Difference Between Water Heaters & Water Boilers

Lexa W. Lee

Water heaters provide hot water through plumbing for use in the kitchen, laundry, and bath. Water boilers typically heat the entire home with hot water or steam, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Types of Water Heaters

Water heaters come in more types than boilers. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, they include conventional electric heaters with a storage tank, demand heaters without tanks, heat pump heaters, solar heaters, and tankless coil and indirect heaters, which use the water heated by a furnace or water boiler.

Types of Water Boilers

Water boilers use natural gas, propane, or heating oil. They must be big enough to boil sufficient water to heat the house. If the boilers produce steam heat, pipes conduct the steam to radiators. If the boilers heat with hot water, coils, baseboard radiators or pipes under the floors distribute the heat, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Homes Do Not Always Need a Boiler

A home uses a water heater to heat water for washing and bathing. The purpose of a water boiler is to heat a house. But because other efficient methods of heating a house exist, in the form of electricity and heat pumps, homeowners do not always have a water boiler, according to Heimer Engineering.