn't straight forward since there isn't a universal solution that works for every household. In short there is no 'best boiler' fit for everyone.
Boiler Fuel Types
Generally, the first thing to ascertain what sort of fuel will be used to power the boiler in the first place. You may have an existing fuel source and are looking to switch to something else, or you may have an existing setup which you are looking to keep.
So, the first thing to consider when buying a new boiler system is to decide on the fuel type for the boiler. Generally in the UK this will likely be one of the following:
- Gas boilers - that use mains gas supply for their fuel. This is very common in the UK.
- Electric boilers - Common and more likely found in smaller properties such as flats and bungalows.
- LPG & Oil boilers - Less common and found in areas where there isn't a gas supply. More likely found in larger homes, such as those located in the countryside.
- Solar Thermal Power - The least common solution and generally used as a top-up to another fuel source with renewable energy or can be used in specialist applications.
Function of the Boiler
When thinking about buying a new boiler you need to consider what the boiler will be used for. Are you looking for something to heat both your home and water heating, or do you just need to have a boiler as a water heater? This can have a big impact on the size and type of boiler that you need.
Things you'll need to consider is the number of radiators you have and the number of bathrooms. Also, whether you have a bath or just showers as this can massively affect your consumption. Also you should also consider the size of your family and what the demands are for both heating and water in your property.
Once the fuel source and function of the boiler has been established it is time to start thinking about what size boiler you need. It is possible to calculate the size of your boiler based on some of the factors we've already mentioned in this article. The number of radiators, bathrooms and usage. This is an important consideration since buying a boiler that is undersized for your property may leave you with inadequate heating and cold water as it will not be able to keep up. On the other hand, over-specifying a boiler can be both inefficient, both in performance and value.
Think you've got an idea of what you might need? One final factor needs to be considered when picking the right boiler for you.
Type of Boiler
The last factor in determining which central heating system you need is the specific type of boiler. There is a range of different styles of boilers due to the development in boiler design in recent years.
The Combi Boiler
If you are picking a boiler for a brand new installation then one of the most obvious choices is a combi boiler (or combination boiler). These are high efficiency boilers that can help to reduce your heating bills. This type of boiler runs both the central heating and heats hot water on demand. This means that no water tanks or storage tanks are required. Since combi boilers come in a range of power outputs, you can generally find one that will be powerful enough for your property. One of the myths of the combi boiler is that it is not 'powerful' enough to fill a full bath of hot water. Once this might have been the case, but the latest and most modern combi boilers are available with a high capacity flow rate meaning that they are more than capable of every day household demands.
In most situations (even for a large house) a combi boiler is a great choice of boiler. They have long been preferred as they are compact in design and are great for space saving as they're much smaller than other styles.
There are some potential reasons why you might choose not to go with a combi boiler in your property. Firstly, they use mains water pressure to work, so if that is particularly poor in your area then a combi boiler might not work. However, for most people this is not something they will need to worry about.
Another reason why you might avoid a combi boiler is if your hot water demands are very high. For example if you have a home with multiple bathrooms. If this is the case and you expect a high demand on your hot water system it is worth considering whether a central heating system with a separate hot water tank would serve your needs better. It should be noted that today you can even get a storage combi boiler that offers both the advantages of the combi boiler with some water storage capacity. So it's worth doing your research before you dismiss the combi boiler completely.
A convention boiler or regular boiler is a type of boiler that has been around for many years. These need both a cold water tank and a hot water storage tank to operate. The cold water storage tank is normally located in the loft of a property and the hot water storage tank in the airing cupboard.
There are a few advantages to the conventional boiler. The first is that they can work in properties with very low water pressure since they operate using the cold water storage tank, and do not rely on mains pressure for the water feed. Another advantage is if you already have an older regular boiler and are simply looking to upgrade. This would allow you to Make use of the existing pipework and tanks. Because boiler installation is quite an expensive process, having to remove tanks and alter pipework may be an expense too far. In these cases, a person may prefer to simply go with a regular boiler. This type of boiler set up is also called an 'open vent system'.
When it comes to central heating boilers, the system boiler can be thought of being similar to the regular boiler, but without the large cold water tank in the loft. This is great if you want to save some loft space, or if you don't have a loft in the first place. Instead, a system boiler will take the water for the central heating system direct from the mains water supply. System boilers still need a hot water cylinder to store hot water. There are advantages and disadvantages to using a hot water storage cylinder. On one hand, once the water has been heated it can store hot water for many hours without having to reheat it. The downside is if the water is cold, then it can take a little while to heat up the water so you may have to wait while it heats before you can use your hot tap.
As with a combi boiler a property with very low water pressure may run into problems with a system boiler, but this is pretty uncommon. A benefit of having a system boiler is that you do not rely on the cold water tank in the loft, so this can save space and reduce pipework. This boiler type is also called a 'closed or sealed system'. As with all modern boilers, these are efficient boilers that can save you money on your energy bills.
You might also hear the phrase, condensing boiler. This is a modern boiler that is very energy efficient in operation. Condensing boilers are all A-rated boilers. Energy efficiency is an important aspect of modern boilers as it translates to big savings on your energy bills. Combi boilers, system boilers and conventional boilers can all be condensing boilers and if you're shopping for a brand new boiler, then they are likely to be condensing by design.
If you need a new boiler then it is worth speaking to your heating installer to discuss both your requirement and the best set up for your situation. Mr Central Heating can also help guide you with advice on all aspects of your central heating system. Have a look on our website for all your choices and ranges.