New boiler time – are combis any good?

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  • New boiler time – are combis any good?
  • tonyd
    Member

    Our boiler was condemned by British Gas (not unexpected) so they’ve quoted us for a new one. We have two local independents coming round to give us quotes also.

    Our boiler is conventional but since we might extend at some point in the coming years I thought it might be a good opportunity to get rid of the tanks and go with a combi – this would allow us to knock through the airing cupboard when funds permit.

    The BG bloke said combi’s can’t really manage more than one bathroom, and that they’re pretty rubbish overall for a medium sized house. I had one in a flat years ago and would broadly agree, but surely the technology has moved on a bit by now? Our water pressure is good.

    We have friends with a 5 bed, 3 bath house who recently had a combi put in and they have no issues with it, so is BG telling porkies for some reason? I’m naturally suspicious of anyone that is trying to sell me something (invited or not).

    I’m happy to go with a conventional boiler, and will see what the indy’s recommend, but thought I’d seek advice in the meantime from the font of knowledge that is STW.

    Ta

    Edit: I should add that I have no additional details of the friends combi so I could have bad information (via the wife) or maybe they bought some super duper expensive model.

    Premier Icon nickjb
    Subscriber

    It’ll depend on your household. Our combi is fine 99% if the time and perfect for our needs giving hot water whenever we want and not wasting energy. Occasionally if you are in the shower and someone fills the kettle pressure will drop for a few seconds and the temperature will fluctuate. Not really an issue with just the two of us. If you have a couple of showers and a full house then it might be more problematic.

    Premier Icon somouk
    Subscriber

    I’ve recently gone from conventional to combi and it’s excellent for me. Smaller two bed house and we hardly use hot water so the conventional heating the tank two or three times a day was a pain.

    The BG guy is talking rubbish as well about the combi not being able to cope with multiple bathrooms. If it’s a big enough unit it will be able to heat the water quick enough to cope. The issue is when people cheap out and don’t go for the correct unit.

    I went for a Worcester Bosch CDI Compact boiler and it’s been excellent. Make sure you use a Worcester Bosch engineer to install it as well so you get the extra warranty.

    Be careful what model BG sell you too as they often quote on the older model boilers they have in stock and not the latest models.

    Premier Icon annebr
    Subscriber

    I think combis are good. It’s generally accepted that they are best for smaller houses and flats but I would definately consider one over a standard boiler.

    Get as many quotes as you can.

    Premier Icon franksinatra
    Subscriber

    Four bed house here, bathroom, en-suite and downstairs bog, two adults, three young kids, Worcester Bosch Greenstar combi and it is perfect.

    Number of bathrooms is irrelevant, it is more about how many hot taps you want to run at once. We have plenty of flow when filling the bath or having a shower but might struggle if doing both at the same time. But we don’t do that so no issue!

    Can’t think of any reason why I would need or want a conventional boiler

    Premier Icon midlifecrashes
    Subscriber

    Wonder what’s wrong with our combi, must have been installed badly as it’s been fine for more than one bathroom for fourteen years now. Maybe you could send your BG man to work out why it’s not working as expected. Maybe because it’s not a medium sized house, that must be it, seven bedrooms with seventeen radiators must have confused it.

    johndoh
    Member

    Another angle to consider – upgrade your conventional boiler and HWT to a pressurised system – the tanks are double-skinned and super insulated so heated water doesn’t lose temperature (stays warm for 48 hours+ in our experience).

    We just did this but had the benefit of being able to move the HWT into the double garage so we can still remove the old airing cupboard (starting that fun this weekend).

    tonyd
    Member

    Thanks for the replies so far folks, as I suspected he’s talking out of his derrier then. The two indys we have coming round are both WB affiliated (I found them through the WB website).

    Not sure I can be arsed to get more than three quotes, surely that would give me a good enough sample (albeit one of those is BG)?

    marcus7
    Member

    Just had a Worcester Bosch 550 CDI put in the garage, its fantastic and easily replaces the potterton / HW tank combo we had. we run three bathrooms and 20 radiators!. pressure wise its not quite as powerful as the salamander pump that was fitted to the showers but not far off!.

    Premier Icon midlifecrashes
    Subscriber

    Don’t fixate on WorcesterBosch, they’re good, but not the only good brand. Baxi are decent and have 7 and 10 year warranty depending on the model. I’d worry more about quality of install, get the system cleaned out and a magnaclean or equivalent fitted at the same time and keep it serviced.

