boiler installed into kitchen

Combi Boilers Then vs. Now


Each year as winter approaches, boiler use goes up as the temperature drops. If your combi boiler is due an upgrade, it’s worth trying to sort this out before the frosty fists of winter come knocking, or else you may end up hugely overspending on your energy bills.

Replacing your boiler is a big investment, but it can make a big difference in your home. But how far have combi boilers really come in terms of performance?

If you are due a replacement, it’s no wonder that you’re interested to know more about the advancements of the latest models. To make it easy for you, this article is going to take a look at combi boilers then and now.

What is a Combi Boiler?

Let’s start with the boiler basics. A combination boiler is a unit that controls both the heating and the hot water supply to your home, eliminating the need for an independent water tank.

They are therefore more compact in terms of size, and the single unit is perfect for smaller spaces as well as being more efficient and cost-effective to run. Another bonus is that you can enjoy your showers with higher water pressure without needing an additional pump.

Combi Boilers: A History

Compared to twenty or thirty years ago, combination or ‘combi’ boilers were much simpler in their design, although certainly not as neat, cheap, or efficient.

Some of these older boilers are actually less prone to problems than some of the modern boilers are today, requiring fewer calls to your local plumber or gas man. This may seem like a blessing in disguise for now, but it will likely cost you in the long run.

That’s not to say you won’t hear some strange noises and the odd gurgle as your boiler begins to heat up in its later years, as older boilers tend to be a lot louder than their modern counterparts, another reason to consider an upgrade.

Combi boilers of old have less complicated systems, which might mean that they’re less likely to fail over something technical, but they miss out on the benefits of having more advanced control settings.

For example, modern combi boilers will often feature a digital control panel, although the intuitiveness of the user interface depends on the make and model – with such control can come some pretty complicated instructions.

However, it also brings about the chance to be more energy efficient which is better for the environment, as the ability to set specific times or limits for the boiler to run ensures that you’re only heating your home as much as you need, another reason why you’ll spend less on your energy bills overall with a modern combi boiler.

Condensing Vs. Non-Condensing

Condensing boilers were first introduced in the 1980s after advances in technology and subsequent changes in government legislation, and this is the main reason for the improvements seen in combi boilers of today.

It might sound complicated, but it’s actually quite simple. All modern boilers are condensing, regardless of whether they’re a combi, system, or regular boiler. In fact, non-condensing boilers actually became illegal to install after 2005 here in the UK.

The larger heat exchanger found in condensing boilers means they’re more efficient than ever before, as they have better heat recovery and move cooler air out of the flue more effectively. Through condensing, modern boilers can heat homes without wasting energy.

Most modern boilers are A-rated in terms of efficiency, which is upwards of around 90% improvement. Compared to the G-rated boilers of the past which fail to reach even 70%, it’s no wonder you could save money on your bills each month.

Final Thoughts

Combi boilers have clearly come a long way since they were first introduced, but there are some workhorses of a boiler system that are still going strong even thirty years after installation, despite a life expectancy of up to ten to fifteen years.

When it comes to knowing whether or not you should replace your boiler, you could just wait until something goes irreparably wrong, but you never know when disaster might strike and, especially with a combi boiler, you could be stuck without heating or hot water for a while.

To recap, the main benefits of modern combi boilers include:

  • More energy efficient
  • Reduced running costs
  • Improved heating control
  • Space-saving, compact design
  • Better for the environment
  • Quieter operation

Considering the improvements that have been made in terms of technology and overall efficiency, we recommend that you replace your old combi boiler with a new one before it reaches breaking point to save yourself some trouble and some money on your energy bills.

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