Boilers vs. Water Heaters: What Are the Differences?

Erin Easley

Written By Erin Easley

Published 05/06/21
Boilers vs. Water Heaters: What Are the Differences?

Most homes require a reliable water heater or boiler to ensure access to hot water for bathing, cleaning, and cooking. Some people think of a water heater and boiler as the same type of appliance, but there are some notable differences between the two. Understanding how a water heater and boiler compare can help you make more informed decisions about your own home.

In this post, we’ll examine the difference between boiler and water heater systems, and we’ll share how home warranty coverage can keep these systems operating smoothly.

What Is a Water Heater?

As its name suggests, a water heater uses a heat source to raise the temperature of large quantities of potable water. A home’s plumbing system then disperses that warmed water to sinks, showers, washing machines, dishwashers, and other appliances. 

There are different classes of water heaters:

  • Conventional or tanked water heaters: The conventional water heater is the most common. It’s effectively a large tank—anywhere from 30 to 80 gallons—that is connected to the home’s main water supply. Cold water rushes into the bottom of the tank, where it is heated by gas or electricity. When the water comes to temperature, the water heater will maintain that temperature to ensure that hot water is ready for immediate use. When the tank is depleted of its warm water, it is automatically refilled by cold water to perform the same process.

  • Tankless water heaters: Unlike its conventional counterpart, a tankless water heater does not store hot water. Instead, it heats water very quickly on demand. When the shower or hot water tap is turned on, the tankless water heater engages to heat the home’s cold water supply. When the shower or tap is turned off, the water heater shuts down too. Tankless water heaters are more energy efficient and take up less space, but they tend to be more expensive to purchase and install.

  • Solar water heaters: Some water heaters use solar cells to heat water for the home. Though energy efficient, solar water heaters are better suited to some regions more than others. They’re not especially common—at least relative to conventional and tankless water heaters.

  • Heat pump or hybrid water heaters: These water heaters have a storage tank much like conventional water heaters. They differ, however, in their source of heat. Hybrid water heaters extract heat from the air or ground.

What Is Boiler Heating?

A water boiler for home use can heat potable water as well. Unlike a water heater, however, a boiler can be used to heat an entire home.

So how does a water boiler work? A boiler brings water to a higher temperature to create steam. It may draw cold water from the home’s main supply, though some boilers operate on a closed loop, recycling the same water as it cycles from steam to liquid.

In a water boiler heating system, the steam travels throughout the home to individual radiators that give off warmth. The steam can also heat potable water for home use.

There is tremendous variety among boilers too. There are tanked and tankless versions, and models that use different sources of power.

Boiler vs. Water Heater

Whether a boiler or water heater is best for your home is dependent on your home heating needs. If you plan on using a boiler to heat your home, then a water heater is likely redundant. If, on the other hand, you anticipate using electric heating, a furnace, or some other source of heat, you should get a water heater and forego the boiler. Contractors, realtors, and other home professionals can help you determine the solution that is best for you.

Stay Warm with a Home Warranty

No matter how you choose to source hot water for your home, a home warranty plan can keep you from taking a cold shower. When you’re stumped by your boiler or you’ve exhausted all the water heater troubleshooting tips you can find, warranty coverage can ensure swift and inexpensive repair.

Whether you’re interested in water heater warranty coverage or protection for virtually any other home appliance or system, Liberty Home Guard has your back. Get a free quote through our website or call (866)-748-2399.

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