Boilers vs Water Heaters

If you’re wondering what the key difference between boilers vs water heaters is, you’ve come to the right place. As HVAC experts, we’re asked this question a lot by our customers, and for good reason! Water heaters and boilers are both hot-water-based home comfort systems, but they work differently and hold different functions. If you’re looking for the best HVAC system for your home, it’s important to understand the difference, so here is our quick and handy guide to boilers vs water heaters.

Water Heater
A water heater is a system in the home that heats water to send to different water sources in the house like the faucets in the bath, the shower, and the sinks. The water heater is there to make sure warm water is available for any task that you may need it for including washing, cooking, and doing laundry. There are two types of water heaters: units with a tank, and units without.

  • A Tanked Water Heater works by heating water and storing it in a tank for later use. When requested, the water is pulled from the tank and sent to where it’s needed. Tanked water heaters tend to be less expensive, but you do need to be mindful of the hot water that you’re using because eventually, it does run out until the water heater heats up more.
  • A Tankless Water Heater works by heating your water instantly as you request it. As long as the faucet or shower is turned on, hot water will come in abundance. What makes a tankless water heater so appealing is that you won’t run out of hot water, you can enjoy it as long as you wish.

A traditional boiler also heats water but not for the same reason as a water heater. Instead of heating water for distribution to taps and faucets throughout the home to use for cooking, cleaning, and bathing, the hot water is distributed to different radiators throughout the house to warm the home in place of a traditional furnace. With a boiler, the system has a separate plumbing loop for the use of water in the home, which means you do not use the boiler water for bathing or cleaning.

Combi Boiler
A Combi boiler is short for combination boiler, meaning one cohesive system that combines both a home’s boiler and water heater into one unit. Combi boilers are meant to be used in small to medium-sized homes because of the amount of power they produce, as well as their compact size. A combi boiler does not require a water tank to store heated water, meaning it takes up significantly less space than a traditional tanked water heater and boiler. Combi boilers tend to be less powerful than traditional boilers and water heaters, however, meaning that if you have a large home, a combi boiler is not the system for you.

Interested in learning more about Boilers vs Water Heaters and which one is best for your home?
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Harding Heating & Air Conditioning is the Ottawa region’s air conditioner experts. We have the knowledge and experience to help with AC installation, cooling system repair and air conditioner service.

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