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Trading Your Home Furnace for a Boiler? See Your Options

Boiler heating systems, also called radiant heating systems, produce consistent heat, operate very quietly, and can be very energy efficient. In addition, these heating systems are less prone to dry out home air by removing its natural humidity than forced-air heating systems are. If you are considering replacing your forced air heating system with a boiler system, then you should learn about all of your boiler heating system options. 

Read on to learn about just a few of the options you have when you design your home's boiler heating system. 

Heat Distribution System Type

The two most popular types of radiant heat distribution systems today include radiant floor heaters and radiator units.

Radiant floor heaters consist of a series of heating coils or tubes that are installed within your home's subflooring. A boiler sends heated water through these tubes to heat up the subflooring, and the heat in the subflooring then radiates up into the air of your home. 

Radiator units are free-standing heating devices that contain heating coils. These heating units are typically installed along the bottom edges of home exterior walls. A boiler sends heated water or steam into the heating coils of these units, and the heat the steam or water passes to the coils is then released into the home air. 

While both radiant floor heaters and radiator units are good heat distribution options, the installation of a radiant floor heating system after a home has already been built is much more labor- and time-intensive than the installation of radiator units, which increases the cost of this system type. However, radiant floor heating systems tend to heat a home more evenly and stay in good shape for up to twice as long as radiator units. 

Boiler Type

There are three main boiler types that can be used to heat a home, including hot water, condensing, and steam boilers. 

Hot Water Boiler

The standard hot water boiler is the most common type of residential boiler in the United States. The water in this boiler type is heated to a temperature that is relatively high, yet not hot enough to create steam. This hot water is then sent into the coils and tubes in home radiator systems, where the heat the water contains is then released into the air. 

Condensing Boiler

Condensing boilers are the newest, most energy-efficient boilers on the market today. This boiler type heats water with a traditional energy source, such as gas or electricity, to produce hot water.

However, instead of allowing the heat in the boiler exhaust to dissipate into the outdoor air as a traditional hot water boiler does, this system instead captures this heat in a special heat exchanger and then directs the heat into the boiler water to reduce energy use. 

Steam Boiler

Steam boilers work by heating the water inside of the boiler to a temperature so hot that it creates steam. Then, instead of sending hot water into home radiator devices as hot water and condensing boilers do, this boiler type distributes the steam it creates instead.

Since steam is so hot, a steam boiler can typically produce more heat than a water boiler of the same size. However, most homes can be heated properly with a hot water boiler and do not need the extra heat generated by a steam boiler. 

Boiler Energy Efficiency Rating

The energy efficiency of a boiler is called annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE), which is a calculation of how well the boiler converts the energy its fuel source creates into heat during an average year. Gas- and oil-burning non-condensing boilers typically have AFUE ratings that range from 80 to 88 percent, while condensing boilers that burn natural gas or oil are available with higher ratings. 

Boilers powered with electricity can have extremely high energy efficiency ratings. However, the high cost of electricity typically leads to these boilers being more expensive to run than gas- and oil-powered boilers with lower AFUE ratings. 

Now that you understand a few of your boiler heating system options, contact the home heating experts at Service 1 Plumbing, Heating, & A/C, Inc., to discuss boiler heating system installation today.