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Gas vs. Electric Tankless Water Heaters

gas and electric tankless water heaters

If you’re switching to a tankless water heater you need to make a choice between a gas vs. an electric tankless water heater. If you’re lucky enough to have access to both power sources in your home, this is a decision you’ll want to spend some time on. The two power types differ in reliability, energy efficiency and up-front costs. One might be a much better choice for you.

Here’s what you need to know about gas vs. electric tankless water heaters to make the right decision for your home. 

1. Up-Front Costs

The first thing most homeowners want to know when comparing tankless water heaters is how much each will cost up-front. The short answer is that gas tankless water heaters are more expensive up-front. The units are more costly to purchase, and more expensive to install, because we may need to add an exhaust vent or a new gas line for them. By comparison, electric tankless water heaters may be only half as expensive as their gas counterparts. 

2. Energy-Efficiency & the Environment

Of course, up front costs aren’t the whole story. In the long term, gas water heaters are less expensive for most homeowners. This is because natural gas is cheaper than electricity. On the other hand, electric water heaters are much more energy efficient, so they create more hot water for the same fuel.

In some states, choosing an electric tankless water heater may mean using a more environmentally-friendly source of energy, like hydroelectric power. However, in California, we have roughly fifty percent natural gas power plants, which means your tankless water heater may, in the end, be powered by natural gas anyway. Therefore, if you’re concerned about the environment, it may be better to focus on choosing the most energy-efficiency tankless water heater, not the one with the right fuel source.

3. Reliability

When you turn on the shower, you want to have hot water—every time. That’s probably part of the reason you’re switching to a tankless water heater. So, you may be concerned about which tankless water heater is more reliable. Gas powered tankless water heaters are more reliable in one sense, because if you suffer an electricity black out in a storm, your gas tankless water heater will still work.

On the other hand, electric tankless water heaters are more reliable in that they need less maintenance and usually need fewer repairs over their lifespan. If you’re worried about a tankless water heaters breaking down on you, choosing electric (and keeping it maintained) may be best for you.

4. Flow Rate

What about the overall flow rate? This is how many taps, bathrooms and dishwashers a tankless water heater can supply at once. You may hear that there is a big difference between electric and gas tankless water heaters in terms of flow rate. However, that’s not as much of a concern for you as a Californian. Flow rates are comparable in our warm climate.

Still not sure which tankless water heater is best for you?  Tell your plumber what you’re looking for and they can help you find the tankless water heater that delivers for you. You can also check out Energy.gov’s guide to choosing a new water heater