Electric vs. Gas Water Heaters: Major Differences, Pros And Cons (2022)

Is it time for a new water heater? You’ll know when you turn on the hot water tap but cold water comes out or when the unit isn’t meeting increased demands for hot water. Though it’s clear that you need a new water heater, which fuel source should you get? Should you buy an electric or gas model? Both electric and gas have their fair share of pros and cons, so it’s more about finding the right water heater that meets your needs.

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What Electric or Gas Water Heaters Are

Electric Water Heater

An electric water heater is a tank that heats water with high-voltage electric heating rods that run vertically through the tank. Water is heated starting at the center of the tank, radiating outward.

Gas Water Heater

A gas water heater is a tank that heats water from a gas-fired burner located at the bottom of the tank. Hot water starts at the bottom and rises upward, where it is drawn off the top by a discharge tube.

Electric Water Heater Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Clean operation
  • Safe
  • Heats water efficiently
  • Lower purchase price
  • Wide range of sizes
  • Never needs relighting (no pilot light)
  • Easier hookup since all homes have electric service

Cons

  • Higher operating costs
  • Slower to heat water than gas models
  • Longer recovery times
  • Will not operate during power failure

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Electric vs. Gas Water Heaters: Major Differences, Pros And Cons (1)

THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT AND NOT EDITORIAL CONTENT. Please note that we do receive compensation for any products you buy or sign up to via this advertisement, and that compensation impacts the ranking and placement of any offers listed herein. We do not present information about every offer available. The information and savings numbers depicted above are for demonstration purposes only, and your results may vary.

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Rheem 18kw Tankless Electric Water Heater

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Rheem 13kw Tankless Electric Water Heater RTEX-13

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We’ve reviewed the best models from the best brands here and rated the top five that meet the most homeowners’ needs.

Gas Water Heater Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Heats water quickly
  • Lower operating costs than with electric models
  • Energy efficient
  • Operates during power failures

Cons

  • Not all homes have gas; might need to be added
  • Less safe than electric models
  • Dirtier operation
  • Smaller range of sizes
  • Shorter lifespan than electric
  • Less efficient heating of water than electric
  • Relighting sometimes required

You May Also Be Interested In Gas Water Heaters Available On Home Depot

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THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT AND NOT EDITORIAL CONTENT. Please note that we do receive compensation for any products you buy or sign up to via this advertisement, and that compensation impacts the ranking and placement of any offers listed herein. We do not present information about every offer available. The information and savings numbers depicted above are for demonstration purposes only, and your results may vary.

(Video) Tankless Water Heater VS. Conventional Water Heater (PROS + CONS / COST ANALYSIS - WHICH IS BETTER?)

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(Video) TANK vs TANKLESS WATER HEATER (Pros and Cons)

(Note: Product details and prices are accurate as of publication and are subject to change.)

Here we’ve ranked the best gas tankless water heatersand laid out the important considerations to make when selecting the best product.

Installation

Both electric and gas water heaters usually require permits and inspections. Electric water heaters are easier to install because electricity is present in all homes; gas often is not.

Electric Water Heater

All homes have electric service. Some homes even have the 240-volt connection already running to the water heater area. If not, a new circuit can be branched out of the home’s electric service panel.

Gas Water Heater

Not all homes have gas service. If the home has no gas, it can be costly to bring in municipal gas from the street to the house. If the home does have gas, a plumber must make the gas connections.

Size of Water Heater

Electric water heaters offer a greater range of sizes than gas water heaters, especially when you consider micro-sized point-of-origin (instant demand) water heaters.

Electric Water Heater

Electric point-of-use water heaters range from two to 20 gallons. Conventional tank electric water heaters begin at 40 gallons and max out at 120 gallons. Most tanks are 30, 40 or 50 gallons.

Gas Water Heater

Since there are no point-of-use gas water heaters, all are tank models. Gas water heaters begin at 20 gallons and range up to 100 gallons. Most tanks are 40, 50, 80 or 100 gallons.

Cost to Purchase

Electric water heaters are less expensive to purchase than gas water heaters. While it’s always possible to buy expensive water heaters in either electric or gas models, if you want a less expensive heater, it will usually be electric.

Electric Water Heater

Most electric water heaters cost between $500 and $800. Of that, a majority are in the $500 to $600 range.

Gas Water Heater

Most gas water heaters cost between $600 and $800.

Safety

Electric water heaters are safer than gas water heaters because there is no gas line, burner or pilot light.

Electric Water Heater

Electric water heaters require a 240-volt connection for installation. Electric water heaters never need relighting.

Gas Water Heater

Gas water heaters require a gas line and an open flame (at the bottom of the heater) to heat the water. Occasionally, the user must relight the gas pilot light with a lighter or a piezoelectric built-in lighter.

