Best Electric Boilers 2020: Prices & Reviews
In the world of heating, there’s no denying that the gas network is the dominant force. But for those of us on the other side, what can we turn to? For many people, an electric boiler could be the answer.
To help you decide if an electric boiler could be a realistic option for your home, we reached out to our network of registered boiler installers across the UK and asked them for their thoughts on the subject and, importantly, which are the best electric boilers (in their experience).
What is an electric boiler?
Types of electric boiler
Advantages and disadvantages of electric boilers
Electric boiler vs gas boiler
Best electric combi boilers
What size electric boiler do I need?
Electric boiler prices
Electric boiler installation cost
Electric boiler efficiency and running costs
How to find electric boiler installers
NOTICE: You can still get boiler quotes during the COVID-19 lockdown. Heating engineers are classed as key workers and are providing quotes as long as no one in your household has Coronavirus symptoms and social distancing guidelines are followed. Many can also offer advice and provide quotes over the phone and via a video call.
What is an electric boiler?
While the most commonly installed boilers will ignite gas or oil to heat water, an electric boiler will pass the water via an electric element. An electric boiler can be installed in most small to medium sized homes to produce the hot water for both heating and domestic use. Electric combi boilers are a potential alternative for homes where gas is not an option and oil is either impractical or too expensive.
How do electric combi boilers work?
An electric combi boiler is a lot like a kettle in terms of technology.
The electric boiler is connected to the mains electricity supply and is supplied with cold water from the mains. When you turn a hot water tap on or switch the heating on, the heating element inside the boiler heats up and passes this heat to the cold water. The heated water is then pumped to the tap or radiator where it is needed.
As water is supplied on demand from a single source, if an electric boiler needs to supply hot water to more than one tap or shower at the same time, the water pressure and/or temperature may drop. This is why combi boilers (gas or electric) are not recommended for larger homes with multiple bathrooms.
Electric combi boilers (and other types of electric boiler)
There are a few different types of electric boiler, some of which may be more suited to your home and lifestyle than others. The most popular type of electric boiler is the electric combi boiler.
Electric combi boiler (direct)
This boiler is the most similar to a gas Combi boiler i.e. it uses a heating element to heat water on demand. While it is the simplest and cheapest to install it doesn’t have any way of storing hot water so you can’t take advantage of Economy 7 tariffs by heating water overnight for use during the day.
A storage electric boiler includes a hot water tank either within the unit or separately. This enables you to heat water overnight, when energy costs are lower, and store it for use the next day. They are more expensive than direct acting boilers and the tank will take up more space in your home.
A Combined Primary Storage Unit, or CPSU, stores lots of hot water within the boiler so it can meet demand much quicker and at higher pressure. However, they tend to be quite large and as such are more suited to commercial installations.
Dry Core Storage
Dry core boilers are similar to storage heaters as they use cheaper nighttime tariffs to heat bricks overnight, but the heat is then released into water to be used in central heating and hot water, rather than being released directly into the home.
If you have a storage tank with an immersion heater you can use free energy from solar panels to heat your water during the day.
Note: Electric boilers are not electric storage heaters. While the boiler will use electricity to heat water for your taps and radiators, a storage heater will heat bricks in your home overnight (when energy costs are lower) so you can then use this stored heat throughout the following day.
Advantages of electric boilers
For millions of homes across the UK without access to the gas network they are a viable heating alternative and bring with them several other less talked about benefits. In addition, if you are able to power an electric boiler with renewable energy, you could be reducing your carbon footprint and/or lowering your energy bills.
While electricity might be expensive, the best electric boilers offer opportunities to save money in other areas, as they’re cheaper to install than other boiler types and don’t require an annual service.
No gas or oil needed
Whether your home isn’t connected to the gas network or you don’t have space for an oil tank, an electric boiler makes a great alternative as they only need a supply of electricity.
As electric boilers don’t need to burn fuel to produce heat they don’t lose energy through waste gases. In many cases this results in efficiency rates of 99% compared to 89% – 95% for most gas boilers.
Electric boilers don’t release waste gases and so are considered a much ‘greener’ option than burning gas or oil.
