What Type of Boiler Do I Have For My Central Heating System?

James Elston
Written by James Elston
Updated on 27th February 2024
Posted on 16th January 2024
Topic: Boiler Advice
what type of boiler do i have

Have you ever found yourself scratching your head, wondering, “What type of boiler do I have?” in your home?

sysem boiler

Recognising your boiler type is key to making informed decisions about repairs, maintenance, or upgrades.

If you are in the market looking for a new boiler for the first time, our experts at Boiler Central are on hand to help you identify “what type of boiler do I have” and delve into the world of boilers, their components, and the essential role they play in your home and central heating.

Get an online fixed price in 20 seconds:

What kind of fuel does your boiler use?

What Kind of Boiler System Do I Have? Overview

  • The most likely boilers you could have – This article provides an overview of the three primary types of boilers (combi, system and conventional) and how to identify them.
  • The importance of knowing – Boilers are a critical component for home central heating systems, providing heat & hot water while allowing informed decisions about maintenance & energy efficiency.
  • Swap or convert? Upgrading your boiler can offer numerous advantages in terms of lower energy bills, enhanced performance & potential government incentives.

You may be unsure about what kind of boiler you have or how it works, but here is a quick guide for you to be able to tell quickly which type of boiler you have in your home.

Combi boilerA one-unit compact boiler living in your kitchen cupboard.
System boilerA boiler living in a kitchen cupboard and a hot water cylinder in your airing cupboard.
Conventional boilerA boiler in a kitchen cupboard, hot water tank in the airing cupboard and a cold water tank in the loft.
Biomass boilerA one-unit system living outside that burns wood
Oil boilerDepends on whether it is a system, combi or regular boiler.
Condensing boilerDepends on whether it is a system, combi or regular boiler.

Get an online fixed price in 20 seconds:

What kind of fuel does your boiler use?

Our Expert Gas Safe Engineer Says:

The type of boiler you have basically decides how your central heating works. There is no one-size-fits-all best type, as it completely depends on your home or personal hot water requirements. Always ask an expert like me if you are unsure, and we'll be happy to help.

James Murfin

Gas Safe Registered Heating Engineer

How to Tell Your Boiler Type: A Step-by-Step Guide

combi boiler

While identifying your boiler type may seem overwhelming, it’s a straightforward process with some guidance.

Combi, systems, or conventional boilers all possess unique characteristics that you should be familiar with before consulting a professional or trying to repair them.

Keep in mind that combi, system, and conventional are the three primary types of boilers available. Armed with this understanding, it’s time to delve into the specifics of each type and their identification.

Spotting a Combi Boiler

Combi boilers are popular choices for small homes due to their compact size and efficiency.

no hot water tank

They’re easy to identify by the five copper pipes at the bottom and the absence of an external pump or separate hot water tank.

So, if you see these characteristics in your boiler, congratulations, you have a combi boiler!

Aside from their compact size, combi boilers provide a comprehensive solution for heating and hot water, which makes them a perfect fit for space-constrained homes.

With popular brands like Worcester Bosch, Viessmann, and Vaillant, you can trust that your combi boiler will provide reliable performance.

Recognising a System Boiler

System boilers, often found in larger homes, have three copper pipes at the bottom, a hot water cylinder, and no external pump or cold water storage tank.


These boilers are known for their ability to heat water for two bathrooms simultaneously and save space by not requiring a cold water tank.

Spotting a system boiler involves checking for a hot water cylinder and counting the copper pipes at the bottom. If there are three, you have a system boiler.

Also, consider the size of your property; generally, larger properties with multiple bathrooms have system boilers installed.

Read more – Combi boiler vs system boiler – which is best?

Identifying a Conventional Boiler

Conventional boilers, often referred to as regular or heat-only boilers, are the most commonly used type of boiler.

They consist of three components – a hot water storage tank, a cold water storage tank and an expansion cistern. Look for two copper pipes entering the top of the boiler, one exiting the bottom, and separate water storage tanks in the loft, accompanied by a central heating pump.

