Electric vs Gas Tankless Water Heater: Which Is Better in 2024?

Electric vs Gas Tankless Water Heater

Deciding between an electric and a gas tankless water heater can significantly impact your home’s energy efficiency, cost savings, and comfort.

Tankless water heaters, also known as on-demand or instantaneous water heaters, provide hot water only as it is needed, which can mean substantial energy savings over traditional tank-style heaters.

Electric tankless water heaters are generally easier to install and require less upfront investment, while gas models are often lauded for their ability to deliver higher flow rates and handle demanding usage.

As you weigh the pros and cons of electric and gas tankless water heaters, it’s important to consider several factors, including installation costs, energy efficiency, performance in various climates, maintenance requirements, and potential environmental impacts.

While electric units are powered by electricity, making them available in virtually any home, gas tankless heaters may offer greater efficiency and lower operating costs, provided that natural gas is readily available in your area.

Our aim is to guide you through the complexities of each option, helping you make an informed decision on which water heater suits your specific needs best.

Key Takeaways for Electric vs Gas Tankless Water Heater

  • Tankless water heaters save energy as they heat water on demand to provide hot water when you need it, with electric and gas models having distinct features.
  • A tankless heater occupy less space than a storage tank water heater.
  • This article assists you in understanding the differences between electric and gas options to choose the right one for your home.
  • Considerations include energy efficiency, operating costs, climate compatibility, and environmental impact when selecting a heater.

Understanding the Technology

When choosing between electric and gas tankless water heaters, it’s important you grasp how each type heats water. Differing in energy source and operation, both aim to provide you with a continuous flow of hot water.

How Electric Heaters Work

Electric tankless heaters use heated coils to warm water on demand. When you turn on a hot water tap, cold water travels through a pipe and into the unit.

Here, electric elements heat the water instantly, delivering it to your faucet without the need for a storage tank unlike storage tank water heaters.

These units are generally compact in size, making them suitable for homes with limited space.

How Gas Heaters Work

Gas tankless water heaters operate on either natural gas or propane. As you open the hot water tap, the unit detects the flow, triggering the burner to ignite. A heat exchanger transfers the burner’s heat to the water, rapidly raising its temperature.

These heaters are known for their higher flow rates compared to their electric counterparts, which makes them a popular choice for larger households.

Comparing Efficiency

When considering the efficiency of electric and gas tankless water heaters, it’s essential to focus on the specifics of energy savings and operational costs, as they directly impact your utility bills and environmental footprint.

Energy Savings

Electric tankless water heaters generally exhibit greater efficiency in converting energy into heat in comparison to their gas counterparts.

For example, an electric tankless water heater can achieve an efficiency rate of up to 99%, which means that nearly all the electricity used is converted to heat your water.

In contrast, gas tankless water heaters have a slightly lower efficiency, though high-end models can still be very efficient.

They may also include advanced features that further improve efficiency, such as modulating burners that adjust the flame size to meet demand.

Operational Costs

Gas tankless water heaters frequently boast reduced operational expenses owing to the typically lower cost of natural gas relative to electricity in many regions.

Over time, the gas heater may provide you with more savings on energy costs despite its higher initial purchase price and installation complexity.

A study suggests that the efficiency of a natural gas tankless water heater (EF 0.82) can lead to lower annual fuel costs compared to traditional storage water heaters.

However, these savings can be influenced by factors such as local utility rates and usage patterns, which is why it’s essential to consider your specific circumstances when making a choice.

Installation Considerations

Before deciding between an electric or gas tankless water heater, you need to assess specific installation requirements for each type. These considerations are fundamental in understanding what will work best in your space.

Space Requirements

Electric tankless water heaters boast a compact size, typically not requiring as much room as their gas counterparts. You’ll likely find them easier to fit in smaller spaces such as closets or under sinks.

This is an advantage if you’re limited on space. On the other hand, gas tankless water heaters usually demand more room due to their larger size and need for additional components like gas lines.

Ventilation Needs

When it comes to Ventilation, electric models do not require any external venting as they don’t burn fuel. This can simplify their installation. Gas tankless water heaters, however, must be vented to the outside to safely remove combustion gases.

Ensuring proper ventilation is crucial and may involve installing vents that can handle high temperatures and avoiding any backdraft issues in tightly sealed spaces.