Heating Rate

Gas water heaters have a faster initial heating rate and faster recovery times than electric water heaters.

Electric Water Heater

With heating rods running from top to bottom, electric water heaters spread out the heat along the height of the tank. But the heating rods gain heat up at a much slower rate than with gas models.

Gas Water Heater

A gas water heater’s open flame burns hotter than an electric model’s electric rods or elements. Plus, the burner location is more efficient since it is located at the bottom—heat rises.

Cost to Operate

Gas water heaters cost less to operate than electric water heaters—about 33% less.

Electric Water Heater

Electric water heaters cost an average of $42 per month to operate.

Gas Water Heater

Gas water heaters cost about $30 per month to operate on average. Gas is usually less expensive in most areas, compared to electricity.

Energy Efficiency

Electric water heaters heat water more efficiently than gas water heaters.

Electric Water Heater

While an electric water heater does heat water slower and more expensively than the gas models do, it heats the water more efficiently. The heating rods are submerged in the water in a sealed tank, so there is very little heat loss.

Gas Water Heater

Though gas water heaters burn hotter, they are less efficient than electric water heaters because much of the energy output is wasted through the vent at top. The vent is necessary for discharging toxic gases.

Lifespan

Due to their cleaner operation, electric water heaters last slightly longer than gas water heaters. Electric water heaters can last anywhere from two to three years longer than gas water heaters.

Electric Water Heater

Electric water heaters typically last from 10 to 15 years.

Gas Water Heater

Gas water heaters usually last from eight to 12 years before they need replacing.

Environment

Electric and gas water heaters are roughly comparable in terms of their impact on the environment, with no clear winner between the two types.

Electric Water Heater

Electric water heaters span the very best and the very worst types of electricity supplies. At the best, though still rare, is electricity supplied by solar or wind. At the worst is electricity supplied by dirty coal-fired or nuclear power plants.

Some areas may have a greater supply of clean, low-cost electricity, while others don’t. If an area’s electricity is supplied by modern, efficient hydroelectric power plants, then an electric water heater would be a good environmental choice.

Gas Water Heater

Gas water heaters occupy the middle range for environmental impact. Gas is never as bad as electricity supplied by coal-powered plants, but never as good as wind or solar electricity. Gas is a non-renewable fossil fuel. While gas has long been thought of as a cleaner type of power than electricity, more recently some regions have enacted measures to ban the use of natural gas.

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THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT AND NOT EDITORIAL CONTENT. Please note that we do receive compensation for any products you buy or sign up to via this advertisement, and that compensation impacts the ranking and placement of any offers listed herein. We do not present information about every offer available. The information and savings numbers depicted above are for demonstration purposes only, and your results may vary.

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FAQs

What is better electric or gas water heater? ›

If you are comparing the efficiency of an electric water heater vs a gas unit, electric heaters are more efficient. Although gas hot water heaters are less expensive to run monthly due to the low cost of natural gas—a gas heater uses more energy to operate and releases waste into the environment.

What are the pros and cons of an electric water heater? ›

Pros and cons of electric water heaters
ProsCons
Low upfront costsRelatively slow heating time
Efficient use of energySusceptible to power outages
Safe to operateHigh operating costs
31 Jan 2019

What are the pros and cons of gas water heater? ›

Benefits of Gas Water Heating
  • Faster Than Electric. Gas water heaters are approximately twice as fast at heating water compared with electric models. ...
  • Generally Lower Energy Costs. ...
  • Don't Lose Hot Water during Blackouts. ...
  • Higher Upfront Cost. ...
  • Slightly Shorter Lifespan. ...
  • More Difficult Installation.
5 Feb 2018

Is it cheaper to heat hot water tank with gas or electric? ›

Gas water heaters are cheaper to use than electric heaters because, on average, gas is cheaper than electricity. You'll spend more money using an electric heater than a gas heater. Gas water heaters also heat water faster than electric units and are helpful in a power outage.

Which lasts longer electric or gas water heater? ›

Lifespan. Due to their cleaner operation, electric water heaters last slightly longer than gas water heaters. Electric water heaters can last anywhere from two to three years longer than gas water heaters.

Which water heater is most efficient? ›

Tankless water heaters, as you probably guessed, have no tank. Instead, the device houses coils that superheat the water as it passes through the mechanism to its destination. The result is on-demand hot water that rarely runs out, making it one of the most energy-efficient ways to heat water in your home.

What is the disadvantage of gas water? ›

Disadvantages of Gas Water Heaters

They can be bulky and take up more space than an electric water heater. They cost more upfront and can be more expensive to maintain. They involve a more complex and costly installation process, especially if the home has multiple bathrooms.

