How to choose the right boiler for you
The three most common types of boiler are – combi, heat only and system.
Making the right choice is important because each has their positives and negatives, depending on your household’s usage, the space you have available, and the level of water pressure in your area.
A quick guide…
A heat only boiler is also known as a regular or conventional boiler. This is the type of boiler that is commonly located in your kitchen, and works alongside a cylinder. This type of boiler works on a vented system so you will also have a tank in the loft.
System boilers are often installed in modern homes with an unvented hot water cylinder. It has the same components as a combi boiler except for the plate to plate and divertor valve. It works alongside a copper or steel hot water cylinder because it doesn’t produce hot water.
The key function of a combi boiler is that it gives you instant hot water. It doesn’t need a separate hot water cylinder as it is a single unit that generates all your heating and hot water.
So, all these types of boiler provide heating but only the combi boiler directly provides hot water as well.
Pro’s and con’s of each type of boiler
Advantages of a combi boiler – they provide instant hot water which is a great benefit and, as they don’t need a separate water cylinder to store hot water, it creates space if you are removing an old hot water cylinder. They can also have lower maintenance costs as the integral heating and hot water functions are covered by the boiler manufacturer’s warranty.
Disadvantages of a combi boiler – they don’t work well in properties where there is poor water pressure coming into the house and/or there are poor flow rates. Hot water flow rates are reduced if two or more taps/showers/baths are running at the same time. You also have to make sure that your existing pipework can cope with a high-pressure combi boiler.
Advantages of a heat only boiler – they are the cheapest type of boiler so replacement costs are low, and they are ‘kinder’ to older radiator systems that may leak from the high-water pressure delivered by system or combi boilers.
Disadvantages of a heat only boiler – maintenance costs can be higher as only the boiler is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Other component parts of the system like the hot water tank, valves and pumps could be costly to repair or replace if they break down. It’s also worth noting that there are currently no heat only boilers manufactured with stainless steel heat exchangers, only with aluminium which is a poorer quality material.
Advantages of a system boiler – when combined with an unvented hot water cylinder they are practical and effective for properties that have a high demand for hot water, for example more than one shower running at the same time, as the unvented tank delivers good hot water flow rates to multiple outlets simultaneously. As more of the system’s components are integral to the boiler, the manufacturer’s warranty is good, too.
Disadvantages of a system boiler – they take up more space than a combi boiler so, if you are considering changing from a combi boiler to a system boiler, you will need to find a suitable location for the hot water cylinder.
Through our many years of hands-on experience, working with all kinds of properties and all kinds of boilers, the knowledgeable team at JPS Plumbing, Gas and Electrical can help you make the right decision for you.
How to choose between boiler brands
Once you have decided which type of boiler is going to work best for the location and layout of your property, and your day-to-day usage, you need to choose which brand of boiler you are going to go with.
It’s a no-brainer that you are going to want to install a good quality boiler, not only to give you reliable, good performance but also to hopefully minimise maintenance issues in the future.
The first box to tick is the materials that two key components, hydroblocks and heat exchangers, are made of. Good quality hydroblocks are made out of brass, whereas lower quality hydroblocks are made of plastic. Good quality heat exchangers are made out of stainless steel; lower quality heat exchangers are made out of aluminium.
Lower-cost materials are more likely to malfunction and cause leaks or other breakdown problems that can prove inefficient and costly, so buying cheap is not recommended.
JPS Plumbing, Gas and Electrical’s recommendations
The main features of a Vaillant boiler
Being a top-quality brand, Vaillant boilers also have stainless steel heat exchangers and brass hydroblocks. We recommend their ecoTEC plus range which is available in both the combi and system boiler options.
There is no heat only boiler on the market that is made with stainless steel and brass components. They all have aluminium heat exchangers and plastic hydroblocks. We believe the best option for a heat only boiler is the Vaillant ecoFIT Pure range.
The type of warranty that comes with a Vaillant boiler
The standard warranty is 5 years but, as a Vaillant Advance Mastertech Installer, JPS Plumbing, Gas and Electrical can offer a 10-year warranty on the Vaillant range.
The main features of a Baxi boiler
The Baxi 800 range of combi boilers and system boilers has stainless steel and brass components. They are high quality and efficient. The Baxi 600 range is exactly the same as the Baxi 800 range; the only difference is the warranty period. Baxi’s heat only range is a completely different boiler and we actually don’t recommend these boilers, instead we suggest a Vaillant or a Glow-worm.
The type of warranty that comes with a Baxi boiler
As a Baxi-approved installer, JPS Plumbing, Gas and Electrical can offer a 10-year warranty on the Baxi 800 range, and a 7-year warranty on the Baxi 600 range.
The main features of a Main boiler
The Main Eco Compact Combi boiler has the stainless steel and brass components we’re looking for. This is our ‘go to’ recommendation for a budget range boiler and it is very popular with landlords. As the hydroblocks and heat exchangers are made from the higher quality materials, they are still very good quality boilers. Incidentally, Main is part of the Baxi family and this boiler is basically the same boiler as the Baxi 800 and Baxi 600 range, it’s just got a different front cover.
The type of warranty that comes with a Main boiler
As the Main boiler is Baxi’s budget option, there is a 5-year warranty period.
The main features of a Glow-worm boiler
Glow-worm is Vaillant’s budget brand and is a popular choice with landlords. Reflecting their cheaper prices, in the Glow-worm Energy range the heat exchangers are made of aluminium instead of stainless steel and the hydroblocks are made of plastic instead of brass.
The types of warranty that come with a Glow-worm boiler
The standard warranty is 7 years but, as a Vaillant Advance Mastertech Installer, JPS Plumbing, Gas and Electrical can offer a 10-year warranty on the Glow-worm range.
More useful information to know
Will it save me money on my energy bills?
Yes, all modern boilers are A rated from an efficiency point of view, so they will all be energy saving which, in turn, saves you money, especially when you’re comparing them to very old non-condensing boilers.
How often does it need servicing?
All boilers should be serviced every year. For modern boilers, the service is more of a safety check, to clean out the condensate trap and to make sure all the component parts are running correctly. For an older boiler, as well as the safety checks, of course, it’s more about cleaning the heat exchanger out and making sure that any soot and other particles aren’t in the boiler and getting in the way of the flame.
If I want a boiler installed, what is the process?
First, get in touch with JPS Plumbing, Gas and Electrical to arrange for one of our expert team to visit you, survey your property, talk to you about what you want and work out the best fit for your location and your needs. We will then send you a clear and comprehensive written quote. Once you have accepted the quote, we can generally install your new boiler within a day or two if it is an emergency.
How can I contact you to find out more?
Call us or send an email whenever it is convenient for you. Whether you are ready to arrange for us to visit, or would just like to talk through any queries you may have, our experienced and friendly team at JPS Plumbing, Gas and Electrical would welcome the opportunity to help, and give you great service.
Southampton office: 02381 733139
Winchester office: 01962 448013