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Electric vs Gas Water Heater: Which Is Better?

gas water

When it comes to choosing a water heater for your Bend home, one of the critical decisions you’ll face is whether to go for an electric water heater or a gas water heater. Each type comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and understanding the factors that differentiate them can help you make an informed decision tailored to your specific needs. In this blog post, we’ll explore various aspects of electric and gas water heaters, breaking down the key factors to consider.

Electric Water Heaters

An electric water heater is a household appliance designed to heat water for domestic use, such as bathing, cleaning, and cooking, using electrical energy. Unlike gas water heaters that rely on the combustion of natural gas or propane, electric water heaters operate by directly converting electrical energy into heat. These appliances are commonly found in homes and businesses as a reliable and efficient way to provide a constant supply of hot water.

How an Electric Water Heater Works:

Heating Element:

  • The core component of an electric water heater is the heating element, typically made of metal, such as stainless steel or copper. Heating elements are located inside the water tank and are responsible for generating the heat needed to raise the water temperature.


  • Electric water heaters are equipped with a thermostat, a temperature-sensitive device that monitors the water temperature within the tank. When the water temperature drops below the desired set point, the thermostat signals the heating element to activate and start heating the water.

Cold Water Inlet and Hot Water Outlet:

  • Water enters the electric water heater through a cold water inlet located near the bottom of the tank. As the water is heated, it rises to the top of the tank, where it exits through the hot water outlet. This process ensures a continuous flow of hot water as long as the heating element remains active.

Pressure Relief Valve:

  • For safety reasons, electric water heaters are equipped with a pressure relief valve. This valve releases excess pressure that may build up inside the tank, preventing potential damage or explosions in case of a malfunction.

Tank Insulation:

  • Many electric water heaters feature insulation around the tank to minimize heat loss. This insulation helps maintain the water temperature and improves overall energy efficiency by reducing the need for the heating element to cycle frequently.

Operating Principle:

  • When hot water is demanded, the thermostat detects the drop in temperature within the tank and activates the heating element.
  • The heating element begins to heat the water, raising its temperature to the preset level.
  • Once the water reaches the desired temperature, the thermostat signals the heating element to turn off, preventing overheating.
  • The hot water is then available for use through the hot water outlet, ensuring a constant supply as long as there is water in the tank.

 Advantages of Electric Water Heaters

1. Energy Efficiency

When it comes to energy efficiency, electric water heaters have some distinct advantages.

Direct Conversion of Energy

Electric water heaters are known for their efficiency in converting energy into heat. Unlike gas water heaters, which may lose some heat during combustion, electric heaters directly convert electrical energy into heat, minimizing energy waste.

On-Demand Heating

Electric water heaters are known for their on-demand heating capabilities. They heat water as it’s needed, eliminating the need for a continuously burning pilot light as seen in gas water heaters. This feature can result in energy savings, especially in households with varying hot water usage patterns.

2. Installation and Maintenance

The ease of installation and maintenance is another crucial factor to consider.

Simplified Installation

Electric water heaters are generally easier to install compared to gas water heaters. They don’t require venting systems or gas lines, making the installation process more straightforward and potentially more cost-effective.

Minimal Maintenance Requirements

When doing water heater maintenance in Bend, assess the age and type of heater in your home. Electric water heaters typically have fewer maintenance requirements. With no combustion processes involved, there are fewer components that can wear out over time, translating to reduced maintenance costs.

3. Safety

Safety is paramount when it comes to water heaters, and electric models offer certain safety advantages.

No Combustion Risks

Electric water heaters do not involve combustion, eliminating the risk of gas leaks or carbon monoxide emissions. This can be particularly important for households with strict safety considerations.

Lower Risk of Explosions

As there is no gas involved, the risk of explosions related to gas leaks is virtually nonexistent with electric water heaters. This factor adds an extra layer of safety assurance for homeowners.

Gas Water Heaters

A gas water heater is a household appliance designed to heat water for various domestic purposes using the combustion of natural gas or propane. Unlike electric water heaters, which directly convert electrical energy into heat, gas water heaters rely on a burner system to produce the necessary warmth for raising the water temperature. This type of water heater is commonly found in homes and businesses, providing a continuous supply of hot water for bathing, cleaning, and other everyday tasks.

How a Gas Water Heater Works:

Burner Assembly:

  • The central component of a gas water heater is the burner assembly, typically located at the bottom of the tank. This assembly consists of a burner, a combustion chamber, and a pilot light.

Gas Supply:

  • Natural gas or propane is supplied to the burner through a gas line connected to the water heater. The gas supply is controlled by a gas valve, which regulates the flow of gas to the burner.

Pilot Light:

  • The pilot light is a small, continuously burning flame that ignites the gas when the water heater is in standby mode. It serves as a source of ignition for the main burner.


  • A thermocouple is a safety device connected to the pilot light. It senses the presence of the pilot flame. If the pilot light goes out, the thermocouple signals the gas valve to shut off the gas supply, preventing the release of unburned gas.

Combustion Process:

  • When hot water is needed, the gas valve opens, allowing gas to flow to the burner. The pilot light ignites the gas, initiating the combustion process.

