Hot-Air Furnaces Vs. Boilers: Why Choose The Latter

January 28, 2022 Coal Gun, Multi-Fuel, Wood Gun


Choosing a suitable heating system for your home may be daunting. There are many types of heating systems out there, including hot-air furnaces and boilers. While both of these have their own merits, we think boilers are a better option for heating your homes. In this article, we will explore the differences between hot-air furnaces and boilers and why boilers may be the better choice for you.

What Is the Difference Between Hot-Air Furnaces and Boilers?

The main difference between hot air furnaces boilers is in how they work to heat a space. Hot-air furnaces heat your home by using warm air and circulating it around. This is achieved by using a blower to blow hot air throughout your home through your home’s ducts.

On the other hand, a boiler uses hot water or sometimes steam to heat your home. Water is safely heated to a high temperature and distributed with pipes and circulation pumps. The heat from the water warms your home by radiation with devices such as cast iron radiators, baseboard radiators, or in-floor piping.

So which is better? For hot-air furnaces, a blower is used hence hot air will constantly be blown around the house which can make the environment a little drafty, and also the heat may not be evenly distributed throughout the house. On the other hand, heat transferred through boilers will provide better control as the heat as well as the temperature will be evenly distributed throughout the house. As a result, the heat will be more comfortable and gentle during your colder months. In addition, the air quality will be much better as dust and other allergens will not be blown along with the heat throughout your house. Boilers are durable and also less noisy as compared to furnaces.

What Do They Run On?

There are boilers and stoves that run on wood, coal, and even pellets as well as electricity, propane, oil, and natural gas. So there is no difference here. However, if someone switches to burning wood or coal, whether a boiler or a furnace they would save money.

How Often Do I Need To Maintain Them?

Hot-air furnaces require much more maintenance as they will need to be checked at least once a year and air filters need to be changed regularly depending on your living environment. If your area is dusty, you will have to change the filters more often. Usually, contractors would recommend changing your air filters every one to four months.

On the other hand, boilers need to be serviced once a year. However, it depends on the type of boiler you are using as some boilers such as the pressurize/non-open boilers can run smoothly for years without any maintenance.

How Long Do They Last?

Hot air furnaces have a shorter life expectancy. The heat from the fire can be very intense especially in coal furnaces and air does not cool the metal as well as water. Special engineering needs to be performed to allow the furnace to operate safely and so the furnace does not crack or warp. Our furnaces use firebrick to “shield” the metal walls from the extreme heat produced by the coal fire. We also use heavy gauge steel to prevent cracking and warping.

Boilers have a longer life span than furnaces, some 35 years and counting. Boilers have a water jacket that surrounds the fire and heat exchanger. The water keeps the metal cool which means cracking and warping are not an issue. Still using heavy gauge steel and firebrick are a good idea even in a boiler, which is why you will find that in our units.

How Much Do They Cost?

In terms of initial installation cost, installing a boiler is much more expensive than installing a furnace. However, furnaces would need regular changing of air filters every few months which will add up to the cost. Boilers can be more energy-efficient, require less maintenance, and have a longer life span hence can add up to more savings.

To sum up, while both hot-air furnaces and boilers are good heating systems, the better alternative in the long run points to the boiler.