Thu 27th Mar 2014

Gas Combination Boiler Advantages and Disadvantages

Published: Monday, November 28th, 2011

What is a combi boiler?

There are a wide array of boiler products which can be confusing to the general consumer. If pushed, few would be aware of the difference between a combi boiler and a regular system, but the distinction is important to all householders, especially those who are keen to save money and the environment.

A combi boiler is essential for all those that want the most out of their heating system, as it’s simply the most efficient. Although the wonder boiler of the moment does have drawbacks.

A combi boiler is a shortened phrase for its longer title: combination boiler. It means that two processes are combined into one. The process of heating water for the hot water taps and at the same time heating water for the central heating system, takes place within the boiler itself, on demand.

So, when someone turns on a hot tap and expects litres of suitably warmed water, the boiler kicks into action and provides the necessary water. Likewise if the thermostat asks for hot water for the radiators, the boiler kicks into action and heats the water which will be pushed around the house’s pipework.

The big difference are the words, on demand. A combi boiler will only heat water when it is required. This is the major difference with a regular boiler which is always heating water that can be used at a later time. The regular boiler will heat water at allotted periods which will be stored in a large metal tank for later use.

The problem with the regular boiler system is obvious. As soon as the precious energy is used to heat the water, once you don’t use it and start storing it in the water tank (no matter how good the insulation), it begins to cool and indeed, not all of it will be used before its heated to the correct temperature again. If you consider the amount of wasted energy in this process, then the amount of wasted energy, and therefore money, can mount up considerably.

Also, the regular boiler is more expensive, as it requires a water tank, insulation, additional pipework and a cold water feed tank in the loft. The combination boiler requires none of these. No water is stored and the cold water is fed directly from the mains. So, no hot water tank and no feeder tank is required, nor the associated pipework, meaning purchase and installation costs can be reduced significantly.

Combination boilers pass cold water through a heat exchanger which transfers heat to the water while ensuring only a small amount of energy is lost through waste gasses. This is how the boiler can provide hot water without the need for a water tank or an immersion heater. This hot water can then be used for taps or pushed into radiators to provide central heating.

But the drawback of the combi boiler is immediately apparent: hot water flow rate. In other words, when you turn on the hot water tap, in the kitchen, or bathroom, how much hot water will be available and at what rate. This is why combi boilers have not only their hot water ratings (the temperature) published, but also their flow rates. These are based on the number of litres of hot water per minute the boiler can supply.

Gas combination boilers are currently the most popular boilers households are installing with around 70% of UK homes using one.

If you are interested in purchasing a combination boiler then you will need to consider its advantages and disadvantages to ensure it is the type of boiler for your households needs.

Advantages of gas combination boilers

The main advantage is the water is heated instantly and this therefore means you don’t need to wait for a hot water tank to heat up to get the hot water. This also means hot water won’t run out and you don’t require the space to put a hot water tank so combination boilers are good space saving appliances.

Another main advantage is these boilers are more economical. The reason is because savings are made on the cost of heating the water as the flow of water is at the same pressure as if it was coming from the mains water supply. Also because there is no hot water tank it means the boilers are quicker and easier to install which cuts costs and means the boiler will require less maintenance over its lifetime.

Disadvantages of gas combination boilers

The disadvantages of these boilers however include the water flow of the other taps in the house will be affected and limited when running at the same time. Therefore, it will be important for households installing these boilers then you need to ensure you have an adequate water supply that doesn’t have any pressure issues as this could really affect the performance of the combination boiler.

Another potential disadvantage is you will be getting rid of your airing cupboard as the hot water tank is no longer required. But this could be seen as a plus if you want more space.

Therefore, if you are looking to install a combination boiler you can see there are many advantages and disadvantages which highlight why you may want to choose to install one. And if you are looking for a boiler to provide hot water on demand and one that is energy efficient which can help reduce your current fuel bill then this is the boiler for you.

Guest Article by Sarah Wain

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