What is the Difference Between a Heater, Furnace, and Boiler?

What is the Difference Between a Heater, Furnace, and Boiler?

A home’s heating system is responsible for creating and maintaining comfortable indoor temperatures during cold weather. Homeowners have several types of systems to choose from, each with its own method of heat generation. Knowing the difference between a heater, furnace, and boiler is important before deciding which system is right for your home.


A heater is a device that emits heat, typically used to warm up a room or space. Heaters come in various shapes and sizes and can be powered by electricity, gas, or oil. Various types of heaters can be used to heat a home or office, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

For example, fan heaters are inexpensive and easy to install, but they can be noisy and dry out the air. Radiant bar heaters are another option, and they provide more even heat than fan heaters, but they can be more expensive. Convector heaters are a good choice for larger spaces, as they can evenly heat a room quickly, but they can be more expensive to operate. Gas heaters are another option, and they are very efficient, but they require ventilation and can be dangerous if not used properly.


A home heating furnace is a mechanical device that converts energy from a fuel source into heat. The heat is then distributed throughout a home using a system of ductwork. Furnaces are typically fueled by natural gas, propane, oil, or electricity.

Electric furnaces may be the cheapest to buy and easiest to install and maintain, but they can be expensive to operate because they rely solely on electricity. Even though an electric furnace costs more to run, it doesn’t produce any carbon monoxide, making it safer for the environment and your family’s health.

A natural gas furnace creates heat by igniting natural gas in the furnace’s burner. The flames heat a metal heat exchanger, which warms the cold air coming into your home from its ductwork. The warm air is then pushed into your home by a blower via the ductwork. On the other hand, Propane furnaces have many benefits, one being that they don’t require a flue, which means you can install a direct vent on an exterior wall instead. This is more convenient and eliminates the need to have a flue regularly inspected and cleaned – saving you both time and money in the long run.

Oil furnaces work similarly to natural gas furnaces. However, they carry more benefits. For one, oil burns at a much higher temperature, which will heat your home faster. Additionally, oil is less expensive than natural gas, so running an oil furnace can save you money in the long run.


A boiler is a device that transforms water into steam. This steam is then used to power turbines or engines, which turn mechanical energy into electricity. Boilers work by heating water to its boiling point. This produces steam, which is denser than air and lighter than water. The steam is then used to transfer heat to where it is needed.

You can choose from two main types of boilers for your home – conventional boilers and combi boilers. Conventional boilers are the more traditional option. They require a separate hot water cylinder to store hot water, as well as a cold-water tank in the loft. They are generally more suited to larger homes with more than one bathroom, as you need to have enough hot water to meet demand.

On the other hand, Combi boilers are much more compact as they don’t require a hot water cylinder or cold water tank. They heat water on demand, so you only use energy when needed. This makes them much more efficient than conventional boilers. However, they are not suitable for larger homes with high hot water demand, as they may not be able to meet demand. Make sure to also get a heating system that will work for your location. If you live somewhere cold like Canada and need an on-demand system, search for the best combi boiler in Canada to keep you warm during the winter.


So, which type of heating system is right for you? It depends on your needs and requirements. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to speak to a qualified heating engineer who can advise you on the best option for your home.

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