How to buy the best boiler
A new boiler is likely to be one of the most expensive household purchases you'll make. So it's important to choose the right boiler from the right brand at the right price.
The silver lining is that replacing an old non-condensing boiler with a modern condensing system can improve your boiler's efficiency by more than 30%, saving you a substantial amount on your annual heating bill.
Video: how to buy the best boiler
Watch our video to help you decide which type of boiler is right for you.
What type of boiler do you need?
Below we explain the main things to consider when buying a boiler to help you choose the best type for your home – whether it's a combi, heat-only or system boiler.
The three types to choose from are:
- Combi boiler - best for small flats
- Heat-only boiler - great if you have space
- System boiler - best for poor water pressure
Slide through the gallery to select a boiler type, then click the information points to find out more.
Gas, oil or LPG boiler?
Most UK households have a gas heating system equipped with a gas boiler. But if you're one of the the estimated 4.3m households not connected to the UK's gas network, there are alternatives.
These include fitting an oil boiler, liquid petroleum gas or LPG boiler, or a wood-burning stove fitted with a back boiler.
Types of gas boiler
If you have a gas heating system with a gas boiler, you need to choose between:
- , which provides heat for your radiators and domestic hot water on demand.
- Heat-only (conventional) boiler. This will have a hot water storage cylinder and also a large cold water feed tank, usually in the loft.
- System boiler This is much like a heat-only boiler, but it doesn't require the extra space you need for a cold water storage tank.
You should also ask your heating engineer for their opinion.
Why is boiler efficiency important?
If you have gas central heating, your boiler will account for around 60% of your home's CO2 emissions*. This makes your choice of boiler a key priority if you're looking to cut your energy bills and carbon footprint.
Boiler efficiency is an integral part of our independent boiler reviews. You can filter our by efficiency rating, but the reality is that there's not much disparity when it comes to modern condensing boilers – most will be around 90% efficient.
Replacing an old-fashioned non-condensing boiler with a modern condensing system can improve efficiency by as much as a third, and will save you a significant amount on your energy bills. But the key to getting the most efficient new boiler is in picking the right type and size boiler for your home.
*Source: Energy Saving Trust.
Getting the right size new boiler
Boiler sizing includes two things:
- The heating and hot water capabilities of the boiler
- The physical size of your boiler and whether it will fit in the space you have it destined for.
The correct heating size of the boiler will be something unique to you and your home, as it depends on things such as how many bathrooms you have and how many people you live with. This is something your heating engineer can help you with, and they will be key to making sure you achieve your hot water and heating requirements.
In our , we display each boiler's hot water and heating capabilities, and give an indication as to what type of home it's suitable for. We also display the boiler's measurements, so that you can figure out if it will fit in the space you have for it.
In the tables below you can see which is the right size boiler for you, according to the supplier of thousands of boilers, the heating hub.
It's always good practice to ask your heating engineer what size boiler they think best fits your requirements.
Buying a reliable boiler
We know that when it comes to buying a new boiler, reliability and dependability are by far the most important factors that will influence which boiler you'll buy. So we go to great lengths each year to separate the good from the bad brands in terms of reliability.
We survey more than 8,000 boiler owners each year, so that we can tell you with great confidence which boiler brands will keep you warm all winter, and which might leave you with cold showers and freezing-cold radiators.
The graph below shows how many boilers remained fault-free – as you can see, there's a big difference between the best and worst brands. After six years, you're almost twice as likely to have experienced a fault with the worst brand than the best.
The best boiler brands
Best boiler for a small flat
If you live in a small flat with only one bathroom, then a combi boiler is the ideal choice for you. Combi boilers heat hot water on demand for your central heating and the taps in your home. This means you don't need space for a hot water cylinder to store the hot water, or a large cold water feed tank.
For a small flat, you should only need a small combi boiler. We would recommend a small combi boiler that has an output less than 24kW. Make sure you buy the best by selecting from one of our Best Buy small .
Best boilers for two and three-bedroom houses
For a mid-sized family home, the choice will be between a mid-sized combi boiler or a small heat-only boiler.
If you have multiple bathrooms and a large family that often uses more than one hot tap at once, and you have room to store a hot water cylinder and cold water storage tank, then the benefits of a heat-only boiler may start to outweigh the benefits of a combi.
A trained heating engineer will be able to help you with your decision after conducting a full heat loss survey. But make sure you only buy a boiler from the best brands, by picking from either our Best Buy mid-size , or small .
Best boiler for a four-bedroom house
For a larger home, the best choice is likely to be a heat-only boiler. You will need space for a hot water storage cylinder and a cold water feed tank in the loft, but for a larger home with multiple bathrooms, a heat-only boiler is nearly always the best option.
Best boiler for a home with low water pressure
If you live in an area with low water pressure, or if you live in a large home where you've converted the loft and don't have space for a cold water feed tank, then a system boiler could be your saving grace.
System boilers don't require a cold water feed tank, which means they take up less space, and they also make use of a pressurised system which makes low mains water pressure much less of an issue.
Getting the best boiler installation
Don't attempt to install a replacement boiler yourself. Leave it to the professionals. You can find a qualified heating engineer on the Gas Safe Register (the gas registration scheme previously run by Corgi), or use as the best place to start to find a local, trustworthy heating engineer for your boiler installation.
What should I consider?
- Always get at least three quotes and make sure they include all costs, including any call-out fees
- Don't be taken in by any headline discount figures – look at the total price of the boiler and labour charges.
You may find that some installation companies, including services offered through British Gas and other energy companies, will suggest a replacement boiler for you rather than allowing you to choose your preferred model. This is because many heating engineers are incentivised to install particular brands.
So it's vital that you check your heating engineer's recommendation against the views of their peers – which is where we can help. We surveyed 171 Which? Trusted Trader heating engineers to find out what they really think of the different boiler brands on the market.
Why should I think about heating controls when replacing a boiler?
Heating controls let you take charge of when, where and at what temperature your heating is operating. It’s a good way of managing your heating costs, as you can ensure that your heating is only on certain rooms at certain times.