Cheaper to install
As there are no waste gases an electric boiler doesn’t need a flue or condensate so the installation of the boiler will tend to cost you less than gas or oil boiler installations. Find out more with our Essential Guide to Electric Boiler Installation.
As well as often being cheaper to install, electric boilers don’t have to be installed on outdoor walls like gas and oil units, as there’s no need for a flue or condensate pipe, giving you more options with where to install your new boiler.
No annual service
Gas and oil boilers need to be serviced annually by a professional heating engineer, costing between £50 and £160 each time. Electric boilers, on the other hand, don’t need the same level of servicing, giving you 1 less expense to worry about each year. While the unit itself doesn’t need servicing, the hot water cylinder will need to be serviced annually.
Easier to maintain
Only in the unlikely event of a breakdown are repairs ever needed and unlike gas boilers, which can become blocked when not used, an electric circulation pump will continue to work even when it is inactive.
No risk of a carbon monoxide leak
Gas boilers produce harmful gases during operation, which are safely expelled out of the flue but could leak, with an electric boiler you don’t have to worry about any harmful gases leaking.
Light and compact
The lack of a flue and waste gases also means the unit is much more compact and you have more flexibility about where in the home you have it installed.
Thanks to there being no moving parts in an electric boiler, they’re able to operate quietly, or even silently, when heating your home and domestic hot water.
Ideal solution for homes off the gas network
Properties that aren’t connected to the gas network often choose to install an oil boiler but this means having somewhere to store the oil. Electric boilers are a much simpler solution as electricity is readily available and doesn’t need to be stored at your property. In addition, electric boilers need much less maintenance than oil boilers.
Solar panels can be incorporated with some electric boilers which means you can partially power them with free energy and reduce your energy bills. There’s also solar thermal, which can heat the water in the cylinder using free renewable solar energy.
Disadvantages of electric boilers
The main criticism of using an electric boiler as the sole source of heating and hot water is that electricity is more expensive, so in terms of running costs they just aren’t winners. They are often limited as to the amount of hot water they can produce at any one time and so aren’t recommended for larger homes.
There are a few important considerations to make before installing an electric boiler, particularly if you live in a larger home as they’re not able to meet the higher demand for heating and hot water.
Higher running costs
Electricity is more expensive than gas which means monthly bills will be higher. It is possible to counter this with an Economy 7 tariff or by installing an electric boiler as part of a solar PV system.
Less hot water
As electric boilers heat water on demand they are limited in the amount of hot water they can produce, so possibly not the best choice for larger homes.
If there’s a power cut you may lose access to both heating and hot water as well as all your other appliances. However, all modern boilers are made up of electrical components, so this problem isn’t unique to electric boilers.
Could blow property’s fuse
A typical electric boiler will use 48 amps, which is the vast majority of a 60 amp fuse, which many homes have. This means that while the electric boiler is running, having another couple of appliances on at the same time could blow the fuse. It’s worth checking with an electrician for their thoughts on whether an electric boiler is a suitable option with the fuse in your home.
Electric boiler vs gas boiler: which is right for you?
Electric boilers can be a great alternative to oil or LPG for off-grid homes, but properties which are connected to the gas grid are usually advised to install a gas boiler.
Why choose a gas boiler?
Why choose an electric boiler?
Which are the best electric combi boilers?
