Providing warmth in your home from a single source, central heating systems can come in the form of wet systems, which include both boilers and radiators, warm air systems and storage heaters.
Wet central heating systems
Using a central heating pipe system, hot water will circulate to radiators all over the home.
Central heating boilers in the system burns a fuel to heat the water to feed the pipe. These are the most popular central heating systems for installation in the UK.
Central heating radiators generate their heat through using convection. This means that air warmed by the central heating radiators rises, and cool air falls, allowing the warm air to circulate.
The pipes may be connected to a hot water cylinder, which provides a supply of hot water for bathing and washing.
Most commonly, central heating use natural gas. Others may use heating oil or petrol gas. Sometimes, central heating boilers can use coal or biomass although these are rare. Also available are electric central heating boilers.
New central heating boilers are usually 90% efficiency and use condensing technology. If your boiler is very old, you may consider replacing it.
Combi boilers vs conventional boilers
Combi boilers provide instant hot water with the advantage taking up very little space during installation. Unlike conventional boilers, there’s no need for hot water tanks.
Heating water instantly is more energy-efficient than storing hot water. The flow of the hot water is likely to be slower than from a cylinder.
Warm air systems
In most homes, warm air systems have now been replaced with wet systems, which are generally, more efficient.
This was a popular central heating installation in the 60s and 70s in the UK and remain popular in North America.
Arising from inside a central heating boiler, the warm air enters the room via ventilation. The boiler is usually fuelled with natural gas and fed via ducts to rooms around the home.
Storage heating systems
Bricks capable of storing large amount of heat using electricity is the principal behind storage heating systems. This heat is released throughout the following day.
These usually rely on a separate wiring systems for cheaper off-peak electricity, so can still to some extent be described as a central heating system.
It will have at least two controls, for controlling how much of the electricity is used and how much heat is released.
Older stoarge heaters tended to take up a lot of space, newer ones have bricks with greater storage capability so can be much smaller.
They can also be used as direct electric heaters, without needing a storage stage.
Ground Source heat pumps
Ground source heat pumps work are similar to fridges or air conditioning systems work except in reverse.
Fuelled by electricity, the heat pumps make the earth outside a home colder, by running refrigerant fluid through pipes that are buried in a trench or a borehole, while delivering warmth at the heat exchanger indoors.
They typically reach temperatures of 50°C, lower than a boiler, so a heat pumps must run for longer to generate enough heat. These systems tend to work better with underfloor heating and not radiator.
Installation is more expensive but it will cost less in the long run, with no dependency on fossil fuels such as gas.
Visit the product pages for more information on gas central heating.