Many homeowners are considering making the switch from gas appliances to electric appliances. Some are making the switch because their current appliances are old and need replacing, while others are trying to create an all-electric home. Whether you want to help the environment, reduce carbon emissions, or save money, making the switch can be an excellent choice.
To convert your electric water heater to a gas water heater you need to remove the old gas water heater and its gas lines, rewire your home to accommodate the electric water heater, and connect the electric water heater to the water lines. It is worth it if you value energy efficiency, a smaller carbon footprint, and long-term savings.
The final decision on converting from a gas to an electric water heater will come down to what you value most. While there are several benefits to switching from gas to electric, there are also some downsides to converting to an electric water heater, which I will provide below.
Gas heater versus an electric heater-which is better?
Gas water heaters tend to be a better choice in cold climates. In addition, gas hot water heaters are cheaper to install than electric ones. However, gas water heaters must be checked for leaks regularly and are more expensive to replace if they break.
Gas water heaters are cheaper than electric ones, but other factors offset this energy saving. Your home hookups, water requirements, and budget will all impact your decision.
Finding an efficient water heater that provides the proper hot water is vital. Gas water heaters also tend to heat water faster. As a result, they have higher FHR ratings. However, electric heaters tend to heat up slower. So a higher FHR value means you’ll have more hot water at your fingertips in a shorter time.
Another difference between electric and gas water heaters is energy efficiency. The more efficient water heaters have an EF value greater than one.
Gas models are more expensive but require a gas main and venting system. Those without a gas line must invest in a separate venting system.
Natural gas is cheaper than electricity, but prices depend on where you live and your utility provider. However, your upkeep costs will be higher when using gas than electricity.
A gas water heater is an excellent choice if you are looking for a lower utility bill. But the downside is that installing a gas water heater is complicated. It will require a new gas line and proper venting, which can run up to two thousand dollars.
An electric water heater, however, has some advantages too. For instance, electric heaters are much more energy-efficient and do not require venting. Plus, they are more environmentally friendly.
On the other hand, a gas water heater is usually cheaper than an electric one. For example, a 40-gallon gas heater will cost about $950, whereas an electric one will cost approximately $1,000. The difference between the two is negligible when you consider the cost savings over the long term.
Can I convert my gas water heater to an electric water heater?
While it is possible to convert a gas water heater to an electric water heater, you should remember that it can be a complex and expensive process. It requires replacing the gas lines with new electrical wires.
Please replace the accompanying fixtures for your new water heater to work correctly. If unsure of the process, you can call a plumber or handyman.
The first step is to cut off the gas line to your old water heater. Be sure to cap the ends of the gas line to prevent leaks. If you’re doing this yourself, seal any holes in the floor to keep out pests.
Next, connect the electric lines and shut offs to the new water heater. Finally, you need to fill the storage tank with water. Once the tank is full, connect it to the electrical line. It’s also a good idea to install a leak detector.
While gas water heaters have higher initial heating rates, they’re much less energy efficient than electric models. Electric water heaters contain heating rods inserted into the water, significantly reducing heat loss.
In contrast, gas water heaters use an open flame to warm the tank. Gas water heaters also lose some energy through the vent at the top of the unit, which is necessary to remove gas.
Is it worth it to convert my gas water heater to electric?
Whether it is worth it to convert your water heater from gas to electric depends on several factors. For starters, you may need to install a larger electric panel and possibly a new service line to accommodate the larger unit. It is also important to hire a professional who has experience working with both electric and plumbing systems.
Another consideration is the availability of hot water. While many homes have access to a gas line, not every home does. But almost every home has electricity.
So if you have an electric water heater, you will still have hot water during a power outage. Alternatively, you can also use a gas heater that operates during power outages.
Converting a gas water heater to an electric one may require a rewiring of the home. To install an electric hot water tank, you will need a 240 V circuit in the location of the water tank. This may require a plumber, so you might not want to try it yourself.
Converting a gas water heater to an electric one is a major undertaking that may cost you more time and money. It also requires a new gas line and venting system.
On the other hand, an electric water heater has fewer internal parts and will last longer than its gas counterpart. Converting a gas water heater to an electric one can save anywhere from $350 to $500 per year.
However, hiring a plumber to convert the gas unit may be necessary. The cost of the plumber can range from $400 to $550. You should also expect to pay an additional $1,500 to $2,300 for a new gas line and venting system.
The costs of an installation may be covered by a utility rebate. The best way to determine if your utility will offer you a rebate on your new water heater is by checking their website or looking in the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy and Efficiency. The conversion process can be a bit difficult, but once you know the process, you’ll have a new water heater within a few weeks.
Below are the steps that you should take:
- Remove your old water heater.
- Install an electrical connection to the water heater.
- Make sure that you find an accessible main water shutoff valve.
- After that, you need to fill the storage tank with water.
- Switch over to an electric water heater.
- Install a leak detector.
To decide whether a conversion is a right option for your home, you should first determine the capacity of your water heater. The first-hour delivery (FHR) rating is the capacity of your hot water tank within the first hour. Generally, higher FHR values mean more water is available quickly.
You should also consider the energy efficiency of your water heater. As stated above, electric water heaters are generally more efficient than gas ones.
How do I convert my gas water heater to an electric water heater?
Here are some steps you can take if you have a gas water heater and want to convert it to an electric one:
1. Check the electrical circuit breaker
The first step is to check the electrical circuit breaker. This device protects the electrical system from overloading and shuts off the power if it detects a dangerous situation. Once you’ve identified the electrical circuit breaker, the next step is to flip it to the “off” side.
