Depending on the size and age of your home, you will have a boiler and you may also have a water heater. While the two may seem similar, there are differences in what they do and why you need them. There are also different types of both water heaters and boilers. Let’s get to know them and see why you might need one or both.
What is a water heater?
A water heater does what it sounds like – it heats water that it then pumps around the home as needed. The water from it is used in places such as the shower or bath as well as to wash in the sinks around the house. A water heat pulls cold water from the mains, heats it up and sends it where it is needed. This water is clean and safe to use for things like cooking and cleaning.
Types of water heater
There are two main types of water heater that work a little differently from each other.
· Tanked heaters
Tanked heaters pull in the cold water from the mains and warm it indirectly. To do this, it uses a gas burner or an electric heating rod which is located inside the tank. Once the water hits a certain temperature, it is stored in the tank until needed. When you turn on a tap or the shower, it will send the hot water which can then be used or mixed with cold water as desired. The pressure in the pipes propels the water to where it is needed.
· Tankless heaters
With a tankless heater, the water is heated instantly rather than being stored in a tank. In this kind of system, the water heater will heat the water as you want it – so when you turn on the shower or the tap. It will keep heating it as long as the demand continues then stop.
What is a boiler?
A boiler does heat water to use it for various purposes, but it turns it into steam as an inexpensive and efficient way to heat homes. This has a couple of benefits over water – it weighs less so can more easily be pushed through the home and keeps its heat better than air does.
The boiler heats up the water, transforms it to steam then sends it to the radiators. This is done through pipes in the walls of the home or for a radiant heat system. Cooled water enters the boiler where a gas burner heats it up. The steam heads off around the home to do the job and any exhaust goes out of the vent. Boilers can also work to heat hot water to be used as water.
Boilers need a thermostat to tell them when to start heating the water to then heat the home. Most boilers work on a closed-loop system so there’s no need to continually use new water to create the steam. Rather the water inside the boiler is used first, heated in the combustion chamber then sent to the radiators once it is steam. Once it cools, the steam turns back into water and the process begins again – although the water is already warm so doesn’t take as much to heat up to the point of becoming steam.
Types of boiler
There are a few different types of boiler depending on the needs of the property and whether you have a hot water tank or not.
Condensing boilers are known as energy-efficient boilers because they extract more than 90% of the heat from the fuel they burn. This also makes them very cost-effective to run. They use heat from flue gases that would be lost in non-condensing boilers. Since 2005, all boilers need to condensing, whether they are a combi, system or regular boiler.
These types of boiler are cost-effective to run and can come in compact designs that mean you save space in the home. They do need regular maintenance, with an annual service being recommended and anyone working on them does need to be Gas Safe registered.
· Combi boiler
A combination or combi boiler is a type of condensing boiler that is compact and very energy efficient. It is one of the most popular types of boiler across the UK with over half of domestic installations being this kind of boiler.
Combi boilers heat water straight from the mains so there’s no need for a storage cylinder for hot water or a cold water tank. This means if you only have room for one appliance, a combi boiler is the best bet. They are quick to operate and mean you always have hot water.
You do need a certain level of water pressure for them to operate correctly and they don’t work with every type of shower. The biggest problem can be you can’t use more than one shower at a time or run a hot water tap while running the bath.
· System boiler
A system boiler heats the radiators and also produces hot water and works similar to a regular boiler but includes features such as an expansion vessel and pressure release value. This system does need a hot water storage tank as a place to store hot water but there’s no need for a cold water tank.
System boilers are fairly straightforward, and you can use multiple taps at once. It doesn’t need a cold water feed tank, often placed in the loft so is ideal for smaller homes without a loft space. It can also work with a thermal system. It isn’t as compact as a combi.
· Regular boiler
A regular boiler is made up of several components, usually heating controls, the boiler, a hot water tank and cold water tank as well as a feed and expansion cistern. It is common for larger or older homes and is fed by the two tanks. It does offer multiple hot water uses at a time and can work with a backup immersion heater. It is also compatible with solar systems.
The system does require a lot more space and doesn’t offer instant hot water if all of the hot water in the tank has been used. It is more complicated to install and therefore there is more potential for breakdown.
Getting the right system
Getting the right combination of a boiler and a hot water tank is something that is specific to your home and your needs. An experienced heating engineer will be able to guide you through the decision-making process and ensure you get the right parts for your home to run smoothly and efficiently.
At DHS, we pride ourselves on our specialist knowledge as professional boiler service, and will install the right boiler for your premises. We also offer a regular boiler servicing to ensure your boiler system maintains a high level of efficiency. For more information, you can call us on 0117 924 7200 or you can contact us online.