When it comes to choosing an electric boiler, there are several manufacturers and models to compare, but the best combi boilers on the market are:
|Manufacturer||Boiler Model||Floor-standing or Wall-mounted?||Available Outputs (kW)||Dimensions (H x W x D)||Efficiency||Energy Rating||Standard Warranty|
|Electric Heating Company||Comet Combi Boiler||Floor-standing||9 / 12 / 14.4||1745 x 580 x 630mm||100%||Hot Water: C
|2 years (10 years on cylinder)|
|Heatrae Sadia||Electromax||Floor-standing||6 /9||1476 x 550 x 600mm||99.8%||Hot Water: C
|2 years (10 years on cylinder)|
|Elnur||Mattira MAC15||Wall-mounted||3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15||830 x 555 x 450mm||100%||Hot Water: D
|2 years (5 years on cylinder)|
|THERMAflow||THERMAflow Electric Combi Boiler||Floor-standing||10 / 11 / 13 / 14 / 16 / 18||From 1590 x 550 x 690mm up to 1920 x 710 x 850mm||100%||Unknown||1 year (25 years on cylinder)|
|Electric Combi Boilers Co.||Elektra EK.C Combi Boiler||Wall-mounted||12kW (modulates from 2-12kW)||875 x 400 x 300mm||99.9%||Unknown||2 years|
Comet Combi Boiler by Electric Heating Company
The Comet Combi combi boiler provides hot water for a wet central heating system and for domestic use. It includes a 140-litre Duplex stainless steel hot water cylinder to maximise the volume of hot water, but is compact in size and is pre-plumbed and pre-wired for ease of installation.
The Comet has a built-in programmer which enables you to set the temperature and schedule of your heating as well as a wireless thermostat. The Comet is available as in outputs of 9kW, 12kW or 14.4kW. You can also select heating only, hot water only or use both at the same time. The Comet includes a 2 year warranty on the boiler with 10 year warranty on the cylinder.
Electromax by Heatrae Sadia
The Electromax boiler can provide both heating and hot water for your home (at the same time) as it combines an electric flow boiler with a hot water storage cylinder and circulating pump.
All that the Electromax needs is a mains electricity supply and cold water. Inside the boiler is a duplex stainless steel unvented cylinder that has a 180 Litre capacity. This enables it to deliver mains pressure showers, fast filling baths and a balanced supply of hot water to multiple tap outlets. The Electromax is designed for sealed systems and, thanks to its compact size, will fit into a standard domestic airing cupboard. The Electromax is available in two domestic kW sizes: 6 or 9 kW. The Electromax includes a 2 year warranty on the boiler with 10 year warranty on the cylinder.
Mattira MAC15 by Elnur
The Mattira MAC15 is a wall mounted electric boiler is a digital modulating, electric combination boiler which provides both heating and hot water. The boiler is suitable for either single or 3-phase supplies and reduces energy consumption thanks to digital modulation.
The Mattira also includes a digital display, user-friendly controls and can deliver a hot water flow rate of up to 12 litres per minute. CThe Mattira is available in twelve different outputs from 3 to 15 kW. The Mattira MAC15 includes a 2 year warranty on the boiler with 2 year warranty on the cylinder.
The THERMAflow High Efficiency Electric Combination Boiler is designed to operate during periods of cheaper electricity tariffs to enable you to reduce running costs and energy use while still meeting all of your heating and hot water demand. They claim that this can save users up to 40% on their heating.
The floorstanding THERMAFlow can be connected to a wood burning or solar thermal system to reduce your electricity usage, heating bills and carbon footprint. The THERMAFlow is available in six outputs between 10-18 kW. The THERMAFlow includes a 1 year warranty on the boiler with 25 year warranty on the cylinder.
Elektra EK.C by Electric Boilers Company
The Elektra EK.C is a wall mounted electric combi boiler which is suitable for smaller properties and flats. It provides instantaneous hot water (40-50°C) at a rate of 8 litres per minute, but filling a bath can take up to 15 minutes as the flow rate would need to be reduced. The Elektra is best suited to small homes with one bathroom.
The Elektra is only available as a 12 kW boiler, but it will modulate between 2-12 kW as needed. The Elektra boiler includes a 2 year warranty as standard.
What size electric boiler do I need?
A boiler’s size relates to how powerful it is and is measured in kilowatts (kW). The higher the number, the more radiators and taps it can provide hot water for.
An electric boiler is usually smaller than a gas or oil boiler in terms of physical dimensions, but when you hear the term ‘boiler size’, it does not refer to the physical size of the unit. A boiler’s size relates to how powerful it is. A boiler’s power is measured in kilowatts (kW) and the higher the number, the more radiators and taps it can provide hot water for.
