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The BEST A – Z Guide Of Central Heating Systems 2022

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We have prepared this simple guide.

Generally speaking, when it comes to boilers there are only three main types of boiler available, and these are the ones typically found in your home

Conventional Boiler

If you have an older home, or have not updated your boiler for a while there is a good chance you’ll have a conventional boiler.

These also go by the names heat only boiler and regular boiler. The standard boilers can be identified primarily by the fact that you have a water tank for the boiler in your loft and a hot water tank in your airing cupboard. Because you need so much space to accommodate these central heating systems, they are more suitable for larger homes.

These boilers use gravity to feed water through to the boiler, which is why the water tank is usually found in the loft of a house. A separate hot water storage tank is used to hold hot water. The type of water cylinder used in a conventional heating system is called a vented cylinder, or an open vented system.

Because water needs to be heated in these systems in advance of use this can take quite a long time. This typically means you should set your heating controls up to provide you hot water when you are most likely to use it, such as in the morning before work, and for when you return in the evenings. Often, older versions of this boiler type are the least energy efficient so your energy bills are likely to be quite high when compared to other boiler types. This type of set up has a vent pipe that connects the cold-water storage tank in the loft to the hot water cylinder.

Explore  range of conventional heat only boilers at Mr Central Heating



Our Recommendations
Potterton Titanium 18
Ideal Logic+ 24
Baxi 630

System Boilers

When it comes to system boilers the main difference with these boilers is that they do not have a cold-water storage tank in the loft. However, they will still use a storage cylinder to hold the hot water in the heating system. This type of boiler draws water direct from the water mains to supply the system with water. This means that if there is very low water pressure from the mains supply, then these boiler-types may not be suitable for your requirements.

System boilers use unvented cylinders in their set up and the system itself is sealed. This helps to increase the water supply pressure in the system. An additional piece of kit, called an expansion tank is used to ensure that when the water in the system heats up, the excess water has a place to go (into the expansion vessel). Water expands when it is heated, so therefore the expansion tank is required.

One of the main benefits of a system boiler over a conventional boiler is that since they do not require a cold-water storage tank in the loft, less space is required for the boiler installation. The downside is that they do require more regular maintenance and installation costs are a little higher than a combi boiler. Another thing we’ve already touched on is that the mains water pressure is needed for a system boiler to work. If your home has very low pressure then a system boiler might not be the right boiler for you.

Explore our range of system boilers at Mr Central Heating

Our Recommendations
Ideal Vogue Max 32
Baxi Megaflo 32
Vokera Easi-Heat Plus 30S


Combi Boilers

The combi boiler (or combination boiler) is a popular type of boiler found in many modern homes and especially flats where space is at a premium. Combi boilers combine both the hot water heating requirements, but also the central heating too. These boilers also use mains water pressure to operate instead of a tank in the loft. If the mains pressure is very low in your home this type of boiler may not be suitable.

Some of the main benefits of a combi boiler is that they can heat hot water when it is required, since these boilers do not store hot water. So, you can have instant hot water when you need it. Another benefit is that this means that not only do these boilers not need a cold-water tank in the loft, but they do not need a hot water cylinder either. This not only saves space, but also on cost and adds a lever of simplicity to the overall installation. This means it should be cheaper for your heating engineer to install ensuring that the overall boiler cost is lower than other boiler types.

High output combi boilers are available too, meaning that the combi boiler is suitable for all types of dwellings. For example the Vaillant ecoTEC Plus 938 can deliver up to 20 litres of hot water per minute without the need for a separate hot water cylinder or loft water tank, making this boiler a great choice for a family home.

Explore our range of combi boilers at Mr Central Heating


Our Recommendations
Vokera Easi-Heat Plus 32C
Ideal Logic Plus 30
Vaillant Plus 832



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Condensing Boilers

Another phrase you might hear when you’re looking at a new boiler is the phrase ‘condensing boiler’. This isn’t a completely different boiler type, such as regular, system or combi boiler, but instead a mechanism that a boiler uses for better energy efficiency. So, if you’re wondering if you need to buy a combi boiler or a condensing boiler, the chances are, when it comes to modern boilers you’re probably talking about the same thing. This means that a brand new conventional, system or combi boiler that uses gas or oil for fuel will likely be a condensing boiler too.

Condensing boilers are a rated in terms of efficiency, which means they are better for your wallet and the environment. These are the most efficient boilers you can buy for the home. However, due to the laws in the UK since 2005 all new boilers that are installed need to be a condensing boiler type.

