20 Questions for Missoula Heating Contractors: Boilers vs. Heat Pumps

So you are trying to decide between a boiler and a heat pump for your Missoula, Montana property? We have the low-down on how to decide which will be the better choice for your property. Let’s get started by looking at how they work before we play a fun, HVAC version of 20 questions!

Missoula Heating Contractors Explain How Boilers Work

At the simplest level, boilers heat water. Either the water itself or the steam from the water is then passed through a closed system of radiator pipes. The heat from the radiator radiates into the ambient space and heats it. Radiant in-floor heat can use electricity or a boiler system.  Boilers can be fueled by gas, oil, or electricity. 

Heat Pumps According to Missoula Heating Contractors

What it comes down to is that heat pumps pull heat from one location, and send it to another.  In the winter, heat pumps pull heat from the outdoors and send it into the home. In summer, heat pumps pull heat from inside the home and send it outside. Heat pumps can source the heat from air, water or the ground. They can be fueled by electricity or natural gas.

Missoula Heating Contractors Answer 20 Questions: 

Boilers Versus Heat Pumps

1.       Which works better in colder temperatures?

Heat pumps lose efficiency as the outdoor temperature gets below a certain temperature. On the other hand, boiler performance is not affected by the outside temperature.

2.       Can either option both heat AND cool a space?

While boilers can only heat a space, heat pumps are capable of both heating and cooling.

3.       Which will heat my home faster?

A boiler can heat a space much more quickly than a heat pump.

4.       Which costs less to purchase and install?

A boiler costs about half the price of a heat pump to purchase and install.

5.       Which costs less to operate?

A heat pump costs about half the price of a boiler to operate over time.

6.       Which heating method is more efficient? 

While modern boilers operate at about 95%, heat pumps are powerhouses at 300-400% efficiency!

7.       Which has fewer components that might require replacement?

Heat pumps are more complex than boilers, with more components that can go bad. Being simpler systems, boilers have fewer moving parts to replace.

8.       Which system is more eco-friendly?

While there are varying levels of fossil fuel use and overall efficiency, heat pumps are often much more eco-friendly than boilers.

9.       Which device lasts longer?

Both heat pumps and boilers should last about 15 years. This one is a tie.

10.   Which system is better in rural locations?

Certain types of boilers are simpler to operate without being connected to a natural gas line, and air source heat pumps can be equally accessible in rural areas. This one is a tie.

11.   Which heating system offers more types?

o   Boilers can be electric, oil, or natural gas fueled, water-tube, high-efficiency, bio-mass, and waste-heat.

o   Heat pumps can be air, water, or ground sourced. 

12.   Does either system offer benefits other than temperature regulation? 

While heat pumps offer efficient temperature control, combi-boilers offer heating and hot water supply to the home. 

13.   Does either method require outdoor space to be installed on a property?

A boiler can often be installed in a closet or spare space within a home. A heat pump has a compressor and a coil than needs to be outside.

14.   Can either be installed if there is no natural gas line to my property? 

An electric or oil boiler can be installed in this case. Electric heat pumps can be installed in this case.  This one is a tie!

15.   With my poorly insulated, older home, which will heat my home more effectively? 

Because a boiler can heat a space much faster than a heat pump, a boiler will be more effective at heating a home that is not as well insulated.

16.   Which is safer, as far as carbon monoxide build-up? 

Fuel burning is what produces carbon monoxide. Therefore, a gas or oil boiler, as well as a gas-fueled heat pump, can cause carbon monoxide build-up if not vented properly. Neither electric heat pumps or electric boilers have any risk of carbon monoxide buildup. This one is a tie!

17.   Which has a lower risk of an explosion?

Fuel burning is what can cause an explosion if the pilot light goes out or for other reasons. Any oil or gas-powered boiler or heat pump can have an explosion situation. This one is a tie.

18.    Which has a lower risk of causing an electrical fire?

Electrical fires can occur with any electrically powered device. Therefore, any electrically powered boiler or heat pump can experience an electrical fire. This one is a tie.

19.   Which heating system can be installed in my home the soonest?

Assuming no parts are on back order, boilers tend to be faster to install.

20.   Which can Garden City Plumbing and Heating install on my property?

Your favorite Missoula heating contractor can install either one on your Montana property!

If you kept score, boilers scored 8 points and heat pumps scored 5 points. There were 6 questions which left us with a tie. Ultimately, your property’s needs will be the best way to determine which heater is best! To find out more, call the Missoula heating contractor you rely on, Garden City Heating and Plumbing today!