Is it time to install a new household heating system, but you’re struggling to decide between a boiler vs. a furnace? We’re here to help. The main thing to keep in mind is that boilers and furnaces have the same function; they simply have different methods of carrying it out. Keep reading for more information on how these two heating appliances differ.
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What Is a Boiler?
A boiler is a residential and commercial heating appliance that turns hot water into steam to provide heat. A boiler can also be called a radiator system or a hydronic heating system—meaning it uses water for heating purposes. A boiler consists of a circulator pump, a pipe system, baseboards, and radiators.
How Does a Boiler Work?
A boiler stores water in a tank and operates on either natural gas, oil, electricity, or wood. In a nutshell, it converts water (a liquid) into steam (a vapor) to heat homes and commercial buildings. Want to know more about how the heating process works? Check out the step-by-step guide below.
- Water feeds into the boiler from the plumbing system
- The boiler burns fuel to heat the water
- As the water heats up, it turns into steam
- A heat pump circulates the steam through a pipe system—which includes baseboards and radiators—to heat a building
Boiler Pros & Cons
- More consistent, even heating
- Optimal energy efficiency
- Quiet operation
- Superior air quality
- No ductwork required
- Hot water can be reused for other purposes
- Higher upfront cost
- Longer installation time
- Slower heat production
- Risk of water damage and freezing pipes
What Is a Furnace?
Like a boiler, a furnace is a residential and commercial heating appliance that provides heat for indoor spaces. Its components include a heat exchanger, blower, ductwork, and air vents. Here’s where boilers and furnaces differ: while boilers convert water into steam, furnaces convert fuel—either natural gas, propane gas, oil, or electricity—into heat energy via combustion.
How Does a Furnace Work?
Rather than heating your space with steam that circulates through baseboards and radiators, furnaces heat your space with hot air that circulates through a duct system and air vents. Here’s a step by step process to offer a more detailed picture of how this process works.
- Cool air enters the furnace
- The air flows over a heat exchanger, which heats the air
- The blower pushes the heated air through a duct system
- The air circulates through the ductwork and exits from air vents throughout the building
Furnace Pros & Cons
- Lower upfront cost
- Easier to install
- No risk of components freezing
- Quicker heat production
- Poorer air quality due to increased airborne contaminants
- Loud operation
- Less consistent heating
- Lower energy efficiency
- Potential gas valve leaks
- Can cause draftiness
What Are the Differences Between Boiler Vs Furnace?
When considering the differences between boiler vs furnace, here are the top three factors to keep in mind.
Boilers are more energy-efficient than furnaces. That’s because it takes more energy to heat air than it takes to heat water.
While boilers only require an annual tune-up, furnaces require an annual tune-up and routine air filter replacements. Depending on the quality of the air filter, you’ll need to replace it either monthly or quarterly.
Boiler repairs typically cost more than furnace repairs.
Call Maitz Home Services for Reliable Boiler & Furnace Repairs
Has your boiler or furnace been causing problems lately? Don’t wait to get your system inspected. Call Maitz Home Services today to restore home heating. Backed by 50+ years of expert HVAC repairs, our team of certified technicians is equipped to address all your heating needs.