What Is the Difference Between a Boiler and a Heater

Written by  //  October 22, 2021  //  Home Heating Cooling  //  Comments Off on What Is the Difference Between a Boiler and a Heater


Heating is an absolutely essential need in most parts of the country. This is even true in warmer parts of the country as you never know when a storm or cold front might suddenly leave you and your family freezing. When it comes to heating your home or business, you have a wide variety of options to choose from. Still, it is often difficult for the average person to determine which option is the best for their specific situation. Therefore, today’s focus will be on the difference between two of the most common options—heaters and boilers.

Forced Air vs Radiant Heat

In order to fully understand the difference between a heater and a boiler, it is important to know about the two different types of heat and how they work. Heaters generally work on the principle of forced air heating. This type of system contains a central heating element, which is powered by either electricity or some other form of fuel such as natural gas. In this type of system, the heating element warms up the air as it passes through it. This air is then distributed throughout the room or building using a fan. The fan essentially forces the air into the room, which is why it is referred to as forced-air heating.

Boilers, on the other hand, function through a process known as radiant heating. Instead of heating up the air, radiant heating works by heating up the environment around itself, such as your floors, walls, and even furniture. In a radiant heating system, you typically have a boiler unit that functions by using natural gas or other fuel to heat up water. This hot water is then distributed to the required area where it heats up the environment around it. For instance, the water can be sent to radiators or distributed throughout a series of pipes such as in underfloor heating.

Are Boilers or Heaters Better?

The choice between a boiler or a heater can come down to a number of different factors, such as the age and condition of the building as well as local energy costs. You may also want to take into consideration the average costs of heater or boiler repair and replacement. Both systems will likely require repairs every 5-10 years. A boiler typically costs around $350 to repair, depending on who you go through to work on it. A heater ranges depending on if it runs on electricity, which is typically around $300, or gas, which is typically between $350-$400. Additionally, most heaters need to be replaced every 10-15 years whereas boilers last, on average, 15 years. 

In terms of a gas or electric heater, the biggest advantage is that forced-air heating tends to heat up the area more quickly than radiant heat since it blows hot air directly into the room. On the other hand, a boiler allows you to heat the area without having to deal with the constant noise of central heating. In addition, boilers tend to be more energy-efficient and can even contribute to improved indoor air quality.

At the end of the day, there is really no one-size-fits-all solution to heating. Therefore, it is vital that you understand the differences between your various options in order to choose a system that works right for you.

image credit: twenty20.com

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