The type of boiler we use is a fundamental part of our home.
It decides the heating costs you pay, the ease of use you enjoy, and the things you need to bear in mind as a homeowner. But between gas and electric boilers – which is better?
Gas vs Electric Boilers
Electric boilers are cheaper to buy, easier to install, smaller, and don’t need connected to a gas line. However, gas boilers are cheaper to run than electric boilers, and are more powerful. Choose an electric boiler for a small property or supplemental heat, and gas for a larger house.
At least, that’s the summary.
Want to see more detailed comparisons? Then let’s dive in.
Gas vs Electric Boilers: Pros & Cons
When comparing two different options, sometimes the clearest way is through a pros and cons table.
Below are the main pros and cons of gas and electric boilers.
|No Gas Needed - Only an electricity supply. Great for remote properties.||Lower Heat Capacity - Not suited to solely power a whole house.|
|Smaller - More compact thanks to minimal moving parts.||Higher Running Costs - Electricity costs more than gas (currently).|
|Cheaper Upfront - Both in price, installation cost and simplicity.||Affected by Power Cuts - High risk if your area often gets them.|
|Easier to Install - No chimney/flue or complicated piping.||Less Available/Common - Not as standard as gas boilers for getting help/technicians.|
|Minimal Maintenance - No moving parts.||-|
|Cheaper to Run - Gas provides more heat per $ in almost every area. (May change in the future).||'Non-Renewable' - Though electricity likely sourced from coal factories, so the same.|
|Powerful - Capable of heating large homes.||Installation - Can be challenging, needs exhaust, etc.|
|Well Known - 'Standard' options are easier to get help, spare parts, or online help.||Safety Issues - Need carbon monoxide detector and regular maintenance.|
Let’s dive into some details. For each important aspect of a good boiler, I’ve compared and contrasted these two boiler types in a quick summary.
Think about which of these aspects are most important to you. Put more weight in the boiler type that ‘wins’ those categories.
By price I mean upfront cost – and for that electricity is a clear winner. This is mostly because an electric boiler is much more simple – it doesn’t need exhaust pipes or operate using moving parts.
This makes it easier to manufacturer and install – so cheaper for us.
It’s hard to give a definite answer for this one – because resource costs vary so much.
However, it’s likely that gas in your area is much cheaper than electricity – per unit of heat provided.
For that reason, gas is almost always the cheaper option to run.
One thing to bear in mind is that electricity may get cheaper, and gas may get more expensive in the long run. As we develop more renewable energy (electricity) solutions, and natural gas supplies decrease, this may change. Probably not until the next decade, though.
Although there’s a wide range of boilers for each type, gas is generally much more capable than electric.
The power of a flame beats out the heating potential of electric, making gas boilers much more capable.
For this reason, gas boilers are recommended for medium to large homes. Electric fares better in smaller properties, or to provide supplemental heat.
While gas makes for a powerful supply, it’s difficult to add on to an existing furnace. Electric boilers find a great niche as solutions for heating a home extension, adding underfloor heating, or somewhere like a guest house that only needs heat occasionally.
Since electric boilers don’t exhaust anything, they’re super easy to install. They’re so simple, they can even be hung up on a wall!
The lack of a flue or chimney means you can position them almost anywhere, and these boilers are much more compact than their gas counterparts.
When it comes to ease of installation, electric is the clear winner.
Electricity has a 99% energy efficiency rating.
Because of this, many electric suppliers would have you believe they are an amazing solution for the environment.
Unfortunately, this just isn’t true.
Yes, they are superbly efficient at transforming the electricity your home receives into heat. But where does that electricity come from?
There’s a high chance that it’s generated by large factories powered by fossil fuels, like coal. This energy has to then be transformed into electricity, then transported to your home.
So while the final conversion to heat is efficient, the process to get you the electricity isn’t.
It’s debatable which boiler type is better for the environment, personally I’d wager natural gas over electricity at this point. Only if we received most of our electricity from renewable sources would electricity be guaranteed as the better option.
Gas boilers aren’t exactly motorbikes, but there’s definitely some safety aspects to them.
Making sure you have a carbon monoxide detector, no fuel leaks, and working exhausts can play on your peace of mind.
Alternatively, electric boilers are about as safe as you can get. Just make sure they’ve got room to breathe and you’re about as set as you can be.
Again, no moving parts means for plenty of benefits.
Unlike gas boilers, electric boilers have no requirement for annual maintenance.
That’s less headaches, and less potential things going wrong.
That said, looking after a gas boiler isn’t hard. We all do it, and it’s a fairly regular and easy thing. Just something to bear in mind.
The Bottom Line
Looking at the bigger picture, it’s fairly easy to summarize this comparison.
Gas boilers are better as the main heat source for a larger home. They’re more powerful, and cost less per unit of heat they give you.
Electric boilers have advantages in almost every other department. Cheaper upfront, smaller, easier to install, and easier to maintain.
This makes electric boilers great as supplemental heat sources, heating a home extension or powering underfloor heating, or heating a small property (i.e an apartment).
That’s about all there is to it!
I hope this little article has helped clear things up for you. Don’t let yourself get too caught up on it – both are great options and you can’t go too wrong.
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Here’s to a warm, comfortable home 🙂
Have a great day,