Boiler vs. Furnace: What’s the Difference?
Are you having trouble deciding between a furnace or boiler for your new home? If the boiler VS furnace debacle keeps you up at night, you came to the right place.
We’re here to put the entire Boiler VS Furnace debate to bed. We are breaking down all the details you need to know about both heating systems.
Hopefully, by the end of the article, you will pick up a few things, such as:
- Their differences and similarities.
- Their pros & cons.
- The most reliable HVAC professionals for their installation, maintenance, and repairs.
Here’s everything you need to know about a furnace or boiler.
The Full Boiler VS Furnace Rundown
Nearly all homes in the United States have home heating systems. We need furnaces and boilers for hot water and warmth, especially when winter rolls around.
Heating equipment is our only defense against the cool air. Closed doors and windows can only keep so much cold air outdoors, but your home’s insulation won’t hold for long.
Boilers, furnaces, and other heating installations alter and supply air temperature according to your preferences.
Quick View: Boiler VS Furnace
- Natural gas furnaces blow hot air into your home’s duct system. Forced air systems are interlinked, facilitating airflow and temperatures.
- Hot water boilers heat water and distribute them throughout your home. Heat distribution is directed into radiant flooring systems and water heaters.
A furnace or boiler can effectively heat your home and water supply. Their utility and function are similar, but the main frame and inner workings vastly differ. Heat exchangers, distribution channels, and energy efficiency are some of their greatest differences.
Older furnaces and boilers are neither sustainable nor energy-efficient, ranking amongst low-efficiency heating systems. Newer furnaces and boilers are more efficient and come at higher upfront costs. If you have an older furnace or boiler, it’s best to replace them with newer systems to increase reliability and efficiency. Still, it is a tough choice between a furnace VS boiler.
Here’s how your furnace provides your home with heated air.
Furnace Heating System
A natural gas furnace is the most traditional installation across America. Gas furnaces are linked to central air conditioning systems for whole-home and multi-zone building distribution.
Millions of Americans depend on gas furnaces for faster heating using little to no electricity. A heat exchanger generating heat by burning a direct natural gas supply provides cleaner and faster output. While gas furnaces might transfer heat cleaner and faster, that only sometimes translates. Depending on your HVAC unit, environment, and upkeep, a gas furnace may be an unsustainable installation.
Pros & Cons: Furnace System
A furnace system benefits smaller structures with more limited access to electricity. Unlike electric furnaces, natural gas options are a dependable system to have around during power outages. However, its rudimentary systems raise questions about energy efficiency, safety, and sustainability.
Natural gas Furnaces Heat Air to Produce: Warm Air
A furnace heats air by gathering various resources through pipes and supply lines. An intake pipe collects air to facilitate natural gas flow in and out of a heat exchanger. The burner assembly includes a standing pilot light that ignites the fuel supply in the combustion chamber.
Energy efficiency & Safety
Older furnaces are less energy-efficient, producing insufficient heating, using more resources, and having higher fuel costs. High-efficiency heating systems have a second heat exchanger to process residual resources and waste heat produced by the primary exchanger. Recycling resources allow your furnace to use less fuel and power to produce your home with more hot air. While more efficient systems can lessen carbon dioxide emissions, they do not eradicate them.
A natural gas furnace with a continuous pilot light isn’t the safest installation. A clogged furnace filter can lead to various buildup and contamination, such as particles, debris, and pressure. Air pressure in your combustion chamber can crack the heat exchanger and lead to carbon monoxide leaks. Your furnace emitting nearly all the fuel in its storage can generate enough carbon buildup and lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Gas furnaces are dependable and independent from the rest of your systems. They are seldom affected by external factors. However, installation and maintenance are costly, and extensive damage warrants higher repair costs.
How do steam boilers sound?
