Skip to main content

Tag: Heat Pumps

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:

  1. Their differences and similarities.
  2. Their pros & cons.
  3. 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.

Call (801) 355-9500 For Emergency Heating Repair

Difference between a Heat Pump and a Furnace

We know this thought has crossed every homeowner’s mind at one point. Which is better? Which is more efficient? Which is more reliable?

While both a heat pump and a furnace installation make fine home heating systems, the former has the upper hand in overall efficiency. A furnace installation in homes is tales as old as time, and it’s traditional to have at least one powering your air and water heating needs.

Environmental factors play the most significant role in the Heat Pump VS Furnace debate. Yes, it boils down to environmental impact, but in a way that affects how much you spend on monthly bills. However, as decades pass and climate change worsens, it’s only ideal to opt for more energy efficiency and sustainability. Here’s how.

The Difference Between A Heat Pump and a Furnace

We can answer the Heat Pump VS Furnace debate in very few words.

  1. Heat pumps work without the process of combustion in facilitating natural heat in and out of your home.
  2. Furnaces generate heat and produce greenhouse gas emissions to produce heat.

Based on these two statements, you can already tell their most significant difference lies in their heat sources. Furnaces generate heat by burning natural gas, oil, or coal. They can also generate heat through electricity. However, heat pump systems transfer heat instead of generating their own through combustion.

Heat Pumps Don’t Generate Heat

A heat pump works by absorbing heat from natural elements, transferring their heat energy into transfer fluids transmitted through heat exchangers before compression to provide your indoor handlers with sufficient heat for distribution.

The Heat Pump Heating System:

There are different heat pumps, but none burn any resources to provide your home with heat. A heat pump system does three main things:

  1. Absorb heat through an outdoor unit. (Compressor unit)
  2. Transmit heat energy through a series of heat exchangers.
  3. Distribute heat into your home’s air or water supply.

However, there is an internal debacle within the Heat Pump VS Furnace argument. Let’s call it the Heat Pump Debate.

The Three Types of Heat Pumps

Which of the three heat pumps is the most energy efficient and reliable? The answer may depend on your climate, environment, and other factors. However, they are proven more energy-efficient than furnaces and air conditioning systems.

Air-to-Air Source Heat Pumps

Residential homes and commercial buildings should opt for air-to-air heat pumps for ambient heating. The air source heat pumps transfer heat directly into your home’s air handler or air conditioner after traveling through ductwork for indoor distribution.

Most air conditioning systems have an air source heat pump to manage temperatures. This heat pump is utilized within other HVAC systems because of its versatile and efficient functions. Heat transfer isn’t typically stored anywhere in air-to-air source pumps and can handle heat management better even during cold climates.

Air-to-Water Source Heat Pumps

An air-to-water source heat pump works nearly the same as an air-to-air. However, this heat pump system transfers heat into an indoor unit filled with water and other liquid utilized for heat distribution.

Air-to-water source heat pumps such as radiators, centralized underfloor heating systems, and boilers are better suited for areas with a mild climate. The system’s functions are most efficient in mild climates because both warmer climates and colder climates can affect the temperature of the liquid storage storing heat energy.

Ground Source Heat Pumps

A ground source heat pump, also known as Geothermal, derives heat from the moisture in the soil. It reduces waste by recycling the abundant amounts of heat it collects during summer and reuses them in winter when heat particles are more scarce.

It surprisingly does well against a cold climate. It currently sets the gold standard for heating systems that provide heat efficiently sans carbon utilization and emission.

Dual fuel system

A dual fuel system combines a gas furnace and an electric heat pump. If it sounds overkill, maybe you have never lived in colder climates where the temperature drops below zero regularly. However, you don’t need to live in the North Pole to have a duel fuel system. Some homes and establishments use them for multi-purpose heating or in case of emergency needs. A dual fuel system has a gas furnace for supplementary or auxiliary heating.

