What’s the Difference Between a Boiler and a Furnace?
Whether you’re looking to upgrade your existing heating system or you’re building a new home, you’re going to want to choose the right heating system for your family’s needs.
Make an informed decision by knowing the difference between boilers and furnaces.
If you're unsure of what system to have in your home and want to understand each system's functionality, you've come to the right place.
By the end of this blog, you’ll know what’s right for your home’s heating needs.
What’s a boiler?
Boilers generate warm air by using heated water in a tank. The hot water is circulated using pipes, which means that ducts aren't required to deliver warm air throughout the house, unlike furnaces.
How does a boiler work?
Your water pipes bring heated water throughout the home and to different endpoints. These endpoints are usually baseboard heaters or radiators. Due to these specific endpoints, boilers rely on radiant heating to heat your home.
Electric boilers have heating elements inside them to heat up the water, whereas gas heaters use jets beneath the tank to do the same.
The heat from boilers is moved through the endpoints and into the living spaces of your home through what’s known as radiant heat transfer. This is the delivery of heat by increased surface temperature. This surface temperature allows your boiler’s endpoint to warm the nearby area or room it’s located in.
What’s a furnace?
Both gas and electric furnaces use a forced-air system.
How does a furnace work?
Furnaces combust fuel or generate heat through electricity to warm the air. This heated air is then blown through ducts and into your home.
Forced systems heat the air through heat exchangers, and the heated air is circulated around your entire home by blower fans. These fans propel the heat through the ducts and into the different living spaces in your house.
With an electric-powered furnace, the heating elements present create warm air, but with fuel-powered furnaces, gas jets create the warm air.
What are the differences?
Here are the main differences between furnaces and boilers.
The pros and cons of a boiler
The pros and cons of a furnace
Which is better: a furnace or a boiler?
Both types of heaters have their own pros and cons, but a boiler tends to produce cleaner heat. It also has a lower repair and operation cost – making it cheaper to run.
Boilers are also more energy-efficient. There is less heat wasted through radiant heating compared to the forced-air heating of a furnace. This is probably the biggest difference between the two.
If your home isn’t set up for a boiler, you’ll find that the cost of installing one could be potentially double what it would cost to install a furnace – especially if you already have the ductwork in place for a furnace.
Many homeowners prefer radiant heating if they're undergoing a major remodel or are building a new home. Still, if you're installing a new heating system, a furnace would be a lot less hassle to install.