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Condensing vs. Non-Condensing Boilers

Let’s talk about the differences between non-condensing and condensing boilers. Our sales engineers often recommend a condensing boiler for reasons too complex to cover in a blog post, but sometimes a non-condensing boiler could be the best fit for an application.

What is a non-condensing boiler?

Traditional or non-condensing boilers are water heaters fueled by gas, oil, or electricity. The non-condensing boiler uses a heat exchanger, which is heated by a mixture of air and fuel. As the water passes through and is heated by the heat exchanger, the gases from the heating process escape through the exit flue. First costs are often lower for non-condensing boilers; however, long-term efficiency could be sacrificed by opting for this standard boiler type.

Potential advantages of a non-condensing boiler include:
  • Less expensive to purchase

  • Generally easier to install

  • Often have a slightly higher lifespan, depending on maintenance

  • Can be less expensive to repair

Potential disadvantages of a non-condensing boiler include:
  • Typically, less efficient than a condensing boiler

  • Higher carbon footprint due to fuel consumption

What is a condensing boiler?

Condensing boilers are also water heaters, usually fueled by gas. They are highly efficient, condensing water vapor and then capturing it and passing it through a second heat exchanger to extract more heat to use in heating. Typically, these units are more complex and have higher first costs. However, they can be from 10% to 20% more efficient, reducing life cycle costs significantly.

Advantages of a condensing boiler include:
  • Increased efficiency over traditional, non-condensing boilers

  • Space saving in the mechanical room

  • Reduced carbon footprint

Potential disadvantages of a condensing boiler include:
  • Can be complex to install

  • Higher first costs

  • Maintenance can be more complex

There are many, many options for boilers. Finding the right boiler for each application is easier with a sales engineer on your side helping you understand the specific system requirements and output for each boiler. Contact your local Hoffman Hydronics sales rep for more information about boilers for both new construction and retrofit applications.

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