Rinnai Hotflo electric hot water system installed on the wall of a house.

Why an Electric Hot Water System Can Be the Best Choice

Is your home running an electric hot water system? Australians in recent times have seen electricity costs rise significantly. Rising prices have forced many households across the country to examine the way they access and use heated water in their homes.

Given that it’s such a valuable resource, used for everything from cooking to cleaning, buying a new hot water heater or upgrading from an old model can be intimidating. Even more so since there are so many different options on the market to choose from.

As much as gas powered hot water heaters, solar powered models and heat pump systems have their clear benefits, there will always be a place for electric hot water heaters in Australian households. Let’s take a closer look at just why they might be the best choice for you.

Electric Hot Water Systems Crash Course

But first, a quick crash course on the electric hot water system in order to better understand its benefits.

There are two main types you can choose from. You have the choice of:

  • Instantaneous systems, also known as continuous flow water heaters, and
  • Storage-based heating systems.

So what are the differences between the two?

Storage Hot Water Systems

An electric storage water heater (ESWH) comprises of numerous key parts that include:

  • A storage tank for holding water
  • A heating element – most commonly found at the bottom of the tank

You might even find some off-peak systems with an additional heating element towards the top of the tank. This extra element is primarily used for boosting purposes.

The heating element keeps the water at a temperature of 60-80°C. Over time, however, that heat can diminish as the storage cylinder experiences heat loss, and people access the hot water throughout the day.

This leads to the system replenishing with cold water. In doing so, the temperature drops further before the element begins reheating the water.

Continuous Flow/Electric Instantaneous Hot Water Heaters

Your other major option is the instantaneous or continuous flow electric hot water system. Like the storage system, continuous flow systems also use a heating element to heat water.

However, it does not include a storage tank for holding water. Rather, they use elements installed at numerous positions across the S-bend piping that heat the water as it moves through the pipes.

When you compare the two different types of systems against each other, the continuous flow system boasts two key advantages. The lack of a storage tank means that:

  • There is no heat loss.
  • You’re saving energy as the system isn’t working all day to constantly keep stored water hot. It only heats water when you need it.

Now that we’ve looked at the different types of systems on the market, and the differences between the two, let’s now explore the benefits each provides.

1. Electric Hot Water Systems are Affordable

Between the four hot water heater types, the other three being solar water heaters, heat pumps and gas hot water systems, the electric hot water system is generally the most affordable to buy and install.  It’s no surprise then, that you’ll find them in almost 50% of households across Australia – arguably the most common type you’ll find.

For homeowners on a budget or who have found themselves suddenly needing to replace a broken down system, the lower upfront purchase and installation costs make the electric hot water system a highly appealing option. By comparison, a gas hot water heater is more expensive to purchase and install as it requires installation of pipes and vents.

2. Electric Water Heaters Are Safe and Reliable

Electric hot water heaters offer significant safety and reliability benefits. Compared to gas water heaters, which run the risk of leaking possibly damaging gases, electric-powered models are safe for installing and operating indoors.

In addition, the fact that there is no storage tank in an instantaneous system drastically reduces the likelihood of water damage. Damage that can be costly to fix.

Both storage and continuous flow electric hot water systems need little intensive maintenance and boast a lengthy shelf life. It means that you can enjoy a hot water service that provides reliability and consistency for years to come.

3. They Are Easy to Install

When it comes to ease of installation, an electric hot water system provides a level of versatility that allows a more convenient range of options. In addition to being cheaper to set up than other hot water services, electric hot water systems offer versatility in the form of:

  • Models suitable for indoor or outdoor installation
  • Storage or instantaneous water heaters
  • A range of storage capacities (smaller systems ranging from 25-125 litres, and larger systems between 160-400 litres)

For homes with limited space, the concise design of a continuous flow water heating system may be the most suitable option.

An electric hot water system also does not require a flue, an essential requirement for a gas-powered system. This can also make the installation process much easier by comparison.

4. They Offer High-Level Convenience

Got a family or household that constantly requires hot water at any time of the day or night? In that case, an electric hot water system will likely accommodate your needs with optimal ease.

An instantaneous hot water heater takes significantly less time to deliver heated water than a gas storage system that has been depleted of its supply. That being said, the water heating process is not as instantaneous as its name suggests.

Essentially, you’ll get hot water from electric instantaneous water heaters when you need it. You just might have to wait a minute or two for it to reach the required temperature. Gas systems, on the other hand, may require you to wait overnight for a full hot water supply.

5. Electric Hot Water Heaters Are Cost-Effective To Operate

Cards on the table; an electric hot water system is typically at the higher end of the scale when it comes to running costs. Though they’re cheaper to buy and install, they’re not always the most energy efficient option on the market.

You’d certainly look towards a heat pump or solar hot water system for something highly efficient, which would then drive down running costs. However, by using your electric water heater in a smarter way, you can still reduce the impact of your quarterly electricity bill.

Many electric models offer a feature that enables you to program the specific time you want the system to heat your water. Setting your heater to use off peak electricity and avoid peak tariffs can go a long way towards enjoying (relatively) low running costs.

6. They Will Last The Distance

One of the biggest advantages of using an electric hot water system is that it will provide you with a lengthy shelf life. Especially if you keep it well maintained and serviced throughout its lifespan.

Generally, with proper maintenance, a storage tank system may last between 10 and 15 years. That lifespan is even longer for an instantaneous/continuous flow system, boasting up to a potential 20 years of service.

To Sum Up on Hot Water Systems …

If you’re shopping around for a suitable hot water heater for your home, electric models certainly offer compelling benefits. Whether you choose an electric storage unit or a continuous flow model to heat water, you’ll benefit from:

  • Affordable purchase and installation
  • Safety and reliability
  • Installation that is easy and versatile
  • Greater convenience
  • Cost effective options
  • Impressive shelf life

For hot water systems that accommodate your household size and deliver exactly how much hot water you need, when you need it, look towards an electric hot water system.

Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See our Terms & Conditions here.


Published: 2023-03-23

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