How do Electric Boilers/Heaters work

What is the function of electric B heaters/oilers?

Gas boilers have been the mainstay of heating and hot-water in UK homes for many years.

This is about to change as the UK aims to be carbon neutral by 2050 or even net-zero. As a result, there will be increasing pressure on gas boilers to be phased out over the next few years. The transition towards a more sustainable future is driving the adoption of alternative technologies, such as the electric central heating boiler in UK.

In addition, more than 2,000,000 households do not have gas access in the UK. A large number of properties are unable to use gas because older/listed building flue restrictions prevent them from using gas.

Electric boilers and heaters have become a popular alternative to gas heating.

How do they actually work?

How do electric boilers work?

Like a gas combi boiler, the cold water for an electric boiler comes from the mains supply.

The boiler is powered by the mains power and the heating element. They work like giant kettles, using electricity to heat water and a metal element.

The metal heating element is heated by passing cold water over it. This heats up the water, which can then be used to supply hot water on demand or from a storage cylinder.

Electric boilers/heaters work differently in that they heat and store water in different ways.

Electric Boilers Types

Gas boilers rarely exceed 90% efficiency, while electric boilers can achieve 100% efficiency. Electric boilers do not emit harmful carbon dioxide, so they are an environmentally friendly option.

There are several types of electric water heaters. They differ in their operation, and the best one for you depends on your needs, your home’s size, and your water pressure.

Electric Combi Boilers

A combi or electric boiler can provide hot water and heating on demand. The heating element is designed to maximise the surface area of the boiler so as to heat as much water as possible as it passes by.

Wall-mounted combi boilers are perfect for properties with low or average hot water demands. The boilers are the fastest and cheapest to install.

Electric combi boilers do not have a storage tank for hot water, so they cannot take advantage of the Economy 7 tariffs to heat your water at a lower rate overnight. They may also not be able meet the demands for hot water of a large property with multiple outlets.

Electric Storage Boilers

Electric storage boilers use an electric flow boiler for heating the water. They also have a hot water storage cylinder built in where they can store hot water.

These storage boilers have the advantage that they can heat water during off-peak hours. This allows you to set your thermostat to take advantage of specific energy tariffs. Customers on the Economy 7 tariff, for example, can set the timer so that the heater only comes on at off-peak times.

Storage boilers that can take advantage of Economy 7 tariffs will help you to control your heating costs. The downside of storage boilers is that they can be more expensive and take up more space.

Dry Core Storage Heat Boilers

Electric storage boilers are similar in that they use electricity at off-peak times.

The heat is stored in a medium that is dry, e.g. bricks. The heat is then released when the electricity price is higher. Heat is released into the water as required, and can be used to heat central heating or for hot water.

Dry core boilers are more versatile than standard storage boilers, as the heat is only released when needed. This makes them ideal for homeowners who want to benefit from the Economy 7 tariff.

Electric CSU Boilers

A Combined Primary Storage Unit (CPSU) is a boiler which can store a large amount of hot water. It can release hot water quickly to taps and radiators, which makes it perfect for large buildings that have high hot water needs.

These boilers are also found in commercial buildings, but they are more common in residential ones. These boilers are large, require more space and are more expensive.

Pair Electric Heaters with Solar

You can connect a hot-water storage cylinder that has an immersion heater (also known as a Megaflow boiler) to a PV solar system to power it for free during the day.

What size boiler do you need?

The size of the boiler is the power output. For electric boilers, not the dimensions. This is measured in Kilowatts Per Hour (kW). The higher the number, the more hot water it can supply.

Electric boilers range in kW from 5 kW to 15 kW. Your property’s size and your heating needs will determine the size boiler you need (in kW).

You need to use 1.5 kW per radiator. There are also other factors to consider, including your water pressure from the mains, your ceiling height, and your level of insulation. It’s important to always have an engineer evaluate your property’s heating needs.

Remember that even though it is cheaper to purchase and operate a smaller electric heater, if the boiler does not fit your home you may soon run out of hotwater. A boiler that’s too large will lead to an excessive heating bill.

Installing your New Electric Boiler

You may be interested in EHC’s Mercury Electric Combination Boiler, which is available with outputs up to 12 kW and 14.4 kW single phase, as well as 19 kW and 26 kW three-phase.

This boiler is ideal for properties with a hot water outlet for sinks and a shower. It can be used in homes that require more hot water.


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