Condensing boilers (by a London Plumber)
How does a condensing boiler work? Condensing Boiler

This is a design of boiler which can have an increased efficiency over the more traditional boiler. The efficiency of a typical non-condensing boiler is around 75%, whereas with condensing boilers it can be over 87%. This increased efficiency is due to the extraction of heat from the otherwise wasted flue gases. Most boilers have a single combustion chamber enclosed by the waterways of the heat exchanger through which the hot gases can pass. These gases are eventually expelled through the flue, located at the top of the boiler, at a temperature of around 180°C.

Condensing boilers, on the other hand, are designed first to allow the heat to rise upwards through the primary heat exchanger; when at the top the gases are rerouted and diverted over a secondary heat exchanger. These can reduce the flue gas temperature to about 55°C. This reduction of temperature causes the water vapour (formed during the combustion process) to condense and, as the droplets of water form, fall by gravity to collect at the base of the flue manifold. The remaining gases are expelled to the outside environment through a fan-assisted balanced flue. The condensation produced within the appliance should be drained as necessary into the waste discharge pipework or externally into a purpose-made soakaway. It is only possible for a condensing boiler to work to these very high efficiencies if the flow and return pipework is also kept below 55°C. The flow & return temperatures need to be maintained for the heat transference to occur from the flue to the water (i.e. heat transference goes from hotter to cooler materials).

Many people are installing condensing boilers in homes which are fitted with radiators and a primary flow and return to the hot water. Some of these people may be under the impression they are getting more for their money; unfortunately, as stated above, low flow and return connections are essential; therefore they are not making the vast savings they are led to expect. For a central heating system to work with radiators and hot water primary circuits, flow temperatures need to be around 82°C, so in fact the installer has put in an expensive condensing boiler which gives only slightly improved efficiency over the more traditional boiler. The appliance basically only works in its condensing mode during initial heat-up. To achieve a system which will function in its condensing mode the installer needs to consider a suitable system of radiant heating. Boiler repairs can be expensive.

the adverse effects due to condensation are unlikely to be serious as it will be appreciated that it will be diluted very quickly by the discharges from sanitary appliances. some of which may be listed as follows: the age of the appliance. indeed some non-condensing boilers already use this method to reduce flue sizes. however. The wet type requires . The reader will appreciate that 100% efficiency is not possible with any burning appliance. fuel suppliers and boiler manufacturers are diverting more time and thought to improving the efficiency of their appliances. This could lead to problems in older properties having salt-glazed drain pipes with cement joints. In practice.Condensing boilers an alternative view As the cost of fuel increases and the limitations of sources of energy become more apparent. A modern boiler of the conventional type is said to be approximately 75 per cent efficient. There are two basic types of condensing boilers using either wet or dry heat-transfer principles. The actual efficiency of a boiler varies considerably depending on a number of factors. but this poses a serious problem. and if the flue temperature is lowered significantly the vapour will condense and turn to water. One of the more recent products of this research is the condensing boiler. This is mainly due to the fact that products of combustion carry away some of the heat given off by the burning fuel up the chimney and into the atmosphere. The first problem can be overcome by using a flue extractor. Tests have been conducted on materials from which domestic drains are constructed and the following conclusions reached. There must be a considerable difference between the ambient air temperature and that of the products of combustion in order that convection takes place. whether it is oversized in relation to the scheme it is heating and whether or not it has a permanent pilot or is fitted with electronic (spark) ignition. The second difficulty is that water vapour is formed during the process of combustion. Although the condensate is acidic in nature containing traces of nitric and sulphurous acids. Drains made of plastic material and clayware showed insignificant damage while cast iron is likely to be affected in the long term and gives rise to staining. Cement and concrete products appeared to be affected more seriously than other materials. The difficulty of disposing of the condensate (water) has to some degree been overcome by allowing it to collect in the base of the boiler where it can be disposed of into the drainage system. To achieve greater efficiency some of this heat must be reclaimed. the remaining 25 per cent of the heat passing up the flue.

