Most people roll tankless water heaters into one group, but there are many differences between electric and gas tankless water heaters. It is very common for a home not to have natural gas or LP gas, so if a homeowner is interested in tankless water heating, they tent to automatically assume they can get an electric tankless water heater. That’s often not the case, and in fact, we work with very few electric tankless water heaters.
Electric tankless water heaters take about 120 amps of electricity to run for the whole house, which is a very significant load on an existing electrical system. That would be equivalent to four clothes dryers or electric kitchen ranges. The reality is that there often isn’t enough space in the electrical panel to add an electric tankless water heater capable of providing enough hot water for the entire home. Electricity is the most inefficient way to heat water, so electric tankless water heaters are much less efficient than gas tankless water heaters. Most of the time, people consider tankless water heaters for efficiency, so it wouldn’t make much sense to put in an inefficient unit.
There are also some potential dependability issues with electric tankless water heaters. The elements that heat the water in an electric tankless water heater can burn out very quickly if any air passes through the unit itself. If the water was turned off for maintenance and someone forgot to turn power off to the water heater, it could result in a blown element that needs to be replaced. Another issue is the lifespan of the actual heater. An electric tankless water heater will have roughly about a 6-10 year life, whereas a gas tankless water heater will have double that. Even though it may be a little bit more money up front, the increased lifespan makes it worth the investment.
Most people see an electric tankless water heater online and think it will work for their home. I would encourage everyone to pay attention to the flow rate that the heater can produce. Most of even the larger heaters will only produce about 3 gallons of hot water per minute. That’s only enough for one shower at a given time, and the demand in a typical home will be much greater than what an electric tankless water heater can produce.
On the flipside of the coin, gas tankless water heaters are extremely efficient. In fact, they are one of the most efficient tankless water heaters you can get. They have a long lifespan, they are proven to be dependable, and the flow rates are around 5-7 gallons per minute, depending on the intended water temperature. They can definitely provide a whole home with the amount of hot water it demands.
Before you make the decision to get an electric tankless water heater, contact us online or give us a call at 540-483-9382. You may come to realize that there are superior options available for your home.