Choosing the right kind of boiler is one of the most important decisions you can make for your home. Your choice will depend on your property size and how many people will be using the hot water and heating supply. Since 2010, all newly installed boilers must be classed as energy efficient.
There are three main types of boiler: combination, system and conventional. Oil boilers are also an option if your home is not connected to the main gas supply. This could be the case if you live in the countryside.
Combination, or ‘combi’ boilers are the most popular type of boiler in the UK and are available as gas or electric. Combi boilers are powered by cold water, taken from the mains supply and heated as and when you need it.
One of the great benefits of combi boilers is that you can access hot water and radiator heat on demand. There is no need to wait for the water to heat up.
As the water is supplied at mains pressure, there is also no need for a shower pump, so this is perfect if you like to enjoy a strong, hot shower. However, if your mains pressure is low, you might want to consider one of the other boiler options.
They are a great choice for families, because there is an unlimited supply of hot water. No more fighting over the bathroom in the morning!
They are also perfect for smaller properties, because there is no need for a large water tank. The parts are self-contained in the boiler and take up very little space.
The downside of combination boilers is that they can be difficult to fix. The boiler unit is very complex, and a registered boiler repairer would need to be called out in the event of a breakdown.
The hot water supply from a combi boiler can only support one task at a time. This can be difficult in properties where there are a larger number of people. For example, you would not be able to run a hot bath whilst somebody else was running hot water for washing up.
System boilers come with a water cylinder and operate by storing up hot water ready for use. They must be turned on in advance of any hot water needed.
There is no need for a water tank in the loft, and typically, this type of boiler is normally kept in the airing cupboard.
This is one of the reasons it is a popular choice with families. It is possible to run two hot taps at the same time, without the water pressure of temperature being affected. Also, often larger properties are able to accommodate the bulky tank.
As it is a fairly large cylinder, finding accommodation for it in a smaller property, such as a flat, can be problematic.
It is highly recommended to buy an insulating jacket for your system boiler. It can lose heat rapidly unless it is well insulated.
Unlike the combi boiler, which provides hot water on demand, when the system boiler runs out of hot water, you will need to wait until more water has heated up.
It is fairly simply to install this type of boiler, as the pump is included in the system boiler. This reduces the amount of external components, which results in a fuss free and smoother installation process.
Conventional boilers (sometimes known as ‘traditional’ or ‘regular’ boilers) are part of a system which includes a cold water storage cistern tank, kept in the loft and a hot water tank.
Like a system boiler, you are able to have access to hot water from two sources at the same time. However, once the water has run out, you will need to wait until the water has heated up again.
The tank is normally kept in the loft, whereas the cylinder is kept in the airing cupboard. This can be problematic for smaller properties, where space is limited.
Over four million homes in the UK are not connected to gas supply. One and a half million of these homes are in the country. If you are looking to supply heat and hot water to one of these properties, you may want to consider an oil boiler.
On average, oil boilers cost more to heat a home than a conventional gas boiler. The oil is delivered to your property and kept in a special tank, which you would rent from the oil supplier.
Although oil is an efficient energy source, the price of it is likely to increase over time. With this type of boiler, there is also the risk that you might run out of oil before your next delivery.
Most boilers that are installed in homes today are condensing boilers. Both combination, system and regular heat-only boilers can be purchased as condensing or non-condensing.
You can make sufficient energy savings by choosing to install a condensing boiler. They are much safer too, as there is little chance of debris being sucked into the boiler. They operate by using escaped heat from hot gasses from the flue that a non-condensing boiler would emit.
It is important to carry out as much research as you can before you select the boiler that is right for your home. There are many companies offering boilers and maintenance services. Be sure to check that these companies are reputable and are able to provide you with an honest and safe service.
Stephen Turner is the Director for Aquatek Domestic & Commercial Plumbing & Heating Ltd which specialises in supplying, installing and servicing Combi Boilers