Back Boiler Guide: Prices, Pros & Cons and Leading Brands
Despite being built to last, Baxi back boilers are no longer being produced due to their inefficiency and are usually replaced with more efficient combi boilers.
Back boilers are rarely installed these days, but they can still be found in many homes across the UK. They are called back boilers because they are almost always situated behind a fireplace in a room that has a chimney. Not only do these boilers take up less space but they are also well-known for being long-lasting and extremely reliable systems. Back boilers do, however, require separate tanks in the loft and a hot water cylinder in the airing cupboard.
Although popular during the 60s, 70s and 80s, boiler manufacturers have stopped making back boilers as they produce more harmful toxins and are not as energy efficient as modern alternatives. You may be able to find a supplier that can offer you a discontinued model (such as the Baxi Bermuda BBU HE), but they are few and far between.
This guide explains why back boilers are now being replaced with more efficient boilers, the replacement options in the UK and the advantages of installing a condensing combi boiler over a back boiler.
What Led to the Decline of Baxi Back Boilers?
In 2005, the government announced changes to building regulations, demanding all new boilers installed in England and Wales must be condensing units with an A or B energy efficiency rating. This means that a boiler today must be at least 86% efficient in order to comply with the latest regulations. Unfortunately, the majority of back boilers are non-condensing and under 80% efficient.
Boiler brand, Baxi did release a modern condensing back boiler with an A efficiency rating a number of years ago, but it has now been discontinued. It was the only high-efficiency back boiler on the market that served as a direct replacement and complied with current legislation.
Back Boiler Replacement Options
Choosing the right boiler can be a challenge because of the variety of types and models available on the market today. Each type has its pros and cons, so it’s a case of finding a boiler that will meet your unique needs and lifestyle. There are three main boiler types to choose from, including:
- Combi boilers
- System boilers
- Heat only boilers
Most people choose to replace their back boiler with a combi boiler (or combination boiler) because they are more efficient, achieving efficiencies of 90% and above. A new combi boiler could actually save you hundreds of pounds a year on your energy bills, provided you pick a model with an A efficiency rating.
Combi boilers are also fairly easy and inexpensive to install compared to back boilers, as well as system and heat only models. In addition, combi boilers are more compact and allow you to save more space as they do not require bulky tanks or a cylinder for storing your hot water.
Back Boilers vs Combi Boilers
The table below enables you to compare the main advantages of back boilers and combi boilers, which should help to give you a better understanding of how these boiler types differ.
|BACK BOILER ADVANTAGES||COMBI BOILER ADVANTAGES|
|Incredibly reliable||More energy efficient|
|Take up less space (hidden behind a fireplace)||No need for extra tanks or cylinders|
|Fewer built-in components||Provide heating and hot water on demand|
|Tend to break down less||Quick and easy to install (lower install costs)|
|Last longer than modern alternative||Comply with current regulations|
As you can see, both boiler types have their own set of advantages. Combi boilers may not be as reliable as back boilers but they will give you access to instant hot water whenever you need. You can also wave goodbye to your tanks with a combi and make the most of all that extra loft and airing cupboard space. Although the cost of upgrading might put you off, you need to remember that a condensing combi model is cheaper to run and will greatly reduce your fuel bills, so it should pay for itself in the long run.
Get Recommendations from Gas Safe Engineers
If the time has come to replace your old back boiler, we suggest you get recommendations from a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer prior to choosing a new boiler. Which boiler type is best for your property will depend on different things, such as your hot water usage habits and the amount of space in your home. Replacing a back boiler is a considerable investment and, as each property is different, it’s important to seek professional advice before parting with your money. You should also get at least three quotes to compare not just prices but also the advice you receive from each engineer to enable you to make an informed decision.