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Last updated: 15 January 2018

Boilers vs Heat Pumps

Find out which home heating system suits your property's needs best?

Why Boilers vs Heat Pumps?

With the rising popularity of renewable energy sources, the use of nontraditional heating systems witnessed an increasing interest from the household owners as well. The rationale behind the current hike in popularity of heat pumps, solar cells or biomass boilers among landlords is contingent on the cost-efficiency these can deliver if used wisely. Still, some would tend to believe that certain renewable energy technologies are better than others, and that choosing between them will come down to one’s preferences, property characteristics and budget allowance.

To further sustain this argumentative discussion on which of the heating devices are better than others, we decided to compare boilers, with the emerging star of sustainable heating - the heat pump. But before we undertake this- hopefully insightful- heatpump and boiler comparison, we considered that a small introduction of the ‘best heating device’ title contenders will be appropriate.

Boilers

A boiler is a sealed chamber device, wherein the coolant (usually a water based solution or water steam) is heated to a predetermined temperature, which is later used to generate heat and provide hot water. When looking for a boiler, one might want to consider the following technical parameters that will help the customer easily compare boilers and the select the one that fits his/her needs and budget best. 

Boiler’s technical features to pay attention to:

  • The power output (rated power)
  • The efficiency rate (COP)
  • The type of coolant used
  • The coolant operating temperature
  • The coolant operating pressure
  • Hydraulic resistance

We won’t stop in detailing each of the technical parameters, since it does not serve the purpose of this blog post, but we invite you to have a close look to our website’s sections for boilers and other renewable energy technologies.

Read More: Boiler Grants

Boiler types

  • Biomass Boilers
  • Wood Pellet Boilers
  • Condensing Boilers
  • Combi Boilers
  • Electric Boilers
  • Gas (Conventional) Boilers

Heat Pumps

A heat pump is a more complex device if compared with a boiler, but the main goal behind the functioning of a pump is more or less the same, namely heat generation. The heat pump’s operation is based on absorbing and transferring a certain amount of thermal energy from a low-grade source (air or underground layers) to a heating element (pump’s coolant) with a higher temperature. Most of the pumps use a liquid refrigerant as coolant, that is pumped into the underground pipes (in the case of a ground source heat pump) or into the external fan cover tubes (in the case of an air source heat pump), which absorbs the air or underground heat, that later is passed through a compressor where its further heated and moved to the heating and hot water circuits of the house.

Read More: The Running Costs of Heat Pumps

Things to consider when looking for a heat pump:

  • The initial installation costs
  • The pump’s refrigerant
  • The pump’s size (BTU’s - British Thermal Unit)
  • The pump’s technical features - SEER Rating (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) and HSPF Rating (heating seasonal performance factor)
  • The pump’s warranty conditions

Read More: Why Is a Heat Pump a Good Idea?

Heat pump types

It is recommended to compare heat pumps before investing in one because there are so many different types. A few of those a re listed below. 

  • Air Source Heat Pump
  • Ground Source Heat Pump
  • Water Source Heat Pump
  • Air to Water Heat Pump

Read More: Combining Heat Pumps and Solar Panel Heating

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Concluding remarks

Although, the heat pump turned out to be the winner of our short but engaging contest, there are certain things that one has to be aware of in order to have a comprehensive understanding about when to consider a boiler or a heat pump for heating his/her property. As it was shown earlier, a heat pump is an absolute champion when it comes to CO2 emissions, and can deliver a superior efficiency rate compared to boilers. Nevertheless, it has to be mentioned that while a ground or air source heat pump that has a COP (Coefficient of Performance) of around 3, surpasses boilers which run on electricity, oil or coil in terms of reducing costs and emissions, it fails to outperform a gas boiler.

Given the high initial costs and the limited heating output of a heat pump, having a gas boiler might prove to be cheaper and to a certain extent more efficient, especially during the cold days of the winter, when you might need a higher heat yield. Considering, the continuous improvement of heat pumps, we might expect that in the near future these will increase their performance rate, and therefore will set higher efficiency standards that will be hard to match by other heating devices available on the market. But until then, you might want to think twice before rushing out and choosing a heat pump instead of a boiler. The old and mighty gas boiler, still ‘has a few aces up its sleeves’ that can prove useful. The other thing is that you will have to take more precocious measures when dealing with a device that runs on gas.

Read More: Boiler Service

Get Quotes on Boilers and Heat Pumps!

If you have decided to purchase a boiler or a heat pump, but you are not sure which type you would like, we are ready to help you. Fill out the form on this page with your personal preferences and information, and we will provide you with up to four different suppliers of boilers. You are free to choose the offer that best suits your needs. The service is free, without obligation, and takes only a few minutes.