Gas or Electrical Water Heater?

A survey conducted in 2017 revealed that costing and convenience ranked high among Singaporean consumers in their consumption choices. With this buying trend in mind, we aim to provide some guide for those who are looking to purchase a water heater in their HDB flat. A quick survey into the type of water heaters available in the market may indeed bamboozle some, especially first-time buyers. The good news however is that this means there are more choices out there available to meet your needs.

Storage Water Heater & Instant Water Heater

There are two types of water heater available in Singapore. One is the storage water heater and second is the instant heater. Storage heaters come with an insulated tank which stores water and deliver hot water instantaneously to various touchpoints in your home; like the basin, kitchen and shower tap. Meanwhile, the instant heaters are tankless and provide hot water only as and when required. Although available overseas, there are no storage heaters in Singapore powered by gas. The gas heaters in the current market, functions just like an instant water heater with the only difference being that they are powered by gas instead of electric current. If you are deciding between choosing a gas heater or an electric water heater, below we highlight some pros and cons for your consideration.

 

COSTING

Energy Usage and Efficiency  

The gas heater does cost more in terms of pricing and installation as opposed to electric instant water heater. However, they are economically comparable to storage heaters with both hovering around the estimated cost of about $200 to $400. In the long run, it was proven that gas heaters are more cost-efficient among the three. As opposed to electric heaters which taps on your home’s power supply, gas heaters are battery operated and hence consume less energy. According to a study by Energy Efficient Singapore, you can accumulate up to $30 to $100 cost savings in terms of annual energy if you use a gas heater. Compared to a gas water heater, both electric instantaneous water heater and storage water heater would cost about $110 and $190 more annually.

 

Despite being more cost-efficient in the long run, potential buyers should take note of potential water wastage when using a gas heater as you would be required to leave the water running while waiting for the shower to heat up. The cold water can be running up to a minute before hot water becomes available. Although you may choose to show in the initial flow of cold water or collect and store this cold water for other uses, these alternatives may pose some inconvenience for users. In contrast, users can enjoy the experience of getting hot water almost immediately when using electric heaters. Similarly, although you have to await about five minutes after switching the plug on to heat up the stored water for storage water heater, this longer waiting time is compensated by nil water wastage.

 

Water pressure

When purchasing a water heater, another consideration by many users is water pressure so as to enjoy a rewarding showering experience. If this is topmost on your criterion list, you should definitely consider purchasing either the storage water heater or gas water heater. An instantaneous gas heater is generally more powerful and efficient than an instantaneous electric heater, which has a lower water pressure. However, if you compare an instantaneous gas heater and a storage electric heater, the latter scores more point. Users of storage electric heater can enjoy warmer showers (up to 42°C) as opposed to a gas heater, whose maximum temperature is 38°C. Additionally, although both storage heater and gas heater would experience a drop in pressure if there is more than one shower taking place at any point in time, the drop in pressure is generally lower in a storage heater than a gas heater. This is a plus point vis-à-vis storage heater being more costly in terms of energy usage.

Photo Credit: AOS Bath Singapore

 

Convenience

Maintenance

Maintenance is also another consideration for users since this will suggest if the appliance they are purchasing is convenient in terms of usage and maintenance. As gas heaters are operated on batteries, these batteries require bi-monthly maintenance and have to be charged every two months to ensure the heaters’ optimal performance. Comparing this to electric water heater, there are no specific maintenance work required except for the recommended wiring-check every three to five years (for instant electric heater) and tank flushing every five years for storage water heaters. This is drastically less frequent than a bi-monthly maintenance check for a gas heater. Hence although gas heaters are more energy-efficient, there may be more maintenance work required.

Another consideration to take note of would be that gas heaters in Singapore is only available from one vendor i.e. City Gas Singapore, which is Singapore’s town gas and natural gas utilities provider. Hence, moving forward, you need to bear in mind that the maintenance and product replacement can only be purchased from a single source. In contrast, electric heaters have wider range of availability in the market and hence you can have more flexibility in terms of choice and replacement.

 

Safety and Eco-Friendly

In line with it being energy-efficient, another plus point of gas heater would be that it is eco-friendly. This would be a warm welcome to consumers who are environmentally conscious. Gas is a cleaner source of energy and produces 60% less carbon than an electric heater. Gas heater burns the gas within the heater itself without undergoing the process of generating electricity by a power station which emits carbon dioxide. Despite being eco-friendly, a downside may come in the form of safety as gas heater may run the risk of gas leaks. Consumers have to ensure that the heater is placed in a ventilated area, away from any flammable objects.  Although electric heater does not come without its fallacies, electric heaters have been used for a while in Singapore and in term of their longstanding status, are said to be safer than gas heaters.


Deciding between an electric and gas heater

With these features in mind, it is evident that purchasing a water heater does not come without compromises. Hence, it is mostly dependent on what users are looking out for. If you are looking for a cost-efficient water heater that provides reasonable water pressure and saves the environment along the way, gas water heater may be the way to go. However, if you are looking for better utility – e.g. in terms of solid water pressure, convenience and minimal maintenance, gas heaters may be a good choice instead. But if you are just out for a quick hot shower, the instantaneous electric heater would serve just fine as well! It all boils down to a consumer’s individual choices and preference. The good news remains that there are varied types of water heater out there in the market for us to choose from and deliberate.