If you’re building a house or just need a new water heater, you might be wondering about the differences between electric and gas water heaters. The type of model that you buy could depend on the kind of water heater you currently have and how much you are willing or able to spend on a new model. Additionally, the type of model that you purchase could also depend on how you want it to perform.
If you’re interested in finding out more about water heater options as well as what it takes to install various types of models, continue reading because there are benefits and drawbacks to each type of unit.
How Gas and Electric Water Heaters Work
In an electric water heater, rods are heated with high-voltage electricity, and in turn, they heat the water in the tank. These rods are positioned vertically within the tank so that they can heat the water at all levels starting on the inside of the tank and radiating outward. With a gas water heater, the heat source is a burner at the bottom that’s powered by gas. Since hot water is less dense than cold water, it floats to the top, where it is then pulled out via a tube to be used throughout the house.
Benefits of an Electric Water Heater
There are several considerations that you’ll make when you choose a new water heater, including whether or not your house is currently hooked up to a gas source. If it isn’t, which can be the case for some more rural homeowners, then a gas water heater might not be an option.
However, there are other key benefits to an electric water heater.
- Clean fuel source
- Less expensive price of unit
- Safe fuel source
- Many unit sizes available to customize to the needs of your home
Benefits of a Gas Water Heater
If you already have gas service hooked up to your house or can access it and have it installed, gas offers several advantages over electric water heaters.
- Less expensive fuel source
- Water gets hot more quickly
- Operates during power failures
How Are Gas and Electric Water Heaters Installed
Electric and gas water heaters each have different requirements for installation, and while you need a permit for both types of installation, you can expect different processes when you have a gas installation versus an electric one. Installation of an electric water heater might be easier, especially if you already have the 240-volt connection running to the area where you plan on keeping the tank.
If your home doesn’t already have this connection, an electrician can create a branch out to the area fairly simply. If you want a gas water heater and don’t already have the connection, expect to pay a fair amount for them to connect your home. Additionally, you’ll need to pay a plumber to make the connection.
Available Water Heater Sizes
Getting the right size water heater for your home could be critical to your comfort and for reducing energy waste. When you have a water heater that’s too small for your needs, you’ll run out of hot water before everyone in the house has taken showers or the dishwasher is done running. If you have a tank that’s too big, you could be increasing your energy bills unnecessarily.
One of the advantages of an electric water heater is that there’s a greater range of available sizes. The smallest available size is 20 gallons, but you can find models with a capacity of up to 120 gallons. Gas models typically range in size between 40 and 100 gallons.
Purchase Prices of Electric and Gas Water Heaters
Electric water heaters are typically less expensive than gas models, but the price differences are small. Electric models usually range in price from $500 to $800, but most are about $500 to $600. Gas models are usually between $600 and $800, but you’ll have to consider several factors to determine whether or not it’s worth a few hundred dollars in savings to buy an electric model over a gas model.
How Long Does It Take To Heat the Water?
One of the advantages of a gas water heater is that it’s able to initially heat the water and recover after all the water has been used more quickly than an electric model. There are a couple of reasons why gas models are able to heat water more effectively than electric water heaters. Firstly, gas water heaters are using the fact that water rises to always move the coldest water closest to the burner at the bottom of the tank. Additionally, burners on gas water heaters get hotter than the heating rods on electric water heaters.
How Much Does It Cost to Electric and Gas Water Heaters?
When heating the same amount of water, gas water heaters are typically less expensive than electric water heaters. For some homeowners, the savings could be enough to offset the initial cost of the more expensive gas heater.
What Are the Lifespans of Gas and Electric Water Heaters?
Typically, an electric water heater will last a few years longer than a gas model, but this can vary somewhat from one brand or model to another. Electric water heaters typically last about 10 to 15 years. In contrast, depending on the model that you choose, a gas water heater might only last between 8 and 12 years. It’s worthwhile to shop around and compare rebates, the longevity of various models, and other factors to help you decide which type and model is the best option for your needs.
Which Type of Water Heater Is Better for the Environment?
While electric water heaters are more efficient with their use of energy, there is not necessarily a clear answer as to which one is always best for the environment.
Electric water heaters tend to be more energy-efficient due to their design. The rods remain submerged in the water and heat water more effectively. There is little heat loss with this design. Gas water heaters burn hotter but are less efficient because the vents that allow them to discharge potentially toxic gases are also responsible for a certain amount of wasted energy.
However, the effect of an electric water heater on the environment can be more negative in areas that use coal or other dirty fuel sources for electricity. The negative effect will be reduced in areas that prioritize solar, wind, and other clean or renewable energy sources.
When you’re looking for a plumbing company that can help you decide on a water heater model, consider Cal’s Plumbing. We offer a variety of plumbing services, including water heater installations, drain services, and water treatments. Give us a call if you’re ready to get a new water heater.