If you have hydronic heating in your home, you likely use a boiler to provide the hot water necessary to heat your radiators or radiant floors. You may also have a separate hot water heater that supplies water to various fixtures and appliances around your home. Unsurprisingly, this can seem like an inefficient duplication of effort.
In practice, many homes use separate units because storage tank water heaters provide more readily available hot water, especially when the boiler isn't running. After all, most people don't want to wait for their boiler to fire up just to get hot water in the summer. Fortunately, there's an alternative that allows you to combine these two appliances with none of the downsides: combination boilers. Here are a few things to know about this option for boiler installation.
What Are Combination Boilers?
You probably know what to expect from combination boilers (also known as combi boilers) just from the name. These appliances can supply hot water while also heating your home. In many ways, combination boilers are similar to tankless water heaters. Instead of storing hot water, they provide it on demand when requested by a thermostat or a plumbing fixture.
Since combi boilers don't need to maintain any specific water pressure for heating, they typically require less maintenance than traditional system boilers. And, unlike storage tank water heaters, their on-demand heating means that there's no risk of running out of hot water during periods of high usage. These advantages make combi boilers ideally suited to replace two appliances with one.
Should You Consider Upgrading to a Combi Boiler?
If you're installing a new boiler or new water heater, then switching to a combi boiler is an option worth considering. These units save space by combining two appliances into one and offer on-demand access to hot water. Its quick heating response offers greater energy efficiency than traditional system boilers and storage tank water heaters.
In most cases, the only significant disadvantage to installing a combi boiler is the higher upfront cost for installation and the appliance itself. You will also need to choose a unit with sufficient capacity since combi boilers can only supply water at a fixed rate. If demand exceeds the unit's flow rate (such as using multiple fixtures around the house), you may experience reduced hot water pressure.
Deciding if a combination boiler is right for your home is primarily a matter of priorities and budget. If replacing your boiler and water heater together seems too expensive, then going with a traditional boiler may be a better option. Likewise, keeping your storage tank water heater may be worthwhile if your home's hot water usage routinely exceeds the flow rate of most combi boilers.
Ultimately, combination boilers provide a way to save space in your home while reducing your utility bills. If these advantages justify the costs for your household, then a combi boiler may be an excellent upgrade to consider.