Gas Versus Electric Water Heaters

Understanding the difference between gas and electric.

What Is The Difference Between Gas And Electric Water Heaters?

There are several different types of water heaters that use either gas or electricity. Here is a closer look at the different types of water heaters available.

Standard Storage Tank Water Heaters

Most water heaters in North America are either gas or electric storage tanks. These standard tanks range in size and can store anywhere from 20 to 100 gallons of water. The main difference between gas and electric water heaters is the energy used to heat up the water. Gas water heaters burn fuel like natural gas to heat up the water in the tank while electric water heaters use electric resistance coils.

High-Efficiency Storage Tank Water Heaters

There are also high-efficiency storage tank water heaters available in both gas and electric models. These high-efficiency units can save you money on your energy bill over time.

Tankless Water Heaters

A tankless water heater either uses electric coils or gas to heat up water on demand. Tankless water heaters operate by warming up the water as it flows through your home or office. These units tend to be more expensive upfront than traditional tanks; however, they use less energy since water is heated as needed and not kept warm in a storage tank.

Heat Pump Water Heaters

A heat pump is another choice for electric water heating. These efficient yet expensive models heat up your water by pulling in heat from the surrounding air. As a backup, there are electric elements to ensure your water is hot.

Water Heater Installation Methods

Unless you have a background in plumbing or electrical work, always enlist professional help in order to install any type of water heater. From understanding plumbing codes, obtaining appropriate work permits as well as working with electricity or natural gas, most homeowners and business owners realize that calling an expert is the wisest choice. For standard storage tanks, these installation methods will be completed in the following manner:

Gas Water Heater Installation

  1. Shut off the main water supply and gas to the water heater
  2. Drain the water in the tank
  3. Unscrew the vent pipe from the hood, cut away unit from water lines and remove the old water heater
  4. Attach the new temperature and pressure relief valve to the new water heater
  5. Solder the new copper pipe-fittings into the water inlet ports
  6. Reattach the cold and hot water lines
  7. Reattach the vent pipe and vent hood
  8. Reconnect the gas line
  9. Check for drafts from the gas and water leaks from any of the connections
  10. Light the pilot light and adjust the temperature settings

Electric Water Heater Installation

  1. Turn off the power to the water heater from your electrical panel
  2. Drain the water from the old tank
  3. Disconnect the electrical wires under the access panel on the unit and the water lines from the old unit
  4. Remove the old water heater
  5. Confirm that the circuit breaker can handle the energy required from the new water heater
  6. Rewire the new water heater
  7. Reattach the water lines
  8. Turn on the water and fill the new tank
  9. Confirm there are no water leaks
  10. Turn on the electricity from the circuit breaker to heat up the water heater
  11. Adjust the temperature settings as you see fit



  • Location: With many gasses, even gas plumbing, there is the risk of explosion. We recommend that gas water heaters have anywhere between 6 and 18 inches of empty space surrounding the tank to avoid any problems.
  • Ventilation/Plumbing Requirements: To have a gas water heater, you must have your home or building plumbed for a gas line. This includes a flue that vents air to the outside. The plumbing must carry the gasses through the walls or roof of the building.
  • First Hour Rating: This rating is based on how quickly the water reheats, especially during the busiest time of the day, and can be found on the yellow EnergyGuide label attached to your appliance. Gas water heaters tend to heat quicker.
  • Tank Size: Naturally, the size of tank you require depends on how much water your household uses. However, it also depends upon the first hour rating and how much hot water you will need at one time. The water in the tank of a gas heater heats faster, requiring a smaller tank.


  • Location: These water heaters can be placed anywhere, including cramped spaces such as a closet. An electric water heater can go anywhere a gas water heater can go.
  • Ventilation/Plumbing Requirements: All that is needed is a special outlet that will meet the electrical needs of the heater. There are no other ventilation or plumbing requirements.
  • First Hour Rating: Again, this is the rate at which a water heater reheats and serves as an indicator of how much water is used during the busiest time of day. Electric water heaters tend to heat at a slower pace. Don’t forget to look at the yellow EnergyGuide label to find your First Hour Rating.
  • Tank Size: Since the electric heater takes longer to heat, it requires a larger tank. In turn, this will take up more space.

We hope this comparison helps you to choose the best water heater fit for your home.

Water Heater Installation Costs

Water heaters have a wide range of prices depending on model, size and gas or electric heating. Generally, standard storage tanks for gas water heaters run from $300 to $600 while electric water heaters are between $250 and $500. Installation costs can cost between $700 to $2,000 depending your particular needs.

Contact The Professionals At Rapid Rooter

If your home or business is located in Pompano Beach or the surrounding areas in South Florida, Rapid-Rooter is the professional plumbing service to call. With more than 25 years of reputable service, we can answer questions about your residential or commercial water heater and help you with a cost-effective solution.

For additional information on consumer water heaters and energy usage, visit the U.S. Department of Energy.


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