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What’s the Difference Between a Furnace, Heater, and Boiler?

If you’re a new homeowner, there’s a lot you need to learn about HVAC. Most people have the misconception that a furnace, heater, and boiler are the same things, but they are, in fact, entirely different. This handy guide will talk you through everything you need to know about your furnace, water heater, and boiler.

How many people actually know what HVAC stands for? You may have heard this term being thrown around many times but may be confused about what it stands for. HVAC is short for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. This system is able to provide heating and air conditioning to residential houses and commercial buildings.

Now that we’ve got that squared away there are a couple of things you need to know about each individual system in your house or building.

Need your HVAC system serviced? Schedule an appointment with our professional team.

What is a Furnace?

First things first, a furnace is essentially what creates the heat in your home or building. Without a furnace, even if you were to turn the heat on, it would not be able to produce warm air. A furnace is what makes the heat that is then distributed all throughout a certain area.

What does a furnace look like? History paints quite a different way that furnaces looked and how they operated. Many years ago, furnaces were built out of stone or clay and were structures that used coal or wood to heat rooms in your house or areas in a building.

Current furnaces are a lot less chunky and large to fit our modern times. Nowadays, a furnace is a large box that sits in a specific location in your home or building. A furnace will either use gas or oil combustion to heat the air and water at a temperature at which you feel content daily.

What is a Heater?

Thanks to your handy dandy furnace, a heater is what distributes the warm air around the house or building. A heater is what is used to heat a singular area or a big open area depending on the dimensions of your home or building space.

You may have noticed central heating units in a specific space. Central heating units could be located in the basement, attic, machine room, etc. These are most commonly found around apartment complexes, houses, and commercial buildings.

According to newair, when you turn a heater on, the electrical current that is produced heats up the heating coils in the unit. Electrical energy is then transformed into heat as the current passes through the resistor. That’s why electric heaters are also known as resistance heating units.

What is a Boiler?

So far, we have discovered that a furnace is responsible for creating the heat and a heater is what distributes the heat from the furnace around the house or building. How does a boiler come into play? A boiler is an essential part of the heating process.

A boiler’s job is to heat a fluid – usually water – which is then pumped through your heating system such as your heater. According to Butler Heating, A traditional boiler heats up water that circulates around its combustion chamber. This hot water is then sent through small hot water pipes that heat baseboards, cast iron radiators, or radiant floor heating systems.

The water returns back to the combustion chamber after it has been used, ready to be used again when needed. A steam boiler creates steam which passes through pipes and then to the radiators in a home to heat them. The energy for boiling the water in a boiler can come from gas, oil, electricity, or natural fuels such as wood pellets.

But that’s not the only thing a boiler can do! A boiler can also be used as your water heater. This will be able to provide hot water for your kitchen, bathrooms, and even for washing clothes.

How Are They All Connected?

With the help of this handy guide, Heatsource Mechanical has been able to walk you through the differences between a furnace, heater, and boiler. But now the question becomes: how are they all connected? How do they relate to each other?

The word heater” is often used as a generic term. However, furnaces, heaters, and boilers are separate components that collectively warm your home.

To sum it up, a furnace is the primary source of heat, which is responsible for pumping warm air into different rooms. A boiler is how you are getting a source of heat. Whether that be from the hot showers you take in the morning or evening, or if you are trying to wash the dishes in the sink or run them through the dishwasher, you can thank your boiler.

All these terms may sound the same, but each works in different ways in the level of comfort to which we enjoy and are accustomed.

Heatsource Mechanical Supplies All Your HVAC Products

For more than 35 years, HeatSource Mechanical has provided superior products, elite craftsmanship, and stellar customer service to our Mat-Su Valley. We have been voted “Best of the Valley” by our customers since 2013!

Furnace Products

Interested in saving money and lowering your heating costs monthly? This furnace will not only make you feel comfortable but it is powered by SLP98V, which uses the most Precise Comfort technology.

Smart home integration has been making its way across the world for some years now. With the iComfort S30, you are now able to control and monitor your thermostat remotely! This smart programmable thermostat will make your life so much easier and more convenient.

Shop all of our furnace products here.

Boiler Products

Weil McLain has a full line of cast iron boilers. The Weil-McLain Ultra Gas Boiler is the highest efficiency comfort heating and the only brand of boilers with the Good Housekeeping Limited Warranty.

Shop Weil McLain boilers here.

Water Heater Products

Heatsource Mechanical is your one-stop-shop for all your traditional and tankless water heater solutions. Considering purchasing a water heater product but unsure of which one to buy?

Navien’s Condensing Tankless Water Heaters can provide an endless supply of hot water on demand because our units activate the second you open the hot water tap. Navien also offers a 15-year warranty! It doesn’t get much better than that.

Check out how reliable and efficient Navien’s products are here.

Get in Touch with HeatSource Mechanical

We hope this blog has answered all your questions or thoughts about what a furnace, heater, and boiler are and how they all intertwine with one another to make your home or work environment more comfortable.

When considering a heating system for your home or office, Heatsource Mechanical has got you covered with endless resources that are both beneficial and cost-effective. We are located at 2551 Palmer-Wasilla hwy, Wasilla, Alaska 99654. Our store Hours: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm M-F and we also offer 24/7 emergency service.

Need help with your HVAC system? Schedule an appointment with our technicians today.

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