Jan 18

What Is The Difference Between A Boiler And A Furnace?

cat sleeping on a radiator and boiler heat

There are quite a number of homeowners who confuse furnaces with boilers. This is understandable because both systems provide heating for your home or office space. However, they are far from being the same. You will have to choose which one to use in your home, and this will depend on your home’s structure and heating needs. You must understand the differences between a boiler vs. furnace, as well as their pros and cons.

This article will discuss several vital differences between a furnace and a boiler.

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What Is A Boiler?


This heating system is a large and closed container where the liquid is heated for vapor or steam generation. This is the primary component of most boilers as it is the major contributor to heat emission and distribution.

Utilizing liquid for heating is called hydronic heating or a radiant heating system. Other components of the boiler include the radiators, pipe system, baseboard, and circulator pump. These parts are installed in various rooms and areas so that heat is distributed evenly. The number of components a residential boiler system has is dependent on how many rooms the house has.

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Advantages And Disadvantages of A Boiler

Listed below are some of the pros and cons a boiler has:


  • Boilers use less fuel to produce heat. Therefore, it is more cost-efficient.
  • Boilers are typically quieter than a furnace.
  • This type of heating system provides more consistent heat.
  • Boilers help improve your home’s indoor air quality. It does not move air, meaning it will not distribute dust, dirt, and other contaminants. Also, it doesn’t dry the air out.


  • Boilers can only be used for heating your home. Furnaces cannot be used for cooling as well, but a forced-air cooling unit can also use the same network of ducts.
  • Boilers need more time and effort for installation.
  • Boilers can take quite a while to adjust heating temperatures when the thermostat setting has been altered.
  • Older or faulty boilers increase the risk of becoming a leak hazard. As a result, the system and your home might suffer from water damages.
  • Switching a boiler to a furnace can be a challenging and costly process because of the need to install the ductwork.


What Is A Furnace?

image of a furnace after installation

A furnace utilizes the air to generate heat. This type of system is also known as a forced-air heating system as it forces room-temperature air to pass through the heat exchanger. It is in this component where the heating process begins. Once the air is heated, it is distributed throughout the house via the ductwork. Furnaces are categorized into three types, namely, horizontal, up flow, and downflow. This type of heating unit may be powered by electricity, gas, oil, or induction.

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Advantages And Disadvantages Of A Furnace

Here are some of the pros and cons of using a furnace heating system:


  • Furnaces can be powered by natural gas, electricity, heating oil, propane, and solar or geothermal energy.
  • It produces heat quicker than boilers, so your home is warmed up faster as well.
  • There are more furnace makes and models available, making them fairly common. Therefore, their market price is more affordable.
  • When a furnace leaks, air will escape through the gaps and holes and not water. This is less likely to cause damage to your home if at all.
  • If you live in an area that experiences frigid temperatures, you won’t risk having frozen pipes if you use a furnace. This is unlike with boilers that use water, so the pipes might freeze and burst.


  • Furnaces tend to be noisier. This noise is due to the blowers that distribute warm air throughout your home.
  • Heated air is not as consistent as the heating provided by hot water or steam. As a result, some rooms might be colder or warmer than others.
  • If you do not clean or replace the furnace filter regularly, the indoor air quality drastically decreases.

Differences Between A Boiler And A Furnace

homeowner relaxing next to boiler radiator

The most apparent difference between these two heating systems is how they operate. A boiler heats the water inside the tank to generate heat. The system then pushes the hot water through a network of pipes that run through your home, heating the pipes and rooms in the process. A boiler keeps a space warm as long as hot water or steam is produced.

On the other hand, a furnace heats the air in the heat exchanger. A blower motor is then utilized to distribute the warm air in your home. It pushes the heated air through the ductwork and is released via vents and air registers located in different rooms.

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Boiler Vs. Furnace: Energy-Efficiency

residential energy efficiency

The heating process uses more energy to heat air than water. Therefore, furnaces use more fuel in a shorter period than boilers. Boilers also tend to be more expensive, but they could also be sturdier than furnaces. However, this will still depend on whether or not the unit receives proper and regular HVAC maintenance.

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Choosing between a boiler and a furnace is reliant on your home’s heating and cooling requirements and your home structure. If you are looking to replace your old system, you will be happy to know that modern boiler and furnace models are highly efficient. Therefore, you will save more money down the line. Contact your trusted HVAC technician to discuss your options with you. Professional advice should help you decide on which system will work best for your home.

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image of skylands energy service logoSkylands Energy Service is one of the most trusted heating and cooling service providers in the area. Our professionally certified technicians have the experience to accurately and quickly resolve all your home comfort issues. Rest assured that we provide the most competitive rates in the area as well. We back all of our work with a guarantee. Be sure to call Skylands Energy Service today and receive a free, in-home estimate.

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