If. In practice. giving efficiencies of only 60-65 per cent. A more realistic approach would be to increase the heating flow and return differential from the recommended 11 °C to approximately 20 °C. The ideal temperature at which this occurs is 59 °c when the air-to-gas ratio is just sufficient to cause complete combustion of the gas. worth checking on a refurbishment job where a condensing boiler is replacing an older model. such a design concept would only fractionally increase operating efficiency and any saving would be offset when compared with the initial cost of installing much larger heat-emission equipment such as radiators. (b) By the latent heat of evaporation. and taking into account its remaining service life. it will be an economic proposition. but at this point the similarity ends. bearing in mind that a modern conventional b9iler is likely to be .a purpose-made system which at present is only produced for commercial boiler plant and is still being developed. they are circulated around the secondary heat exchanger where more heat is given up to the cooler return water entering the boiler. the transmittance of heat from a hotter medium (in this case the combustion products) to the cooler return. Obviously such a component is necessary on all boilers of this type as the temperature of the outgoing products of combustion are so low that the convective effect of natural draught is impossible. cause the discharge pipe to freeze. Some authorities have suggested that by using much larger radiators to permit lower operating temperatures with consequently lower boiler return temperatures.e. bearing in mind they are at a temperature of approximately 200-250 °C. If the existing boiler is of the old pattern with an open burner. The water produced by condensation in the boiler is collected in the base and discharged into a drain. (a) In the form of sensible heat. it is of the new pattern with a closed combustion chamber giving an average efficiency of 75 per cent. the initial cost of the condensing boiler would not be viable. Dry condensing boilers are more suitable for domestic work. the greater will be the heat transference to the water. they operate on the more conventional principles of traditional boilers where the products of combustion are separated from the circulating water via a heat exchanger. Instead of passing the combustion products directly into the flue. Dewpoint is the term used to signify the temperature at which the water vapour condenses and reverts to water. but if the radiators are accurately sized this might not be a practical proposition. even when the electrical energy necessary to operate the extractor is taken into account. i. The relatively large body of water thus discharged is then unlikely to freeze. as already explained this depends largely on operating temperatures as illustrated by the graph in Fig. Boiler service london The reader should understand that the water vapour in the combustion products reverts to a liquid when condensed. greater efficiency can be achieved. and although the 92-94 per cent efficiency claimed by manufacturers is attractive. in frosty weather . a quantity of air in excess of the ideal requirements must be provided which has the effect of lowering the combustion temperature and the dewpoint of the combustion products. preferably via a gully where the acidic nature of the condensate will be diluted. It will be seen that the combustion gases pass through the primary heat exchanger in a similar way to boilers of a traditional pattern. Despite this it will be seen that with a dewpoint of approximately 53-54 °C very high efficiency can be obtained with low return-water temperatures. 5. These two sources of heat can be usefully employed in properly designed boilers to increase dramatically their efficiency. however. The initial cost of condensing boilers is more than that of conventional types. however. With regard to the viability of changing an existing boiler for a condensing type.It is. several factors must be considered. however. however. despite the savings on operating costs. One further point is worth noting. the relatively small quantity of water produced when the boiler is in operation would. giving up the heat that caused it to become a vapour. This would have the effect of reducing the average or mean temperature of the heat emitters. Unlike the wet system where the circulating water is in direct contact with the combustion gases. as it is quite common for existing radiators to be oversized. Heat is extracted from the combustion products in two ways. To prevent this a device similar to that employed in automatic flushing cisterns is used which allows a body of condensed water to build up in the base of the boiler until it operates what the plumber would call an automatic siphon. In practice. The lower the temperature of the return water in relation to that of the products of combustion.9. to ensure safe working conditions.

However. an economic alternative to a conventional boiler in terms of running costs when fitted with new installations designed to give a 20-22 °C drop between the flow and return temperatures. operating at lower temperatures and heated by a condensing boiler. Radiant heating schemes employing a system of pipework embedded in walls. spacesaving {there's no hot-water storage cylinder} and economy {you heat only the water you use}. however. Due to their efficiency the flue gases from condensing boilers tend to produce a greater degree of 'plumbing' than those of the traditional type. would show significant savings on heating costs.'. Condensing boilers are. The advantages are ease of installation {there are no tanks or pipes in the loft}. and it's not usually possible to use two hot taps at the same time. When upgrading an existing boiler one of the practical aspects that must be considered is the position of the flue outlet. boiler installation london . Combination boilers are therefore best suited to small households or flats. car ports or opposing walls. must be avoided. Makes of condensing boilers Potterton condensing boilers Potterton High Efficiency Combination Boilers Baxi condensing boilers Baxi High Efficiency Combination Boilers Worcester condensing boilers Worcester High Efficiency Combination Boilers Ariston condensing boilers Ariston High Efficiency Combination Boilers Vaillant condensing boilers Vaillant High Efficiency Combination Boilers Vokera condensing boilers Vokera High Efficiency Combination Boilers Glow-Worm condensing boilers Glow-Worm High Efficiency Combination Boilers Combi Boiler Combination boilers Combination boilers provide both hot water to a sealed heating system and a separate supply of instant hot water directly to taps and showers.operating a heating scheme where the return temperature is relatively high. Flue termination under windows or adjacent to doors. The main drawback is a fairly slow flow rate -so it takes longer to fill a bath. floors or ceilings. to overcome these problems. the newer generation of combination boilers incorporate a small built-in hot-water storage tank.

