Welcome to the world of LPG central heating and boilers, where comfort, efficiency, and eco-friendliness come together to revolutionize the way you experience warmth in your home. As an alternative to traditional gas or oil-fired systems, LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) offers a versatile and cost-effective solution that caters to the needs of modern households, while also reducing their environmental impact.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the pros and cons of LPG central heating systems, unravelling the benefits of using this clean-burning fuel source and shedding light on the various types of LPG boilers available in the market.
So, whether you’re a homeowner looking to upgrade your existing heating system, or a curious individual eager to learn about the latest advancements in home heating technology, sit back and get ready for an enlightening journey into the warm embrace of LPG central heating and boilers.
What is LPG?
LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) central heating is a type of heating system that uses LPG as its fuel source.
LPG is a combination of propane and butane, which are both by-products of natural gas extraction and crude oil refining. LPG central heating systems can be used in homes and commercial properties that are not connected to the mains gas grid.
In the UK, LPG central heating is commonly used in rural areas, where connection to the national gas grid may not be feasible or cost-effective.
How does an LPG boiler work?
An LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) boiler works by burning LPG to generate heat, which is then transferred to water in the heat exchanger. The heated water is circulated through the central heating system to provide warmth to the building, and the combustion byproducts are vented safely outside.
Here’s a general overview of how an LPG boiler works:
LPG supply: The LPG is supplied to the boiler from a storage tank or cylinder. When the boiler is turned on, the LPG flows through a gas valve and into the boiler’s combustion chamber.
Ignition: The boiler has an electronic ignition system that creates a spark, which ignites the LPG-air mixture. This ignition process generates heat.
Heat exchanger: The heat generated by the combustion process is transferred to the water inside the boiler’s heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is a series of metal pipes or plates that allow the heat to be transferred from the burning LPG to the water without the two substances mixing.
Circulation: A pump circulates the heated water from the heat exchanger through the central heating system’s radiators or underfloor heating pipes. This process distributes the heat throughout the building, providing warmth.
Return water: As the water cools down after transferring heat to the rooms, it returns to the boiler to be reheated. This process is repeated until the desired temperature is reached.
Exhaust gases: Combustion in the boiler produces exhaust gases that need to be safely vented outside. This is typically done through a flue, which is a pipe that carries the exhaust gases away from the boiler and releases them outdoors.
Controls: The boiler is controlled by a thermostat, which monitors the temperature in the building and regulates the operation of the boiler. If the temperature drops below the set point, the thermostat signals the boiler to ignite and heat the water. Once the desired temperature is reached, the boiler turns off.
What is the difference between Gas and LPG boilers?
The main difference between gas and LPG boilers lies in the fuel they use. Gas boilers are powered by natural gas, which is supplied through a gas grid and delivered to homes via a network of underground pipes. On the other hand, LPG boilers use liquid petroleum gas, which is stored in a tank and delivered to the consumer.
While LPG boilers are just as efficient as gas boilers, with efficiency levels reaching up to 90%, they have higher unit costs and rely on deliveries and storage tanks. Gas boilers, in contrast, have the advantage of a continuous, uninterrupted supply through the gas grid.
Switching from mains gas to LPG is generally not recommended due to the higher costs involved. Additionally, LPG produces fewer carbon emissions compared to other fuels like coal and oil, making it a relatively greener alternative.
Pros of using LPG central heating
Easy installation and maintenance: LPG central heating systems can be easily installed in most properties, even if there is no existing gas connection. Additionally, LPG boilers require less maintenance compared to oil-fired systems.
Replacement: As far as replacing an old model with a new one is concerned, you can have that done with minimal hassle.
Efficient heating: LPG central heating systems are known for their efficiency, with modern LPG boilers achieving efficiencies of up to 90%. This means that less fuel is wasted, reducing both energy costs and emissions.
Eco-friendly: LPG has a lower carbon content compared to other fossil fuels, resulting in fewer greenhouse gas emissions. This makes it a more environmentally friendly option for heating your home.
Pollution: With gas central heating, you won’t need a large tank for oil that could leak and poison the groundwater – gas comes conveniently and safely through a pipe.
Cost: Gas central heating is usually cheaper than electric or oil-powered heating. Also, gas central heating can only require a gas-heating furnace that is usually cheaper than an oil furnace.
Portability: LPG is stored in tanks, which can be easily transported and refilled. This makes it a suitable option for remote or rural locations, where connection to the mains gas grid may not be possible.
Fuel theft: LPG is stored in a tank in a compressed form, which makes it impossible to steal.
Cons of using LPG central heating
Storage & Safety: The main disadvantage of using LPG is related to storage and safety. LPG needs to be kept pressurized in a very sturdy tank and cylinders. Furthermore, even though LPG storage tanks are usually placed on a customer’s land, the tank itself could also often be owned by the supplier.
