The Difference between Boilers and Furnaces

Do you use a boiler or furnace to heat your home in New York or Connecticut? Many homeowners use these terms interchangeably, but these two types of heating systems are very different in the ways that they work. Both heating systems generate heat and can keep your home warm, but knowing the difference can be helpful when it comes time for a new installation. Keep reading to find out the difference between boilers and furnaces.

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Boilers vs. Furnaces: What’s the Difference?

What Is a Boiler?

Boilers boil water to generate heat. With a boiler, water is heated in a tank, and then the boiling water is distributed through pipes as hot water or steam and generates heat through radiators or baseboard heaters. These heated pipes heat the air around them, and this type of heat is called radiant heat. Gas, electricity, and oil are the most common fuel sources for boilers, but some use other alternative fuel sources. Many homeowners like boilers for their efficiency. Boilers operate on a closed loop system, so when the water is heated and distributed through the home, it eventually returns to the tank to be heated again—and since it is already hot, it takes little energy and time to heat it again. Boilers create and transfer heat by circulating water, making them hydronic heating systems.

What Is a Furnace?

Unlike a boiler that generates heat by circulating hot water, furnaces generate heat by circulating hot air. Furnaces use forced-air heating, so with a furnace, air is heated and then circulated using vents and ductwork. Propane, gas, or electricity can power furnaces. Oil and alternative fuels are also used sometimes, but are less common.

Which One Is Better?

It doesn’t take long for a furnace to heat a home to high temperatures, and boilers take a little longer, but boilers are known to last longer and be more efficient because they maintain heat better. Furnaces usually require more maintenance, but boilers have the risk of frozen pipes in low temperatures.

Both furnaces and boilers come with pros and cons, but knowing the difference between the two can help you make smarter decisions about the way you heat your home. If you have any questions about boilers or furnaces, or if you’re ready to discuss an upgrade or new installation, contact us at Marshall Oil. We look forward to hearing from you.