Many homeowners use the terms boiler and hot water heater interchangeably. A hot water heater works differently than a boiler. Your hot water heater first heats your water and then supplies the hot water to the faucets and showers in your home through the pipes in the system.

A tank water heater has a tank to store water. A tankless water heater, on the other hand, does not have a tank (hence the name) and is designed to provide hot water on demand. Water heaters either use fuel (could be gas or oil) or electricity to heat water.

A boiler also heats water. But it could do more than that. A boiler can be used to heat the air or floors.

It heats water to the desired temperature and supplies the hot water to the faucets and showers in the home, and also pushes it through the radiators and baseboard heaters. With a boiler, you won’t need a heating system to heat your home.

Some different types of boilers are conventional boilers, system boilers, condensing boilers, and combination boilers. Conventional boilers have both a cold water tank and a hot water cylinder; so they take up more space than other types. They are great for big houses where people would want to open multiple faucets at once.

A system boiler does not use a cold water tank but has a hot water cylinder. Water comes directly from the main, is heated, and then stored in the cylinder. With this type of boiler, the amount of hot water produced is limited by the boiler’s size. When the system runs out of water, it needs some time to heat the cold water.

Condensing boilers usually use gas or oil. They are designed to retain the heat that escapes the flues. They can be more energy efficient than other types.

Combination boilers do not have a cold water tank or hot water cylinder, so need less space than many other types. They can provide an unlimited supply of hot water on demand.

Many homeowners wonder if water heaters are more efficient than boilers or vice versa. It’s difficult to make a comparison between water heaters and boilers when it comes to efficiency. The efficiency of both boilers and hot water heaters varies from model to model.

The efficiency of boilers is measured in terms of annual fuel use efficiency (how much of the energy used by a boiler is converted into heat). The efficiency of a hot water heater depends on its energy factor – the amount of heat produced per unit of fuel consumed in a typical day.

John Owens Services is a leading HVAC and plumbing contractor in San Rafael. We are your go-to team for water heater replacement near you in Novato. Can’t decide if you need a water heater or boiler? Call us at 415-942-6565.


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