Heat Exchange:

  • The combustion of gas produces hot gases that rise through a heat exchanger. This heat exchanger is a coiled tube or series of tubes that transfer the heat from the combustion process to the water surrounding it in the tank.

Hot Water Storage:

  • As the water absorbs the heat from the heat exchanger, it rises in temperature and is stored in the tank until it is needed. The hot water is then drawn from the top of the tank through the hot water outlet.

Venting System:

  • Because combustion is involved, gas water heaters require a venting system to expel the byproducts of combustion, including carbon monoxide, safely outside the home. Venting can be achieved through a chimney or a direct venting system.

Operating Principle:

  • The gas burner ignites when the thermostat detects a drop in water temperature, initiating the combustion process.
  • The heat produced by combustion is transferred to the water through the heat exchanger.
  • Once the water reaches the desired temperature, the thermostat signals the gas valve to close, stopping the combustion process.
  • The stored hot water is then available for use through the hot water outlet.
gas water

 Advantages of Gas Water Heaters

1. Cost Efficiency

Gas water heaters are often chosen for their cost-efficiency, both in terms of initial investment and ongoing operational costs, and choosing the best water heater brands in Central Oregon is paramount to getting reliable heating.

Lower Initial Cost

Gas water heaters typically have a lower upfront cost compared to electric models. This can be an appealing factor for homeowners with budget constraints or those looking for a more cost-effective initial investment.

Lower Operating Costs

In regions where natural gas prices are relatively low, gas water heaters can have lower operating costs compared to electric models. This can result in significant savings over the long term, especially in homes with high hot water usage.

2. Heating Speed

The speed at which a water heater can deliver hot water is a crucial consideration for many homeowners.

Faster Recovery Time

Gas water heaters are known for their faster recovery time compared to electric models. This means that they can provide a continuous supply of hot water even during periods of high demand, making them suitable for larger households with multiple occupants.

High Flow Rates

Gas water heaters are capable of delivering hot water at higher flow rates, making them ideal for homes with multiple bathrooms or appliances that require hot water simultaneously.

3. Long-Term Durability

Durability is a key factor for any home appliance, and gas water heaters have certain characteristics that contribute to their long-term reliability.

Longer Lifespan

In general, gas water heaters tend to have a longer lifespan compared to electric models. This can be attributed to the simpler design and fewer components prone to wear and tear.

Resilience to Power Outages

Gas water heaters can continue to operate during power outages, ensuring a continuous supply of hot water. This can be a significant advantage in areas prone to frequent power interruptions or for homeowners looking for uninterrupted hot water access.

Making the Decision: Factors to Consider

Now that we’ve examined key aspects of both electric and gas water heaters, let’s delve into the factors you should consider when making your decision.

1. Initial Cost and Budget Considerations

  • Initial Investment: Evaluate your budget and consider the upfront cost of the water heater. Gas water heaters typically have a lower initial cost and finding expert gas water heater services in Bend is important for future issues.
  • Installation Costs: Take into account the installation costs, including any necessary modifications to accommodate the chosen type of water heater in Bend.

2. Operating Costs Over Time

  • Energy Costs: Compare the ongoing energy costs for both electric and gas water heaters, factoring in local utility rates.
  • Long-Term Savings: Consider the long-term savings potential of each type based on your household’s hot water usage patterns.

3. Energy Efficiency and Environmental Impact

  • Environmental Considerations: Assess the environmental impact of each type, considering factors such as carbon footprint and energy source.
  • Energy Efficiency Ratings: Look into the energy efficiency ratings of specific models to make an informed decision on which is more eco-friendly.

4. Hot Water Demand and Usage Patterns

  • Household Size: Consider the size of your household and the number of occupants. Larger households with higher hot water demand may benefit from the faster recovery time of gas water heaters.
  • Peak Usage Times: Evaluate when hot water is most frequently used in your home to determine which type can meet your peak demand.

5. Safety Considerations

  • Gas Leaks and Carbon Monoxide: If safety is a top priority, weigh the risks associated with gas water heaters, including the potential for gas leaks and carbon monoxide emissions.
  • Installation Safety: Consider the safety measures required for the installation of gas water heaters, such as proper venting and gas line installation. It’s important that you contact a certified and experienced plumber in Bend to help you install a new water heater.

6. Availability of Energy Sources

  • Natural Gas Availability: Check the availability and cost of natural gas in Bend. Gas water heaters may not be a viable option if natural gas is not readily accessible.
  • Electrical Supply: Ensure a reliable electrical supply if opting for an electric water heater, considering any potential power outages in your location.

7. Long-Term Durability and Maintenance

  • Lifespan: Assess the expected lifespan of the water heater models you are considering.
  • Maintenance Requirements: Compare the maintenance requirements of electric and gas water heaters, factoring in the long-term costs associated with upkeep.


The choice between an electric and gas water heater depends on various factors, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Consider your budget, energy efficiency preferences, hot water demand, safety concerns, and long-term durability requirements when making this important decision. By carefully evaluating each factor and weighing the pros and cons, you can choose a reliable and efficient water heater installation, maintenance, and repair from Einstein Plumbing.

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