Electric boiler vs. oil burner

Written by kelli coats
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Electric boiler vs. oil burner
Homes during winter staying warm (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of juanRubiano)

Electric boilers and oil burners are both devices that provide heat for homes. People living in the coldest climates of the United States depend on these heating devices to heat their homes and keep them warm during cold winter months. Choosing which one to use is dependent on the heating needs and budget of each family.

Electric Boiler

Electric boilers use heating elements to heat water inside a covered tank. This water then gets circulated through piping into floor heating systems, such as radiators and baseboards. The desired temperature is controlled by a thermostat in each room that regulates the flow of electric in order to heat the water. Electric boilers are recommended for use in heating individual rooms.

Oil Burner

Oil burners use a motor to heat splatters of pressurised oil inside a burner chamber. As a result, the hot gases from the burning oil flow upward through the piping to furnaces throughout the house. Thermostats also regulate the desired temperature of more than one room or the entire house. The gases are then let out of the house through a stack pipe that leads to the chimney. Oil burners are recommended to heat entire homes.

Electric Efficiency

When converting electric power into heat, the electric boiler is considered 100% energy efficient. They do not produce emissions such as carbon monoxide and have no venting issues that are related to combustion heating systems. Electric boilers are not considered efficient when it comes to the cost to operate them.

Oil Efficiency

Oil burners are considered highly efficient and produce low emissions from combustion discharge and smoke. Oil burners made since 2009 report 83 to 94 rating in energy efficiency. The cost of oil for home burners is dependent on the cost of crude oil prices.


According to the Maine Power Company for August 2009, it cost less to heat a home with an oil burner than with an electric burner. For exact cost figures, it is suggested to consult with a certified energy auditor. (See Reference 1: Central Main Power + Smart Choices + 'click here' link).

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