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What Do I Need To Know About Electric Boilers?

Here’s everything you need to know about electric boilers - and whether they might be right for you.

When most people think of a central heating boiler at home, they think of one of two things: an old-school system boiler with a huge foam-encased copper tank in a cupboard, or a simpler combi unit which sits in a corner of the house and fires up loudly when the hot tap is switched on.

But did you know there’s another alternative?

What is an electric boiler?

Let’s start with the basic things you need to know about electric boilers…what exactly are they?

Electric boilers look similar to conventional ones and similarly heat water, either on demand, or according to a programmed cycle.

Rather than pass cold water through a heat exchange, however, they use an immersed electrical element, a bit like a kettle, to heat the water which is then distributed throughout the home through the usual pipes, to your radiators, taps, and other heaters and outlets.

In many cases, there will be a hot water storage tank, a lot like a conventional system boiler, which can hold the hot water for when it is needed.

Alternatively, and again, similar to a gas-powered system, you may come across an electric combi-boiler which solely heats water on demand.

Why Do I Need to Know About Electric Boilers?

Electric boilers are a great alternative for where a gas powered system is unsuitable.

Here are some of the reasons why you might want to specify an electric boiler for your home:

No Gas

The obvious reason that you may choose an electric boiler is when there is no existing supply of gas to the property and installing one would be prohibitively expensive or generally unviable.

Another alternative would be oil or using gas cylinders, however, these solutions also come with their own drawbacks which can render them unsuitable too.

Small Space

If your property or home is particularly small, an electric boiler may be what you need as they can be installed in far more compact spaces than gas alternatives.


Because electric boilers don’t burn anything, they don’t produce any emissions such as carbon monoxide or steam.

This makes them much safer as there is no possibility of a leak of harmful gases into your home.

The lack of a fuel supply also eliminates the risk of a potentially dangerous leak of gas.

This can be useful as it means that they can be used in areas with poor ventilation.

It also results in…

Easier Installation

Chimneys, flues, feed, and exhaust infrastructure don’t need to be built for an electric boiler.

This means that they can be installed far more easily than a gas boiler, and more quickly too.

These benefits also mean that the cost of the installation will be lower too.

Low Noise

Most electric boilers operate more quietly than their fuel-burning counterparts, so they’re good for buildings where noise has to be kept to a minimum, for example libraries, meeting rooms, offices, etc.

Minimal Maintenance

One thing that is helpful to know about electric boilers is that they are easier and cheaper to maintain than gas or oil powered boilers.

This is because they have far fewer moving and high-stress parts which can wear out over time, as well as become blocked or corroded as a result of poor water quality.

Environmental Credential

As I said earlier, electric boilers don’t produce any emissions of their own; so they can be the more environmentally friendly option.

They’re even more environmentally friendly if your source of electricity is renewable (i.e. from an onsite generation such as solar or wind) or if your utility bill plan incorporates renewable energy sources.

Need to know: why aren’t all boilers electric?

You may well be thinking that if electric boilers are so great, why aren’t we all using them?

There are several answers, including the fact that we humans are creatures of habit and in many cases prefer to stick to what we know, i.e. a gas fired boiler.

There are other reasons though, for example:


Electric boilers can be quite expensive to run if heating water in large quantities - particularly if you’re in a region with high electricity rates.

This is exacerbated by reduced efficiency of electric boilers when compared to gas alternatives (while all the energy in an electric boiler is converted to heat, it requires more energy to heat the same amount of water that a gas boiler would use, therefore, they’re less efficient).

So, if your heating demands are great - for example if your property is large or there are lots of people all needing to get through the bathroom - an electric boiler may not be the choice for you.


If your property already has a gas powered boiler installed, the installation of a new electric boiler could actually be the more complicated and expensive, option.

This is because things like flues, and gas supplies would need to be decommissioned and you may find additional infrastructure such as storage tanks would need to be added.

Higher Carbon Footprint

Earlier I mentioned that a good thing about electric boilers is that they don’t produce any emissions - so the units themselves can be more environmentally friendly.

This being said, if your electricity supply is primarily sourced from burning fossil fuels, you might find that a gas boiler is actually the more environmentally friendly option.

Response Time

Electric boilers can take a while to heat the water up as it is needed.

So, if your home demands require hot water quickly, you may find that an electric boiler is not the right choice for you.

How To Know That You Need An Electric Boiler?

There are several applications where an electric boiler is exactly what you need, as you’ll now know.

If you have a small home, don’t use much hot water, and particularly if you don’t have a gas supply - an electric boiler may be the hot water solution that you need.

If there’s anything else you need to know about electric boilers, you know what to do - just ask. I’d love to help you find the ideal boiler solution for you and your home.





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Adam Dilger
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We offer ground braking reliable heating solutions across the Northwest. With 20 years experience our engineers install, service and maintain your central heating systems. Connect with Adam on LinkedIn >>
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