The way a condensing boiler works is by reusing the heat from waste gasses generated by the boiler. Waste gasses, instead of being released directly to the environment first go via two heat exchangers which convert the excess, waste heat into additional energy. A condensate pipe is connected from the boiler to the outside of the building. This plastic pipe is used to transfer waste water from the boiler to the external drains and sewer.

Another important factor for condensing boilers is that they only work with certain fuel sources, either gas or oil. Gas is quite a typical fuel supply in England, but oil boilers are less common and are typically only found in locations where there is no gas supply, such as in rural locations. Therefore, if you can only heat your home with electricity, then you cannot use a condensing boiler.

Hopefully you’ve picked up a good understanding of what the different types of boilers are and how boilers work from this guide. You can shop for a replacement boiler at Mr Central Heating. However, if you have further questions please do not hesitate to contact Mr Central Heating who can help you pick the correct boiler for your home. Speak to someone at a local Mr Central Heating Store today.

The installation of central heating systems  can be a costly and time-consuming process.

However, while it’s clearly important to hire a qualified gas heating engineer to fit the main gas line to your new boiler, it is possible to reduce costs by conducting the rest of the installation yourself.

If you are handy and have plumbing experience, we have prepared a step-by-step guide to installing central heating. We do recommend you leave the gas boiler installation to a Gas Safe plumber.


Is It Difficult To Install Central Heating Yourself?

Installing a new heating system requires a high level of skill and understanding.

This is due to the fact the vast majority of current home systems require connections to both gas and water mains while also utilising an interconnected network of hot and cold water pipes.

More to the point, the larger the task, the more complex it becomes. Difficulty also depends on the size of the project and how much of the existing pipework/system you plan to replace.

However, with sufficient experience and the correct equipment and support, installing your new central heating system is very achievable.

You just need to be prepared.



What Will You Need To Install A Central Heating System?


A boiler

Clearly, when installing a new system, you need a central unit to provide your heat. This is a boiler. With that in mind, you’ll need to choose a boiler that is appropriate for your property’s needs. There are a number of boilers to choose from:

Conventional Boiler

The output of regular boilers varies depending on their size and requires the use of, and therefore storage to accommodate, a hot water cylinder/tank.

Combi Boiler

Combi boilers are, perhaps, the most popular type of boiler available today.

Here, the need for a hot water tank is removed as the combi heats water to demand directly from the mains water supply.


System Boiler

System boilers are slightly more environmentally-friendly than their conventional and combi boiler counterparts and thus, combined with lower long-term running costs, are becoming more and more popular.

That said, system boilers require a large amount of room in order to house both the body of the boiler and a large water tank. For this reason, they are best suited to larger properties with two or more bathrooms.


Biomass Boiler

Biomass boilers are the most expensive heating system on our list, with professional fitting costing between £10,000 – £14,000. That said, once installed, owners of biomass boilers qualify for the Renewable Heat Incentive, whereby they can earn a fixed fee in return for every kWh of renewable energy they yield.

Moreover, biomass boilers are cited as carbon neutral as the burning of the biomass fuel emits and absorbs carbon dioxide in equal measure.

Liquid Petroleum Gas Boiler

More often associated with off-grid properties, liquid petroleum gas boilers (LPGs) require the owner to source and store their own supply of gas.


Just as the type of boiler you choose will impact the complexity and price of installing your new central heating system, so will how many radiators you choose and their style and size.

In general terms, the larger and more elaborate your radiators, the greater their cost. With that in mind, it’s important to choose your radiators based on your budget as well as their aesthetics.

If you need radiator valves or accessories, simply click the links to view PlumbNation’s premium radiator parts.



Control system

There are countless heating controls available today, and, broadly speaking, the more intelligent and intuitive your controls, the more efficiently your system will run.

Therein, installing thermostatic radiator valves in each room as part of a smart thermostat system will enable you to tweak and control the temperature of each room at will. These can cost between £125 – £200 for each room and may also require a subscription.

However, if you’re happy to utilise more traditional heating controls, this will reduce the cost and energy-efficiency of your heating but cost less in the short term.


We’ve discussed a few of the required parts of your new heating system. However, depending on the type of boiler you choose, you may need to source a variety of additional parts to maintain its condition and efficiency. These may include:

  • Filters
  • Thermostats
  • Cleaning solutions
  • Hot water pipes
  • And more.


