There are many different types of boilers. You may know this if you have looked into purchasing a new boiler to replace your old one. People often need new boilers when they move to a new home, renovate their old home, or are just generally looking for an upgrade. Choosing the right type of boiler for your home is very important for your central heating to function correctly.
However, when it comes to choosing a boiler type, things can get confusing. There are three major types of boilers:
- Regular boilers
- System boilers
- Combi boilers
Each boiler type further has different fuel types. Most boilers are either gas, oil, or LPG powered. However, there are also solar-powered boilers as well as biomass-powered ones. Most manufacturers in the United Kingdom offer a variety of boilers of varying output, fuel-type and price ranges. This can make choosing the right boiler very difficult.
Most homes make use of a combi boiler. It is a combination of a central heating boiler and a water heater. They are sleek, economically priced and very efficient. Most modern combi boilers are condensing boilers, which means they reuse hot flue gases. This is what makes them so efficient. However, even if you know you want a combi boiler, you still need to know the difference between oil, LPG and gas-powered combi boilers. This will help you make the right choice for your home. Let’s discuss these three types of combi boilers in more detail below.
Gas-powered combi boilers are the most popular choice in homes connected to the national gas grid. Gas-powered systems tend to be the cheapest and most convenient options when you have ready access to the gas mains. In fact, most British households use modern gas-powered combi boilers.
A gas-powered boiler system is also known as a wet system. They use natural gas from the mains to heat your home and provide hot water. Gas-powered boilers are usually the first choice, with LPG and oil-powered boilers only used when there is no access to the gas mains. Gas-powered boilers are efficient and readily available.
The Advantages of a Gas-Powered Boiler
Gas-powered boilers are the preferred boiler type in the British Isles for several reasons. They have a number of advantages to them, which include the following:
As a heating fuel, gas is fairly cheap, available and efficient. You don’t have to worry about storage costs because you can get your natural gas supply directly from the mains. Both LPG and oil-powered boilers require a storage tank which can cost you significantly.
Modern gas-combi boilers are condensing boilers. This means they reuse the otherwise wasted hot flue gases. This helps make them more efficient. In fact, most gas-combi boilers in the United Kingdom are at least 92% efficient. You can easily control a gas central heating system using the thermostat on your boiler controls.
Oil-powered boilers and central heating systems tend to be very efficient. Manufacturers in the United Kingdom offer a number of A-rated oil-fired boilers. A-rated boilers tend to have the highest efficiency and acceptable carbon emissions meeting UK and EU regulations. Certain manufacturers even advertise specific oil-powered boilers with a claimed efficiency of 97%.
A-rated oil boilers will help you cut down on your energy costs. The more efficient a boiler is the less energy it spends to heat your water and home. The lesser the energy spent on heating the more you save on your annual energy costs.
Oil-powered boilers are a very popular choice in homes that do not have access to the national gas grid. However, they function in a very similar way to gas-powered boilers and usually have similar controls as well. The fuel source needs to be on hand in constant supply. This means an oil-powered boiler requires a fuel tank placed outside your home. Many local oil suppliers give you the option to rent or purchase an external fuel tank.
Domestic heating oil is usually easily available in areas without access to the gas grid. You will need to enter into an agreement with your supplier to supply oil periodically and keep your tank filled.
The Pros of an Oil-Powered Boiler
There are a number of significant advantages to using an oil-powered combi boiler for your home. These advantages include the following:
- One of the biggest advantages of using an oil-powered boiler is that you get to choose when to order a fuel delivery. Oil prices tend to go up in winters when the demand is high and lower in the summers when demand is low. If you have an oil-powered boiler, you could choose to get it filled up in the summer and save money against future price rises.
- Local oil suppliers value your business. This means they can get extremely competitive to retain you or steal you away. This means you can negotiate more favorable terms with them than with the gas company.
- You can set up a delivery schedule with your supplier. This means you will not have to worry about scheduling an oil delivery repeatedly. The supplier will simply show up on the appointed day and top up your tank, billing you as agreed. Thanks to modern smart technology, some oil tanks come with a sensor that detects the oil level. If it drops too low, the sensor informs your supplier that it is time for a top-up. You won’t have to worry about being stranded in the cold because your fuel ran out.
- Heating oil burns at a much higher temperature than natural gas. This means your boiler will use less oil to produce as much heat as a gas boiler. It also means your oil boiler will heat up your home much quicker because it delivers more heat.
- Heating oil is a flammable substance. However, unlike other fuel sources, heating oil poses no risks of explosions. Heating oil also produces no carbon monoxide. Using an oil-powered boiler is extremely safe, contrary to what you might think.
- Modern oil-fired combi boilers are usually condensing boilers. This means they reuse the hot flue gases that would otherwise go to waste. This helps make modern oil-powered combi boilers more efficient than many other types.