2. Run a wire to the water heater closet
If you plan to run an electric water heater instead of a gas water heater, you need to run a new wire from your electrical circuit to the water heater closet. The wire should be 10 gauge, and it should be protected by a double 30-amp fuse.
3. Turn off the water and gas
To convert a gas water heater to an electric one, you must first turn off the gas supply and water. This is because the hot air in the tank rises, and once the burner is turned off, hot air from below still rises, extracting the heat.
4. Drain the water heater
Next, you’ll need to drain the old gas water heater before converting it to electric. Remember that the water inside the water heater will be boiling, so use extreme caution!
5. Disconnect the gas line
Before converting your gas water heater to an electric one, you must turn off the gas supply. Most water heaters have a union fitting right after the gas valve feeding the water heater. Identify and disconnect this union fitting by using adjustable or pipe wrenches. You may also need a tubing cutter or a sanding cloth to prep the line for soldering.
6. Disconnect the vent
Once the gas supply is disconnected, you can disconnect the vent. Before disconnecting the vent from your gas water heater to convert it to an electrical water heater, you should check that your house’s electrical wiring is adequate. You may need to add a circuit breaker or install an electrical disconnect switch. Make sure the shut-off switch is easily accessible.
7. Disconnect the chimney
You need to remove the chimney if you want to convert your gas water heater to an electric water heater. This is because the water around the chimney heats up as the heater works. The warm water flows into a pipe called the heat-out pipe. The other side of the pipe contains cold water. This pipe is connected to a thermostat, which regulates the temperature.
8. Cut the old water lines
To begin, open the hot water faucet in your house to release all the pressure that has built up in the tank. This will also empty any remaining water. Next, check for a pressure relief valve on the top of the tank or on the side. Then, disconnect the old supply lines using an adjustable wrench.
9. Remove the gas water heater
This step is just as it sounds and requires physically picking up and removing the old gas water heater.
10. Install an access door
Once you know where the water heater is, you can install an access door. The door size is essential, as you’ll need a large enough access opening to remove the water heater. The clearance should be at least six inches wide, but it may be longer if you move the heater to a different room.
11. Install the main water shut off
The valve is typically located in an outside closet or wall when installing the main water shut-off. Install it near the access door, so it is easily accessible. Be careful not to damage the electrical wiring.
12. Remove the gas line
This step involves venturing beneath your home and physically removing the gas line to your old gas water heater since it is no longer needed.
13. Seal any residual holes
If holes are left behind by the old gas water heater, seal them to keep the insects and rodents out.
14. Install fittings of the electric water heater
Next, connect the water heater’s electrical circuit to the main electrical panel. Depending on the model, you may need to use different threaded adapters and short pipe lengths. Again, follow the instructions carefully and use the correct connectors.
15. Connect the electric water heater to the water lines
Next, install the water lines to the new unit. You can use flexible black pipes or rated piping. When attaching threaded connections, use pipe joint compound or thread sealant. To connect the tank to the gas tank, you can use a 1/4 or 5/16-inch socket.
16. Turn the electric water heater on and fill it with water
First, fill up the water tank and ensure there are no leakages. Then, you attach the electrical energy and activate the power when your heating unit is full of water. To be extra safe, you can include a water leakage alarm.
How much does it cost to convert my gas water heater to an electric water heater?
Converting a gas water heater to an electric water heater can add up to $1,500 or more. The cost of installing a new water heater varies greatly depending on its size and type.
For example, a standard water heater costs $150 to $450, while a tankless water heater can cost up to $1,850. In addition, you must consider the federal tax credit and rebates when calculating your new costs.
How much is a new electric water heater?
The cost of a new water heater varies based on several factors. For example, its size, type, and location can affect the price.
The national average expense for an electrical hot water heater with Do it Yourself installation is $800 to $1,500. However, most property owners can expect to pay $1,000 to install a 50-gallon electric water heater.
Depending on the type of water heater, installing a new one may require rerouting water lines or upgrade to a larger tank. Additional costs may include drywall repairs, new plumbing, and gas lines.
Another cost is extending electrical wiring. Using tank insulation blankets can save you up to 50 percent. In addition, utility companies may offer rebates, which can save money.
The cost of a new electric water heater may vary depending on its brand and energy efficiency. Some popular brands include A.O. Smith, Bosch, Kenmore, Rheem, Whirlpool, and others. However, it is essential to shop around to get the lowest price.
Is it cheaper to heat water with gas or electric?
Converting a gas water heater to an electric one can save you money on energy costs. Depending on the type of water heater and how much you use hot water, you may save 50 to 60%. While you’ll save money on energy bills, you’ll also reduce the number of pollutants that enter the air.
An average gas tank water heater can emit up to 11 tons of carbon, equivalent to about $12,000 worth of carbon over its lifetime. As a result, many economists believe carbon dioxide should be taxed by up to $50 per ton. In addition, installing an energy-efficient water heater can improve the value of a home.
While deciding whether to convert to an electric water heater, you should keep in mind that there are pros and cons to making this conversion. For example, electric water heaters are much more energy efficient than gas ones. As much electricity comes from renewable energy sources, they leave a much smaller carbon footprint than their natural gas counterparts.
Despite its benefits, an electric water heater is more expensive. As a result, its upfront cost can be higher than a gas model. Another negative is that it may require professional installation, which may add to the price.
The final decision rests in your hands. So please use what you learned here to make an informed decision.
Ruben has a diverse background in the home services industry, with experience running a construction company, a kitchen and bath showroom, and a moving and relocation company. This breadth of experience has provided him with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in various areas of home improvement in general and specifically in the heating and plumbing niche.