Advantages and Disadvantages of Heating Systems

To cope with cold temperatures in autumn and winter, every home in the Midwest has heating with its own heating system. Of course, each heating system has advantages and disadvantages.

Boiler room

Boiler room

Heating systems are distinguished by the type of energy source and type of heating surface.

Oil firing: nowadays, light.
Advantages: low fuel costs (relative to gas, approx. 10 – 25 %); not dependent on public supply networks fuel oil is the most widespread source of heating energy; easy to regulate.
Disadvantages: high costs of storage and tank facilities; in rented housing, space required for oil storage reduces rent revenue; where water protection measures apply or there is a danger of flooding, this form of heating is only possible if strict regulations are observed; fuel paid for prior to use; high environmental cost.

Gas firing: natural gas is increasingly being used for heating purposes.
Advantages: no storage costs; minimal maintenance costs; payment made after usage; can be used in areas where water protection regulations apply; easy to regulate; high annual efficiency; may be used for individual flats or rooms; minimal environmental effects.
Disadvantages: dependent on supply networks; higher energy costs; concern about gas explosions; when converting from oil to gas; chimney modifications are required.

Solid fuels such as coal (anthracite), lignite or wood, are rarely used to heat buildings. District heating stations are the exception, since this type of heating is only economical above a certain level of power output. Also, depending on the type of fuel used, large quantities of environmentally damaging substances are emitted, so that stringent requirements are laid down for the use of these fuels (protection of the environment).
Advantages: not dependent on energy imports; low fuel costs.
Disadvantages: high operating costs; large storage space necessary; high emission of environmentally unfriendly substances; poor controllability.

Regenerative forms of energy include solar radiation, wind power, water power, biomass (plants) and refuse (bio-gas). Since amortization of the installation costs is not achieved within the lifetime of the plant required, the demand for this type of energy is correspondingly low.

Remote heating systems are indirect forms of energy supply, as opposed to the primary forms of energy discussed above. Heat is generated in district heating stations or power stations by a combined heat/power system.
Advantages: boiler room and chimney not required; no storage costs; energy is paid for after consumption; can be used where water protection regulations apply; environmentally friendly association of power/energy coupling.
Disadvantages: high energy costs; dependency on supply network; if the heating source is changed, a chimney must be fitted.

Electrical heating: Apart from night storage heating, the continuous heating of rooms by electrical current is only possible in special cases, due to the high costs of electricity. Electrical heating of rooms in temporary use may be advantageous, e.g. garages, gate keepers’ lodges and churches.
Main advantages: short heating-up period; clean operation; no fuel storage; constant availability; low initial costs.

Night storage heating is used for electrical floor heating, electrical storage heaters or for electrically heated boilers. Off-peak electricity is used to run the heaters. For electrical floor heating, the floor screed is heated overnight to provide heat during the day to the room air. Correspondingly, for electrical storage heaters and electrically heated boilers, the energy storage elements are heated during the off-peak period. However, by contrast to the floor heating system, the latter two devices can be regulated.
Advantages: neither a boiler room nor chimney is required; no gases are generated; minimal space requirement; low servicing costs; no need to store fuel.

Convectors: Heat is not transferred by radiation, but by direct transmission to the air molecules. For this reason, convectors can be covered or built in, without reducing the heat output.
Disadvantages: strong movement of air and the dust swirling effect; performance of convector depends on the height of the duct above the heated body; cross-sections of air flowing into and away from the convector must be of sufficient size.


This “Advantages and Disadvantages of Heating Systems” is taken from the book Architects’ Data written by Ernst and Peter Neufert, whereas this book has become the guideline for architecture college students in the world.

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