Types of Residential Boilers: How to Choose the Best Boiler Type for Your Home

Choosing the right boiler system for your home is essential to guaranteeing sufficient heat and water supply throughout your residence. Unfortunately, not all residential boilers are designed or manufactured equally—and neither are all homes. As a result, it takes a lot of detailed research to help you choose the best boiler type for your home. Since there are so many residential boilers currently on the market, how can you be sure that you’re making the right decision?

Your best bet is to hire an HVAC professional with many years of experience to examine your home, your current boiler set up, and make a recommendation based on your heating needs and your budget. Space layout, size (of your home and the boiler), and the number of bathrooms and kitchens all make a big difference in the type of boiler system you’re going to need, so be sure to take all of these factors into serious consideration.

What Are the Different Types of Boilers?

Whether you’re looking to replace or repair your existing boiler or simply need to determine the type of boiler that’s already installed in a property you’re considering purchasing, it’s important to know a little bit about the different types of boiler systems on the market and how they work. That way, you can make a more pragmatic and well-informed decision about your residential boiler system. It’s also a good idea to get multiple professional opinions from trusted companies to ensure that you’re getting the best deal possible.

There are six types of residential boilers:

Natural Gas Boiler

Most modern water heaters and residential boilers run on natural gas or propane depending on their geographic location. Homes that are located in large or heavily populated municipalities are typically equipped with natural gas boilers, whereas homes in more rural areas are equipped with propane boilers. A natural gas boiler for your home gets its gas supply through a designated gas line that’s installed beneath the house and connected to the main pipeline that runs through the nearest road.

Since rural properties usually aren’t connected to a main gas line because of how remote they are, propane gas is stored in a large tank located directly outside of the home.

Steam Boiler

Steam boilers use a tool called a heat exchanger to heat and distribute water evenly throughout your home. The water runs through a pipe system which is connected to a network of radiators throughout your home.

Pressurized hot steam is delivered to the radiators. Condensation is then sent back into the boiler system for reheating and re-cycling.

Electric Boiler

Electric boilers are one of the most popular types of boiler systems because they’re environmentally friendly and highly efficient when it comes to heating your home quickly. Another benefit is that electric boilers are generally more cost-efficient in terms of unit cost and installation. Since they derive electricity directly from your home, they don’t have to be connected to a main gas line, which is ideal for rural residents. Of course, that also has its downfalls because it could mean a slightly higher monthly electricity bill and if you have a power outage, then you’ll be left without heat in the meantime.

Condensing Boiler

Condensing boilers are also quickly becoming a worldwide standard thanks to their money saving, energy efficiency, and environmentally friendly advantages. They consist of two separate heat exchangers. One heats the water before it’s transported to the radiators in your home. After the water has run through the pipeline in your home, it’s returned to a second exchanger rather than releasing it into the atmosphere as steam. That water is instead returned directly to the boiler and then reused.

Hot Water Boiler

Hot water boilers use either one or multiple pumps to distribute hot water to the radiators throughout your home. Hence, this system requires a great deal of pressure, high water volumes, and high temperatures to effectively heat the radiators.

Oil Boiler

Also referred to as oil-fired boilers by industry experts, oil boilers are more commonly found in rural areas because these regions typically have limited access to natural gas. Oil is stored in a separate tank and is transported to fuel the main boiler system. Hot oil mixed with residential biodiesel is pumped into the main boiler where the water is heated. Hot water is then pumped throughout your home’s piping system. If you have an older oil boiler for your home, you might want to consider changing it out for a more energy-efficient model like a condensing boiler to help minimize your energy bills and your carbon footprint.

Things to Consider before Purchasing and Installing a Boiler

Now that you know a little bit about the different types of boiler systems, here are a few factors you should take into consideration before making a final decision:

Size of Your Home and Required Space Accommodations

The size of your home in relation to the size of your boiler system along with the space accommodations you have available to install and store the system matter. You need to make sure that you purchase a boiler system that can efficiently distribute the appropriate amounts of water pressure throughout your home.

Regional Climate

Local climate conditions determine how often your boiler system will be used and how frequently it’ll be functioning throughout the year to heat your home. If you happen to live in a region that experiences frigid climates for most of the year, then you need to make sure you have a boiler system that can accommodate that.

Your Home’s Ventilation

Ventilation is also a key component to selecting the right unit because forced air boiler systems require a large open space to allow the collection of air.

System Efficiency Ratings

It’s important to know if your boiler system has a standard or high efficiency rating so that you can make a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective choice.

Brand Name

Some brands are more reliable and trusted across the HVAC industry than others, so ask your contractor/service provider for recommendations based on your heating and comfort requirements.


Higher-end units typically cost more, but it’s also important to keep your budget in mind when purchasing a boiler system.

Need help selecting the right boiler system for your home?

MDM Mechanical has been providing boiler system installation and maintenance services for residential and commercial property owners in Hamilton and surrounding areas for many years. We’re a family-owned and operated business, so you can trust that we’ll also take good care of your family. Contact us today to get a quote!

About Michael Mead

Michael Mead was born and raised in London, Ontario. He spent 5 years in Calgary, Alberta – and furthered his education in Natural Gas. If Michael isn’t working, he is at home with his son and wife or cooking for a large group of family and friends. Michael is extremely passionate about his business, and is constantly looking for ways to better himself as an employer.

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