Most standard efficiency furnaces are equipped with a powered exhaust. but a considerable amount of heat (both in the combustion products and in heated room air) also escapes through the chimney at the same time. The newer designs have been modified to increase energy efficiency by reducing the amount of heated air that escapes during both the on and off cycles and by extracting more of the heat contained in the combustion by-products before they are vented. seasonal efficiency is much higher for today's standardefficiency furnaces than for furnaces equipped with pilot lights. An essential difference in the design of these units is how they are vented. Heat is also lost up the chimney when the furnace is off. New Standard. With more heat exchange. This will help you decide which energy-saving features will give you the most for your heating dollar. eliminating the need for dilution air. which can be spark ignition. with most having an efficiency of 80 percent. The combustion of natural gas produces certain by-products. The gas is then ignited. Standard-efficiency gas furnaces use mainly a naturally aspirating burner and do not have a continuously lit pilot light. no dilution air and high resistance to flow during the off cycle. These devices can result in energy savings of 3 to 5 percent compared with a furnace with a conventional standing pilot light. These systems consist of an ignition device that lights the gas and electrically operates the gas valve and controls. Furnaces with these design modifications use much less energy than conventional furnaces. the ignition controls open the gas valve to allow gas into the combustion chamber. offering energy savings of 23 to 28 percent. Newer furnaces have electric ignition systems. such by-products are vented through a chimney. and compare your possible savings with the purchase cost of the equipment. In a conventional gas furnace. When the thermostat indicates that heat is required. These systems can be vented through a properly sized chimney or out the side wall . so consider what this means to you in dollars.and High-Efficiency Furnaces and Boilers Over the last 20 years. Heating With Gas 3. Thank You. usually consisting of a built-in induced draft fan (Figure 8). including water vapour and carbon dioxide. a new generation of higher-efficiency gas furnaces and boilers has come to market. Standard-Efficiency Gas Furnaces Standard-efficiency furnaces have a seasonal efficiency of at least 78 percent. Refer to the technologies and seasonal efficiencies listed in Table 3 on page 52.If you know anything more about condensing boilers then please let the online community know by posting your comments below. heat source ignition or intermittent ignition systems.

cost-effective for most climatic regions of Canada 2. better suited for the tight construction of an energy-efficient house Figure 9 ENERGY STAR symbol .of the house using high-grade stainless steel. approvals agency or gas utility. Figure 8 Standard-efficiency gas furnace with induced draft fan Note that installation codes may require a combustion air supply to be brought from outdoors to the furnace. Regulations may forbid the use of certain vent materials in your area. with seasonal efficiencies of between 90 and 97 percent. High-Efficiency Condensing Gas Furnaces Condensing gas furnaces are the most energy-efficient furnaces available. there have been problems associated with the use of high-temperature plastic vent pipes with standard-efficiency furnaces. You should discuss all options with your local serviceperson. The high-efficiency condensing gas furnace should be the new furnace of choice for most Canadians because it is 1. not susceptible to some of the condensation and long-term vent degradation problems that can occur with the standard-efficiency furnace 3. However.