The Cos of an Oil-Powered Boiler
Just like most things, there is another side to the coin. Oil-powered boilers can be a great choice if you consider the advantages. However, you also need to know the disadvantages of an oil-powered boiler, which include the following:
- The most obvious disadvantage is the higher fuel cost. Oil prices tend to be much higher than natural gas. Oil prices also change very often, thanks to the global demand for fossil fuels.
- Oil-powered boilers, especially those that use kerosene, are not friendly to the environment. An average household with an oil boiler can emit as many as 5 tonnes of CO2 every year.
- Since there is no national oil grid, you will need to arrange for an oil tank to provide your boiler with fuel. You depend on a local oil supplier to provide you with the fuel you need. It also means that if your property is remote or if the weather is bad, it could disrupt your oil deliveries.
- Oil-boilers regulate the volume of water that can flow through it in one minute, also known as the flow rate. A lower flow rate means an oil-powered boiler provides hot water slower than a gas-powered one.
LPG or liquefied petroleum gas is another popular alternative fuel with homes without access to the gas grid. Like heating oil, a local supplier delivers LPG to your home, which is stored in an external fuel tank. An LPG-powered boiler works more or less the same way as a gas-powered boiler. It provides heat to your home and hot water to your taps and showers.
You can even get your gas-powered boiler converted into an LPG-powered one using an LPG conversion kit. Bear in mind you should never attempt this on your own and always use a Gas Safe engineer. An LPG conversion can also be an expensive task.
LPG is usually easily available in most localities without access to the gas mains. They work well for remote properties. All you need is an agreement with a local LPG supplier to provide you with LPG and fill up your LPG tank when needed.
The Advantages of an LPG-Powered Boiler
There are a number of significant advantages to using an LPG-powered boiler in your home. They include the following:
- LPG produces fewer carbon emissions than many other types of fuels. This makes it a relatively greener fuel alternative to coal and oil for heating systems.
- LPG spills are not toxic. They do not harm the environment or contaminate the water supply in your home.
- As fuel sources go, LPG is more efficient than many types of fossil fuels. This means you spend less energy to heat up your home with an LPG-powered boiler.
The Disadvantages of an LPG-Powered Boiler
The advantages listed above may make an LPG-powered boiler seem like the best choice for your home. However, before you go ahead and buy one, consider the disadvantages. These include:
- You need to rent or purchase an LPG tank from a local fuel supplier, which adds to your heating costs.
- LPG can be more expensive than natural gas, which drives up your fuel costs.
- LPG prices tend to fluctuate based on demand. The volatile cost can be a disadvantage, upsetting your budget and expenses.
- Poor weather or inaccessibility can upset your LPG delivery schedule.
- LPG produces fewer emissions than other fossil fuels, but still produces significant volumes of CO2. CO2 contributes to the Greenhouse Effect and is harmful to the environment.
The Cost – Oil vs LPG vs Gas Boilers
Now we come to the most important comparison of all. How does the price of an oil-powered boiler differ from that of an LPG or gas-powered boiler? What about the additional costs of installation, storage tanks, and fuel supply? Let’s examine these below for each boiler type.
The Cost of a Gas-Powered Boiler
Gas-powered combi boilers are readily available in different makes and models. You can easily get a decent one for around £1,000, depending on the manufacturer, model, and output.
Gas-powered boilers are typically harder to install than other types. A typical install can cost you anywhere between £1,500 to £4,000. On average, the typical gas-powered boiler plus installation costs British households around £2,200.
The Cost of an Oil-Powered Boiler
Most manufacturers offer a relatively smaller selection of oil-powered boilers than other types. However, you still have a large number of options to choose from.
The price of your oil boiler will vary based on the manufacturer, model, and output. Oil-powered boilers tend to be slightly pricier than gas-powered ones. You can get one for anywhere between £1100 to £4000 depending on which one you go with. Installing a full oil-powered boiler and heating system in your home can easily cost you more than £6000.
The cost of heating oil is an important factor to consider. The price fluctuates frequently, which is something you need to be prepared for. Prices also tend to be higher in the winters than in the summers. You will also need to rent or purchase an oil storage tank.
The Cost of an LPG-Powered Boiler
A new LPG-powered boiler can cost anywhere between £1,500 and £2,000. The price of the boiler depends on which manufacturer, model and power output you go with. You also need to consider the rental costs of an LPG storage tank. The rental will vary based on whether the tank is above or below ground. Placing an underground tank can cost you an additional £2,000.
Installing an LPG boiler and storage tank can cost you between £3,000 to £5,500. You still need to factor in the cost of LPG. LPG prices vary according to demand and can be very volatile, so keep that under consideration.