The ventilation installation must comply with local building codes, which typically dictate the type and size of the venting needed.

Environmental Impact

When exploring the environmental implications of electric versus gas tankless water heaters, it’s crucial to consider both emissions and how these systems interact with renewable energy sources.

Emissions and Pollution

Gas tankless water heaters produce emissions including carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and possibly methane leaks during operation.

These greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution and climate change. However, the level of emissions can be influenced by the efficiency of the heater and the source of the natural gas.

Conversely, electric tankless water heaters are associated with the environmental impact of the electricity generation process.

If the electricity comes from fossil fuels, the indirect emissions might be significant, but if it’s sourced from renewable energy, the carbon footprint is lower.

You can learn about some of the performance issues related to gas tankless water heaters that could affect energy usage and emissions in a study on the actual savings of natural gas tankless water heaters.

Renewable Energy Compatibility

Electric tankless water heaters have a distinct advantage in renewable energy compatibility due to their potential to operate on electricity generated from renewable resources such as solar, wind, or hydropower.

As our electricity grid becomes greener, the environmental impact of electric tankless water heaters will continue to decrease. On the other hand, gas tankless water heaters are typically reliant on the existing natural gas infrastructure, which is predominantly non-renewable.

However, advancements in technology such as biogas or synthetic natural gas could alter the renewable landscape for gas water heating in the future.

Maintenance and Durability

When you’re deciding between an electric and gas water heaters, it’s important to consider how the maintenance and durability of each can impact your household’s long-term satisfaction and budget.

Lifespan of Units

Electric Tankless Water Heaters: Generally, these units have fewer moving parts, which contributes to a longer lifespan—often around 20 years with proper maintenance. They are less prone to issues like sediment build-up, which can affect durability.

Gas Tankless Water Heaters: These can also last up to 20 years, but they require more consistent maintenance due to components like burners and venting systems. Regular service is essential to maintain efficiency and safety.

Ease of Repair

Electric Tankless Water Heaters: They are typically easier and less expensive to repair because of their simpler design. Components are more accessible, and you don’t need to deal with combustion or gas-related issues.

Gas Tankless Water Heaters: Repairs might require a qualified technician, especially for issues related to the gas line or venting. While they have robust designs, repairs can be more complex and potentially costlier than their electric counterparts.

Cost Analysis

When choosing between a gas and an electric tankless water heater, it’s crucial to consider both the initial investment and how much value you’ll get over time.

Initial Investment

Electric tankless water heaters generally come with a lower upfront cost than their gas counterparts. Factors like installation complexity and additional components—like venting systems for gas models—can influence the investment.

For example, gas tankless water heaters often require a stainless steel venting system, which can add to the initial cost.

Long-Term Value

Your long-term savings hinge on the energy efficiency and operational cost savings of your water heating system. Electric tankless water heaters are typically more energy-efficient, as they convert most of the electricity they consume into heat.

However, the cost of electricity might be higher than natural gas in your area, which would affect the savings.

On the other hand, gas tankless water heaters may offer lower operating costs, particularly if natural gas prices are more favorable in your region.

They are highly efficient for large households where the demand for hot water is higher. However, their efficiency can be influenced by factors like your hot water draw patterns.

It is important to consider these details to understand the potential energy savings a gas system may provide.

Performance in Extreme Climates

When considering a tankless heater, your local climate can make a big difference in which system functions best for you. Electric tankless water heaters are known for their efficiency, but they might not be the top performer in areas with very cold incoming water temperatures.

They require a significant amount of electrical power to raise the water temperature quickly, which may pose a challenge during frigid conditions.

On the other hand, gas tankless water heaters generally produce higher flow rates and can handle demand in cold weather more effectively. However, it’s crucial to ensure that they are properly vented, as they can lose efficiency if the exhaust gases condense in extremely cold temperatures.

Here’s a quick comparison in extreme climates:

FeatureElectric Tankless HeaterGas Tankless Heater
Climate SuitabilityMild to moderateBroad range, including cold climates
EfficiencyHigh in optimal conditionsMaintains efficiency in cold weather
Installation ConsiderationsEasier, less complexRequires proper venting
CostLower upfront costHigher upfront cost, but may provide more heat per unit of energy

Remember to take into account the availability of utilities in your area. In some regions, electricity might be more reliable or less expensive than gas, tipping the scales in favor of an electric unit despite the climate.