These regular boilers are suitable for homes with a traditional heating system, including a separate hot water cylinder, a cold water tank in the loft, and a central heating unit.

If you spot these features in your boiler, you’ve successfully identified a conventional boiler system.

Get an online fixed price in 20 seconds:

What kind of fuel does your boiler use?

The Role of Different Boilers in Home Heating


Boilers are vital to home central heating, responsible for delivering both heat and hot water. They work by heating water and circulating it throughout your home, ensuring you stay warm and cosy during colder months.

Whether you have a gas or electric boiler, understanding how it operates can help you make informed decisions about maintenance, repairs, and upgrades.

With a clear grasp of your boiler’s function, you can optimise its performance and maintain the ideal room temperature in a comfortable, energy-efficient home.

What are The Main Boiler Components?

Having familiarised yourself with the different boiler types and their heating roles, it’s now important to get to grips with their individual components. Various boiler types typically feature the following components:

  • Heat-emitting system
  • Control system
  • Distribution system
  • Burner
  • Combustion chamber
  • Heat exchanger

For example, a combi boiler comprises of:

  • Printed Circuit Board (PCB)
  • Boiler Gas Valve
  • Pressure Relief Valve (PRV)
  • Tundish Drains
  • Mains water pipe
  • Gas supply pipe

Knowing the components of your boiler type helps you identify potential issues and maintain your heating system effectively.

Types of Boilers & Efficiency

Most types made by manufactures are energy-efficient condensing boilers that come with numerous benefits such as:

  • Reduced fuel usage
  • Decreased energy expenses
  • Lower CO2 emissions
  • Substantial energy bill savings

In fact, the Energy Saving Trust reports that replacing an old, inefficient boiler with a new energy-efficient one can provide up to £800 in annual savings on energy bills.

By investing in an energy-efficient boiler, you’re not only saving money but also contributing to a greener environment. It’s a win-win situation that benefits both your wallet and the planet.

Get an online fixed price in 20 seconds:

What kind of fuel does your boiler use?

Boiler Conversion Possibilities

Should you be contemplating an upgrade of your current boiler system, it could be worthwhile to investigate the potential for boiler conversion.

converting boilers

Converting your boiler to a more efficient type can offer numerous benefits, such as increased energy efficiency, cost savings on energy bills, and the removal of old an old boiler and components.

While there may be some drawbacks to converting your conventional boiler to a combi boiler, such as higher initial costs or potential water pressure issues, the long-term benefits often outweigh these concerns.

Consult a professional heating engineer for advice on whether a conversion is right for your home and heating needs.

Boiler Breakdowns & Servicing

In the event of a boiler breakdown, knowing your boiler type becomes vital for effective repair and boiler servicing costs.

Different types of boilers have different components and mechanisms, which means the repair process and required expertise may vary.

By recognising your boiler type, you can ensure you engage the right professionals and acquire the appropriate parts for repairs, resulting in a more efficient and effective repair process.

Save yourself time, money, and stress by knowing your boiler type when it comes to repairs.

Upgrading Your Boiler System

If an upgrade to your boiler system has been on your mind, you should consider the numerous advantages of switching to a new boiler, a more contemporary, energy-efficient model.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Lower energy bills
  • Enhanced heating performance
  • Increased reliability
  • Potential government incentives

The cost of upgrading to a more modern boiler may vary, ranging from £600 to £4,500. However, with the long-term savings on energy bills and the environmental benefits, upgrading your boiler system is an investment worth making.

Get an online fixed price in 20 seconds:

What kind of fuel does your boiler use?

Boiler Variants Beyond the Basics

If you’re interested in exploring alternative boiler types, there are several options, such as:

  • Biomass boilers, which utilise renewable fuel sources like wood chips or pellets, offering a sustainable and cost-effective heating solution.
  • Electric boilers, which are compact and efficient, making them a good option for smaller spaces.
  • Back boilers, which are integrated into a fireplace or stove, providing both heating and hot water.

Electric boilers are an excellent option when a gas supply is not available or desired, while back boilers, typically found behind fireplaces, were commonly installed between the 1960s and 1980s.

