Boilers vs. Furnaces: What’s the Difference?

Today the heating specialists on Cape Cod, Hall Oil Gas and Electric are here to provide you with a 101 class about two of the most popular heating systems: boilers and furnaces. What do these heating systems do, how do they heat your home, and which is better for you? Continue reading to find answers to these questions and more as we discuss boilers vs. furnaces.

Boilers vs. Furnaces: What You Need to Know

What Are Boiler Heating Systems?

How does a boiler work to heat a house? The job of a boiler heating system is to produce heat in the home via hot water. The hot water from the boiler is created by burning a fuel source like heating oil in order to heat up a water reservoir tank. Once the water boils, its heat travels through your home via an installed piping network. This is how it works for most homes today.

In the old days, boilers produced heat by turning water into steam heat. These boilers did not require any electrical pumps because the heat simply rose into the building through pipes to radiators or convectors – thus producing heat and warming the home. As the steam cooled and turned back to water, it would go back to the boiler to be reheated. Today, only a fraction of homes still use the steam heat method.

Boilers see use in a large number of homes in the Cape Cod area. These systems are exceptionally sturdy and dependable, which means despite the higher cost of installation and purchase the sheer longevity of the system often offsets the purchase cost by a large margin. Additionally, boilers offer very even and steady home heating, making a boiler one of the best choices for countering very cold climates.

Benefits of a boiler:

  • Powerful and even home heating

If you want comfortable, high quality heat, that is what you will get from a boiler heating system. Heat from a radiator infuses the room, opposed to being forced through ductwork and out a vent. This gives radiator heat a different feeling, and disperses the heat more evenly, than furnace heating systems.

  • Very long lifespan

Boilers typically last 15-20 years, and some even longer. This lifespan length assumes the heating system is well-maintained and receives yearly maintenance. Make sure you are working with your local Cape Cod HVAC professional to keep your boiler in great working condition for years to come.

Downsides of a boiler:

  • More complex and costly installation

Boilers are more complex of a heating system, and thus, they have a more costly installation price. How much does it cost to install a new oil boiler? These are the questions that would be best suited for your local HVAC company, as the exact cost will fluctuate based on your situation.

What Are Furnace Heating Systems?

How does a furnace work to heat a house? In structural heating, a furnace generates heat by combusting a fuel source, heating air, and then pumping that air throughout your home via a network of ducts—this is typically called a forced air heating system, just like central air conditioners are. The delivery of heat is strong and nearly immediate.

Furnaces are currently the most popular type of heating system used today. This is mostly due to the fact that, since furnaces are overall fairly simple, the cost of purchase and installation is the lowest of all whole-home heating equipment. Couple this with the readily available and diverse types of fuel that a furnace can use and it’s easy to see why it is so popular.

Benefits of a furnace:

  • Low overall cost of ownership

Furnaces generally are less expensive to install and maintain than a boiler heating system. While there can be a large initial investment, the overall cost of ownership is lower, meaning that you will pay less for repairs and maintenance. How much does it cost to install a new furnace heating system? This is a question you will want to ask your local heating contractor, as the answer will vary based on your situation and needs.

  • Readily available fuel sources

Furnaces have more available fuels that work with their heating systems. These include heating oil, natural gas, and propane, or LPG (liquid petroleum gas). This is different from boilers, which generally only handle heating oil and natural gas.

  • Easy to install and maintain

How long does it take to install a furnace? Most can usually be installed in less than a day. On the contrary, boilers take longer to install. So, how long will it take to install a boiler? Boilers can be installed within 2-3 days.  The installation can take anywhere between 8 hours to a full day, to a couple of days to a week depending on the situation.

The downsides of a furnace:

  • Doesn’t heat as evenly as a boiler, sometimes resulting in “cold spots

Furnace heating systems blows air into a room through a vent. This can result in an uneven temperature. Some rooms in your home may be warm, while others are cooler. Because heat rises, the rooms on the second floor may be warmer than the rooms on the first floor or in the basement of the house.

Related: Top Considerations When Installing A New Heating System

Boilers vs. Furnaces: Which Heating System is Better?

Are boilers better than furnaces? Or are furnaces better than boilers? Let’s make one thing abundantly clear about boilers vs. furnaces: there is no best heating system. “Which heating system is best for my home?” is a far better question you should be asking. What heating system works best is always determined by:

  • The heating load needs of your home
  • The fuel types you prefer, or have most readily available
  • Your current budget
  • Whether you have existing pipes or ductwork

So, the best way to select the ideal heating system for your home is to connect with an experienced, reputable heating contractor. Boilers and furnaces that use heating oil or gas can both be top-notch choices. It all comes down to what fits your needs best.

Hall Oil Offers Oil Furnace & Oil Boiler Installations on Cape Cod, MA

For generations, it has been our top priority to provide clients on Cape Cod with dependable HVAC services, superior heating products, and honest answers. Whether you are in need of a new furnace, boiler, oil tank, generator, water heater, or another heating solution, we are your go-to HVAC company on the Cape.

Hall Oil Gas and Electric is the leading provider of oil and gas heating systems, including both furnaces and boilers. We offer some of the best boilers and furnaces for home heating. In addition, we offer new installations, repairs, and annual tune-ups for any type of heating system. We provide heating equipment maintenance, propane-to-natural gas conversions, 24/7 emergency heating service, and heating service plans. So, if you’re uncertain which HVAC system meets your needs best, contact our heating installation contractors for a consultation. We would love the opportunity to help you make the right call between boilers vs. furnaces (or any other heating solution).

You can reach Hall Oil Gas and Electric online any time, visit us at our South Dennis office, or call (508) 398-3831 to speak with our Cape Cod heating company today!