What's the right boiler for me?
Combi boilers. System boilers. Conventional boilers. With so many types of boiler, finding the right one for you can feel like a daunting task. But it needn't. For starters, here's the difference between the three main domestic boiler types:
A combination boiler, also known as a combi boiler, tends to be more compact because it doesn't need hot water cylinders. Combi boiler installation is usually quicker.
A system boiler is like a conventional boiler, but more heating system components are built in. They often take up less space as they don't require a tank in the loft and therefore can be easier to install.
A conventional boiler comes with a hot water tank or cylinder where hot water is kept. Gallons of water can be heated, stored and readily used.
What's right for me?
There are a few key things to consider when choosing a new or replacement boiler. We'll walk you through these to help arm you with all the information you need to decide.
First things first, are you connected to the UK's gas network?
Most homes have a gas boiler and a gas heating system. But not everyone. An estimated 4.3m households are not connected. An oil-powered central heating system could be a great alternative for heating your home. If you are connected, you'll want to know more about gas central heating boiler types.
How many people live in your house?
The reason this question is key is because if you opt for a boiler that's too small, you'll find your home isn't adequately heated, or isn't supplied with enough hot water to meet your demands. Choose a boiler that's too big and you're likely to produce more energy than you need – increasing your bills and generating unnecessary emissions.
Large families are likely to use lots of hot water, so a conventional or system boiler might be more appropriate. Keep following our questions to find out which is the better option for you. Smaller households are likely to use less heating and hot water and are likely to be better off with a combi boiler.
How many bathrooms do you have?
If you have several bathrooms that are often occupied at the same time, then it's likely you have high demand for lots of hot water at the same time. Combi boilers are great for smaller properties - from flats to homes with a single bathroom.
When weighed up against conventional boilers, combi boilers have some small disadvantages. For homes with more than one bathroom, a slight decline in water pressure may be experienced if more than one appliance is using the boiler at any one time.
Do you have free space, such as a loft or airing cupboard, available in your home?
A simple question, but an important one. Some boilers handle demand for lots of hot water better than others. If you have the need for lots of heat and hot water and have a home with a loft or with adequate storage, then a conventional boiler with a storage tank to supply hot water might be for you. The water is heated via cast iron heat exchangers, meaning you have gallons of hot water at the ready - perfect for homes with storage, and ones with large families needing lots of hot water at the same time.
If you have the need for lots of heat and hot water at the same time, but don't have a loft for a storage tank then a system boiler could be a better option. What is a system boiler, we hear you ask. System boilers work in a similar way to conventional boilers, however, they have major heating and hot water components built into the actual boiler itself which makes it quicker and easier to install. It will require a cylinder for storing hot water, but there is no need for a tank in the loft, so it can be a great option in a home with little or no loft space.
If your demand for lots of hot water and heat at the same time is relatively low, a combi boiler could be the way to go. With a combi boiler, no hot water is never an issue. Enjoy hot water on demand in unlimited supply, without the need for a water tank or cylinders. A combi boiler won't be able to handle several running taps or showers at the same time though.
How many (average sized) radiators are in your home?
This helps determine the kilowattage of the boiler you need. The higher the kilowattage, the better the flow rate will be. 10 or fewer radiators and you're likely living in a flat, apartment or smaller house. For that you'll be looking at a 24 to 27kw combi boiler. Around 15 indicates you're in something like a 3-4 bedroom house, which requires a 28-34kw combi boiler. A 35kw and a 42kw combi boiler would be for a large house.
Why is it good to have an efficient boiler?
We know efficiency is important to everyone, whether you're looking to reduce your bills or your carbon footprint. But did you know you can opt for a boiler that's both efficient and economical? Heating accounts for about 55% of your annual energy bills, so an efficient boiler makes a big difference.
If you're opting for a new boiler, you can enjoy a host of efficiencies right away. Modern boilers are more efficient for lots of reasons, but their main advantage is that they are all condensing boilers. Condensing boilers make your fuel go further. Improvements to boiler design mean they now condense to ensure as much heat as possible is converted into useful heat for your home.
Going as efficient as possible can really pay off. If you replace an old G-rated boiler with a modern A-rated boiler with a full set of heating controls, the Energy Saving Trust estimates you'll save around £200 a year on your gas bill.
No matter what type and size of domestic boiler you need, British Gas can help you find a more efficient model. Older models of conventional boilers tended to be less energy efficient, but advances have been made with newer models.
If you're keen to go for the most efficient, eco-minded option, then British Gas provide some of the best domestic combi boilers out there. They include condensing technology and an ECO mode, both of which improve your control over water heating by maintaining boiler temperature whilst in standby mode. Ask our team about high-efficiency condensing boilers.
Are you thinking of installing solar water heating?
Solar water heating systems, also known as solar thermal systems, use heat from the sun to generate energy and warm domestic hot water. Many combi boiler systems aren't compatible with this heating system or they cannot use it effectively. You're better off opting for a conventional boiler which can be used to make the water hotter, or to provide hot water when solar energy is unavailable.
Not sure? Benefits of fitting a solar thermal system include lowering your carbon footprint and reducing your energy bills. Once the initial installation is paid off, your hot water costs will be reduced. And as it's a renewable heating system, can help to reduce your carbon dioxide emissions significantly. Solar water heating can save you between £60 a year (if you have gas central heating) and £100 (if you use LPG) on your water heating costs.
In addition to saving on your bills, you'll find maintenance costs are very low. Most solar water-heating systems come with a 5 to 10-year warranty and don't require much maintenance. You may even find you're eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI); a government scheme that pays consumers for generating heat using renewable energy – which includes solar water heating. For a two-bed semi-detached house, you could earn up to an estimated £273 annually.