Most houses have electric hot water heaters. This device is responsible for providing hot water to your appliances and fixtures, such as the dishwasher, washing machine, sinks, tubs, and showers.

Water heaters are an essential component and must be installed in dwellings by law. While it is possible to live without hot water, it is an essential requirement of owning or renting a home.

You may not realize exactly how important water heaters are until you turn on the shower to find that no hot water is coming out.

Electric water heaters are designed to provide hot water to small and large houses alike, however; they cost more to operate compared to gas-driven models.

How Electric Hot Water Heaters Work

The anatomy of an electric water heater is almost the same as their more powerful siblings: gas water heaters. Electric water heaters contain two heating elements that make the water hot.

The water heater contains a heavy inner tank that is usually made out of steel, insulation around the tank, a dip tube, exhaust pipe, thermostat, drain valve, pressure relief valve, and a sacrificial anode rod to prevent corrosion. The electric heating module is similar to those of electric ovens and is the main component of water heaters.

The thermostat is the method in which your hot water is regulated to prevent scalding. The thermostat regulates how hot the water gets in the tank. Most water heaters can be set to 120 to 180 degrees, however; it is best to keep it under 140 as it saves energy and prevents burns.

The thermostat is located underneath the cover plate, however; it depends on the specific model. Electric water heaters use the convection principle to distribute water to the home.

Hot water rises to the top, whereas cold water is being inserted from the bottom. The disadvantage of using tanks is that once the hot water runs out, you have to wait until it is refilled and heated through.

Models and Variations

Electric hot water heaters come in all shapes, sizes, and form factors. The two major different models are tank and tankless. Tankless electric heaters do not have the bulky storage tank and heat the water instantaneously. The water passes through the electric heating elements and is only heated when in use.

The benefit to these models is that you do not waste water, and you always have hot water no matter how much you use. Tankless models are ideal for small houses and apartments, however; their cost is a deterring factor for most buyers.

Electric tank heaters are less expensive than tankless, but a bit more costly than gas. Electric hot water heaters come in a variety of sizes, including 30, 40, 50, 75, and 100 gallons. When looking at the various models, the more water it can store, the better. For larger homes that house more than one family, a 75 or 100-gallon model might be the best bet.

Typical households utilize 48 gallons each day. Besides the volume, it is important to see how long it takes the heater to heat the water. Attempt to find a model that has an adequate GPH (gallons per hour), which will identify how many gallons can be heated in a 60-minute period.

Other items to watch out for include the type of ignition, insulation, and heating element. Most heaters come with a ten-year warranty. Most models list the “family size” to help you pick the right model.

Features and Benefits

There are several benefits to using electric hot water heaters in your home. Electric heaters are perfect for older houses that do not have access to a gas line. Furthermore, installing these heaters is much easier because you do not need the gas line shut off, installed, or activated?

Since everything is electric, you will simply need a general contractor for installation. It is important to install the electric water heater on a separate circuit and breaker. Do not plug anything else into the same breaker to avoid blowing a fuse.

Electric water heaters cost a little more than gas models, however; you can easily recover the costs because installation costs less than gas. The overall running cost is higher than gas models, and you will not have hot water when the power goes out.

The benefit does not have to worry about shutting off the gas valve during an earthquake. Additionally, electric models look nicer and make less noise than gas heaters. They can be placed anywhere and do not need to be close to the central line.

The Best Electric Hot Water Heaters

Intermatic WH21

Intermatic WH21

One of the best devices that can be used in conjunction with the hot water heater is the Intermatic WH21 Electric Water Heater Timer.

The device is relatively simple and is used to automatically schedule hot water.

The device can be configured to a specific schedule and routine, but has the option for a manual override.

The Intermatic WH21 turns the water heater on and off and can do so 12 different times a day.

The device is 250 volts and 60 Hertz so it is compliant with almost every electric water heater.

Pros and Cons of Electric Water Heaters


  • Installation: Installing electric water heaters are a breeze and are easier to install than their gas counterparts.
  • Safety: Electric water heaters are safer than gas because they are not connected to a gas line.


  • Cost: The heaters cost more to purchase and cost more to operate than their gas-guzzling cousins.
  • Time: It takes an electric water heater roughly twice as long to heat a 40-gallon tank than it would a gas model.

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