Similarly, if natural gas is readily available and cheaper, a gas tankless water heater could be the more economical choice long-term, even in extremely cold conditions.

Always consult a professional to assess the specific needs and constraints of your home environment.

Regulations and Safety

Understanding the regulations and safety features of tankless water heaters is essential for your home’s compliance and safety. Both electric and gas models have their own set of standards that are designed to ensure safe installation and operation.

Building Codes

Your local building codes have a significant impact on the installation of tankless water heaters. These codes are in place to ensure that your installation meets current safety and efficiency standards.

For instance, gas tankless water heaters might have stricter ventilation requirements due to the combustion process.

Moreover, there are energy efficiency regulations, like those examined by tankless water heater studies, that dictate minimum performance specifications your new heater should comply with. It’s important that you or your installer is familiar with these codes to avoid any legal or safety issues.

Safety Features

Tankless water heaters are equipped with a range of safety features to protect you and your home. Gas models include sensors to detect carbon monoxide and natural gas, automatically shutting down the unit if a leak or blockage is identified.

Electric models, while not dealing with combustible gases, incorporate overload protection to prevent electrical issues.

Additionally, they may have built-in freeze protection that prevents the system from bursting in cold temperatures, which is particularly valuable in less insulated areas.

Always ensure that any tankless water heater you consider is equipped with the latest safety mechanisms and adheres to national safety standards.

Recommended Products

When you’re searching for a tankless water heater, it’s crucial to consider both performance and energy efficiency. Here’s a breakdown of some leading products in the electric and gas categories to help you find a match for your needs.

Electric Tankless Water Heaters:

  • EcoSmart ECO 27: Known for its self-modulating technology, this electric water heater automatically adjusts energy usage based on how much hot water is needed, offering significant energy savings.
  • Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24 Plus: This model impresses with its advanced flow control feature, which ensures a consistent temperature even when the demand for hot water changes.
  • Rheem RTEX-13: The Rheem RTEX-13 is praised for its easy installation and LED display. It’s a solid choice for small households looking to save on space and energy.

Gas Tankless Water Heaters:

  • Rinnai RUC98iN Ultra Series: Recognized for its efficiency and dual-ventilation options, this gas water heater is a robust choice that can maintain a steady flow of hot water for multiple outlets at once.
  • Takagi T-KJr2-IN-NG: Ideal for smaller homes, this heater provides a great balance between performance and size, offering a consistent flow of hot water without taking up too much space.
  • Navien NPE-240A Premium: Users like the Navien NPE-240A for its eco-friendly condensing technology and ease of linking with home automation systems.

Remember, the best heater for you depends on your specific needs and setup. Consider factors such as flow rate, energy consumption, and available space before making your decision.

Final Thoughts

When choosing between an electric and a gas tankless water heater, it’s clear that both have distinct advantages tailored to different situations.

Electric models are known for their ease of installation and lower initial costs, making them a great fit if your home doesn’t have existing gas lines. They’re also more energy-efficient in their operation.

On the flip side, gas tankless heaters usually offer a higher flow rate, suitable for homes with greater hot water demand.

Although they come with higher installation complexity and potential venting requirements, they make up for it with their performance in cold climates and generally lower operating costs, assuming natural gas prices are favorable in your area.

Here are some considerations to weigh for your new tankless water heater:

  • Installation: Do you have existing gas lines?
  • Usage: How much hot water do you use at once?
  • Climate: Is your location very cold?
  • Efficiency: How important is energy efficiency to you?
  • Cost: Are you looking at upfront or long-term expenses?

Remember, your unique needs and the specifics of your home are paramount. Reflect on your particular circumstances and preferences, from how many showers run concurrently to the likelihood of power outages in your area.

By considering these factors, you will be better equipped to decide which tankless water heater aligns with your requirements. Your satisfaction with your choice will resonate every time you enjoy a reliable stream of hot water.


  • Edmund Yeo

    🌱 I'm passionate about sustainable living and renewable energy, and I'm thrilled to share my journey towards a greener, brighter future with you. Join me as I explore the latest innovations, eco-friendly lifestyle tips, and inspiring stories from the forefront of the green energy revolution. Note: This website uses affiliate links which may earn a commission for purchases made at no additional cost to you.

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