Back Boiler Replacement – Prices, Costs and Upgrade Options
Back boilers sit behind the recess of a fireplace and heat the home and water accordingly. Hidden behind the fireplace, they save space compared to traditional gas boilers. They are also renowned for being exceptionally reliable. With a simple design and build, Back boilers can last a lot longer than today’s more modern technology engineered boilers.
What is a Back Boiler
Back boilers are attached to the back of a fireplace or stove and have been named accordingly. They became popular during the 1960s, continuing through to the 1980s, but are now rather outdated, having been bypassed by condensing boilers.
Initially, they were designed as a supplementary heat source, as opposed to a soul provider, working by utilising the excess heat from a fireplace. They were, however, eventually developed to completely replace an existing system.
Back Boilers Lack of Efficiency
One of the major shortfalls of back boilers is their efficiency ratings. They are generally only around 78% energy efficient, in comparison to the 98% levels attainable from some condensing boilers.
Government and EU building regulations, which stipulate a minimum of 86% boiler energy efficiency rating, have driven a major reduction in the use of back boilers.
A poor energy efficient boiler is not only bad for the environment but will also increase a household annual energy bill. Replacing back boilers with a 78% energy efficiency rating with a new condensing boiler can save an average house hold up to £155 a year on heating bills and 610KG CO2..
In addition to damaging the environment, this lack of efficiency, too, can damage your pockets; the less efficient your boiler, the less cost-effective it is. As a result, the cost of replacing your back boiler with a condensing one is likely to save you money in the long run.
Back Boilers and Safety Concerns
Another issue for anyone who owns a home, or anyone who is looking to purchase a home, with a back boiler fitted, is safety. Unused back boilers can cause problems, largely as a result of old water, which creates pressure under heat and can explode.
Despite their convenience and reliability, Back Boilers are not as efficient compared to newer boiler types and so are gradually being phased out and being replaced by the more common and efficient combination boiler. The boiler manufacturer Baxi have also released a modern and efficient back boiler, the Baxi Bermuda BBU HE .
If you have an old back boiler in your home and are thinking of upgrading, there are essentially three options open to you. These options we have reviewed along with the associated costs and back boilers prices.
Option 1: Upgrading to the Baxi Bermuda BBU HE Back Boiler
The Baxi Bermuda BBU HE has revolutionised back boiler replacement, by providing a readymade solution. Baxi are the creators of the original Bermuda Back Boilers and are the only brand of boiler to release a modern condensing boilers back boiler.
The new Baxi Bermuda BBU HE is more efficient and has a SEDBUK A efficiency rating. It has a 15KW heat output and has a room sealed appliance removing the need for air vents.
The Baxi Bermuda BBU HE is available from around £1000, with the price rising dependent on fire front options. There will also be additional installation costs, which are higher than installing a combi boiler. Requiring a new chimney liner and the difficulty of access by the engineer increase the cost of installing back boilers.
Advantages of installing a Baxi Bermuda BBU
- You don’t have to modify pipework or reposition the boiler
- It is very space efficient
- It is the only condensing back boiler available on the market
- Ample space is needed because they require 2 water tanks
Disadvantages of installing a Baxi Bermuda BBU
- Installation costs will be higher than your average combi boiler
- Life of the boiler is expected to be 10 years, lower than the older less technical back boiler
Option 2: Replacing a Back Boiler with a Combi Boiler
Many old Back Boilers today are being replaced with the more efficient Combi Boilers or Combination boiler. A combi boiler heats a homes hot water and the central heating. Hence, the name, “Combination”. With no hot water cylinder, combi boilers are a compact unit helping you to save on space.
Installation costs of combi boiler tend to be lower than installing a Baxi Bermuda Back Boiler. Combi boilers are a single unit that hangs of your wall. This makes it more straight forward and less time for the engineer to install compared to the trickier back boiler. A combi boiler installation will cost on average £550. Obviously, costs do vary according to the different boiler models and whether you are replacing your radiators.
Combi boilers prices vary from £650 to £2000, depending on the model you buy. Worcester Bosch’s Greenstar range are priced from just over £1000 to just under £2000, with the output ranging from 25kw to 55kw – all with an efficiency rating over 90%. Vaillant’s EcoTec Pro 24 NG, on the other hand, is available at just £744.86; whilst Potterton’s Promax 24HE Plus is just £666.62.
The downside of replacing your old back boiler with a combination boiler is reliability. For all their mod cons, improvements in heating efficiency, combi boilers are not as reliable as the old the back boiler. The life span of the combi boiler is also less than the old back boiler. A combi boiler will last you around 10 years. If you service you old back boiler regularly, it will last you a lot longer.
Advantages of installing a Combi Boiler
- More energy efficient with a minimum of 86% energy efficiency rating
- Ease of installation
- Lower Installation costs
Disadvantages of installing a Combi Boiler
- Not as reliable as an old Back Boiler
- Combi boilers have a lower Lifespan of an old back boiler
Option 3: Keeping your old back boiler
Your old back boiler is not as energy efficient. It does cost more to run. However, if it serviced regularly, a back boiler will last you a lot longer than the modern boiler. Its simple technology means there are fewer things to go wrong. In terms of prices and cost savings, keeping your old back boiler could actually save you money in the long run.
Advantages of keeping your back boiler
- Saves you money on buying a new boiler
- A back boiler is more reliable than modern boilers if serviced regularly
Disadvantages of keeping your Back boiler
- Its not energy efficient and more costly to run
Making the Right Decision seek expert advice
Your decision on whether to upgrade your old back boiler with the new Baxi Burmuda or a combination boiler or to leave it running is down to your personal circumstances. Before making a decision, we’d strongly recommend getting expert advice from a boiler engineer. They will be able to give you guidance on what is right for you and your home.