where efficiency decreases with furnace oversizing. A second type of condensing furnace or boiler uses a pulse combustion technology to ignite small amounts of gas at frequent intervals. A chimney is not needed. they have additional heat exchange surfaces made of corrosion-resistant materials (usually stainless steel) that extract heat from the combustion by-products before they are exhausted." Figure 10 High-efficiency condensing gas furnace Sealed Combustion In a sealed combustion system. Thus. . it is essentially similar to the condensing gas furnace previously described. The condensate is piped to a floor drain. if you are choosing a new condensing furnace. fuel savings of up to 38 percent can be achieved. compared with older gas furnaces equipped with pilot lights. Depending on the combustion and heat exchange design. you can get a furnace that is slightly larger than the house heat demand. Because the flue gas temperature is low. outside air is piped directly to the combustion chamber. condensing furnaces are actually more efficient when they are oversized and run for shorter periods. Most condensing gas furnaces have burners similar to conventional furnaces. and the furnace does not draw any air from inside the house for either combustion or vent gas dilution. the combustion gases are cooled to a point at which the water vapour condenses. thus releasing additional heat into the home. In this condensing heat exchange section. polluting emissions released into the environment are also reduced. Furthermore. thus reducing the cost of installation. with draft supplied by an induced draft fan (Figure 10). the gases are vented through a PVC or ABS plastic pipe out the side wall of the house. otherwise. Contrary to conventional and standard-efficiency furnaces. without suffering an "efficiency penalty.The only furnaces that qualify for ENERGY STAR labelling are high-efficiency condensing gas furnaces. However.

Those that are not sealed typically have an induced draft that is powerful enough to overcome any house depressurization. they have an additional heat exchanger made of corrosion resistant materials (usually stainless steel) that extracts latent heat . they are subject to greater heat losses. Some standard-efficiency furnaces are also available as sealed combustion systems. When the gas burner turns off. Many boilers use draft hoods. But it also continuously draws heat from the boiler and warm household air up the chimney. new boilers have much better insulation to keep the boiler water hot. With no dilution air. both out through their casing (sides) and up the chimney when they are not being fired. These burners. Other boilers that use aspirating gas burners have eliminated the need for a draft hood entirely by using a powered exhaust system. combined with the operation of exhaust fans (such as kitchen and bathroom fans and clothes dryers). The draft hood is located downstream of the boiler proper. Most high-efficiency furnaces are designed as sealed combustion systems. Because boilers store more heat internally than warm air furnaces do. many gas boilers have replaced the naturally aspirating gas burner with a power burner. usually electronic ignition. A vent damper is now usually installed downstream of the draft hood to close off the exhaust when the burner is not operating. the damper is closed automatically after a short period. These use a fan on the burner to improve the combustion process and ensure the development and maintenance of an adequate draft. and minimal flow up the stack during the off cycle. tend to have a high-pressure restriction or even close off the combustion air passage when the burner is not operating. The tight construction of an energy-efficient house. these units tend to give superior performance to those using draft hoods and vent dampers. Most boilers on the market today use some form of intermittent ignition device. Today. This minimizes off-cycle heat losses without requiring a flue damper. or a power burner. the damper opens. This stabilizes the airflow through the appliance. and have performance characteristics similar to or better than the aspirating burner with a powered exhaust system. before the burner lights again. and so are well suited to the tight construction of a modern energy-efficient house. Sealed combustion units prevent this potential safety problem. ENERGY STAR qualified boilers must have an AFUE rating of at least 85 percent. Non-Condensing Gas Boilers Residential gas boilers sold in Canada today are required to have an AFUE rating of at least 80 percent. similar to ones used in advanced oil-fired equipment. It draws household air into the gas vent along with the flue gases. can cause spillage of flue gas and backdrafting from fuel-burning appliances. similar to the units described previously. However.Although heating costs may be reduced slightly by decreasing the amount of heated air that is drawn from inside the house. isolating the burner from outside pressure fluctuations. or have sealed combustion. Improved insulation levels. Condensing Gas Boilers Condensing gas boilers employ either an aspirating burner with an induced draft fan. The following are some ways manufacturers have improved efficiency levels:    Elimination of continuous pilot lights. To reduce heat lost from casings. Better draft control methods to reduce flue losses. the main advantage of sealed combustion is that it isolates the combustion air system from the house so that the furnace is not affected by the operation of other appliances in the home. high resistance to spillage during the on cycle. usually incorporating an induced draft fan. Such units minimize dilution air.

