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Some homeowners believe that boilers are the same thing as furnaces. The truth is that while both of these systems heat your home, they are not the same. Although they do have the same purpose, there is a significant difference between them. For those who need a home heating system, you need to choose between a boiler vs. furnace, depending on what your heating requirements are. However, to optimize the function and features of either system, you need to know the differences between these two heating systems.

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How Are Boiler Heating Systems Different From Furnaces?

With this article, we will help you identify the most critical differences between a boiler and a furnace.

Understanding Boilers

A boiler is a system consisting of a closed container. It uses water or another type of liquid to generate heat in the form of steam or vapor. A boiler is the major component of many heating systems. It also contributes to heat distribution and heat emission.

Boilers utilize what is known as hydronic heating wherein water or liquid is heated. It is the same type of heating used for radiator systems. This heating system also has different parts, including the radiator, pipe system, circulator pump, and baseboard. These components may be installed in the rooms to allow proper heat distribution. If you have a boiler system installed in your home, the whole system can consist of several or many components, depending on the size of the space and number of rooms you have.

image of a residential boiler room

Understanding Furnaces

A furnace, like a boiler, is a heating system. The difference is that instead of water or fluid, it uses air for heat production. This explains why it is also called a forced-air heating system. The furnace pushes cool air through the heat exchanger, which heats it up. The warm air is then pushed through the HVAC ductwork system for distribution. Furnaces come in three types: upflow, downflow, and horizontal. For fuel, they use gas, oil, electricity, or induction.

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Boiler Vs. Furnace: How Are They Different?

The most important differences that distinguish a boiler from a furnace is how and what they heat. A boiler heats water that is stored inside a tank or container. Once the water or fluid reaches a certain temperature, it is then pushed through a pipe system. This pipe system is distributed through the house, which allows the heated water to generate warmth in rooms farthest from the boiler. When the hot water heats the pipes, they will generate enough heat to keep the rooms in your home warm. As long as a boiler can produce steam or hot water, it will keep your house comfortable.

A furnace uses a heat exchanger to heat air. The heated air is distributed throughout your home to increase temperature and improve comfort. Circulation is made possible with the system’s blower motor, which forces the heated air through the ductwork and out the vents.

mittens drying on a warm radiator

Comparing Energy-Efficiency Of Both Heating Systems

One basic thing you need to remember is that heating air requires more energy than heating water. This is why furnaces will consume more energy or fuel than boilers. When it comes to equipment cost, however, boilers are generally more expensive. However, they tend to be more durable compared to furnaces. Keep in mind that the durability of the system will depend largely on its care and maintenance.

Pros And Cons Of A Boiler System

Pros

  • Boiler Efficiency: Generally, boilers consume less fuel to generate heat, so you can expect to pay less for energy.
  • Less Noise: Unlike furnaces, boilers do not require strong blowers to push air. As such, they do not produce as much noise.
  • Boiler Heat Consistency: Boilers produce more consistent heat because of the vapor or hot water.
  • Indoor Air Quality: Boilers distribute heated fluids through a pipe system. Furnaces move air, which can potentially distribute indoor air pollutants such as dust and pollen throughout the home.

Cons

  • Heat Only: A boiler can heat up your home but will not cool it. Although furnaces cannot cool your home, they require a ductwork system that can also be utilized for a cooling system.
  • Boiler Installation: Boilers are more complicated, which means their installation requires more time.
  • Boilers Have A Slow Temperature Change Adjustment: If the temperature on the thermostat is changed, boilers do not respond right away.
  • Boiler Leak Hazard: If the boiler is old or damaged, it has a high risk of leakage, which could lead to water damage.
  • Difficult Conversion: If you decide to change from a boiler to a furnace system, you might find the process tedious and rather expensive because of the installation of ductwork.
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Pros And Cons Of A Furnace System

Pros

  • Flexibility: A furnace system can use natural gas, electricity, propane, or heating oil. Some models may even use geothermal or solar energy, although these are not as common.
  • Fast-Acting: Furnaces can produce heat more quickly compared to boilers. After they are turned on, they can warm up your home within a short time.
  • Furnace Cost: Furnaces are generally cheaper compared to boilers, thanks to their availability.
  • Minimal Leak: Furnaces leak air. While this will affect the efficiency of the unit, the leakage is not likely to cause damage to your home.
  • No Freezing Hazard: If you live in an area that has harsh winters, you do not have to worry about dealing with frozen pipes that could burst. Boilers use water, which means there is likely water in the pipes which could freeze in frigid weather.

Cons

  • Noise: Furnaces use blowers that push air. These blowers tend to be noisy, which could be annoying to some homeowners.
  • Heat Consistency: Air is not as effective in retaining heat as heated water or steam. In some cases, some rooms in the house might feel cooler or warmer than others.
  • Air Quality: Furnaces use air filters to keep the air clean. If these are not maintained or replaced, the quality of indoor air will be negatively affected.

 

Call Lawes Company For All Of Your Home Heating Needs

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Whether you choose a boiler or a furnace will ultimately depend on what your home comfort needs are and what type of structure your house has. If you have an older heating system, the good news is that new boilers and furnaces are built to be highly efficient. As such, you can expect long-term savings for your purchase. Lawes Company understands that you want to be careful about choosing between a boiler and a furnace because either one is an investment. This is why we offer our expertise to you.

Why Should You Trust Us?

Lawes Company is the leading HVAC service provider in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, New Jersey. All our technicians are NATE-certified to ensure that they have the right knowledge, skills, and capability to provide fast, accurate, and safe service to our clients. We are a trusted provider of convenient and affordable service that we guarantee will meet and even exceed your expectations. Call Lawes Company today for an in-home estimate at no cost.

Call Now: (732) 741-6300

Contact us now at (732) 741-6300 to find out more!