Although back boilers are no longer installed due to their inefficiency and potential danger, they represent an interesting piece of boiler history, especially when compared to the more modern gas boiler.

Boiler Location and Setup

The location and setup of your boiler can have a significant impact on its efficiency and performance. Common locations for boiler installation and the best place to put a boiler include:

  • Kitchen
  • Loft
  • Utility room
  • Bedroom
  • Bathroom

Keep in mind accessibility and safety regulations when deciding on the location and the potential cost to move a boiler in your home. .

Enhancing boiler efficiency plays a key role in cutting carbon emissions and advancing towards a future of zero-carbon heating.

By carefully considering the location and setup of your boiler, you can ensure optimal performance and maintain a comfortable, energy-efficient home.

Get an online fixed price in 20 seconds:

What kind of fuel does your boiler use?

Central heating and Boiler Jargon: Demystifying Terms

For a comprehensive understanding of your heating system, it’s necessary to clarify common boiler jargon and terminology. Some terms you might come across include:

  • BTU rating
  • Efficiency
  • Flue
  • Condensing

Knowing these terms will empower you to make informed decisions about your heating system and better understand its operation.

For instance, a boiler’s BTU rating refers to its heat output or heating capacity, while efficiency measures how effectively a boiler transforms energy input into usable heat output.

By mastering boiler jargon, you’ll be better equipped to maintain and troubleshoot your heating system.


In conclusion, recognising your boiler type is of the utmost importance for keeping running costs down, as well as for repairs and upgrades.

We’ve explored the three main boiler types – combi, system, and conventional – and how to identify them, as well as alternative boiler options, such as biomass, electric, and back boilers.

Understanding the role of boilers in home heating and the importance of energy efficiency will empower you to make informed decisions about your heating system.

With this knowledge, you can confidently maintain, troubleshoot, and optimise your boiler system, ensuring a comfortable and energy-efficient home for years to come.

Get an online fixed price in 20 seconds:

What kind of fuel does your boiler use?

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know which boiler I have?

To determine which boiler you have, check for copper pipes at the bottom of the boiler – a system boiler should have three as opposed to a combi boiler’s five. Additionally, a system boiler should not have an external pump or expansion storage – it’s all kept inside the boiler.

What are the 3 types of boilers?

The three main types of boilers you can install in your home are combi boilers, heat-only boilers and system boilers.

How do I know if I have a combi boiler or a system boiler?

To determine if you have a system boiler or combi boiler, check for copper pipes at the bottom of the boiler. System boilers should have three pipes while combi boilers should have five. Additionally, system boilers are usually found in bigger homes and large properties that require hot water from multiple outlets and will often have a hot water cylinder present but no external pump for expansion storage.

What are the benefits of energy-efficient boilers?

Energy-efficient boilers can save you money on your energy bills through lower fuel consumption, reduced energy costs, and decreased CO2 emissions.

Can I convert my existing boiler to a more efficient type?

Yes, you can convert your existing boiler to a more efficient type, which can bring increased energy efficiency and cost savings.

Get an online fixed price in 20 seconds:

What kind of fuel does your boiler use?
Written by
James Elston
James Elston Director Of Boiler Central
Posted on: 16th January 2024
Topic: Boiler Advice

James Elston is our resident boiler replacement and heating expert here at Boiler Central. With over 20 years experience in the boiler installation industry, James ensures that he knows everything there is about our Gas Safe boiler installations, energy saving and home heating solutions. This can be from simply procuring the latest best combi boilers, to reviewing and ensuring that Boiler Central maintains the highest standards across our boiler installation company.

Buy a new boiler in minutes

Instant online quotes. Nationwide next-day fitting

Get my fixed price
Get a great price on a Which? Best Buy boiler online in 20 seconds
  • Over 15,000 boilers installed
  • Rated Excellent on Trustpilot
  • Fair, fixed and final prices
  • No pushy salespeople
  • Next-day installation
  • 0% deposit interest-free finance
Next-day fitting available until 2pmGet a quote now >