Clearly, it’s important to acquire all the necessary tools required to install your new system before beginning installation.

As such, once you have purchased your new boiler, you should also receive guidance regarding what tools are needed.

However, if you remain unsure, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the PlumbNation experts as we’re happy to provide advice and, indeed, the tools you need. To speak to us today, simply head over to our Contact Page.




Installing Central Heating: Step-by-Step Guide

So what does central heating installation involve?

Read on for our step-by-step guide, which details everything you need to know.


Step 1: Create a central heating map

The first step is to create a map of your new system.

Therein, locate your new boiler in a position that allows easy access to mains hot water and gas supplies while also providing direct ventilation to the roof. When placing your radiators, make sure they are positioned as close to your windows as possible, as one of their main functions is to combat heat loss (through the windows).

Once complete, purchase all the necessary parts.


Step 2: Install the radiators

Make sure to install your new radiators between 4 and 6 inches from the floor. This provides sufficient room for valve installation and maintenance.

Additionally, to enable full control over water flow, each radiator’s flow connection should be fitted with a wheel valve and, likewise, each return connection with a lockshield valve.

Step 3: Lay the pipes

Once you have installed all of your radiators, measure the amount of piping you need to connect them to your boiler and proceed to lay it. Cheaper plastic pipes are becoming more commonplace, but we recommend using copper piping with capillary or compression joints.

Ensure that your pipes can vent to the radiators, as this will reduce the risk of airlocks.

Step 4: Set up the control system

To install your new control system, simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions provided with the device.

Step 5: Fit the boiler

Next, turn the hot water and gas off and follow the provided instructions to fit your boiler. For the gas connection, you must use a gas safe registered engineer to mitigate the inherent risks that gas presents.

Step 6: Commission the system

Finally, it’s time to commission the system:

  1. Close the radiator vents
  2. Flood the new system with water
  3. Activate the heating pump and re-vent the system
  4. Turn the boiler on and use the lockshield valves to balance the volume of water in each radiator.



Is it safe to install central heating myself?

Gas central heating installations carry an inherent risk due to their connection to a gas mains supply. As such, it’s important to utilise the services of a qualified gas heating engineer to ensure this element is fitted safely and securely.

Otherwise, with the proper knowledge and equipment, it is relatively safe to install your new system yourself.


How long does central heating installation take?

Installation can take anywhere between a few days to a few weeks depending on the size of the project and the ability of the installation team.


How much does central heating installation cost?

Central heating installation costs vary depending on the size of a project, the chosen system and the time it takes to complete. As such, we recommend shopping around to secure various quotes for your project before committing to having your boiler installed.


Where can I buy the parts for my central heating system?

Whether you’re installing underfloor heating, a new hot water storage tank or replacing your copper pipes, you can buy any parts you need through the PlumbNation store. We provide expert advice and thousands of premium parts at affordable prices.

So if you need a part, we’ve got you covered.



Guide to Heating Controls


Apart from the boiler itself the other aspect to a central heating system that relates directly to the radiators is the heating controls and thermostat.

Often, you’ll find a thermostat fitted to your central heating system (often from the manufacturer Honeywell). This is used to control the overall temperature of the home. Generally (traditionally at least) the thermostat was in just one place in the home, someone near the centre.

The user can adjust the temperature control on the thermostat to alter the overall temperate in the home itself. Older thermostats use an analogue dial mechanism and are very simple to use. Later models may be digital and slightly more complex to operate; however, they are still quite straight forward.

You can browse our comprehensive range of heating controls at Mr Central Heating

It is also possible to install a room thermostat to control the temperature in an individual room.

Thermostats control the heat output from the boiler itself and can switch the boiler on and off, whereas radiator valve control the heat output from the radiators. So, you can have a TRV fitted and a room thermostat together since they are complimentary.

The very latest technology available are smart thermostats such as those available from Nest. A smart thermostat is an intelligent device that can be connected to your phone or computer to help control your central heating. It can also integrate with other devices in your home to create a ‘smart home’. Smart Thermostats are great because they can learn your lifestyle patterns, such as when you are regularly out of the house at work etc.

They will control the central heating system automatically based on these learning patterns, which means they can save you a lot of money long term since they will switch off the heating when you are not around. If you want to save money on your heating bills and are interested in the very latest technology then smart thermostats are the way forward.



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