A condensing boiler can have an AFUE rating of 90 percent or higher. If the return water temperature is too high. it may be possible to lower the return water temperature with techniques such as    using an outdoor reset controller as discussed in Chapter 2 to lower the supply water temperature in the "shoulder heating seasons" (late spring and early fall) to get efficiencies up during these periods. But in practice.122°F). Space heating can be hydronic or forced air (through a fan coil). it would be natural to combine space and water heating systems. high-efficiency space and water condensing gas-fired heating system. the heating system must be designed to return water to the boiler below the temperature of the condensing flue gas. This type of system may entail a lower overall capital cost than individual . a total systems approach to design is required. To take advantage of the efficiency potential of condensing gas-fired systems. An integrated. For the condensing boiler's heat exchanger to extract all the potential latent heat effectively. Unfortunately. Residential applications that normally operate at sufficiently low return water temperatures include   radiant floor heating pool water heating For radiator systems. the system has to run with the lowest possible return water temperatures. Because the flue gas temperature is low. using water from municipal mains as the driving mechanism to condense the flue gas. with new or renovated housing. A chimney is not needed. condensing boilers in hydronic (hot water) heating systems can have difficulty achieving this efficiency. improvements to the building envelope have reduced the space heating load to the point where it is sometimes difficult to justify the expense of a high-efficiency furnace solely to satisfy the heating load. in particular. which makes it difficult for the flue gas to condense. reducing the cost of installation. Combined Space. preferably not exceeding 45– . it makes sense to combine space heating with other functions.remaining in the combustion by-products by condensing the combustion products before they are exhausted. Domestic hot water loads have remained fairly constant and have even increased over time. In many cases. domestic water heating. although this method is not effective in the peak heating season using radiator systems that have sufficient heat exchange surface to operate effectively at lower temperatures using the return water to preheat service water (as shown in Figure 11 on page 40) for combined space and water heating systems For a condensing boiler to operate efficiently. Therefore. can have efficiencies of over 90 percent for both space and water heating. Water Heating and Ventilating Systems One way to potentially maximize efficiency and reduce costs is to integrate space and water heating in a single appliance.50°C (113– . For a condensing boiler to achieve its potential. most radiator systems are designed to operate at significantly higher return water temperatures. making it logical to put more effort into improving the efficiency of the hot water generator. actual operating efficiency may be only slightly higher than that of the better models of non-condensing boilers. the gases are vented through a PVC or ABS plastic pipe out the side wall of the house.

Finally. can result in less air infiltration. as a last resort. the return water temperature can be brought below the dew point. A standard-efficiency boiler coupled with an external storage tank is another efficient combined system. flue gases will condense and the efficiencies will be improved significantly. condensing gas-fired boilers in hydronic heating systems can have difficulty condensing because the return water temperature is above the dew point of the flue gases. it eliminates the need for multiple exhaust systems. combined with better draftproofing and insulation. Heavy condensation on the inside of windows and dampness or mould growth on walls or ceilings are indications of too much moisture. and it maximizes efficient operation. serious structural damage may occur. it is often not necessary to have a humidifier in an airtight house. These units suffer from low efficiency and limited life and have been supplanted by the optimized systems described above. Figure 11 Schematic of high-efficiency combined space and water heating system Standard-efficiency gas-fired combined systems also exist. In fact. Condensation Problems In the house More efficient heating systems. You should also check the humidifier setting on your furnace if it is equipped with one. Such a high-efficiency combined system is shown in Figure 11. indoor condensation problems can be solved. leads to excess humidity in the house. Early "combo" systems used a conventional natural draft water heater and a fan coil to supply heat to the distribution air. but their overall efficiency potential is lower than for condensing units. you should talk to a contractor about installing a heat . in turn. You can do this by using lids on pots when cooking.appliances. By installing a water-to-water heat exchanger and storage tank for tap hot water upstream of the boiler. luckily. install exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen vented directly to the outside. If not corrected. In practice. which. Because most of the indoor humidity arises from regular household activities (such as showering and cooking). Even better. your first step should be to reduce the amount of moisture from these sources. keeping showers short and ensuring that your dryer vents to the outside.