    We just did this but had the benefit of being able to move the HWT into the double garage

    That’s bike space! Another persuasive argument for a combi. Seen a few pressurised tank systems and every one will be taking up triple the room of a combi.

    tonyd
    Member

    Not fixating on WB at all, I’m totally brand agnostic. I just picked that as they seem to be a good brand and they provided a list of local fitters. I agree the install quality is a higher priority, and yes we’ll be getting a full power flush and magnaclean system put in.

    We discussed the pressurised system with the gas man and I’m not overly sold on it. The reason for us to move away from conventional is to free up space, which we won’t be able to do with pressurised.

    Premier Icon stilltortoise
    Subscriber

    4 bed house with 2, sometimes 3, adults and 2 kids. An someone mentions above, the issue is if multiple people want hot water at the same time, since that can affect pressure and temperature. It doesn’t affect us but it would be a pain if we had multiple people showering, for example, at the same time.

    If you do go for a combo, don’t make our mistake and put it in the airing cupboard. Every time the boiler comes on – whilst it is supposed to be a quiet one – it can disturb us if we’re in bed. Wish we’d put it as far away as possible from ears

    Premier Icon martib
    Subscriber

    Ah BG we had one come to give us a quote, wasn’t impresssed to be honest. The wife (who is normally mild mannered) called him rude and obnoxious and nearly kicked him out. He basically wanted her to make a decsion there and then and sign the paperwork and despite me being at work and not able to take calls was an inconvenience as he was going holiday the following week 👿
    Needless to say we got a couple of other quotes and plumped for a recomendation of a registered indy guy, who was a lot cheaper than BG and did an excellent job.
    The combi boiler is fine as we live in a small house with 2 of us and cheaper to run 🙂

    marcus7
    Member

    Personally I’m not fixated by WB, mainly as the plumber picked it not me and yes its got a magnaclean. I’ve gained a lot of space in the house by going to combi and to be honest the new one is about the size of a washing machine so it doesn’t take up much room. There were other reasons for me doing this, mainly the boiler being too small and us needing to use where the tank was to access the bathroom (new room layout). My only real point is that ive not had any issues with going to combi which i thought relevent to the OP.

    johndoh
    Member

    That’s bike space!

    I have my bikes in there, and the kids, and a workshop, and a lawnmower, and a sofa and two workbenches and a stepper and a roofbox and a pushchair and a highchair and…

    It’s massive and I can’t fill it 🙂

    (Me is happy after 20 years+ of home ownership to finally have somewhere to put shit).

    😀

    Premier Icon phiiiiil
    Subscriber

    I have my bikes in there, and the kids, and a workshop…

    Your kids live in the garage? Good work!

    tonyd
    Member

    To be fair to BG the guy was OK, not pushy at all and seemed honest enough which is why I wasn’t too sure about the combi statement. The quote he provided wasn’t too outrageous either (we’ll see though), although he got a bit nervous when I put a bit of pressure on about labour rates and mark ups.

    i thought relevent to the OP.

    It was, thanks.

    ross980
    Member

    Get a combi and only heat the water you actually use (unless you intend to get solar hot water panels fitted)
    4 bed house here with 2 bathrooms. Our Combi was fitted by the previous owner just before we moved in, and is probably one of the cheapest new condensing combi boilers you can buy (35kw Pro-Combi Exclusive). Despite being cheap the hot water pressure is great. The shower drops a bit if someone turns a hot tap on but nothing too severe. If I was buying I’d get a WB (or something similar with a decent warranty). Ours only has a 12month warranty after I forgot to activate the additional 12 months (previous owner left the card to complete in our name but I only found it too late 😳 ). Either way, 2 years is a bit stingy imo.
    EDIT: For comparision they left the receipt. £1100+VAT fitted for like for like swap of old combi (flue moved slightly) with ihibiter etc. in the CH. Not sure I’d use them though as there was no thermostat fitted, only TRVs (despite saying so on the paperwork so was not compliant with Building Regs). Now rectified with the BG Hive system.

