Different Types of Boilers


The very first boiler with a safety valve was invented in 1679 in France. That was over three hundred years ago! Because of high heat and pressure, boilers were initially crafted out of iron, but boilers have taken a different form over time.

Modern-day boilers are made out of alloy steel and are designed to last longer, repair easier, and make a smaller impact on the environment. Advancements in technology have allowed boilers to evolve into their modern form, which comes in many shapes and sizes.

Most people don’t consider their boilers until they’re broken and need replacement. Once that happens and if they don’t have boiler cover, they’re usually surprised by how many different types of boilers exist, each of them coming with their own advantages and disadvantages.

There are condensing boilers and non-condensing boiler types. Some boilers are powered by steam, hot water, natural gas, electricity, and oil.


Here are six different types of boilers:

Home heating

Condensing vs Non-Condensing

The main difference between condensing boilers and non-condensing boilers is efficiency. Condensing boilers are 99% energy efficient, while non-condensing boilers are only 78%.

That means that condensing boilers will not only lessen your environmental footprint, but it’ll also cost on utility bills. So not only are condensing boilers better for the environment, they’re better for your wallet!


Condensing Boilers

Non-Condensing Boilers

Higher initial costLower initial cost
More than one large heat exchangersThe single combustion chamber and heat exchanger
Lower temperature for combustion productsHigher temperature for combustion product
Exhaust gas is recycledExhaust gas is wasted
Reduces carbon emissionsHigh carbon footprint



Steam Boilers

The working process of a steam boiler involves severe heat and boiling water. The water is heated to the boiling point, and then it produces steam, which is used to generate power.

Steam boilers are intended to produce and store vapour effectively. Steam boilers are used for residential purposes, but they are also used in turbines or locomotive engines and have many industrial uses.


Types of Steam Boilers:


Water Tube Boiler:

Water Tube Boilers are the most used boilers for furnaces and home heating. Water that is present in boiler tubes is heated to generate steam, which produces low-cost energy.

The main advantage of water tube boilers is they are energy-efficient and cost-effective. However, water tube boilers do require a freshwater source and water treatment plant.


Stoker Fire Boiler:

The Stoker Fire boiler is typically used in sugar factories. Typically classified by grate type: chain gate, travelling grate stoker, or spreader stoker. Features include automation and high-thermal efficiency.


Package Boilers:

The package boilers withstand high pressures and high temperatures to produce a large amount of steam.

Package boilers have a combustion chamber, and fuel is ignited within the chamber, causing a controlled explosion that forces air into the boiler and creates a spiral or tornado effect. Package boilers can also be used as a peak-load boiler.


Fire Tube Boiler:

Fire Tube Boilers utilize the many tubes running through a water container, allowing hot gases to pass through the chamber, and heat is transferred and eventually creates steam, which produces energy.

Pros of Steam Boilers

Cons of Steam Boilers

Low-cost constructionSteam rise capacity is low
Easy use with chimneyLimited pressure capacity
Portable and takes up little spaceDifficult to clean
Self-enclosedNeeds high headspace



Hot Water Boiler


A Hot Water Boiler runs very similarly to a steam boiler with the same basic idea. The difference is that a hot water boiler is more energy-efficient than a steam boiler.

Because steam boilers use cold or room temperature water, more energy is used to heat the water until it boils. With a hot water boiler, the water temperature is already close to boiling, which requires less energy usage.



Pros of Hot Water Boiler

Cons of Hot Water Boiler

Evenly distributes heatRisk of water leaks
Virtually noise-freeCan take longer to notify the user of malfunctions of repair needs
Clean, allergen-free heatExpensive replacement parts
Costs less than air systems overallCosts more to install than air systems



Steam Boilers vs Hot Water Boilers:

While hot water boilers are technically more energy efficient, that does not exactly mean that hot water boilers are the better choice. There are many disadvantages and advantages to both types of boilers.



Steam Boilers

Hot Water Boilers

Heating temperatures higher than 212 degrees FahrenheitThe heating temperature under 200 degrees Fahrenheit
No not need to be filled with water all the timeMust be completely filled with water at all times
Natural heat expansionElectrical heat expansion
Requires several accessories to functionRequires little accessories to function
Must have water treatment to prevent scale build-up and corrosionScale build-up is not an issue. Corrosion can be a problem.



Natural Gas

Unlike the other boilers on this list, natural gas boilers burn fuel for energy rather than water or steam. Natural gas boilers burn natural gas or propane to heat the water in a residential heating system.

Gas boilers have vents that release the gas into the air after use. Even though natural gas boilers run off depleting resources, which makes it less environmentally friendly than water or steam, natural gas boilers are better for the environment than oil options.


Pros of Natural Gas Boilers

Cons of Natural Gas Boilers

Requires little storage spaceRisks of gas leaks
Clean burningContributes to greenhouse gases
Cost-efficient over timeHigh initial costs
Easier upkeep and repairsNot as environmentally friendly as steam, water, or air



Oil Boilers

Oil boilers, also known as traditional boilers, are among the oldest house heating devices in existence. They’re primarily used in more remote, off-the-grid locations. Oil boilers rely on the power of heat and water circulation.

Water circulates through the piping and triggers a sensor that sends an electrical current to the oil burner.

The oil burner clicks on and pumps oil into holding take then sprays it into a fire chamber where combustion occurs. Hot gases travel through the pipes and heat the water to a higher temperature.


Pros of Oil Boilers

Cons of Oil Boilers

More available in remote areasCostly expenses
Biodiesel oil is improving the environmental footprintBad for the environment
Independence in heatingDifficult to use
Cheaper than other alternatives overallLots of required storage space



Oil Boilers vs. Natural Gas Boilers:

Since both of these boiler types run off of fuel instead of water, electricity, or steam, some might question the difference between oil boilers and natural gas boilers. Some of these differences include storage space and location availability.


Oil Boilers

Natural Gas Boilers

Requires lots of storage space for oil tank storageRequires little storage space
More popular in remote areasA growing trend
Less convenient than other optionsEasy upkeep and repair
Less environmentally friendlyMore environmentally friendly


Electric Boilers

Electric boilers are not only environmentally friendly, but they’re also easy to install and virtually silent. Electric boilers are the ideal choice for those who live in areas outside of the gas grid or have strict restrictions.

Electric boilers

They run the same way that every other boiler on this list does, by boiling water which is transferring into energy that heats the home, except that the water is electrically heated rather than through fuel, chemicals, or combustion.



Pros of Electric Boilers

Cons of Electric Boilers

Green alternativeHigher monthly costs
Easy installation with already established solar panelsLower efficiency rating
Virtual silentShorter warranty
No flue requiredNot suitable in older structures

Which Boiler Type is Best?

With so many different boiler types choices, some might be asking the question: what is the best type of boiler? Unfortunately, there is no straight answer to this question. It entirely depends on individual needs and requirements.

A gas boiler wouldn’t work well in a house that is off of the gas grid, and an oil boiler should not be used in highly populated areas. There is no BEST boiler to use because it’s highly subjective.

Before deciding on a boiler type, the best thing to do is precisely know what type of service you require in your specific situation.


Boilers are essential to modern-day life, and there are so many different types of boilers to choose from. Choosing the right boiler can be a massive decision, possibly costing you thousands if you choose incorrectly.

That’s a lot of pressure – the type of pressure that only a high-quality boiler can take! That’s why it’s best to have all the information before you make a decision.

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