How does a boiler work?
As already mentioned, boilers provide us with heat and hot water (called ACS in Spanish: Sanitary Hot Water). But first, the following should be clarified: All boilers provide us with heat, whilst providing hot water is optional. Those systems that are used exclusively for obtaining hot water are not called boilers, they are water heaters. Did you know they were different?
Boilers run on different types of fuel. Many run on gases such as butane and natural gas, and others run on diesel and even electricity. The most environmentally friendly alternative is pellets, which uses the energy produced by biomass.
Most have a sealed area that is called the burner. The burner transforms the fuel into the heat that is used in the boiler. Inside the sealed area there is a pipe with water inside. The burner heats up and causes the fuel to combust and as a result the temperature of the pipe increases and heats the water inside.
Hot water flows to what we call a heat exchanger. This is where the functions of the boiler are divided. The heat exchanger has two different circuits: One for heating and one for hot water. Have you ever wondered how the water in the shower is heated? Here is the answer. In the same way as the radiators installed in your home heat the house. Due to the flow of thermal energy in the heat exchanger's other circuit.
Types of boilers
So now we know how a boiler works. Now we need to know what kind of systems there are. There are a great many and they adapt to all kinds of situations, so the main differences between boilers will depend on the: function, fuel and the scope of use.
Types of boilers depending on their purpose
Boilers can be used for domestic, industrial or business purposes:
- Domestic boilers are intended for family homes and can heat water almost to boiling point (100°C).
- Boilers for business premises are halfway between domestic and industrial boilers. They have an intermediate performance and are designed for work centres and commercial premises.
- Industrial boilers can generate temperatures between 300°C and 600°C. They are exclusively for industrial purposes and can be found in areas such as the food industry and textile sector.
Now we know the three main areas in which boilers work, we will focus on domestic boilers. Would you like to know which is the best option for your home? Read on.
Types of boilers depending on their function
As already mentioned when explaining the function of a domestic boiler: There are boilers for heating and mixed-function boilers.
- Boilers for heating convert water into a heat carrier. Once the water reaches the ideal temperature, it is sent to the radiators installed in the home or premises. The water, converted into heat, is distributed throughout the premises generating the desired effect.
- Meanwhile, we have seen that mixed-function boilers have two different circuits, one for heating and one for hot water. What is interesting about this type of system is that it has a capacity for saving, as it uses the same equipment for both functions.
Types of boilers depending on the fuel
Progress in new technologies has enabled boilers to adapt to the economic and social conditions in which we live. The first oil- and coal-based boilers have been set aside in favour of new options that are much more environment friendly.
- The most widely used fuel is still gas. There are two types of gas boilers: Those using natural gas, and those using liquefied petroleum gas. This second type of boiler uses butane, supplied in cylinders, or propane, which can even be supplied in bulk. These boilers are silent and leave no residue after combustion.
- Diesel is another fuel that is also used in boilers. These are the most suitable for those homes where the distribution of other gases is complicated. They also provide heat very quickly, need hardly any maintenance and enable you to have large reserves of fuel at home.
- Electric boilers are ideal for those who do not need to have hot water continuously. They can be regulated which enables them to have greater energy efficiency and make economic savings. As they do not require the combustion of any type of gas, these boilers are not prone waste production or leaks.
The boilers that are gaining prominence are those using fuels that are fully renewable and clean. This is why many users now choose solar or biomass boilers. These boilers guarantee the total absence of greenhouse gases, as well as not depending on any kind of fuel that will generate polluting waste.
Domestic boilers, the most used
The following are the different types of domestic boilers. Atmospheric boilers operate under open combustion and use the air that is drawn through the boiler. No boilers of this type have been installed since 2013, due to their poor efficiency, the damage caused to the environment and lack of safety when working. These have been replaced by sealed system boilers.
Sealed system boilers have sealed chambers where combustion takes place. It is in the chamber where the above-mentioned burner performs its functions. It is a reliable method because of the hermetically sealed structure and it is much better for the environment. Sealed system boilers have been developed and we can now find new models, such as condensing boilers and modulating boilers.
Condensing boilers enable the re-use of latent heat after combustion, so they make better use of the fuel used. These systems reduce emissions of NOx (nitrogen oxides), generated by burning fossil fuels.
The main characteristic of modulating boilers is that they can be set up to self regulate. They adapt their power in accordance with what the space in which they are located needs at that moment. This quality has a positive impact on saving consumption.
What is the best boiler for my house?
With all this information, you will surely be asking what is the best among all these options. Have you thought about it? Our choice would be condensing boilers.
These boilers have proven to be the most efficient because of their characteristics. They make the most of the water in the circuit, especially when working with low temperatures. What does this entail? Condensing boilers achieve an efficiency of up to 110%.
This higher performance means that energy consumption is much lower and this means greater savings for you. What is more, they reduce CO2 and NOx emissions by 70%. If to all this we add the possibility of regulating the temperature and how silently it works, then this is surely the best option.