What Is the Difference Between a Radiator & a Condenser?

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Heating and ventilation for your household is important. Knowing how your central heating and air conditioning systems work will help you maintain proper house care. Two energy systems that help with your home's heating and ventilation are radiators and condensers.


A radiator is a heating system that usually uses hot water or steam. The system heats water or steam to the temperature desired by a resident. The steam or hot water runs from the burner to metal coils strategically placed around a property.


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A condenser removes heat from the inside environment, usually expelling the heat to the outside. The most common forms of condensers are air conditioners. The condenser coils in an air conditioner removes heat from the inside air, expelling the heat to the outside, and blowing colder air into the house. Condensers for heat pumps work in the opposite way. Heat pump condensers remove outside air and condenser coils heat the air. The hot air is blown into an environment to make it warmer.

Energy Efficiency

Radiators, especially steam-based radiators, are not energy efficient. Steam radiators require extra energy to warm up water quickly. Radiators also do not effectively warm an environment. If one radiator is on in one room, the heat from that radiator could escape to a colder room. Condensers are a bit more energy efficient, especially the home-ventilating condensers. Condensers have controls on them that lower their temperatures if it gets too hot or too cold within a home or within the machine coils of the condenser.