With the rising threat of climate change, industries worldwide are looking for ways to become more environmentally friendly.
As electricity is a secondary energy source, it leaves us with many options.
Though we are still using fossil fuels to produce a significant amount of electricity, renewable sources create just as much. In the third quarter of 2019, 39% of electricity in the UK came from coal, oil and gas, but another 40% came from renewable sources. 20% came from wind, 12% from biomass and 6% from solar. (Source: Carbon Brief)
With improved technology, renewable sources could soon produce more electricity. In which case, could that mean electric boilers will quickly replace the traditional gas boiler?
How Do They Work?
Electric boilers work in a very similar way to gas boilers by warming up water to heat your home.
Connected to your main electricity supply, water from the mains passes through the element, which heats up inside the boiler. Warming the water, it then travels to your taps and radiators. Electric boilers are an excellent alternative for homes where gas is not an option. Usually, a gas boiler is unsuitable for listed buildings and can’t be installed in homes where it’s simply not safe enough to have gas in the building. Electric heating is preferred in flats and apartment buildings due to the ease of installation and low maintenance required.
As opposed to gas boilers, electric-powered boilers are generally small and compact, and with no need for a flue to be connected, they can be installed anywhere in the home. These attributes provide a lot more flexibility in terms of the layout of the house.
With water supplied on demand from a single source, hot water temperature and pressure may drop when using more than one outlet at the same time. Because of this, electric boilers are generally not recommended for large or busy homes and those with more than one bathroom. (Source: Boiler Guide)
An electric boiler’s cost can range anywhere from £500 to £2,500, with installation costs varying between installers. A survey will be able to determine your heating and hot water requirements. Brands across the UK produce electric boilers ranging anywhere from 4kW to 15kW, and your home size and heating requirements will determine what output you require.
Types of Electric Boilers
Direct-acting electric boilers are the more affordable option, with the lowest installation costs. An element heats the water on demand; therefore, you cannot store heated water for later use.
Storage Electric Boilers
With a hot water cylinder or storage unit, you can heat and store water for use later. The advantage of this is the use of “time-of-use” tariffs such as economy 7. Storage electric boilers are more expensive and larger, however.
Dry Core Storage Boilers
Like electric storage boilers, dry core boilers utilise lower price tariffs, heating water and storing for later. Dry core boilers heat bricks, with the heat released into the water when needed.
- Cheaper Installation: With no need to connect gas mains, it means quicker and more affordable installation.
- More energy efficient: The boiler does not directly use fossil fuels.
- Compact: Due to there being no flue, electric boilers are much more compact and take up less space in the home.
- Quiet – Electric boilers are generally very quiet to run due to there being no elements within the boiler to create heat.
- Less Maintenance: Electric boilers have fewer mechanical parts, meaning less maintenance. Hot water cylinders should undergo an annual service.
- Flexible In Placement – As there is no flue, there is no need to put your electric boiler against an outside wall.
- No Gas Supply Needed – Electric boilers are excellent for homes off the gas grid or those that, for safety reasons, cannot use gas.
- Expense – Electricity can be up to 30% more expensive than gas for heating.
- High Water Demand – Standard electric boilers can only heat water on-demand.
- Carbon Production – Creating electricity can produce carbon which arguably negates the eco-friendliness of an electric boiler.
- Power Cuts – Lights, heating and hot water would be unavailable during a power cut.