    Premier Icon giantjason
    Subscriber

    we went through a similar decision when we replaced our heating system a couple of years ago. We have a 4 bed house with 2 bathrooms. As said before, for the way we operate our house and for the number of people and the times we shower a combi has been great. We had to decide between WB or Valliant and in the end went for Valliant as the weather compensating control system was better.

    Premier Icon somouk
    Subscriber

    My recent conversion cost £2400 including some pipework changes and removing tanks from the loft.

    BG wanted £3400 so a big chunk of difference.

    tonyd
    Member

    That’s not far above what BG just quoted us, if we can save a grand with an indy then I’d be very happy (and might reward myself with some bike bling!)

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    Our boiler was condemned by British Gas (not unexpected) so they’ve quoted us for a new one. We have two local independents coming round to give us quotes also.

    You do know their service guys are on commission? If they can convince you to buy a new boiler through BG they get a finders fee. Hence BG engineers are completely unable to source spares for any boiler more than 5 years old. My boiler is 25+ years and I can still buy spares for it……..

    tonyd
    Member

    Now rectified with the BG Hive system.

    Whats the hive system really like? Looked good on the demo but doesn’t everything.

    tonyd
    Member

    You do know their service guys are on commission?

    It did cross my mind yes 🙂 However given the boiler has been leaking rusty water since we moved in 4 months ago and I have to bleed the radiators every couple of days I think it’s fair to say it’s buggered.

    We did get BG to replace our broken heating pump for £108 which is way below what we were quoted elsewhere, I’ve no doubt this would have been a loss leader to get us to use them for the boiler.

    johndoh
    Member

    Your kids live in the garage? Good work!

    I wish, I wish 🙂

    (x2 kids’ *bikes*. Ohh, and x2 kids’ scooters).

    ross980
    Member

    Whats the hive system really like? Looked good on the demo but doesn’t everything.

    I like it. The BG Sparky who fitted it did a good job. It’s easy to use. I’ve had one occurance when the App didn’t work. I assume the Hive server was down as the bit that plugs in the router was flashing red, it lasted a few hours (the wireless thermostat thing still worked though).

    Pieface
    Member

    Combi’s are fine as long as they’re sized properly but each system has its pro’s and cons.

    Replacing a tank based system with a Combi will mean more work though whereas just plonking a new boiler in would be fairly straightforward assumning all your piping is Ok.

    andy8442
    Member

    Be very wary of British Gas.

    We have a Baxi combi (three beds,two bathrooms, no trouble) and after the warranty ran out we got a service plan via BG. The boiler was 3 yrs old when they started coming, and at every service they would condemn the boiler. As the boiler continued to perform perfectly I ignored them, until 2 yrs ago when BG put their prices up dramatically, and I ditched them in favour of Scottish Power. When the SP guy came last year to service the boiler, I mentioned the thoughts of BG, and he laughed and told me the boiler was fine.

    If your boiler is dead, don’t use BG, they charge way over the odds.

    Bear
    Member

    How many of you with combis can still shower when your boiler breaks down?

    Now add in a couple of teenage daughters, let alone a wife, and combis aren’t always the answer.

    Yes you can spec so that you can use multiple outlets, they tend to be quite big units and expensive so cost saving isn’t so great as made out to be. Should also consider the lifespan of a modern combi, especially if you are in a hard water area.

    Personally I would rather have a standard boiler and pressurised cylinder mainly for the back up hot water option.

    Ah BG we had one come to give us a quote, wasn’t impresssed to be honest. The wife (who is normally mild mannered) called him rude and obnoxious and nearly kicked him out. He basically wanted her to make a decsion there and then and sign the paperwork and despite me being at work and not able to take calls was an inconvenience as he was going holiday the following week

    Same sort of experience for me, ended up getting a WB Greenstar from WB appointed installer

    BG bloke rang back to see if I had decided, told him no thanks and he asked why. Felt it fair to say it was because not only was his quote higher, but also that he was less than pleasant.

    glasgowdan
    Member

    Oh aye, Biritish Gas engineers get a commission so it’s in their interest to ‘condemn’ boilers. Even the use of that word strikes fear into the hearts of old ladies who still refer to them as the ‘gas board’ and seem to have a deeply instilled feeling of trust towards the money-making scum!

    Your quotes from the other companies will be in the region 30-50% cheaper than British Gas for the exact same level of product/service. I guess the same people who use BG for boilers also use Kwik Fit for car work and Everest for windows!

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