Gas vs Electric Tankless Water Heaters: Which Is Better?

gas vs electric tankless water heaters


In the world of home improvement and energy efficiency, one debate consistently heats up: electric vs gas tankless water heaters, which is better? Both promise endless streams of hot water, smaller energy bills, and space-saving designs. But which is the better choice for your home? 


To know the answer to this question it’s important to understand the core differences and considerations between the two. In this article, we’ll break down the specifics of these two popular water heating options so that you can make an informed decision. 


What Is A Tankless Water Heater?


What Is A Tankless Water Heater?


A tankless water heater, often referred to as an “on-demand” or “instantaneous” water heater, is a device that heats water directly without the use of a storage tank. Instead of storing hot water in a tank and maintaining its temperature, a tankless water heater heats water only when it’s needed. 


When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit, where it is then heated by either an electric element or a gas burner. This ensures that a continuous supply of hot water is available without the need to wait for a storage tank to fill up, providing significant energy savings over traditional tank-style water heaters.

What Is A Gas Tankless Water Heater?


A gas tankless water heater is a type of tankless water heater that uses natural gas or propane as its primary energy source to heat water on demand. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water flows into the unit, and a gas burner is activated, rapidly heating the water to the desired temperature.


Since there’s no storage tank to keep filled and constantly heated, gas heaters can be more energy-efficient than their traditional tank counterparts. They provide a continuous supply of hot water without the need for a storage tank, ensuring hot water is readily available whenever it’s needed, and can offer savings on energy bills in the long run.


What Is An Electric Tankless Water Heater?


An electric tankless water heater is a type of tankless water heater that utilizes electric resistance coils to heat water on demand. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water flows into the unit and passes over these coils, which quickly heat the water to the set temperature. 


This design can lead to increased energy efficiency and space savings, as there’s no need for a bulky storage tank. Electric tankless water heaters are often chosen for their compact size, ease of installation, and suitability for homes without access to natural gas and propane.


What Are The Differences Between Gas And Electric Water Heaters


What Are The Differences Between Gas And Electric Water Heaters


Although gas and electric tankless heaters are similar, they also have a few important distinctions to understand. 


Energy Source:

  • Gas Tankless Water Heater: Uses natural gas or propane as its primary energy source.
  • Electric Tankless Water Heater: Uses electricity, typically drawing power from your home’s electrical grid.


  • Gas Tankless Water Heater: Generally gas models can raise the water temperature faster than electric units, meaning these heaters are more energy efficient for homes with higher hot water demands, like those with multiple bathrooms. They have a higher flow rate and can simultaneously serve several appliances.
  • Electric Tankless Water Heater: Electric tankless water heaters are extremely energy efficient in terms of energy conversion, since almost all the electricity used goes into heating the water. However, their flow rate is typically lower than gas models, making them more suitable for smaller households or single-point applications.

Installation Costs:

  • Gas Tankless Water Heater: Typically, installation costs for gas models are higher. This is because gas tankless water heaters require venting systems and potentially gas line upgrades or additional safety measures. Some homes may also need a larger gas line to support the unit’s demand.
  • Electric Tankless Water Heater: Installation is generally less expensive and simpler than gas models, especially if adequate electrical service is already in place. There’s no need for venting, but some homes may require an electrical system upgrade to handle the significant draw of the heater.

Operating Costs:

  • Gas Tankless Water Heater: Natural gas or propane is often less expensive than electricity, which means this tankless water heater may have lower operating costs in some regions.
  • Electric Tankless Water Heater: Despite their higher energy efficiency, the cost of electricity can make them more expensive to operate, depending on local utility rates.

Size and Placement:

  • Gas Tankless Water Heater: These units are generally larger due to the need for a burner and venting system. They need to be placed near a gas line and require proper venting to the outside.
  • Electric Tankless Water Heater: More compact in size, these units offer more flexibility in installation locations but need to be near a suitable electrical source.


  • Gas Tankless Water Heater: A gas water heater may require more frequent maintenance, such as checking the burner and venting system. Maintenance checks for carbon build-up or gas leaks are essential for safety reasons.
  • Electric Tankless Water Heater: Typically electric heaters need very little maintenance since there are no burners or vents to worry about.

Lifespan and Durability:

  • Gas Tankless Water Heater: Gas water heaters usually have a lifespan of about 20-25 years, but this can vary based on use, water quality, and maintenance.
  • Electric Tankless Water Heater: Electric water heaters typically have a longer lifespan than gas models, often exceeding 25 years with proper care.

Environmental Impact:

  • Gas Tankless Water Heater: Produces greenhouse gasses, albeit less than traditional tank heaters.
  • Electric Tankless Water Heater: Their environmental impact largely depends on how the electricity is produced in the area. If derived from renewable sources, the carbon footprint is minimal.

Electric And Gas Tankless Heaters: Choosing The Right One 


When weighing the choice between electric and gas tankless water heaters, you should consider several critical factors. First, assess the current infrastructure of your home. Do you have ready access to natural gas or propane, and if not, is it cost-effective to install? Likewise, is your electrical system equipped to handle the demands of an electric unit?


Next, consider the long-term operating costs with gas and electricity. While gas units may cost more upfront, they may be cheaper to run in areas where gas is generally a cheaper option than electricity. On the other hand, electric heaters are typically less expensive and simpler to install, but may have higher operating costs in regions with high electricity rates. 


Also think about your home’s hot water needs and water usage demand. If you have a larger household or multiple bathrooms, a gas unit’s higher flow rate might be more beneficial. In the end, the choice between gas and electric will hinge on your home’s specifics, budget, and long-term priorities.


New Tankless Water Heater Installation 


New Tankless Water Heater Installation


If you’re in the Hampton Roads area and are considering gas and electric tankless water heaters, look no further than Newman’s Plumbing to assist you. Our team of professionals are equipped with the expertise to guide you in selecting the ideal tankless water heater to meet your needs, and will ensure a seamless installation. You can also call us for any water heater emergencies. With our 24/7 emergency plumbing services, you can always reach us. Call us today at 757-465-0883.

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