Tech-Know - Heat Exchangers

Tech-Know - Heat Exchangers

Heating technology should work together to ensure the smooth operation of the entire system – from boiler via burner, control unit and heat exchanger, to deliver the highest possible operational reliability. Today, domestic and commercial boiler technology demands the most reliable, energy efficient components.

A key component in choosing the right system is the heat exchanger within the boiler, as maintenance costs, durability and product lifetime should all be considered when buying a boiler. As the two most common types of heat exchanger in the UK, we have had first-hand experience of the differences between stainless steel and aluminium. We believe it is important to understand comparison of quality and longevity not only for the heating system but for our client’s peace of mind.


These are used by some manufacturers; they provide a high resistance to corrosion in a wide variety of pH levels therefore increasing the useful life of your boiler. This provides long term value for money and requires less system downtime due to maintenance.

Important points to consider:

  • It increases the useful life of your boiler.
  • Less downtime due to maintenance.
  • It does not require use of system inhibitors.
  • Recommended for filling with potable water (drinking water), no inhibitors required.
  • Self-cleaning.
  • Higher grade corrosion resistant material.


These are an alternative lightweight option. They provide high heat transfer but require special inhibitors when maintaining the system, which if not used can result in a high risk of damage to the boiler. Annual maintenance is also vital to remove aluminium oxides, which can build up and clog the condensate line.

Important points to consider:

  • The pH treatment is critical to longevity of the heat exchanger.
  • Artificially softened water is potentially harmful.
  • The aluminium material corrodes through the aluminium oxide build up and erodes further at high flow rates.
  • A reduced lifetime of the heat exchanger.
  • It is cheaper to manufacture than stainless steel.
  • Generally, the product is easier to install due to weight reductions.

The ACS Verdict

On reflection, the stainless steel is more expensive than the lightweight aluminium heat exchangers yet the benefit of high thermal conductivity is worth taking into account. However, due to the longevity and corrosion resistance of stainless steel, aluminium heat exchangers are likely to be a much better value in the long run and will offset any initial cost differences.

Overtime, it is well known that aluminium will rust, corrode & warp long before stainless steel does, and so investing in a steel heat exchanger for your boiler will increase the useful life of your heating system.

At ACS we offer an efficient maintenance and repair service for all commercial heating equipment in London and the South-East. Our comprehensive service covers the repair, maintenance and servicing of all heating components. Our commercial heating engineers have the knowledge, experience and expertise to ensure your equipment is maintained and runs effectively.   If you would like to know how ACS can help your heat exchangers improve your heating system please contact our team today on 01483 237812. Don’t delay; it could make that all important difference. 

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