Many of our customers have been asking us, what the difference is between a boiler and a hot water heater? While both devices are used in the home for heat-related purposes, they don’t perform the same functions. Understanding the difference between the two is important for all homeowners who want to get the most out of their home comfort systems.

Hot Water Heaters

A hot water heater does exactly what you think—heat water! This is the water in your home used for showers, hand washing, cooking, cleaning, and various other chores and activities.

There are two types of water heaters; units with a tank, and ones without. Tanked water heaters take in cold water and heat it to the proper temperature before storing it away for future use. When you need it, hot water is transported from the tank through water piping to the location requested. Cold water is pulled in at the same time to refill the tank as it distributes the hot water.

A tankless hot water heater simply heats the water instantly when it’s needed, instead of keeping it in a tank for later distribution. This water will be heated and supplied to the proper place in your home for as long as you have your sink or shower turned on. With a tankless water heater, you don’t need to worry about running out of hot water because the unit will just keep pulling in more water to heat based on how long you need it.


A boiler does, in fact, heat water, but not for the same reason that a hot water heater does. Boilers heat water and distribute it throughout the home for heating purposes. These are typically known as a radiant heating system. These are used to heat the space within a residence.

Like a tanked water heater, boilers take in cool water and heat it then use a pump to push the water through the home via pipes to various radiators, which are located thought out the home. Radiators come in various shapes and sizes and various materials from cast iron, to a copper fin style. They distribute the water evenly throughout the home and produce quiet even heat. They are dependent on a wall mounted thermostat to regulate the temperature. This system has a separate plumbing loop and will not use the warm boiler water for bathing or consumption.

Whether your home is in need of a boiler or a hot water heater,
contact HAMCO for quality installation of all of our home comfort systems!

HAMCO Heating & Air Conditioning Ltd. has been serving the HVAC needs of Hamilton and the surrounding area since 1946. We don’t just work in the area, we also live here and are a part of the community!

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