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:
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!
|Higher initial cost||Lower initial cost|
|More than one large heat exchangers||The single combustion chamber and heat exchanger|
|Lower temperature for combustion products||Higher temperature for combustion product|
|Exhaust gas is recycled||Exhaust gas is wasted|
|Reduces carbon emissions||High carbon footprint|
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.
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 construction||Steam rise capacity is low|
|Easy use with chimney||Limited pressure capacity|
|Portable and takes up little space||Difficult to clean|
|Self-enclosed||Needs 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 heat||Risk of water leaks|
|Virtually noise-free||Can take longer to notify the user of malfunctions of repair needs|
|Clean, allergen-free heat||Expensive replacement parts|
|Costs less than air systems overall||Costs 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.
Hot Water Boilers
|Heating temperatures higher than 212 degrees Fahrenheit||The heating temperature under 200 degrees Fahrenheit|
|No not need to be filled with water all the time||Must be completely filled with water at all times|
|Natural heat expansion||Electrical heat expansion|
|Requires several accessories to function||Requires little accessories to function|
|Must have water treatment to prevent scale build-up and corrosion||Scale build-up is not an issue. Corrosion can be a problem.|
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 space||Risks of gas leaks|
|Clean burning||Contributes to greenhouse gases|
|Cost-efficient over time||High initial costs|
|Easier upkeep and repairs||Not as environmentally friendly as steam, water, or air|
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 areas||Costly expenses|
|Biodiesel oil is improving the environmental footprint||Bad for the environment|
|Independence in heating||Difficult to use|
|Cheaper than other alternatives overall||Lots 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.
Natural Gas Boilers
|Requires lots of storage space for oil tank storage||Requires little storage space|
|More popular in remote areas||A growing trend|
|Less convenient than other options||Easy upkeep and repair|
|Less environmentally friendly||More environmentally friendly|
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.
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 alternative||Higher monthly costs|
|Easy installation with already established solar panels||Lower efficiency rating|
|Virtual silent||Shorter warranty|
|No flue required||Not 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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