Central Heating Systems – Types, Installers, Information & Advice

Central heating radiatorCentral heating systems can be broadly broken down into three categories. Wet systems are so called because they deliver heat via radiators which are supplied with hot water from the boiler. This type of system can be fuelled in a number of different ways, most commonly gas, but also LPG, oil, electricity and solid fuel. The other categories are warm air and electric storage.

Open Vented

The most popular ‘wet system’ is the open vented system, which requires the home to have two water tanks in the loft. In addition, an airing cupboard space is required to fit a storage cylinder. This system allows for more than one hot tap, or even a shower to be used at the same time. However, once the water runs cold, it can take a while for the water to reheat. This system can also play a part in how much water pressure you have in your home, as this is decided by the height of the tanks in the loft above the storage cylinder. The open vent system is easy to install and economical to replace.

Sealed Systems

A sealed system is very similar to an open vented system, but only one tank in the loft is needed, along with the storage cylinder. It has the benefits of the open vent system, in that more than one tap can be used for hot water when needed. This system is less exposed to the atmosphere as it does not require an outside vent. As a result, this makes it less likely to freeze in Winter. This system often requires extra safety controls, usually included in the boiler.

Electric Heating

Electric central heating is generally cheaper to install, but more expensive to run. Heat can be supplied by panel heaters, which can be fitted into any room, including the bathroom and also convector heaters. Electricity is a hundred per cent efficient at heating; however it does require programmers, sensors and thermostats to use the heat as efficiently as possible. Modern controls are generally easy to install and are responsive and quiet in use.

Fan heaters are also popular in bathrooms and kitchens. They usually have thermostats and timers which allow easy control of the heat. Electric fan heaters are often compact and they allow the room to warm up quickly, while also aiding in the circulation of air. Plinth fan heaters which fit into low level units such as kitchen units and false walls also provide efficient heat which can warm up a room quickly.

Storage heaters operate on off peak electricity, which makes them a more low-cost solution. They store heat in high density bricks, releasing it when required. However, some heat can be lost, even though the bricks are well insulated.

Choosing the correct system of central heating for you should involve an assessment of your home, which should include where your house is located in relation to fuel supplies. Your assessment should include what space you have for boilers and tanks, tasks required and also what the installation and running costs are likely to be. You should take into account how many people are likely to require heat and hot water and whether you need your supply of hot water on demand.

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