Electric boilers are much less powerful than gas and oil boilers and so are best suited to small homes and flats rather than large properties. The average gas boiler is sized between 24-35 kW, whereas an electric boiler is usually 15 kW or less.
There is an electric boiler sizing rule of thumb which suggests that you need 1.5 kW for each radiator in your home. This will be impacted by the size of your rooms, the height of the ceiling and how well insulated the room is, and this is why a heating engineer is best placed to size a boiler for your home. Find out more in What Size Electric Boiler do I Need? guide will help you when it comes to installing an electric boiler will sufficient power.
|Number of Radiators||Output rating|
It is important to remember that a boiler which is too small for your home will not provide enough hot water for your home, but a boiler which is too large will use a lot of unnecessary electricity which will increase your bills.
Electric boiler prices
Electric boiler costs vary depending on the model and manufacturer. As you might expect, the smaller models will often be the cheapest with a price tag of around £650-£1,000 stretching up to £2,500 for the larger models.
However, as well as the cost of the electric boiler itself, you’ll need to consider the installation too. Again, installation costs will vary from installer to installer so we highly recommend comparing multiple quotes.
|Manufacturer||Boiler Model||Average Price (estimated)|
|Electric Heating Company||Comet Combi Boiler||£2,300-£2,500|
|THERMAflow||THERMAflow Electric Combi Boiler||£2,300-£4,000|
|Electric Combi Boilers Co.||Elektra EK.C Combi Boiler||£900-£1,100|
How much does electric boiler installation cost?
On average, the cost of installing an electric boiler can range between £500-£1,000, but it’s important to note installation costs will vary depending on the installer you choose, as well as other variable factors. It makes sense that the more complicated the installation, the more it will cost.
For example, a boiler installation will be more expensive if you are changing from one type of boiler to another and/or upgrading radiators or underfloor heating. You may end up paying more for a central heating installation in the winter as engineers tend to be busier, whereas work completed in the summer may be more competitively priced.
It’s important to compare multiple quotes when making your choice. Boiler Guide can provide you with up to 3 quotes from registered and reputable installers, with no fee and no-obligation.
Electric boiler efficiency and running costs
The reason for the high running cost of electric boilers is because the UK generates the vast majority of its electricity using fossil fuels. This also contributes to electric boilers receiving a lowly D-rating when it comes to their ErP efficiency rating, which can be confusing when they are also rated as 99-100% efficient.
Electric Boiler Efficiency
As most electricity is produced by fossil fuels, which emits lots of carbon into the atmosphere, electricity is considered a carbon intensive fuel. So, even if you’re with an energy supplier that generates electricity with renewable technology, the electricity is still considered carbon intensive but as more suppliers adopt renewable generation, the high ‘fuel factor’ imposed on electricity is likely to drop.
The future is looking bright for renewable electricity generation, with the National Grid believing that all UK electricity generation could be producing zero carbon emissions by 2025. Find out more with Electric Boiler Efficiency Explained.
Running costs of electric boilers
In the UK the average cost per unit of electricity is 14.4p/kWh, with the price varying depending on your tariff and the area you live, making it a lot more expensive than gas, which has an average cost per unit of 3.8p/kWh.
While the running costs of electricity are higher than gas, as we’ve mentioned, you will be able to make savings in other areas, such as the installation, not needing to arrange an annual service and all-round maintenance costs.
We put electric boilers head-to-head with gas boilers to find out which are cheaper to run during their lifetime, find out which came out on top in Electric Boilers vs Gas Boilers: Pros, Cons & Running Costs.
Electric boilers with solar PV
Solar PV panels convert natural energy from the sun into electricity you can use in your home. An electric boiler can be a great choice for small homes with solar PV panels as they may be able to generate their own heating and hot water using free electricity. This setup could significantly reduce the running costs of your boiler. Find out more in Running an Electric Combi Boiler with Solar.
Get free electric boiler installation quotes
To find the best possible price for an electric boiler installation, we highly recommend comparing multiple quotes. Boiler Guide can provide you with up to 3 free quotes from local and national installers. Compare the most competitive quotes on the market and choose the best. No obligation, no hassle, no fee.