The increasing gas prices and the Government’s plan to phase out gas boilers by 2025 on new build homes, with the rest of the UK following in 2035, has led millions of Brits to think about alternative options. These include products such as hydrogen boilers, heat pumps, microwave boilers (yes, like a giant microwave!) and electric boilers.
Electric boilers might sound like a great option, but what you may not have considered is how much they will really cost to buy and run, how effective they are at heating your home, and how reliable they can be. Here we’ve got all the information you need to know before investing in an electric boiler.
What is an electric boiler?
An electric boiler uses electricity as fuel rather than combustible fossil fuels such as gas or oil. The heating element inside the electric boiler heats up the water which is supplied to it from the mains. The heated water is then sent to your radiators and taps to heat up your home and provide hot water too. Think of it as a giant kettle!
Electric boilers have become slightly more widespread as homeowners seek alternatives to fossil fuels, although usually in specific circumstances- such as in homes where there is no mains gas supply. Sometimes, electric boilers may also be used as backup systems to an existing central heating system, to provide an additional “boost” of hot water or heat when the home needs it most. Generally speaking, an electric boiler might be most suited to a smaller, urban home where large quantities of heat are not required – as heating a larger property with one can be expensive!
The primary reason for the bills racking up is that electricity is much more expensive than gas, so running an entire home’s heating and hot water off the electricity supply may not be the most wallet-friendly!
What types of electric boilers are available?
There are several different types of electric boilers currently on the market. If you’re seriously considering installing one, bear in mind that the different models and specifications may not all be ideally suited to your property and lifestyle.
In a similar way to gas-fired boilers, one of the more popular choices with electric is a combi (or combination) boiler.
From the outside, you could be forgiven for mistaking an electric combi boiler for your familiar gas combi – as they look pretty similar. Effectively, this is a single unit that provides both heating for your home via radiators and hot water. The only difference is that when heating the water on demand, the boiler uses a heating element to do the job. Again, like a gas combi, the unit requires no storage tank as the water is heated on demand and is, therefore, the cheapest and easiest to install and will save space around the home.
Another option when it comes to electric boilers is a storage model. These come supplied with either an external storage tank (which you’ll have to find space for) or an internal tank for storing that heated water, ready for when it’s needed. These are generally also pricier to purchase and install (on account of the tank). Bear in mind though, that electricity is cheaper overnight with the Economy 7 cheaper tariffs – which means that you can heat your water overnight when energy prices are lower.
One type of electric boiler on the market, which may not be suitable for a domestic setting is the CPSU type or Combined Primary Storage Unit. These store large amounts of hot water within the boiler itself so that they can meet demand quickly and at high pressure. The downside is that they are pretty big and are really more suited to commercial installations than domestic homes – unless you have a herd of zoo animals at home that you need to bathe!
If you’re familiar with the old storage heaters, there is an equivalent when it comes to electric boilers for heating your home. Although they’re not widely known, they can help save you money by taking advantage of the Economy 7 overnight energy tariffs to store heat and are known as “Dry Core Storage” boilers. In technical terms, what this means is that the unit heats bricks overnight when the energy prices are lower. This heat is then released into the water for use in central heating (ie: the radiators), and into your hot water taps.
For those looking to really minimise their energy bills in the long term, there’s always the option of using free energy from the sun! Solar-compatible electric boilers with immersion heaters can capture energy from the sun during the day, which is then used to heat the water. Of course, there’s the significant outlay on solar panels that you’d need to make in the first place, but this option could get around the high energy price issue, not to mention be quite environmentally friendly!
How much do electric boilers cost?
The answer can be…a lot! Of course, when we talk about cost, we need to break this down into the cost of installation, and the running costs. An electric boiler can in fact be cheaper to install in a home than a gas boiler, due to the fact that there’s no flue or condensate needed- so that means an easier job for the engineer. For this reason, unlike oil or gas boilers they don’t need to be installed on or near an outside/external wall. In theory, that means they can go pretty much anywhere!
You might be thinking, so far, so good. Cheaper to install, quick and easy…what’s not to like when it comes to going electric? The electric elephant in the room is running costs – and they can literally be elephant-sized!
The issue is really that electricity is simply much more expensive than gas. Whichever way you slice it, getting an electric boiler means that your energy bills are likely to go up. This means that say, for example, you are paying (on a REALLY cheap tariff), 4p per unit of gas, you’d likely be paying 14p per unit of electricity! As discussed above, it may be possible to take advantage of the cheaper rate Economy 7 tariffs overnight to try to take the sting out of these costs, but it depends on what type of electric boiler you’re using and it isn’t always possible to only consume what you need through the wee small hours.
Electric boiler pros and cons
Top 5 electric boiler brands
There are a few brands supplying electric boilers, but which ones are best? Here we’ve listed the top 5 electric boiler brands.
1. Electric Heating Company (EHC)
The Electric Heating Company (EHC) focuses on, well you guessed it, electric heating solutions.
They are the pioneers of electric heating and have been dominating the electric heating industry for the past 13 years. They have an excellent Trustpilot review score of 4.8.
They manufacture a wide range of electric products such as radiators, water heaters, unvented stainless steel cylinders and electric boilers.
Their biggest boiler range is the Comet Combi Boiler. It provides hot water for a central heating system and for domestic use.
The Comet Combi Boiler range is super efficient and comes in various sizes such as 6kW 9kW, 12kW and 14.4kW. Bear in mind that this range is floor-standing.