Heat pumps provide better Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), but traditional furnaces are more useful for areas with unreliable electricity. As most heat pumps are electric, during a power outage, they won’t be able to sustain higher temperatures unless the gas furnace kicks in as your home’s backup heat source. By deploying heat-generating functions through its gas supply, combustion chamber, and either a pilot light or electronic ignition, the whole shebang!

Furnaces Generate Own Heat

Opting for these heating devices can help you save money on unit and installation costs. Still, the resources they use to provide your home with hot air during the cold weather can be detrimental to the environment and your home’s air quality.

The Furnace Heating System:

Furnaces are less reliant on your home’s outdoor temperature by creating their own heat source. Typically, all furnaces work by burning natural gas, coal, wood, and oil. There are electric furnaces you can opt for, and while they are more efficient than more classic installations, they still trail behind heat pumps in terms of energy efficiency.

Natural Gas furnace

With gas furnaces, energy costs may come lower. However, gas furnaces have an installation cost nearly twice as much as other furnace types. Traditional gas furnaces have a natural gas supply with a pilot light ignition. Its more modern counter-parts come with flame sensors (Thermocouple) which control gas and ignition valves as an added safety measure. One of its many cons includes how well it can hold up against cold air blowing through your basement or crawl space your furnace is installed. Cold air can clog thermocouples with debris and residual gas, preventing the ignition of the pilot flame.

Electric furnace

Unlike gas and oil furnaces, an electric furnace can draw in outside air to aid its heating composition. It uses electricity to produce heat and outside air to supplement its production. Like most heating and cooling systems, electric furnaces distribute warm air with a blower fan and air ducts for ambient heating. Electric furnaces generate less heat or energy loss, making them the most energy-efficient furnace out of the three. However, an electric furnace can’t double serve as your home’s cooling system.

Heat Pumps VS Air Conditioners

A heat pump is typically installed within an air conditioner. It’s a heating device, but its faculty can double as a cooling system. An air conditioner cannot extract heat indoors, but one with a heat pump built into it can. Air conditioning systems keep you cool during hot weather by extracting heat through an indoor air handler and transmitting it outdoors. An inverse heating process no other HVAC system can execute or do as efficiently as a heat pump could.

How Do Air Conditioners Work?

There are different kinds of air conditioning systems. Some have ductwork, while others have more direct links via copper coils. Air conditioning devices without a heat pump are more like ventilation systems by their utility of outside air, except they may come with temperature-altering functions if attached to a furnace.

A centralized air conditioner also uses a blower fan to distribute air through ductwork. Units with more energy efficiency are called ductless mini-split systems and operate temperatures based on different thermostat settings per indoor air handler. Ductless systems are more sustainable than others. Still, a home heating system can falter when we don’t meet different maintenance requirements.

The Routine Maintenance of All HVAC Systems

A furnace, heat pump, and air conditioning system require regular cleaning and tune-up. Nearly all HVAC systems have air filters. If they aren’t cleaned routinely, they may overflow with contaminants resulting in your system stalling or malfunctioning. Annual routine maintenance can save you from costly repairs in the future.

A heat pump with a dirty filter deploys safety techniques to diffuse airflow and preserve air quality. A heat pump that suddenly stops working may need an air filter replacement, refrigerant replenishment, or coil restoration. A leak from filters and refrigerant storage can freeze coils, hindering heat pump functions. You must schedule regular maintenance and tune-ups to ensure your systems work properly through different seasons.

One Stop Heating and Air Conditioning

Please don’t settle for unreliable contractors if you are tired of the outdoor air determining your internal temperatures. You can find an affordable and reliable contractor in Utah. Check out our list of services for one that suits your needs best.

Our professional services include furnace repair and furnace maintenance for both furnaces and heat pumps. We can also help you integrate a heat pump with our heating system installation if you are tired of your old gas furnace and want an upgrade!

Call (801) 355-9500

Contact our team of experts through our hotline 24/7 for emergency assistance and urgent inquiries.