Types of boilers for home heating

5 November 2021
gas hydronic heating boiler

When it comes to selecting a boiler for your home heating system, it pays to do your research. Ultimately, the system will only be as efficient as the boiler you install.

You want to keep your running costs low, right? And to heat your home as efficiently as possible? To keep these boxes ticked, it’s imperative that you make the right choice.

We’ve rounded up some details on the different types of boilers for hydronic heating for your home, so you can get an overview of your options. Whichever you choose, it is important that you get a qualified professional to perform the installation. In this article, we’ll take a look at the following options:

  • Hydronic heating boiler
  • Electric boiler
  • Hydronic gas boiler
  • LPG boiler
  • Combi boiler
  • Wood pellet boiler
  • Wood fire boiler (hydronic)

Hydronic heating boiler

If you are considering installing a hydronic heating system in your home, you will want to make sure that whichever product you choose is energy efficient.

At Hunt Heating, we recommend that you consult with a licensed hydronic heating professional when it comes to selecting the most appropriate boiler for your home, location, heat source availability and budget.

Which is the best hydronic boiler?

The answer to this is really going to come down to which heat sources you have access to and your budget. The boilers within this article can all be used to run a hydronic heating system and are all worthy of your consideration.

The best hydronic boilers are highly energy efficient and if you are installing a brand new hydronic heating system into your home, then you would be wise to invest in a new boiler, not a pre-loved unit with potential damage or build up of debris. 

Electric boiler

With no flues or chimneys needed to be installed, an electric boiler is quick and affordable when you’re talking installation. However, when you look at running costs, they are pricier to run given the increasing price of electricity. Longer term, this may be less attractive to your financial situation.

Electric boilers are super efficient and great for smaller sized homes. If you are in a household that has a higher need for hot water, then you can consider an electric boiler alongside a storage cylinder to make sure everyone gets their hot water fix. (this is based on no solar PV or renewable technology gains). 

electric heating, hydronic heating

Hydronic gas boiler

If you have access to natural gas at your property, then a natural gas boiler is a straightforward solution when it comes to installation. The majority of hydronic heating systems in Australia are run on natural gas boilers and are often recommended by professionals in the industry.

One of the most efficient fuels for boilers, it makes this option cost effective when it comes to bill time. If you want to increase the efficiency even further you can select a natural gas combi boiler which we’ll cover in more detail below, as these can achieve a thermal efficiency of up to 98.6%.

Is hydronic heating gas or electric?

At its core, hydronic heating is versatile when it comes to product options and heat sources. You can choose from natural gas, LPG, electricity, heat pumps or wood pellets to run your hydronic heating system. Gas is the most popular choice, given that it is generally cheaper than electricity if no electric generation or renewable technology is considered.

Do you need a boiler for hydronic heating?

You will need to heat water in order to run a hydronic heating system. Generally, hydronic heating systems run via a boiler, but there are also options to use heat pumps.

natural has heating, hydronic heating system

LPG boiler

This option is often recommended by heating industry experts if natural gas is not available at your location. LPG (liquified petroleum gas) boilers are easy to install and maintain, with the gas bottles needing replacement as required. Environmentally they are preferred as they produce less carbon emissions than oil boilers.

On the price front, they are a little bit more expensive to run than your natural gas solutions, but still cheaper than one kilowatt in, one kilowatt out electric boilers  or oil powered heating systems. 

Combi boiler

Short for ‘combination’, a combi boiler provides unlimited heat and hot water and can supply your households hydronic heating needs and domestic hot water in one unit.

With this set up, the hot water is instantaneous and only heats the amount needed. If you are keen to take this approach, keep in mind that a standard combi boiler will usually only service two to three outlets at a time. For small to medium homes, this is a great choice.

There are also products on the market that have additional hot water storage and can also provide zoning and temperature control for up to three hydronic zones, plus your domestic hot water.

Combi boilers can be either gas or electric and are highly energy efficient. 

residential hydronic boiler, hydronic heating

What is the difference between a combi boiler and a normal boiler?

Unlimited heat and hot water are both provided by combi boilers, without the need for a water tank or cylinder - unlike a ‘normal’ boiler, which requires these. As a result, these units take up a lot less space when installed. 

Wood pellet boiler

As you might guess, this boiler uses pressed wood pellets as the heating source. A sustainable approach, they are a newcomer to the home heating market and are a fantastic low carbon option that does not create carbon dioxide emissions that we all know harm the environment.

Apart from the environmental benefits, wood pellet boilers are highly efficient and great if you do not have access to natural gas. There are also the bonus benefits of them being fully automatic and self-cleaning, where most models will heat the room which they are installed in, further increasing the cost effectiveness.

There is the reality that wood pellet boilers do initially require a higher investment compared to other options. You will also need to have the space to store the wood pellets. If you have a slightly bigger budget for your home heating set up, and are swayed by the eco-friendly benefits and are after a stylish addition to your home, then it is certainly worth a look.

Are wood pellet boilers cheaper to run?

Compared to conventional boiler systems, wood pellet boilers are cheaper to run. Wood pellets also have price stability with pellets not being subject to price changes in quite the same way gas and electricity can fluctuate.

How efficient are wood pellet boilers?

The majority of wood pellet boilers will be over 90% when it comes to efficiency. Compared to other solid fuel-based heating it is significantly more efficient with these options typically being 70-80% efficient. 

Wood fire boiler (hydronic)

In scenarios where natural gas isn’t available at the property and LPG might be too pricey, a wood fired hydronic boiler could be the answer.

There are different products that can be installed outdoors or indoors and they are generally most suitable to homeowners on rural properties, or those who have a stack of timber handy on an ongoing basis. Wood fire boilers are not as common as the other solutions on the market.

Another product in this category works with both wood and wood pellets, the boiler running on either fuel. If the wood isn’t restocked, the boiler will automatically switch to the pellets and an inbuilt automatic log ignition removes the need for having to manually light the wood. 

The wrap up

As you can see, deciding on which boiler best suits your home heating needs will come down to a few factors, primarily the specifications of the heating system, the available fuel sources and your budget.

Homeowners across Australia choose Hunt Heating for our extensive experience, attentive service, product knowledge and top quality range of premium hydronic heating and cooling products for keeping homes comfortable and energy efficient.

We can help you calculate how much energy your home requires to stay comfortable and which boiler is the best fit for your requirements. Contact the team at Hunt Heating today for expert advice.