Electric Boilers

electric boilers
Electric Boilers

Electric Boilers

Electric Boilers are fast becoming the go to system instead of Gas – Oil or LPG. Coupled up with a solar PV installation, this could save you a few pennies. Get a free estimate to see if you could save.

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An electric boiler works in a very similar way to a traditional gas boiler, except that it heats water by passing an electric current through a heating element rather than by burning gas – essentially operating like a big kettle (it doesn’t boil the water though). Electric boilers connect up to a central heating system to heat up the water in your radiators, and provide hot water to your taps and showers. Types of electric boiler Like gas boilers, electric boilers can be either combination (combi) system or heat-only (regular) boilers: Combi boilers Heat up water for your taps and radiators ‘on demand’. They don’t need external hot water storage cylinders, making them suitable for properties with less space. But as they heat the water as you need it, this uses more power than a heat-only or system electric boiler.

Heat-only boilers Provide heat directly to your radiators, and connect up to a water tank to provide hot water. They are best suited for larger homes with a greater hot water demand. This is because they heat and store hot water for when you need it, rather than heating it ‘on demand’ like a combi boiler, which may not be able to heat it fast enough to meet demand. However, they take up more space than a combi or system boiler as they need two tanks – a hot water tank that stores the hot water ready for use (usually kept in an airing cupboard), and a cold water feed tank that’s usually placed in a loft and fills up from the mains water supply. System boilers These are like a heat-only option, but components that are external in a heat-only boiler, such as pumps and valves, are built into the body of a system boiler. As such, they only require a hot water tank, which saves space. Some manufacturers sell models with an integrated hot water cylinder, as opposed to you needing to buy a separate one. These are designed to fit completely with a standard airing cupboard, so if you have the space could be an attractive ‘all-in-one’ solution.

There is no one size fits all solution, so it’s worth taking some time to consider the pros and cons of different systems before parting with your money. Here, we’ve summarised the key pros and cons of electric boilers; we delve into what you need to know in more detail later in this article. Bear in mind that every home is different – you should always get an expert local engineer to carry out an assessment of your home before making any decisions.

 

Electric boiler pros 
No carbon emissions from the boiler itself – although it’s only completely zero emissions if the electricity that powers it is produced from renewable sources. Electric boilers claim to be nearly 100% energy-efficient – compared to a like-for-like gas boiler, you need fewer units of energy (kWh) to produce the same amount of heat. Have fewer moving parts – so are less likely, in theory, to develop a fault. Quieter than gas boilers – mainly due to fewer moving parts. If your boiler is located in a room you spend lots of time in, an electric one may be softer on the ears. Can be placed almost anywhere in the home – they don’t need a flue or gas pipe to run to them, so can even be placed on an internal wall. No risk of a carbon monoxide leak – this is a risk in faulty gas boilers if the gas is not burned completely due to a lack of oxygen and the resulting carbon monoxide escapes into your home. 
Electric boiler cons 
Currently expensive to run – electricity is more expensive per unit of energy (kWh) than gas. This may change in the future, but it is an issue right now. Typically shorter warranties – most are two to three years. This is no reflection on their likelihood of breaking but, given that gas boilers that can have warranties that last 10 years or more, it does mean you’re more likely to have to pay for faults that do occur. May not be suitable for larger homes – electric boilers typically have lower maximum outputs, meaning they may struggle to meet the higher heating and hot water demands of larger homes. They’ll be fine for smaller homes, though. We explain why later. Other electric heating options may be cheaper to run – for example, heat pumps are more energy-efficient, and infrared panels use less electricity to provide the same amount of heat. Both can have higher upfront costs, though, and may not be suitable for all homes. 
With the drive to net zero gathering pace, and gas boilers on borrowed time, a question on many homeowners’ lips is: can an electric boiler be a viable replacement for a fossil-fuel-guzzling gas boiler? The UK has committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and gas boilers don’t have a place in this carbon-neutral future. While they are still available for now, eventually the only heating solutions will be lower-carbon ones. Similar in size and with comparable installation costs to a gas boiler, an electric boiler solution may appeal to those looking to reduce their carbon footprint sooner rather than later. And, for homes where a heat pump isn’t currently viable, they could be the best option.  Read on to find out more and installation and running costs, how they stack up against alternatives and if it makes sense for you to make the switch to an electric boiler now. 
 
New gas boiler installations aren’t likely to be phased out until the mid-2030s. If you’re not yet ready to make the switch to electric, head to our boiler page and have a look at gas, oil, LPG boilers or alternatively why not look at an air source heat pump found on our air source heat pump page.

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