Price: Like many other fuel sources, the cost of LPG keeps rising with time. So this factor may be a hindrance in the future.
Delivery: Sometimes, you may run out of LPG when you wait for the next delivery, as LPG delivery is based on road transportation. But since modern technology automatically notifies the supplier about the unavailability of the fuel, you might not need to worry about that much.
Installation cost: LPG installation charges are pretty high, especially if you install the heating system without any previous support. The storage tank does not look too good either if you fail to keep it underground.
Servicing: Regular servicing of LPG boilers is also required to ensure that they are running efficiently.
Comparing LPG central heating to other heating options
This table compares LPG central heating to other heating options in the UK, considering factors such as installation cost, annual fuel cost for a medium-use household, efficiency, environmental impact, and government incentives.
While LPG central heating is more expensive than mains gas in terms of fuel costs, it is still more cost-effective than most off-grid options like electric and oil heating. The UK government offers incentives for more environmentally friendly heating options, such as the Renewable Heat Incentive for renewable systems.
|Heating Option||Cost of Installation||Annual Fuel Cost (Medium Use Household)||Efficiency||Environmental Impact||Government Incentives|
|Mains Gas||Low-Medium||£500-£750||High||Moderate||ECO Scheme|
|LPG||Medium||£853||High||Moderate-High||Boiler Upgrade Scheme|
|Electric||Low||£900-£2,000||Varies||Low (if renewable sources)||None mentioned|
|Renewable||High||Varies (lower with incentives)||High||Low||Renewable Heat Incentive|
How much does an LPG boiler cost?
In the UK, LPG boiler prices can range from around £600 to £2,500, depending on the make, model, and size (heat output) of the boiler you choose. However, the total cost of an LPG boiler also includes the cost of installation and the storage tank, which must be rented from a supplier and serviced annually.
These additional expenses can vary, but it’s important to consult with a Gas Safe heating engineer to ensure you select the right-sized boiler for your home and consider all associated costs. Keep in mind that running costs will depend on your home’s efficiency, energy usage, and LPG supplier rate.
There are several LPG boiler brands available in the UK market. Here are some of the popular ones and their estimated price range:
- Worcester Bosch: A well-known brand that offers a range of LPG boilers suitable for different-sized homes. Worcester Bosch LPG boilers’ prices range from £800 to £2,000.
- Vaillant: Vaillant is another popular brand that offers LPG boilers. The price range for Vaillant LPG boilers starts from £900 and £1,500.
- Baxi: Baxi offers a range of LPG boilers suitable for small to large-sized homes. The price range for Baxi LPG boilers is between £700 and £1,200. Ideal: Ideal offers a range of LPG boilers suitable for different-sized homes. The price range for Ideal LPG boilers is between £800 and £1,500.
- Potterton: Potterton offers LPG boilers suitable for small to medium-sized homes. Potterton LPG boilers cost between £600 and £1,000.
The prices mentioned above are estimates and can vary depending on various factors, such as boiler size, installation costs, and location. It’s always best to get quotes from multiple installers to get an accurate estimate for your specific requirements.
Annual LPG heating cost
Regarding the annual LPG heating cost in the UK, it is essential to note that this cost varies depending on several factors, such as the size of the property, the efficiency of the boiler, the current LPG price, and the amount of heating used.
However, on average, the annual LPG heating cost for a typical three-bedroom home in the UK can be approximately £1,200 to £1,500. It is important to keep in mind that these figures can fluctuate based on the factors mentioned above and consulting with a Gas Safe heating engineer can provide a more accurate estimate tailored to your specific needs.
How Can I Save Money on an LPG Boiler?
To save money with an LPG boiler, consider the following tips:
Invest in a high-efficiency LPG boiler: Newer models tend to be more energy-efficient, which can help you save on fuel costs in the long run.
Install a smart thermostat: A smart thermostat can help you lower your gas bills by allowing you to monitor and control your heating remotely, making it easier to adjust temperatures based on your daily routine.
Regular maintenance: Schedule routine maintenance checks for your LPG boiler to ensure it operates efficiently and identify any potential issues before they become costly repairs.
Seal gaps and insulate your home: Proper insulation and sealing gaps can prevent heat loss, reducing the amount of fuel needed to heat your home.
Use energy-saving curtains and window coverings: These can help retain heat inside your home, reducing the need for your LPG boiler to work as hard. Adjust your thermostat settings: Lowering your thermostat by just a few degrees when you’re not at home or during the night can help save on fuel costs.
Shop around for the best LPG prices: Compare prices from different suppliers and consider locking in a rate or joining a propane co-op to get the best deal on fuel.
What affects the cost of an LPG boiler?