What is the disadvantage of an electric water heater? ›

More expensive to operate. Homeowners tend to choose gas water heaters over their electric counterparts because natural gas is cheaper than electricity, which means a lower utility bill.

Are gas water heaters being phased out? ›

In its ongoing effort to slash ozone pollution, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted Thursday to ban the sale of new gas furnaces and water heaters beginning in 2030. Homes will be required to install zero-emissions alternatives, like electric heaters.

Why are gas water heaters better? ›

Depending on your local utility costs, gas water heaters are typically cheaper to operate than electric. They also cost more upfront than an electric. However, based on energy savings, gas heaters generally make up the difference in price in about one year. Cost: $300 to $600 for gas; $250 to $500 for electric.

Do electric water heaters need to be vented? ›

No. Unlike gas tankless water heaters and gas traditional tank style water heaters, electric tankless water heaters do not require any venting. This is often one of the deciding factors when choosing whether you should purchase a gas or electric tankless water heater.

Is it cheaper to heat water with gas or electric 2022? ›

Is electric heating cheaper than gas? No. When it comes to using energy, gas is typically cheaper than electricity. Looking Ofgem's price cap rates, gas has gone up to 10.3p per kWh from October 1, 2022 from 7p and electricity up to 34p per kWh, from 28p.

Do electric water heaters use a lot of electricity? ›

According to the US Department of Energy, water heaters are among the second biggest appliances that consume electricity in a home. In fact, a water heating system accounts for 18% of your electrical bill.

Should I change from gas to electric heating? ›

Electric heating is better for the environment, easy to install, virtually maintenance-free and allows for individual programming, so you can adjust the temperature room by room depending on your needs. It is versatile, cost-effective and efficient, making it the ideal alternative to keeping your home warm.

Do gas water heaters recover faster than electric? ›

Gas water heaters are much more efficient than electric heaters when it comes to replenishing depleted hot water. Gas heaters have an average recovery rate of about 50 gallons per hour and can heat a tank almost as soon as it is filled.

What type of water heater lasts the longest? ›

Tankless water heaters use advanced technology that makes them last longer than tank water heaters. These heaters have an average lifespan of 20 years. However, some can last for up to 30 years when maintained properly.

How much does it cost to convert electric water heater to gas? ›

What are the costs involved in converting to gas and electric tankless water heaters? The cost of converting to a gas tankless water heater is between $1,500 and $2,000. The cost of converting to an electric tankless water heater is between $2,000 and $3,000.

Is it better to have one large water heater or two smaller ones? ›

Greater efficiency can be achieved by installing multiple, smaller tankless water heaters throughout the home. Hot water is then drawn from nearby tankless appliances instead of being lead through the home's entire plumbing system from basement to point-of-use.

What should you consider when buying a water heater? ›

When selecting the best type and model of water heater for your home, consider the following:
  1. Fuel type, availability and cost. The fuel type or energy source you use for water heating will not only affect the water heater's annual operation costs but also its size and energy efficiency. ...
  2. Size. ...
  3. Energy efficiency. ...
  4. Costs.

Which type of water heater has slowest recovery rate? ›

A water heater with a good recovery rate will heat the water back up quickly and return the radiant system to its desired operating temperature (125 degrees). Gas and oil fired water heaters offer the quickest recovery rates, electric water heaters the slowest.

Is electric water heater good for health? ›

Lowering the temperature of a water heater proves to be even riskier when we learn that studies conducted in Quebec reveal that Legionella bacteria has been detected in almost 25% of electric water heaters, even when the thermostat is set to 60ºC (140ºF). At that temperature, however, the risk is quite low.

How long do electric water heaters last? ›

While today's water heaters are better designed than older models, they still require regular maintenance in order to prolong their lives. With regular inspection, draining, and flushing, you can expect a gas water heater to last anywhere from 8-12 years and an electric water heater to last anywhere from 10-15 years.

Which is safer electric or gas heat? ›

Electrical furnaces often run quieter than gas furnaces, as they have less mechanical parts used for the conversion of fuel to heat. Electrical furnaces, by and large, are safer. You don't have to worry about gas leaking into your home, causing a fire or affecting your air quality.

What is the best heating system for your home? ›

Geothermal systems provide the most efficient type of heating. They can cut heating bills by up to 70 percent. Like other types of heat pumps, they are also very safe and environmentally friendly to operate.

Why is electric heating better than gas? ›

Electric furnaces use resistance heating to create the hot air that warms your home. According to Fixr, they can be more efficient and could be less expensive to buy and install than a gas furnace.

What are the dangers of an electric heater? ›

THE PROBLEM

Portable electric heaters are high-wattage appliances that have the potential to ignite nearby combustible materials like curtains, beds, sofas, paper, clothing, and flammable liquids. If ignition results from a heater left on and unattended, a major fire could result.

