Boilers vs. Furnaces: What’s the Difference?

Boilers and furnaces are two common heating systems that are found in commercial buildings. Although furnaces and boilers both heat spaces, they do it in much different ways.

How Do Boilers Work?

Boilers use water or steam to create heat. Water is moved through the building using a system of pipes to warm up the building. With a boiler, radiant heat is created so you won’t feel air blowing in the building. Instead, the warm water is pumped through radiators to raise the temperature of the space.

How Do Furnaces Work?

With a furnace heating system, air is pulled from inside the building, heated up and it sent through ductwork to warm the building. Furnaces use forced air to warm a building.

Boiler Advantages

  • Provides more even and consistent heat
  • Not as noisy as forced air
  • More energy efficient than forced air
  • Better air quality, don’t distribute dander, dust, pollen, and other particles


Boiler Disadvantages

  • Don’t cool a space, need separate equipment for air conditioning (furnaces don’t cool either but use the same ductwork to distribute heat & ac thru home)
  • Can be more costly and labor intensive to install
  • Slower to respond to thermostat changes
  • Old, worn, and damaged boilers have a risk of leaking
  • Difficult to convert to forced air system


Furnace Advantages

  • Furnaces are flexible: they can use heating oil, propane, natural gas or electricity
  • More responsive, can heat a space in less time
  • More affordable to install
  • Don’t have a risk of leaking
  • Zero risk of freezing


Furnace Disadvantages

  • Furnaces are noisier than boilers
  • Don’t provide as consistent heat, some rooms can be hotter and cooler than others
  • Lower air quality – filters need to be changed frequently
  • Less energy efficient than boilers


CMS Mechanical Installs and Services Commercial Heating Systems

At CMS Mechanical Services, we design, install, and service commercial heating systems. We can provide both boilers and furnaces for commercial spaces in Northern Colorado. Our team also provides preventive maintenance for boilers and furnaces to keep them running efficiently. If you are interested in learning more about the services we provide, contact us today.