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The Difference Between Three Types of Boiler: Combi, Heat Only and System

There’s plenty of options when it comes to boilers – making the right one is the tricky part. Luckily, at Boiler Choice we’re specialists in helping people pick their perfect boiler. So, without further or do, let’s get started and help you find yours.

What are the different types of boilers?

These days, people are spoilt for choice. Gone are the days of ‘one size fits all’ boilers. Different households have different demands, which means boilers have had to adapt. There are now three main types of boiler: combi, heat only, and system boilers.

All three have their perks and faults, only one will be the best option for you and your home. The question is, what type of boiler do I need? There are many things you need to consider before buying your dream boiler: how many people are in your family? How many rooms are in your house? What’s your budget? Even things, like how often do your family have showers at the same time? All of these questions help you make a much more informed decision. Why not see for yourself with our quick and easy questionnaire?

Which Boiler Should I Choose?

Here, we’ll take a look at each boiler type and briefly list the pros and cons of all three. With this understanding, we’re confident you can leave here knowing what new boiler installation you need.

  1. Combi Boiler 

What is a Combi Boiler?

A combi boiler – that’s boiler slang for ‘combination boiler’ by the way – is a single unit system that heats water via an exchanger directly from the cold mains. This is an incredibly efficient exchanger point which guarantees instantaneous hot water. 

A combi boiler is a more modern take on heating homes. When someone mentions a boiler, we expect you envision a huge cylinder-shaped tank – usually tucked away behind a cupboard. This is where a combi boiler is different.

It doesn’t need a huge tank to store water in advance or storage space in the loft. That’s because a combi boiler works through a single unit, that’s usually hung on the wall. 

What are the advantages of a combi boiler? 

  • Take up far less space than big cylinder boilers 
  • Never have to wait for water to heat up 
  • Costs less to maintain – integral heating is covered by your boiler’s warranty 

What are the disadvantages of a combi boiler? 

  • Not suitable for households with low incoming water pressure or poor flow rates 
  • Hot water levels will be affected when the boiler is required to source to water outlets – this is only an issue if you have two or more showers
  • Some combi boilers may be too big for pipework (contact us if you’re unsure about this)
  1. Heat Only Boiler 

What is a Heat Only Boiler? 

Remember the classic cylinder-shaped boiler we mentioned moments ago? Well, that’s a heat only boiler. These are a slightly more old-fashioned type of boiler, but for many properties they are just as effective. 

A heat only boiler – or a regular or conventional boiler – provides heating directly to your radiators from the cylinder. These will usually work on an ‘open vented’ heating system. This is when there’s a feed and tank located in the loft. But don’t worry, they can also work on ‘sealed’ systems. 

What are the advantages of a heat only boiler?

  • They work very well with old radiator systems. These are used to dealing with high levels of water pressure – levels a combi boiler may struggle with 
  • Low maintenance and replacement costs – these are the cheapest type of boiler 

What are the disadvantages of a heat only boiler? 

  • Only the boiler is covered by the guarantee or warranty. This means there are a lot other components (pumps, valves and tanks) that could cost considerable amounts of money if you need a boiler replacement
  • Take up a lot of space 

  1. System Boiler

What is a system boiler? 

To put it simply, a system boiler is the modern day version of a regular hot only boiler. Like the regular boilers, they use a hot water cylinder tank but the system isn’t open vented. You also don’t need any tanks to be stored away in your loft, and all separate parts (valves, pumps etc.) are built into the boiler itself. 

What are the advantages of a system boiler?

  • A great choice for households with a high hot water demand
  • System boilers tend to have an attractive warranty/ guarantee backed by trustworthy performance 

What are the disadvantages of a system boiler?

  • Good hot water rates are usually dependent on the quality of incoming water pressure. If this is poor, then, it’s likely your hot water flow will be insufficient 
  • Not as much as regular hot only boilers, but system boilers still require considerable amounts of space compared a combi boiler

So, now you know the difference between the three main types of boiler. For homeowners, that first boiler purchase can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. That’s why at Boiler Choice, we’re always striving to make buying a boiler as easy as possible. 

We know how many different types of boilers there are out there, so, we do our best to whittle down your options. Through a quick and easy questionnaire, we make your decision easy, offering you affordable and tried and trusted boilers. Get in touch with us via our contact info page, or take our questionnaire here, today!


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