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How to choose the right boiler?

If you suddenly decided to buy a technique, you’ll know that even a newer basic model is packed full of gadgets and gizmos. Although, the majority of us are unsuspecting that domestic heating technology has come on in leaps and bounds in much the same way over the last decade. Thankfully the improvements in the boilers themselves, as impressive as they are, have been more than matched by innovations in the world of heating control. So if you choose properly, you’ll end up with a system that is easier to use and cheaper.

A Replacement Boiler

Firstly, you have to decide which boiler is best for you: combi (short for combination) or system? Combi boilers – Canada’s the most popular type of boiler, because they’re compact and quick to install – provide heat for your radiators and hot running water on demand. Such kind of boilers doesn’t need a water storage cylinder (that’s why it takes up less space). This qualities make it ideal for smaller properties.

For bigger houses, in fact, system boilers will be the answer, or for those seeking the convenience of being able to run hot water from more than one tap at a time.

To be insured, you have enough hot water for your family from a standard single-coil cylinder, the rule of thumb is to allow 25 litres per person per day. We recommend that all new installations have a twin-coil cylinder instead, to futureproof the home for the potential retrofitting of a solar thermal or renewable heating system.

In addition, it’s worth considering upgrading from a gravity-fed system (where pressure is generated from a cold water tank, often placed in the loft) to a four-pipe system. When most boilers in the UK have two pipes, which provide hot water and heating at the same time, our set-up uses four pipes to deliver hot water separately to both heating and hot water circuits. It means that the boiler prioritises hot water to ensure its instant usefulness and heating water temperature is reduced so the boiler fully condenses most of the time. As a result, a lower output, more affordable boiler can be installed that uses less energy.

Types of Boiler

Combi Boiler

The mechanism of working

Combis work as hermetic systems, providing hot water for both the taps and central heating system, heating the water proximate from the mains as and when it is needed — meaning there is no need for a hot water storage cylinder, or a cistern in the roof space.

Such kind is:

  • quicker
  • easier
  • cheaper

The reason is the lack of a cylinder or cistern. Water is delivered at mains pressure, so you can enjoy a more powerful (although not ‘power’) shower.

System Boiler

The mechanism of working

System boilers are fitted to sealed heating systems, but unlike combis work on the principle of storing hot water in a cylinder, so they can feed several outlets at once at mains pressure. There’s no need for a cistern in the loft and the expansion vessel is built in.

Such kind is:

  • ideal for larger homes with higher demands
  • if they have most of their major components built in (i.e. expansion vessel and pump), installation is quicker, cheaper and neater

Flow rates are usually high as water is delivered at mains pressure, and hot water is instantaneous.

Regular/Conventional Boiler

The mechanism of working

Regular boilers are now largely bought as replacements for homes with an open-vented heating system (i.e. supplied by means of a feed and expansion cistern in the roof space, meaning the system is open to air). Like system boilers, they work on the principle of stored water and require a separate hot water cylinder.

Such kind is:

  • the water out of the taps will be at a good flow rate (not to be confused with pressure)
  • a hot water can be supplied immediately

This is the ideal setup for a ‘power’ shower, which requires a cold water feed from the cistern and a separate electric pump.

Getting the Right Size of Boiler

Commonly for many customers to oversize boilers by around 30%, but nowadays this is useless. It’s better just to choose the right size for your home. This is considered because of a heat loss calculation and will be affected by the house’s size, the materials used and the level of insulation and airtightness, as well as your hot water requirements.

As soon as you know the heating requirements of each room in kilowatts, you can size your heating emitters – i.e. radiators or underfloor heating – then you will know the boiler you buy will be big enough to heat the whole system effectively.

Condensing Boilers

When there were no condensing boilers, the heat contained within the combustion products that were dolled up from the boiler – which could be anything up to around 180°C – had no purpose.

Condensing boilers were designed with the purpose of extracting as much of the heat energy in the fuel as possible, and turning it into a usable heat to warm the house. This means they burn less fuel for the same amount of heating.

Buying the Best Boiler

Doubtless, it’s important to buy the best boiler for your home, close to 90%, in an appropriate size. Aim for at least a five-year warranty. The boilers that work to the highest standard are the fan-assisted room-sealed type — i.e. it takes air from outside the building and combustion products are forced out using a fan.