With energy prices constantly on our minds, you may find yourself wondering whether your traditional gas boiler is the best option for your home. We’ve put together a guide to help you to determine whether an electric boiler is right for you.
Overview of electric boilers
Electric boilers work under the same principle as traditional gas boilers, other than the fact that they use electricity to heat the water rather than gas. This makes them an ideal option for properties which have no access to mains gas supply or which have gas boiler restrictions, such as listed buildings or bed-sits, giving the benefits of wet central heating without the need for a gas supply.
There are several electric boiler manufacturers in the UK, with models ranging from 4kW to 14.4kW. The size of your home and your heating requirements will determine what kW output you will need. The lower kW boilers are cheaper to buy and their running costs are generally lower, though they may not be as efficient as larger models.
There is a big difference between electric boilers and electric storage heaters. Electric boilers use electricity to heat the water in a wet central heating system the same as a gas or oil boiler. Electric storage heaters store up electricity during the off-peak electricity periods and then radiate that heat throughout your home the next day.
Advantages of electric boilers
One of the biggest selling points of electric boilers is their energy efficiency, with around a 99% efficiency rate for the user. As they do not require the burning of fossil fuels such as gas or oil to produce heat, there is no heat lost through waste gases through flues or chimneys.
No gas supply required
Over 2 million homes in the UK are without access to a mains gas supply, which means that electric boilers are an important method of providing central heating and hot water. Whether the home is a listed building or under gas boiler restrictions such as sleeping areas within a bed-sit, there are many reasons why it is impractical, unsafe or too expensive to install a gas supply.
Electric boilers are usually much more compact than their gas counterparts as they do not require a flue. This also allows for greater flexibility in the positioning of the boiler, as proximity to an outlet wall is not a requirement.
Lower installation costs
The fact that an electric boiler does not require a separate flue or chimney for waste emissions means that its initial installation costs are cheaper than for a gas boiler. If your property is without a mains gas supply, the cost of having an electric boiler fitted is considerably less than getting gas pipes installed.
Quiet to run
Electric boilers are very quiet when in use, as they do not require elements within the boiler moving to generate heat.
As they contain very few mechanical parts, electric boilers require very little maintenance, like any electrical appliance. Often it is only a case of repairing the boiler if there is a problem with it, rather than consistent upkeep. This means that they are very durable pieces of equipment, with the elements being just about the only part which may need replacing.
Considerations for electric boilers
Not suitable for high levels of hot water usage
Electric boilers are much more limited in the amount of water that they can heat at any one time. This means that larger properties, or those with higher levels of hot water usage, may be better suited to a conventional gas boiler system.
Cost of electricity
Electricity is more expensive than gas, meaning that the running costs of an electric boiler could be higher. This must be weighed up against the energy efficiency and other benefits of the electric boiler.
Doubts about environmental benefits
While electric boilers themselves are considered to be environmentally friendly, as they do not produce waste gases, there are concerns that the initial process of manufacturing the electricity itself in the first place generates as much pollution as a gas boiler system, therefore negating the environmentally friendly aspects.
Susceptibility to power cuts
As they run solely on electricity, electric boilers are susceptible to power cuts. If the power to your home goes out, this could leave you without hot water for several hours or, in more remote areas, even days.
How VHL can help
As with all types of heating, there are various pros and cons to the electric boiler which should be weighed up before you decide which option is best for you. The experts here at VHL are more than happy to discuss electric or gas boilers, or any other type of heating to ensure that you have all the information that you need. Get in touch today to speak to a member of the team.