Furnaces and boilers are the most common heating options for homes today. Both technologies have their pros and cons and the choice depends on your preferences and home structure. We’ve broken down the similarities and differences in this article, so you can make an informed decision.
Difference between a Boiler vs a Furnace
Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, you probably know that there are two main heating systems – boilers and furnaces. If you want to purchase one for your home, you need to know which is going to suit your needs best. Let’s look at the main differences between the two.
Heat Transfer Mechanism
The main difference lies in the way the heater heats your home. A boiler uses water, while a furnace uses air for heat transfer. A boiler will heat up water and send it to your house’s radiators and flooring system through pipes. A furnace, on the other hand, will heat up air and blow it into your house through the duct system.
Generally speaking, using a boiler is better because water can retain heat better than air. Hot air blowing through your duct system can make your house drafty and uncomfortable. However, a boiler comes at an additional cost.
Boiler vs Furnace Comparison
Even though a boiler might be better for your home, it will also be more expensive to install. A furnace can use the duct that you use for your air conditioner, thus eliminating the need for extra installation. Even if you don’t have an air duct, installing one is much easier than installing the pipework that comes with a boiler.
When it comes to boilers, it’s not just about the installation of the device itself. Because boilers use gas, they need a system of pipes to transfer hot water to your radiators. In addition to that, if you want to have air conditioning in your home, you will need to install an air duct too.
As a result, installing a boiler is significantly more expensive than installing a furnace heater.
Boiler vs Furnace Efficiency
When it comes to efficiency, boilers really stand out. They tend to be more energy-efficient than furnaces. Their operation requires less fuel, meaning you can end up saving some money on your energy consumption. A furnace is less efficient because the process of heating air is quite different. As a result, you will spend more money on energy with a furnace heater.
Advantage of Modern Systems
Regardless of whether you’re getting a boiler or a furnace, you should opt for a newer model. Older heaters have lower energy efficiency, leading to higher energy costs. A relatively new furnace or boiler can be as efficient as 98.5%, whereas the older ones only reach between 56% and 70%.
Having a more energy-efficient heating system is not only good for your wallet, but it will also do wonders for the environment.
One of the main problems with furnaces is the quality of the heat they provide. What they do is pump hot air into your house through air ducts. That can be problematic because it results in a very drafty environment. Even though it creates heat, it also generates a lot of movement. Because the heat is not steady and cannot stay in place, the temperature can drop within seconds if you leave the door open.
Furnaces also have an effect on the air quality in the house. If you don’t take the time to clean your air vents regularly, the forced air can carry mold and other allergens into your house. Though it’s usually not life-threatening, it can be dangerous for people with respiratory illnesses. Boilers don’t have this issue.
With furnaces, regulating the humidity becomes really difficult. Air ducts are also noisier than boilers.
Generally speaking, furnaces require more maintenance than boilers. For instance, if you’ve settled on a furnace, you have to make sure to clean out all of your air ducts regularly. Furnace filters need to be checked at least 4 times a year in order to prevent major problems.
Furnaces basically blow hot air into your house. That hot air will pick up and carry things like dust, allergens, mold, pet hair, and other particles. All of that will not only fly around your house but also get stuck in the filter. Because of that, it is important to keep an eye on the filter.
Boilers aren’t perfect either, though they are significantly easier to take care of. If you have a boiler, one yearly inspection will suffice. With a furnace, you need to do a lot more preventative maintenance than you think. However, if there are issues with the pipework of a boiler, the repair will cost a lot more than with furnaces, since the pipes are placed inside walls and floors, making them hard to reach.
Furnaces are much quicker in heating the whole house up. Imagine standing under an air vent and there’s hot air blowing in your face; that’s what a furnace is! You will feel the heat almost immediately. With a boiler, you have to wait for all the radiators to heat up.
If something goes wrong, furnaces are much easier to fix. Because air ducts are very accessible, you can get in there and fix the problem. Boilers can cause bigger problems to the house. Boiler pipes can start to leak and even burst if the water that’s coming in is too cold. That’s a problem that you can’t fix as easily.
Pipes are hidden under floors and inside walls. Fixing a leaking pipe will require going into walls and floors, which takes a lot of time and effort.
Boiler vs Furnace – The Verdict
Both heating systems have their pros and cons. While a boiler is generally better in action, it is also more expensive, difficult to install, and even more difficult to fix. Furnaces are easier all around, though the quality of the air they provide is not as great. Take your pick!