already cooled by the improved heat exchangers in the furnace. A high-efficiency motor. spalling or flaking of the bricks. It will eventually pay for itself in reduced electrical bills. HIGH-EFFICIENCY VARIABLE SPEED BLOWER MOTORS It is becoming a common design practice to run furnace blowers continuously at a low speed during the heating season. There have been recent developments in blower motors. However. is not the most energy efficient. compared with the traditional demand-only mode of operation during the heating season. the high-efficiency fan-blower motor will provide additional savings since the heat from the inefficient motor no longer needs to be cooled . These practices dramatically increase annual electrical consumption by the furnace. The standard type of alternating current (AC) motor used in most furnaces – . In the chimney Condensation in the chimney is another possible problem. damage caused by condensation inside a chimney.recovery ventilator (HRV) that will increase your home's ventilation and decrease humidity without wasting energy. to improve both comfort level and furnace efficiency. pieces of tile at the bottom of the chimney. particularly a masonry chimney located on an outside wall. The electrical savings from the high-efficiency fan-blower motor will otherwise contribute to satisfying some of the heating demand. there are simple remedies. homeowners often install central air-conditioning systems that utilize the same furnace blower. The most common cause of all of these problems is condensation inside a cold chimney. Thus the gas savings from a furnace equipped with a high-efficiency motor will be offset somewhat by the extra heat that the furnace must supply. more efficient furnaces need smaller chimneys than the 200-mm2 (8-sq.-in. particularly when operated at low speeds. rise slowly in the cold. In many parts of Canada. The resulting condensation can then leak into the bricks and cause structural or water damage. but humid house air drawn into the chimney also contributes to problems. uses less than one third of the electricity consumed by a standard motor.) flue tile that has been standard for many years. Some solutions to these problems are described in Chapter 7. powdery efflorescence on the outside of the chimney. crumbling mortar joints. when used continuously. when central air conditioning is used. Looking Ahead Research and development is ongoing in the field of furnace efficiency. If this is caught in time. Combustion gases. and water running out of the cleanout door or around the bottom of the chimney behind the furnace. wet patches on inside walls behind the chimney. oversized flue and are sometimes cooled to the dew point of the water vapour they contain. Look for a white. Some furnaces now available use high-efficiency variable speed brushless DC motors. where it is chilled by exposure to outside air. The lower flue temperature achieved by the improved efficiency of today's heating equipment has created the possibility of another problem – . Water vapour is produced when oil or natural gas is burned. Another cause of condensation is that the new. the fourspeed Permanent Split Capacitor (PSC) type – .

Although this meant that there was no possibility of the boiler failing to meet the demand for heat." What size of Boiler do I need? Old boilers may have their output measured in British Thermal Units per hour (Btu/h). it is highly likely that you will need a smaller boiler than before. and so running below their maximum efficiency. Do Condensing Boilers Work? Ian Byrne. There are now almost 50 manufacturers or importers with models on the UK market: for a complete list either look on the Government's Standard Efficiency Database for Boilers in the UK website or ring your . but all current boilers are sold in the metric equivalent of kilowatts (kW). and it was found that operating efficiencies of 90% or better could be obtained in normal use. The calculator below will give the approximate metric value. it also meant that they were mainly operating at a part load. Hot water is provided by a small storage tank on the right: the tank (which is covered by insulating foam) has been cut open to show the tightly wound quick refresh coil inside it. The plastic pipe on the right carries the condensed water vapour produced by burning the gas. known as condensate. it works very well and my heating bills are lower than my neighbours in similar homes with old-fashioned boilers (although most have installed condensing boilers themselves since this page was first written in 1996). making it slightly acidic. 000 Btu/h is equivalent to kW We recommend seeking professional advice from a Gas Safe/CORGI or OFTEC registered installer before choosing an appropriate replacement boiler. even in the most arctic of conditions. A side effect is that this water. has to be piped away to a drain or soak away. How can I install a Condensing Boiler? Which model of boiler should I choose? Since 1st April 2007 it has been a legal requirement that all gas boilers installed must be a condensing model in England and Wales. This water contains dissolved oxides of sulphur and nitrogen. which is slightly acidic. I have had a condensing boiler in my own home for almost 20 years.What is a Condensing Boiler? A condensing boiler is a high efficiency modern boiler that incorporates an extra heat exchanger so that the hot exhaust gases lose much of their energy to pre-heat the water in the boiler system. At the bottom of the photo are a number of pipes going into the boiler. The photo (below) shows a cutaway combination condensing boiler. If you have installed additional loft or cavity wall insulation since the last boiler was fitted. they have been commonplace in the Netherlands for a number of years. but you should bear in mind that in the past central heating engineers often installed boilers that had a higher output than strictly necessary. the water vapour produced in the combustion process condenses back into liquid form releasing the latent heat of vaporisation. When working at peak efficiency. It is mounted on a wall and the exhaust gases will rise through the plastic flue in the top left corner. The National Energy Foundation carried out extensive monitoring work on new homes built in Milton Keynes in the late 1980s. the Foundation's Deputy Director writes: "YES! Although condensing boilers are relatively new in Britain. One carries the gas for the burner and there are two (in and out) for the central heating system.