Can you get carbon monoxide poisoning from an electric water heater? ›

Yes, any of these appliances, especially your water heater, can be at risk of causing carbon monoxide to leak into your home.

Will gas water heaters be banned? ›

In its ongoing effort to slash ozone pollution, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted Thursday to ban the sale of new gas furnaces and water heaters beginning in 2030. Homes will be required to install zero-emissions alternatives, like electric heaters.

Is there a water heater that never runs out of hot water? ›

The tankless water heater is—you guessed it—tankless! Because there's no tank, it doesn't work off of capacity; it works off demand. A tankless water heater heats up water as you need it, and it brings hot water to your appliances quickly—and never runs out.

What state banned gas furnaces? ›

California is committing to a plan that will make it the first U.S. state to phase out gas-fueled furnaces and water heaters in homes.

What is the cheapest way to heat water? ›

Usually natural gas is the cheapest way to heat water, followed by electricity, with propane being the most expensive.

Can you switch from gas to electric water heater? ›

Switching from gas to electric

While not as common, it is possible to switch from a gas water heater to an electric one. Since they have fewer internal parts, electric water heaters generally have a longer service life. They can also take up less space inside your home.

How much does a 40 gallon gas water heater cost? ›

A 40-gallon water heater effectively meets the needs of a home with two people, and it costs around $320 to $1,600. For homes with five people or more, you may need to consider a 75-gallon (average price of $900 to $3,000) or an 80-gallon (average price of $1,000 to $3,200) water heater.

Is it better to have the water heater inside or outside? ›

In a Nutshell

If you live in a secure area and can make a few modifications to accommodate the unit, you should buy an outdoor unit. In case you are at risk of vandalism, or face extreme weather conditions, an indoor water heater should be your choice.

Are new electric water heaters more efficient? ›

As the result of recently updated efficiency standards, water heaters less than 55 gallons now have a 4 percent boost in efficiency and water heaters 55 gallons or more have efficiency gains of 25 to 50 percent, depending on the technology used—heat pump or condensing. (See water heater types, below.)

Can I store things next to an electric water heater? ›

Storing items in the water heater closet is extremely dangerous. The pilot light flame underneath the heater may set fire to the items stored near it. If the flame is accidentally extinguished, the fumes can create an extremely hazardous, highly combustible situation.

Which is better electric or gas water heater? ›

If you are comparing the efficiency of an electric water heater vs a gas unit, electric heaters are more efficient. Although gas hot water heaters are less expensive to run monthly due to the low cost of natural gas—a gas heater uses more energy to operate and releases waste into the environment.

Which is better gas hot water or electric? ›

Gas hot water systems are more energy-efficient as they heat water faster and don't run as often as electric models. They are typically also smaller units. You can also install a continuous flow hot water system, also known as an Instantaneous or Tankless system.

Which is more expensive to run gas or electric? ›

Gas energy is much cheaper to run than electricity on a regular basis, but the overall costs of installation, maintenance and running expenses tend to favour electricity, with the average lifetime of products also outlasting that of gas.

What is the most efficient water heater? ›

Tankless water heaters, as you probably guessed, have no tank. Instead, the device houses coils that superheat the water as it passes through the mechanism to its destination. The result is on-demand hot water that rarely runs out, making it one of the most energy-efficient ways to heat water in your home.

Is a hybrid water heater worth it? ›

What's the benefit compared to using standard electric water heater? It's much more energy efficient. Electrical resistance heating consumes a lot of power. A hybrid water heater can cut down bills: an average household of four can save around $3,500 over the unit's lifetime.

What is the most efficient way to heat hot water? ›

A modern combi-boiler, which provides instant hot water, is generally considered to be more energy efficient than a 'stored' hot water system. You could install solar water heating (SWH), also known as solar hot water (SHW).

Is gas still cheaper than electricity 2022? ›

On the face of it, gas is cheaper than electric if you're simply comparing the unit cost (in this case, the cost per kWh). Gas costs 10p/kWh and electric costs 34p/kWh.

Should I get rid of gas heating? ›

If yours is relatively new and still doing a good job, then there's no reason to get rid of it. That said, new boilers are really energy-efficient, so an upgrade might make sense if yours is old. The main thing to know is that there is no ban in place (or planned!) on gas boilers in the homes we live in today.

Is electric heating the future? ›

Modern electric radiators are now efficient enough to be considered a viable, cost-effective alternative to most other central heating options including gas and oil. When combined with solar power and offshore and onshore wind, electric heating is considered the energy of the future.

What is the downside of an electric water heater? ›

More expensive to operate. Homeowners tend to choose gas water heaters over their electric counterparts because natural gas is cheaper than electricity, which means a lower utility bill.

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