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There are numerous types of boilers and central heating systems available on the market, choosing the right one is an important consideration when renewing your system or altering it. The factors you need to consider are the space you have available in your home, the amount of appliances you will be running of the system and at the same time, e.g. multiple bathrooms , showers, baths, taps. The amount of heating required will depend on the size of space being heated up, e.g. amount of rooms and radiators or under floor heating. Another factor is the price of the appliances and also the running costs.
For the best option, give us a call to arrange a free quotation, including our expert advice from qualified installers as to what best meets your needs. Otherwise read on for advice. Here is my advice on choosing the right system, with a brief explanation on how they work and pros and cons for each:
All boilers now sold in the UK are condensing and have a SEDBUK rating of either band A (90%+) or band B (86-90%) on how efficient they are. In brief condensing systems basically recycle the heat from combustion in the flue gases and reuse it to preheat the incoming water, leaving a colder flue expulsion and more efficient heating within the boiler. All new gas or oil systems will use high efficiency condensing technology as it is the law now, which is good thing as your energy bills will be greatly reduced and you will be helping the planet in the process.
How condensing boilers work
There are three main types of condensing boilers: regular boilers(traditional boilers), system boilers and combi boilers. All have one thing in common; the ability to extract heat from otherwise wasted flue gasses. Traditional boilers usually have a single combustion chamber and expel hot waste gasses through the flue at the top of the boiler at around 180°C. Condensing boilers however, have a secondary heat exchanger, and gasses are finally released at only around 55°C, wasting far less energy. After that, the way that your condensing boiler works will depend on whether or not it is a combi, system or a regular boiler.
Advantages of condensing boilers
- Far more energy efficient – 90% + in some cases
- Reduced energy bills – save up to £130 a year by replacing your boiler according to the Energy Saving Trust
- Conforms to law stating that all new boilers or heating systems must be condensing boilers
Disadvantages of condensing boilers
- “Pluming” water droplets from the flue can be a nuisance if the condensation interferes with windows
- Consideration for condense drain pipe work – waste water from process needs running into drainage
Combi Boiler (Combination)
Combi boilers produce hot water on demand instantaneously inside the boiler through a heat exchanger so there is no need for water storage, saving on space as a typical unit would be wall hung, doing away with storage tank and hot water cylinder. They are best installed in smaller properties: flats, bungalows or small housing as there would be less hot water demand. The hot water is straight from the mains supply so will be of good pressure ideal for showers and washing, however the more appliances being used will result in lower flow rate (lower pressure). The boilers are limited to the amount of hot water the can heat at one time, larger combi’s are available to overcome this and some do incorporate a small hot water store but these can be more expensive. They also provide your central heating, again if there are many rooms to heat- lots of radiators then it may struggle and I would recommend a different system but for a reasonable sized property they are more than capable and are an ideal choice.
How combination boilers work
There are a few different types of combi boiler, but all work by taking cold water straight from the mains and heating it directly. In this way you can have a continuous flow of hot water any time that you want. However the water pressure is often not as high as with some other types of boiler. This means that if you have a standard – instantaneous – combi boiler, you won’t need a storage cylinder in the airing cupboard or a cold water feed tank (often stored in the loft) saving a lot of space. Because of the way that they heat your water, combi boilers are also usually more efficient than other boiler types. You won’t lose heat through the storage tank, or have to burn more energy to reheat water that’s gone cold again. However, combi boilers are not for everyone. Unless you have a model with a storage tank – though these are usually only limited to 15 litres anyway – your hot water supply will be cut if someone turns a tap on somewhere else in the house. So your shower could run cold if someone decides to start washing up at the same time.
Advantages of combination boilers
- Smaller – they can fit into cupboards and also eliminate the need for a storage cylinder or cold water feed tank
- More efficient and cheaper to run
- Instant, unlimited hot water – combi boilers heat water direct from the mains
- Modern combi boilers can produce up to 18 litres of water a minute at 35°C
- Storage combi boilers available – if you want to have a small store of hot water
Disadvantages of combination boilers
- Flow can be interrupted if someone turns on a tap elsewhere in your home
- Lower volume of water because you heat “on demand”
- Lower water pressure than some other types of boiler
- Not suitable for big homes – if you have a high hot water demand a combi boiler probably isn’t best for you
System boilers are like a middle ground between the smallest, combi boilers and the larger, regular types of high efficiency condensing boiler. They are “heat only” boilers that, like a regular boiler, use a copper cylinder or unvented cylinder to store your hot water after heating. However being condensing boilers, they can be more than 90% efficient, cutting your energy bills and your environmental damage.
How system boilers work
System boilers eliminate the need for a cold water feed tank in your loft by heating water straight from the mains, like a combi boiler. However, system boilers keep the hot water storage tank used by regular boilers and usually found in your airing cupboard. They are a sort of middle ground between the two boiler systems. System boilers have all of their components built into the boiler, offering a compact and attractive installation. They also allow you to do away with the loft tank, freeing up more space in your home and leaving you with less external components to maintain. But by keeping the hot water storage tank, while it will then take up more space than a combi boiler the system boiler can provide hot water from more than one outlet, and at a higher pressure.
Advantages of system boilers
- High water pressure because storage heater is retained
- Loft space freed up – cold water feed tank is not needed as water is taken straight from the mains
- Compact installation – all major components are built into the boiler
- Suitable for large homes – hot water from multiple outlets
- Easier and neater to install
Disadvantages of system boilers
- Can be expensive to install and repair
- Still need space for a hot water storage cylinder in your airing cupboard
Conventional (Traditional/Regular) Boiler
A conventional boiler is common place in many homes. The boiler purely heats the water for the heating and hot water circuit. Usually found in use with a gravity system which uses a cold water storage tank and, feed and expansion tank (usually found in the loft) to supply the boiler and hot water cylinder.
Advantages of Conventional Boilers
- Change of controls easier as are not internal
- Store of hot water available
- Suitable for larger homes – hot water from multiple outlets
Disadvantages of Conventional Boilers
- Lots of storage space needed for hot water cylinder and roof tanks if vented system
- Running costs could be higher as heat loss from cylinder and pipe work throughout day
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