Boiler size and type: The size and type of the boiler required will impact the cost. A larger boiler will typically cost more than a smaller one, and certain types of boilers, such as condensing boilers will generally be more expensive than non-condensing models.
Brand: The brand of the LPG boiler can also affect the cost. Some brands are more expensive than others, and premium brands may come with a higher price tag.
Efficiency rating: The efficiency rating of the boiler can also impact the cost. More efficient models may cost more upfront but can save you money on your energy bills over time.
Installation costs: The cost of installation will vary depending on the complexity of the job, the location of the boiler, and the amount of work required to install the boiler.
Additional features: Certain features such as smart controls or extended warranties, can also increase the cost of an LPG boiler.
Availability of LPG: The availability of LPG in your area can also impact the cost of an LPG boiler. If LPG is not readily available, the cost of installation and maintenance may be higher.
Use less propane: Find ways to reduce your reliance on propane heating, such as using a space heater or implementing other energy-saving techniques mentioned earlier.
Different types of LPG boilers
LPG boilers are available from various manufacturers, including Vaillant, Vokera, Ideal Boilers, Potterton, and Baxi. The most common types of LPG are propane and butane, both of which can be used to power boilers to heat our homes.
An LPG boiler functions similarly to a conventional gas or oil boiler; it burns the LPG fuel to generate energy that warms your radiators and your water. Although LPG costs more per unit of energy than oil, it is still more energy-efficient and produces fewer carbon emissions than oil boilers.
LPG Central Heating Associated Costs
Costs associated with LPG central heating include the initial installation costs, ongoing fuel costs, and maintenance expenses.
- Installation costs: The cost of installing an LPG central heating system can vary depending on the size of the property and the complexity of the installation. This may include the price of the boiler, radiators, pipework, and labour costs. In some cases, eligible households can take advantage of government grants and incentives, such as the ECO scheme, to reduce or eliminate installation costs.
- Fuel costs: LPG prices can fluctuate due to market conditions, and households using LPG as a fuel source will need to consider ongoing fuel expenses. However, compared to other off-grid heating options like heating oil, LPG is generally more cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
- Maintenance expenses: Regular maintenance of an LPG central heating system is essential to ensure its efficiency and longevity. This may include annual servicing, safety checks, and potential repairs or replacement of parts. Maintenance costs will vary depending on the specific needs of your system and any service agreements you may have in place.
Overall, LPG central heating can be a cost-effective and energy-efficient option for off-grid households. By taking advantage of government schemes like the ECO initiative, households can further reduce costs and improve energy efficiency.
Tips for choosing the right LPG supplier
When choosing an LPG supplier, consider factors such as their reputation, customer service, delivery options, pricing, and safety record. Research different suppliers read reviews, and ask for recommendations from friends or business associates. Compare offers and choose the supplier that best meets your needs and budget.
Research the company: Investigate the LPG supplier’s background, reputation, and experience in the industry.
Talk to them: Engage in a conversation with the supplier to understand their offerings, support, and customer service.
Compare prices: Analyze different LPG suppliers’ prices, including price per litre, hire charges, and installation costs.
Contract terms: Review the contract period, termination charges, and any hidden fees before signing an agreement.
Customer support: Assess the supplier’s responsiveness and quality of customer service.
Distribution network: Check the supplier’s distribution capabilities, product availability, and delivery timescales.
Environmental considerations: Opt for a supplier who is environmentally conscious and practising sustainable sourcing and operations.
Consult an expert: Seek assistance from LPG-Solutions or other industry experts to help you find the right supplier for your specific needs.
Government grants and incentives for LPG central heating
The Government offers various grants and incentives to promote energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. One such initiative is the ECO scheme, which provides funding to replace inefficient oil and LPG boilers in England, Scotland, and Wales. Eligible households can get a new A-rated condensing boiler for free or partially funded under the Affordable Warmth scheme, improving energy efficiency and reducing fuel costs.
Another programme is the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS), which provides grants of £5000 or £6000 to encourage property owners to replace fossil fuel heating systems with low carbon heating systems such as heat pumps and biomass boilers. This scheme is available in England and Wales and runs from 23 May 2022 to 31 December 2024. The BUS aims to help cover the upfront costs of installing low-carbon heating systems in homes and small non-domestic buildings.
Local LPG central heating installation
Local LPG central heating installation offers a reliable and efficient heating solution for homes that are not connected to the main gas network. Professional installers ensure proper system setup, taking into consideration the size of the property and the specific requirements of homeowners.
By choosing a local heating installer or heating engineer, homeowners benefit from personalized service, and prompt response times. Additionally, local LPG central heating installation providers often offer ongoing maintenance services and support, ensuring that the system remains efficient and cost-effective in the long run.