Comet Combi Boiler Key Facts:
- Efficiency rating: 100%.
- kW Output: 6kW, 9kW, 12kW and 14.4kW.
- Warranty: 2 years for the boiler, and 10 years for the cylinder.
- Price range* (boiler only): £1,387 – £1,507 inc VAT.
2. Heatrae Sadia
Heatrae Sadia is also an electric heating giant. They are part of the well-established ‘Baxi Heating’ family, who also own both Potterton and Baxi.
Generally speaking, Heatrae Sadia products are high-end products in terms of quality and price.
Electromax Electric boiler is one of Heatrae Sadia best selling boilers. It provides both heating and hot water for your home at the same time.
Its compact design makes it easy to store in an attic or an airing cupboard.
Electromax Electric Boiler Key Facts:
- Efficiency rating: 99.8%.
- kW Output: 6kW and 9kW.
- Warranty: 2 years for the boiler, and 10 years for the cylinder.
- Price range* (boiler only): £1,875 – £2,000 inc VAT.
Elnur was founded in 1973. Since then, they have established themselves as one of the leading European electric heating providers, in fact, they are one of the top 3 electric heating manufacturers and operate in more than 35 countries.
Elnur produces a range of electric heating products, to list a few; storage heaters, radiators, towel rails, panel heaters and of course, electric boilers.
Mattira MAC15 electric boiler range is one of their best selling products. This range includes eclectic combi and electric system boilers. The Mattira MAC15 electric combi boiler is super efficient and comes in various sizes.
Mattira MAC15 Electric Combi Boiler Key Facts:
- Efficiency rating: 100%.
- kW Output: 3kW, 4kW, 5kW, 6kW, 7kW, 8kW, 9kW, 10kW, 11kW, 12kW, 13kW, 14kW and 15kW.
- Warranty: 2 years for the boiler, and 5 years for the cylinder.
- Price range* (boiler only): £1,600 – £2,370 inc VAT.
One of the well-known names in the electric heating industry is Thermaflow. They develop renewable energy products which are easy to install, easy to maintain and achieve unbeatable levels of efficiency. Their current product range includes electric combination boilers and renewable energy systems.
One of their best electric boilers is THERMAflow Electric Combi Boiler. This extremely energy-efficient boiler can be connected to a wood-burning or solar thermal system to reduce your electricity usage, heating bills and carbon footprint.
THERMAflow Electric Combi Boiler Key Facts:
- Efficiency rating: 100%.
- kW Output: 10kW, 11 kW, 13kW, 14kW, 16kW and 18kW.
- Warranty: 1 year for the boiler, and 25 years for the cylinder.
- Price range* (boiler only): starting from £2,745 inc VAT.
5. Electric Combi Boilers Co.
Last but not least, the Electric Combi Boilers Co.
Since being founded, they’ve specialised in manufacturing and distributing gas boiler parts. Having a great deal of knowledge of gas heating systems, they then realised there is a gap in the market for electric boilers.
They manufacture the Elektra EK.C Combi Boiler which is only available as a 12kW, but it can be modulated between 2-12 kW if needed.
- Elektra EK.C Combi Boiler Key Facts:
- Efficiency rating: 99.9%.
- kW Output: 12kW.
- Warranty: 2 years.
- Price range* (boiler only): £1,920 inc VAT.
What size electric boiler do I need?
Generally speaking, homes with a higher demand for hot water i.e. homes with multiple bathrooms will need a boiler with a more powerful kW size than smaller homes. To read more about what size kW boiler do I need to heat my home, take a look at our blog which discusses combi, conventional and system boiler sizes.
You may have noticed that most electric boilers are smaller in size than the average oil or gas boiler. Electric boiler sizes are, on average, 15kW, while gas boiler sizes could vary between 24kW and 35kW. Therefore, electric boilers are less powerful than oil or gas boilers, which makes electric boilers more suited for smaller homes such as flats or to provide a ‘boost’ to an oil or gas boiler but certainly not to replace them.
Should I get an electric boiler?
If you’re thinking about buying an electric boiler you might have to weigh up the additional electricity expenses that could end up costing 3-4 times more than a combi boiler to keep your house warm. If you have solar PV panels installed in your home, an electric boiler might be an option, as you can use the generated electricity to heat up your home, but even then it’s a risky choice as your solar PV panels might not be able to keep up with the huge demand for electricity, which means you might still have to pay the difference.
You also have to think about the functionality of having an electric boiler installed. The core benefit of a boiler is to keep your house warm and provide hot water. With an electric boiler, this will not be as practical, as electric boilers are less powerful in general. So, as heating experts, we don’t advise getting an electric boiler for medium to large homes.
Electric boilers could be an option for your home if you’re living in a rural location with no natural gas supply to your house – but even in that case, we’ll recommend an oil boiler instead, just purely based on running costs and practicality.
If you’re interested in getting an eco-friendly boiler, check out our blog on hydrogen boilers and the future of the heating industry where you can find valuable insights.
At WarmZilla we want to make it super easy for you if you decide to get a new boiler. This is why you can get a quote online within minutes. Whether you opt to go for a flexible finance package or pay in full too, there are even more ways for you to get a brand new boiler at an affordable price.
*Average boiler prices were taken from an online heating supplier
** Prices correct at time of blog publication (17.11.21)