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Electric VS Gas Hot Water Heaters

Tankless hot water heaters (also known as “demand” and “instantaneous” hot water heaters), like traditional storage tank hot water heaters, can be run by different energy sources, in this case, by either gas or electricity.  While one fuel/power source is not inherently better than the other, whether to purchase an electric model or a gas model is an important decision which must be based on the buyer’s particular needs and circumstances.

Here are some factors to be considered when evaluating your options. It is highly recommended, however, that before making any final decision, you consult with a licensed plumber.

Efficiency. In terms of efficiency, electric models are generally slightly more efficient than gas models.

Availability. Fuel or energy availability will obviously factor into the determination of which type of tankless water heater should be purchased.  If your home does not have the necessary electrical power available and upgrades are cost prohibitive, an electric model will be unfeasible or uneconomical.  Likewise, if your home is not supported by a natural gas or propane service or if the gas line is insufficient, a gas model should not be selected.

Product Cost.  With respect to the initial cost, a gas tankless water heater (the cost of which usually starts at about $1,000) will be significantly more expensive than an electric model (generally costing between $500 and $700).

Cost of Installation. With respect to installation, gas models are also more expensive than their electric counterparts.  More specifically, since a home’s existing ventilation system is rarely adequate to support the venting demands of a gas tankless water heater, the costs of installation are generally high.  With an electric model, however, since there are no exhaust gases requiring ventilation, unless an electric system upgrade is necessary, installation costs are generally much lower.  For an estimate of installation costs based on your home’s particular capabilities, a plumber should be consulted.

Ongoing costs of operation. For the most part, the cost of operating an electric tankless water heater is about 10 to 15 percent more than the cost of operating a gas tankless water heater. This, however, will vary greatly depending on the region where the heater is to be operated and the cost of gas and electricity in such region. Of course, in those aress where gas is less available and prices high, an electric model can be much less expensive to operate.
Size. Electric models are generally one third smaller than gas tankless water heaters.  Consequently, they can be installed in various places where it is not practical or possible to have a gas model installed (e.g. in a closet or under a sink).

Maintenance.  Electric tankless water heaters (which simply require the filter to be cleaned periodically) are much easier to maintain than their gas counterparts, which require annual inspection. Moreover, if there should be a problem, due to their simplicity, it is much easier to figure out the problem and to repair an electric model than a gas model.

Water usage and needs. While some gas models are capable of satisfying larger water demands, for the most part, water usage patterns should are not an important factor to consider in deciding which tankless water heater to purchase.

Again, this is just a brief summary of the difference between electric and gas tankless water heaters.  A plumber should be consulted for a more thorough discussion of which type best suits your particular needs.