Boiler Heating System
Air heating using boiler systems sounds complex. We assure you, it is. Boiler installations are hot water systems connected to baseboard radiators, cast iron radiators, or steam systems. A boiler heats water by injecting heat particles into a stored water supply before distributing them to different fixtures. Water is a better thermal conductor than air, retaining temperatures for longer periods.
However, boilers require a constant power supply to function. Even high-efficiency boilers use electricity to generate, store and distribute heat.
Pros & Cons: Boiler System
Steam boilers operate better in moderate climates and function slower than a furnace. Hot water heat allows fewer risks of heat or energy loss during travel and poses no threat to your air quality. Without channels for air distribution, boilers also don’t have air filters that need routine maintenance.
Boilers heat water to Produce Heat
A natural gas boiler works a lot like a gas furnace. A natural gas furnace or boiler has a burner assembly that uses gas to ignite a flame and generate heat. Hot water is transferred to the necessary fixtures to produce output, such as hot water storage for showers and baseboard radiators. Thanks to hydrogen particles, steam boiler heat are more easily distributed, effectively providing even heating throughout structures.
Boiler systems may be more efficient with fewer risks for heat loss, using radiant floor systems instead of air handlers. The channels of distribution are better than those of a forced air system. However, you may have more erratic heating and cooling without a reliable energy source.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Boiler heat is quicker to distribute, and its retention is more dependable than air handling alternatives. Without an air filter, there are fewer contamination risks due to negligent maintenance. However, you might burn wood pellets for warmth during winter without a backup generator.
Which Heating System Reigns Supreme?
Each heating system comes with its unique risks and benefits. The furnace VS boiler debate all boils (no pun intended) down to your needs and environment. Your furnace or boiler depends on two types of fuel supply. The resources they burn directly to generate heat and the fossil fuels the electricity consumes to power their mechanisms. Due to the erratic inflation of fuel prices, you should opt for heating that relies on less fuel consumption.
Choosing between a furnace or boiler is complicated. Before committing to one that suits your needs best, check their Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency Rating (AFUE). A furnace or boiler with an 80% AFUE rating is standard; anything below guarantees less efficiency, and anything above is considered more efficient.
If you are looking for energy efficiency, neither heater stands head and shoulders above the other. Still, other options are on the market for more efficient and reliable heating.
What are Heat Pumps?
Other heating installations, such as heat pumps, are also forced air installations. However, a heat pump is arguably the most innovative forced air system geared toward energy efficiency. Still, they have yet to become a household name in America. While these integrations have gained prominence in Asia and Europe, they only recently gained popularity in the West.
A heat pump is an HVAC system that distributes heat through airflow. However, unlike a furnace or boiler, a heat pump doesn’t generate heat through ignition. Pumps gather surrounding air and alter temperatures using coils and refrigerant. They also don’t produce the same hazardous fumes or waste gases as combustion heating methods. They have higher upfront costs but are easier to install without any ductwork. These versatile installations can also alter air temperatures to fit your needs through colder or warmer months.
Like furnaces and boilers, these HVAC equipment require routine maintenance and tune-ups. Any mechanism benefits from regular tune-ups, such as cleaning a vent connection pipe or replacing an air filter.
Routine Maintenance & Tune-Ups
Anything that works with volatile compounds and fire isn’t best left alone. Systems with combustion components require routine inspection by reliable professionals. There are more risks with things that produce hazardous emissions harmful to your health and the environment.
Dust, dirt, soot, and residue may all result in corrosion and clogs. If your heating equipment doesn’t undergo routine inspections, you risk its stability along with your health and safety.
REMEMBER: Yearly boiler or furnace tune-ups is the key to long-lasting stability and efficiency for all heating systems.
One Stop Heating & Air Conditioning
Call Utah’s finest if you hear, smell, or observe any irregularities in your HVAC systems! Our team of top-rated experts will help maintain your systems or help you upgrade your current ones.
One Stop Heating & Air Conditioning offers furnace repair, maintenance, and installation. Please don’t hesitate to call us anytime.