Electric Boiler: Is it the best option for your home?
Considering getting an electric boiler? Read on to learn about their advantages and disadvantages so that you can decide if an electric boiler is the best choice for your home.
What is an electric boiler?
Just like any other type of boiler, an electric boiler provides hot water and central heating. Instead of using gas or oil to produce heat, however, an electric boiler uses electricity. It works just like an electric kettle, except it’s sized to heat your home.
The electricity heats a series of elements inside the boiler, which then heats the water. Once the water has been heated, it is then pumped around your home to where it’s needed. It can be used to heat the following:
- Underfloor heating systems
- Hot water cylinders
While electric radiators come in a variety of sizes, they tend to be smaller and more compact than gas or oil boilers. They also do not require any of the following:
- Fuel pipes
- Outdoor fuel tanks
Since they don’t need a flue (the pipe that runs from the boilers to outside your house) and are smaller in size than other boiler types, electric boilers can be fitted almost anywhere and require less installation time.
Electric boiler types
We break down the main types of electric boilers below.
- Electric Combi Boiler (Direct) — This type of electric boiler heats water on demand. It is typically cheaper and easier to install than other types of electric boilers because it doesn’t require a tank.
- Storage Boiler — A storage electric boiler heats water to store in a hot water tank. With this type of boiler, you can take advantage of cheaper electricity rates at night if you have a smart meter or day/night meter.
- Dry Core Storage Boiler — This boiler works by heating bricks at night. The heat is then released into the water the following day. Households with this type of boiler can also take advantage of cheaper electricity during off-peak hours if they have a smart meter or a day/night meter.
- Combined Primary Storage Unit (CPSU) — It stores hot water within the boiler so that it can meet demand much faster and at a higher temperature. This type of electric boiler tends to be rather large and is more suited for commercial use.
How efficient are electric boilers?
Electric boilers typically have an efficiency rating of 99 to 100%. This means that for every euro you spend on heating, very little (if any) is wasted on lost energy.
In comparison, gas boilers typically have a maximum efficiency rating of 93%. For every euro spent on heating, around seven cents are wasted.
Looking for ways to be more energy efficient? Check out our 101 tips on ways to save energy and reduce your bills.
How much does it cost to run an electric boiler?
The average cost of electricity in Ireland is 26c per kWh. The price of electricity varies depending on your energy tariff, meter type and location.
Are electric boilers more expensive to run than gas?
Electricity is much more expensive than gas. According to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), the average cost per unit of electricity in Ireland is 26c per kWh while the average cost of gas is 7c per kWh. That’s more than three times the amount of money!
Even though electricity is more expensive than gas, you can avoid quite a few expenses that come with having a gas boiler. For example, electric boilers require less maintenance and you won’t need to install carbon monoxide detectors or pay for annual gas certificates.
Gas boilers also waste more energy than electric boilers and have much lower fuel efficiency ratings. Even though the gas is wasted, you will still have to pay for it, and these costs add up in the long run.
Are electric boilers cheaper to run than oil?
Running a modern oil condensing boiler is considerably cheaper than running an electric boiler. For space heating, electricity costs around 26p per kWh while oil costs just under 8p per kWh, according to the SEAI.
If you think an oil boiler could be the best option for your home, head to our guide on oil boilers (coming soon!) for more information about the pros and cons of having one.
How much is a new electric boiler?
A new electric boiler typically costs €600 to €1,200 depending on the size and model. While smaller boilers tend to be cheaper, they may not be as efficient as larger models. A premium electric boiler will often be more expensive, reaching up to €3,000. However, it will also tend to be longer-lasting.
If your boiler is more than 15 years old, you may be eligible for a grant to get a new one. Head to our SEAI grants guide for more information.
How long do electric boilers last?
If you get a high-quality model of an electric boiler, it will typically last you 15 to 25 years. A gas boiler will also last this amount of time, and an oil boiler will generally last 15 to 20 years.
Can anyone fit an electric boiler?
Unlike with a gas boiler, a Registered Gas Installer (RGI) does not need to install the boiler. While you can install the electric boiler yourself, it’s best to seek someone who has experience in plumbing to carry out the work for you. An electrician will be needed to complete the final wiring.
If you’re replacing a gas boiler with an electric boiler, you will need to hire an RGI to remove the current gas boiler. If you’re replacing an oil boiler with an electric boiler, an Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) engineer will need to remove the oil boiler. The same engineer should be able to fit your new electric boiler, but you will still need to hire an electrician to hook the boiler up to your electric supply.
Are electric boilers better for the environment?
Electric boilers are considered environmentally friendly because they don’t burn fuels, such as gas or oil, to produce heat. However, the electricity used to heat the water in an electric boiler could be generated from the burning of fossil fuels.
If you want to ensure that your electricity is coming from renewable sources, you should sign up with a 100% renewable energy supplier. In the following table, we’ve listed the energy companies in Ireland that provide 100% renewable electricity, as well as their cheapest offer.
|Supplier||Best offer||Price per year|
|SSE Airtricity||10% Discount
|Find the best offer for your home with Selectra. Find the best offer for your home.|
*Figures are for illustrative purposes only. Calculations based on average consumption figures for an urban home with a 24-hour standard meter. All discounts and cashback have been applied. Last updated: May 2021
*The fuel mix from Bright Energy and Community Power have yet to be verified by the CRU.
Summary: Electric boiler pros and cons
Let’s examine some of the advantages and disadvantages of having an electric boiler.
Pros of having an electric boiler
- Lower emissions and no exhaust fumes
- Installation is cheaper, easier, and much more flexible than with other boiler types
- More compact than other boiler types
- Quieter than a gas boiler
- Requires less maintenance than other boilers (an annual service isn’t necessary)
- There is more flexibility with placement
- Easier to operate
- Can be paired with solar panels to help reduce running costs
- There is zero risk of a carbon monoxide (CO) leak
Cons of having an electric boiler
- Electricity is expensive
- May use electricity generated from non-renewable sources
- No hot water if there is a power outage
- Can’t meet higher heating and hot water demands of large homes