The Plumberparts two-minute guide to oil boilers
Oil-fired heating is a popular choice for the four million UK homes off the gas grid. An oil storage tank is a must, but what about the boiler? Read on for my two-minute guide to oil boilers.
What do oil boilers do?
Oil boilers work in the same way as gas boilers but, no prizes for guessing, they run on oil instead of gas! They burn oil by atomising the fuel (imagine popping your hand over a hose) and burning it to heat water via a heat jacket (or heat exchanger), and deliver it to your radiators and your taps via cylinder coils or combi plate heat exchangers!
Differences between gas boilers and oil boilers
Well, they run on oil, but what else? You don’t store gas, but you will need to store oil in an oil tank. And that means you’ll need to get oil delivered every so often, so you don’t run out during a Beast from the East episode. It helps to install a remote oil level sensor – you’ll never run out again!
A few other differences: Oil boilers are HEAVY when compared to gas boilers. Unless you were recently a “World’s Strongest” competitor, there’s no way you’re lifting that bad boy on your own. You can still get wall hung versions…but they’re fiddly for the service engineer. Good news though is that they all can have a longer life span – estimate around 20 years, compared to 15 for a gas boiler. Most oil boilers a floor mounted – some even outside to free up space in your home.
There are three main types of oil boiler – heat-only oil boilers, system oil boilers and oil combi boilers. Modern oil boilers installed in the UK from 2005 onwards are condensing boilers (like the Grant Vortex – my personal fave!), meaning they’re super-efficient (90% or more!) recycling latent flue gas heat which is why the flue’s are often made of plastic (see our diagram below) and are very cool – despite the same heat input as conventional boilers! Some can even be used with a mix of fuel and bio-oil, which means you could tenuously call them semi-renewable.
Heat-only boilers are exactly what they are – heat only. No filling loop or pressure vessel or pump. All that will have to be installed elsewhere. They can run on vented or unvented systems and can feed heat to every type of hot water cylinder.
System boilers are far more typical, and are always what I’d recommend. They have the expansion vessel and filling loop inside the main boiler box, plus a pump. However, the expansion vessel only accounts for the expansion of the boiler water…so you’ll still need one fitted elsewhere in your home to account for the expansion of radiator and system water – which can be annoying!
Combi oil boilers provide both central heating and hot water, meaning no water storage is needed. For some this is a ‘greener’ way of supplying hot water under the oil umbrella. If you have good water pressure they’re great. Install a water softener to guarantee smooth running – the heat exchangers have small channels and can fur up in high scale areas. Personally I think there’s quite a bit to go wrong on an oil combi boiler – in my own home I will always have an unvented cylinder and a boiler to heat the coil. That way you always have an immersion as backup and always have 100+ litres of water all heated up ready to use!
Installing an oil boiler
This is one for the pros, an OFTEC pro to be precise! Make sure your installer is OFTEC registered, and that you get an oil boiler installation certificate.
Other tips? Hmmm, stick to the ground floor, and consider a Tigerloop! “What’s a Tigerloop, James?”, I hear you ask. It may sound like some new-fangled piping configuration, but in reality it’s a simple de-areator to stop pesky air getting into your oil supply.
How to maintain an oil boiler
Oil boiler maintenance is pretty much what you’d expect. Don’t cover them in clothes or ornaments, and get them serviced every year by one of those OFTEC pros, along with your supply feed and your oil tank. Simples!
Plumberparts introduce Grant UK
Grant UK is a leading manufacturer of oil-fired boilers and offers an extensive range of products, from floor standing internal and external options, to wall hung and boiler house models.
They incorporate the latest low NOx burner technology alongside Grant’s patented heat exchangers to deliver award winning ranges that meet the government legislation low NOx emission targets.
The ranges have some ot the highest efficiencies in the UK, and every Vortex oil boiler has been designed to be reliable whilst also saving money on fuel bills. Outputs are available from 12-70kW so there is an option to suit many a home.
As well as having a diverse range of boilers, Grant also offers a large flue range to accompany them. This enables a flexible approach to
any property requirements and provides a solution for many different situations.
For further information on the range visit: https://www.grantuk.com/products/oil-fired-boilers