Choosing a boiler isnít as straightforward as pointing one out and having it installed. In truth, you need to carry out a thorough assessment of the boiler in question and make sure that itís suitable for your home.
There are also a number of additional factors you might want to consider when purchasing a boiler, including whether or not itís environmentally friendly as well as the money you could potentially save by going with an alternative.
It is now law for all boilers to be high-efficiency condensing unless these cannot be fitted. Condensing boilers play an important role in capturing heat that would usually be lost by any traditional boiler.
You might also be confused by the fact that there seem to be so many different boilers out there, all with different names and various grades that point towards better efficiency. Here are three common names youíve probably come across during your search for a new boiler and how they compare.
Combination (Combi) Boilers
Combi boilers are currently the best selling form of boiler in the UK when it comes to gas central heating. They are highly regarded for their economical running costs, their adaptability and their size, with many combi boilers hiding away in cupboards. Thereís no need to wait for your water to heat up with combi boilers as they heat water directly
from the mains.
Combi boilers donít use an external hot water tank so thereís no need to heat up water again if itís started to run cold. However, this can cause interruptions when you run two different sources of hot water at the same time.
Combi boilers are ideally suited to people with very little space to work with or who have multiple bathrooms in their home, so small houses and flats work really well with this type of boiler.
Space issues with water tanks would be eliminated as they would no longer be required, while there wouldnít be any inconvenient standing around and waiting for your water to heat up once you turn on the tap.
Open Vent System Boilers
With open vent systems there are two water tanks present in the property, usually in the loft. It also requires a hot water storage cylinder that takes up even more space, although this is usually found in any household cupboard or storage room. The mains supply provides water to the tanks which in turn feeds the storage cylinder. The cylinder is then heated up by the boiler and provides hot water to all taps in the property.
The heating cylinder will depend on whether or not you have to wait around for hot water, as this can run cold on occasion. However, you can run hot water anywhere you want simultaneously without a problem. If you want to avoid having two water tanks, you can switch to an open vent sealed system instead.
Open vent systems are quite often an existing fixture in many properties, so you wouldnít have to pay for a replacement should you wish to keep them around. In addition, if you did want to switch to an open vent sealed system it wouldnít cost you that much at all. You can run hot water from any tap or shower at the same time but youíd have to give up some space in your loft.
Sealed System Boilers
Sealed system boilers (or closed system boilers) involve a hot water storage tank that requires a good amount of space for storage, such as an airing cupboard. However, system boilers need much less space than any traditional vent system which also requires an additional tank.
One of the main benefits of having a sealed system boiler is that the entire heating and hot water system is built in. This provides a much more efficient installation process. The water pressure with sealed system boilers is almost always good, while you can also run hot water from multiple sources simultaneously.
Sealed systems are great for larger properties that donít get as much efficiency from combi boilers as other smaller properties. You can keep space free and still meet the demands of a larger home, although you will need some kind of storage area for the installation.
One issue with sealed system boilers is that you have to wait for water to be heated and you could also run out of water should it be used up too quickly. Despite this, itís quite common for people to replace vented boilers with sealed systems such as this.
So there are three very common boiler types youíve probably come across. Think about what youíre looking for in terms of the amount of space you need, the amount of bathrooms you have and the type of property you live in and your search for a boiler should be a whole lot easier.
Mike James used to be a heating engineer and is interested in research into greener sources of electricity. As a writer he writes about issues covering energy sources for BSW Heating, specialists in central heating and building services in the south-east.