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Choosing the Right Boiler for Your Home

​The different types of boilers available can be confusing. For example, what is the difference between a combi boiler and a condensing boiler?

Let’s start with the condensing boiler. In the UK, the mandatory fitting of condensing boilers came into effect after 1 April 2005 for all new gas boilers and after 1 April 2007 for all new oil-fired boilers. This regulatory change was part of efforts to enhance energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

Condensing boilers represent a significant advancement in heating technology. These systems are engineered to capture and utilise greater heat, setting them apart from their predecessors with notable efficiency.

A person thinking about boilers

Understanding Condensing Boilers and Their Efficiency:

The term ‘condensing boiler’ refers to its distinct method of operation involving condensation. Here’s a closer look:

The Traditional Boiler Method:

In conventional boilers, gas combustion heats the water that circulates through radiators or underfloor heating. During this heating process, flue gases, which contain substantial heat and water vapour, are emitted into the atmosphere, leading to energy loss.

The Condensing Boiler Innovation:

Contrastingly, a condensing boiler is designed to recover heat from these flue gases. It incorporates a more efficient heat exchanger that extracts additional heat. As the temperature of the flue gases falls below their dew point, the water vapour present condenses, and this phase change releases latent heat that is used to warm your home. This mechanism significantly curtails energy wastage, thereby enhancing the boiler’s efficiency.

Save on energy bills

There are commonly three types of boiler.

When deciding on the best boiler for your home, there are several factors to consider, such as the size of your home, your heating and hot water needs, budget, and energy efficiency preferences. In the UK, there are three main types of boiler:

Combi Boilers:

These boilers offer the convenience of heating water and central heating in one compact unit.

System Boilers:

These boilers use a hot water cylinder and can supply hot water to multiple taps simultaneously, making them ideal for larger homes with high hot water demands.

Conventional or Heat-Only Boilers:

These boilers require more installation space, work with hot water cylinders, and have cold water tanks fitted in the loft. Additional components are fitted outside the boiler, usually in an airing cupboard.

Combi Boiler

A combi-boiler is a highly efficient water heater and central heating boiler in a single, compact unit. Traditionally called a combination boiler because they were originally designed to combine all components of a traditional central heating system into one compact unit.

 

Here are some advantages of using a combi-boiler:

  • The compact size is perfect for smaller homes
  • Ideal for properties with little or no loft space
  • There is no need for a hot water cylinder, which increases living space
  • No cold water storage tank frees up loft space for conversion
  • Eliminates the risk of loft pipework freezing
  • Installation is typically cheaper due to less pipework in the home
  • Instant heating of water is cost-effective and energy-efficient
  • Delivers hot and cold water at mains pressure, so a separate pump isn’t necessary.
Combination boiler diagram
System boiler diagram

System boiler

System boilers necessitate a hot water cylinder, but more of the heating system components are integrated into the boiler, resulting in a simple and speedy installation process. They may be a good option for homes with limited or no loft space or where the area is reserved for conversion because there is no need for a tank in the loft.

In addition to being environmentally friendly and reducing energy bills, system boilers are compatible with solar water heating systems. Here are some of the benefits of using a system boiler:

  • Perfect for homes with multiple bathrooms
  • Numerous taps can have a continuous supply of hot water at the same time
  • There is no need for a loft tank, freeing up valuable space and removing the risk of leaks or frost damage
  • Economical to operate
  • Built-in components make for an efficient and tidy installation process.
  • Up to a 12-year manufacturer warranty covers these components, whereas external components aren’t covered.

Regular or Heat Only boiler

Regular boilers are ideal for homes with a standard heating and hot water system connected to a separate hot water cylinder. They require a cold water storage tank and a central heating system expansion tank in the loft.

Suppose the property has an older radiator system. In that case, a regular boiler may be the best option for replacing an existing boiler, as it might need assistance to handle the higher system pressure delivered by a system or combi boiler.

When to retain regular boilers:

  • When there are older radiators that could leak under pressure
  • Where there are pipes buried in the screed that may also leak under pressure
  • You are on a tight budget
  • If you are happy with your heat-only boiler
Regular boiler digram

Choosing the right boiler for your home is a significant decision that impacts not just the comfort of your living space but also your energy bills and environmental footprint. With combi, system, and regular boilers offering distinct benefits, it is important to weigh up these options against your specific needs.

Whether you favour the sleek efficiency of a combi boiler, the robust capability of a system boiler for a busy household, or the traditional approach of a regular boiler for an established property setup, your choice will set the foundation for your home’s heating efficiency.

At PHP Services, we understand the importance of making an informed decision that aligns with your immediate needs and plans. Our team of experts is always ready to provide personalised advice and professional services to ensure that your home is equipped with the most suitable, energy-efficient, and cost-effective heating solutions.

If you require further guidance or a detailed consultation to identify the perfect boiler for your home, please do not hesitate to contact us. At PHP Services, your comfort and satisfaction are our top priorities.

Article by Jared Hooper MIPHE RP

Company Founder, Member of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering, a Gas Safe and OFTEC registered Plumbing and Heating Engineer with over 30 years experience.