The British Standard is applicable to warm air heaters that incorporate a fan to circulate the warm air. It is also applicable to combined air heater/circulator installations and to the servicing and maintenance of heaters that distribute warm air by natural convection. Are there alternatives to condensing boilers? If you are off the gas main. especially for larger boiler systems. but EST Advice Centres (see above) may know of local offers. more commonly. EST Advice Centres are not able to recommend specific models of boilers. The Gas Safe scheme replaced the CORGI scheme on 1st April 2009. all of which can work with traditional radiator-based central heating systems. These are all explained on our page about Modern Central Heating Controls. installation and maintenance of flued. For natural gas or LPG boilers. require very little de-ashing and take up least storage space. but you should be able to rely on one that carries the Energy Saving Trust Recommended kitemark. Where can I find an installer for a condensing boiler? All Gas Safe registered gas engineers or Oftec registered oil installers in the UK should be able to fit a condensing boiler. gas-fired. New or upgraded warm air systems must comply with the British Standard BS 5864:2004 "Installation and maintenance of gas-fired ducted air heaters". yes. and are concerned about price fluctuations for oil and LPG. and separate thermostatic control on the hot water system Additional controls that may be worth considering to get the very best from a central heating system include intelligent heating controls. and many are now in need of a major upgrade or replacement. There are limited number of UK firms specialising in this upgrading work. They will also be able to help you on all other aspects of domestic energy efficiency and provide a FREE Home Energy Survey form for you to complete. Pellets are the easiest to handle and can be supplied in bags or by a tanker. and bulk deliveries by tanker are not available everywhere. condensing boilers can be used with warm air central heating. including Johnson & Starley who maintain a library with the technical specifications of almost all warm air system types ever installed in the UK. this is restricted to models that are A rated and have a standby electricity power consumption of less than 10W. All biomass heating systems have the added advantage that they are broadly carbon neutral when using wood grown from carefully managed sources. More information about wood fuel can wood central heating systems can be found on the Logpile website. such as woodchip or pellets. These systems were commonly fitted into homes in the late 1960s and 1970s. There are no longer nationally available grants or cashbacks for high efficiency boilers. which specifies the selection. they can be used with fully automatic heating systems. a weather compensator. a boiler energy manager and full zone control.Energy Saving Trust Advice Centre on Freephone 0800-512012. ducted-air heaters of rated input not exceeding 70 kW (based on net calorific value) used to heat one or more rooms in either domestic or commercial premises. . Boilers featuring a keephot facility must allow it to be timed by the user. processed fuel derived from wood. there are three main alternatives to condensing boilers. but all of which are likely to cost more to install than a normal gas boiler system:  Biomass boilers burn wood or. However they tend to be a fairly expensive fuel. What controls do I need with a high efficiency boiler? Good heating controls require a minimum of four things:     an electronic timer or programmer that allows separate switching of heating and hot water a room thermostat thermostatic radiator control valves (TRVs). Woodchip is a useful compromise. Can condensing boilers work with Warm Air systems? In general.

utilising underfloor heating (or oversized radiators). More information on GSHPs can be found on the website of the Ground Source Heat Pump Association. the central heating circuit then pumps water through the store to the radiators to release the stored heat into the home when needed. although some systems are designed to feed existing high temperature heating circuits. The final. As these systems tend to be more expensive to install. Air to water heat pumps can also be used in some situations. Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHPs) often work best with relatively low temperature central heating circuits. This most commonly uses a ground source collector loop or boreholes to capture heat stored in the ground.  The second most popular alternative is to use a heat pump. Heat is extracted from the external collector loop in a heat pump that produces warm water for use in the central heating system. and least common. so are best selected when undertaking a new build or major refurbishment. alternative to a condensing boiler is a type of electric storage heating. . running costs should not be a major issue for homes that are well insulated. As with all central heating systems. it makes even more sense to make sure that a home is well insulated and relatively draught-free before sizing a new heating system. This uses cheap off-peak electricity to store heat in a large insulated container of water or bricks.

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