The boiler vs. furnace debate is perhaps one of the most common home heating discussions today. Both are very common systems, each with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Boilers in particular, however, have a very interesting group of benefits to offer the homeowner brave enough to install them. Let’s take a look at what a boiler system can offer you.
The most common boiler-based system is called “radiant heating.” It begins with the installation of a network of water pipes in each room of the house you want heated. These pipes are often installed in the walls or subfloor of the room. The network is then connected to the boiler, which uses it to distribute hot water throughout the house.
As the hot water moves through the pipes, it radiates heat outward. The heat travels through the walls, (or floor) and into the room. Rather than using air as a medium for transporting heat, radiant heat transfers thermal energy through solid objects in the room.
There are two major benefits to this type of heating. The first is that the room is heated very evenly. Forced air systems blow hot air into a room, which immediately rises to the ceiling where it doesn’t do anyone any good. As the air cools, it sinks down to the floor and creates uncomfortable fluctuations in temperature within the room. Radiant heating keeps all of its heat near the floor of the room, and isn’t affected by any sort of air currents.
The second benefit is that radiant heating delivers much more of its heat to its destination than forced air systems do. Current estimates by government agencies state that forced air systems lose as much as 30% of their heat on average to duct leaks. Radiant heating systems avoid this issue altogether, since they utilize a different delivery system. Water is also a much better heat conductor than air is, allowing more heat to be delivered in the first place.