What are electric boilers?
Electric boilers are a method of heating hot water for your heating system using only electricity. A typical boiler uses gas to heat the water, whilst an electric boiler can be used in off-grid areas or where a gas supply is either not wanted or not possible.
How do electric boilers work?
The boiler itself is very simple. It can come in various shapes and forms, but typically you will see a unit that has the water running through it, being heated via a heating element, just like you would a kettle. You will sometimes see long slim units that are designed to create maximum surface area to heat the water.
What are the advantages of electric boilers?
Electric boilers can be advantageous in certain situations. They are very simple pieces of technology, so they don’t need a lot of space, and can be placed almost anywhere in a property because they don’t need a flue or a gas pipe run to them. Very little heat is lost in the process of heating the water, so electric boilers are nigh on 100% efficient.
They tend to be easier to install – they obviously don’t need a gas safe engineer. The simplicity of the system and the installation process means that the overall cost of installation is going to be much less than a gas boiler.
What are the disadvantages of electric boilers?
Of course, if electric boilers were the best solution, you would see them everywhere, but you don’t. There are downsides to electric boilers, and let me run you through the key points. Gas is considerably cheaper than electricity, at about 30% of the price. That means the cost of heating water using electricity is going to be a lot higher, even if you have a very efficient system.
That much is fairly obvious, but even when you compare electric boilers to other forms of electric heating, the electric boiler doesn’t necessarily come out on top. If you compare it to storage heating for example – it is clear that electric boilers are going to be more expensive to run. They have a wet heating system, which is more costly to install and maintain, but they have the same efficiency rating as a dry electric system. It is also not possible to heat the water for your central heating over night when the electricity is cheaper – storage heaters let you take advantage of economy 7 tariffs to heat the water more cheaply. Electric boilers cannot usually heat the water for your central heating and store it for later.
Electric boilers probably have their place in certain properties. They are a simple, easy to install option but for many people there are going to be better ways to heat the home out there to look at. Economy 7, heat pumps or even oil boilers are all likely to be cheaper to run than electric boilers.