The Best Electric Boilers 2020
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? The electric boiler, of course. In this article we’ll provide details of the best electric boilers on the market.
The electric boiler has, shall we say, a mixed reputation. The main criticism of them as a home heating system is that electricity is more expensive, so in terms of running costs they just aren’t winners. However, 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.
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 brands are the most popular and reliable (in their experience).
What is an electric boiler?
An electric boiler can be installed in most small to medium sized homes to produce the hot water for both heating and domestic use. While the most commonly installed boiler will use gas or oil to heat the water, an electric boiler will pass the water via an electric element.
Electric boilers are a popular alternative for homes where gas is not an option and oil is either impractical or too expensive. 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.
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.
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 over night (when energy costs are lower) so you can then use this stored heat throughout the following day.
The best electric boilers
When it comes to finding the best electric boilers, there are several manufacturers and models to compare.
|Manufacturer||Boiler Model||Floor-standing or Wall-mounted?||Available Outputs (kW)||Dimensions (H x W x D)||Efficiency||Energy Rating||Average Price (excluding installation)||Standard Warranty|
|Electric Heating Company||Comet Combi Boiler||Floor-standing||9 / 12 / 14.4||1745 x 580 x 630mm||100%||Hot Water: C
|£2,571||2 years (10 years on cylinder)|
|Heatrae Sadia||Electromax||Floor-standing||6 /9||1476 x 550 x 600mm||99.8%||Hot Water: C
|£1,800 – £2,000||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
|£1,750 – £2,000||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||£2,360 – £4,050||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||£1,190||2 years|
|Ferroli||LEB TS||Wall-mounted||6 / 7.5 / 9 / 12||740 x 440 x 265/340mm||99.5%||D-rated||Unknown||2 years|
Advantages of electric boilers
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 quietly, or even silently, heat 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
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.
How much do electric boilers cost?
The smaller the boiler, the smaller the cost both to install and to run. On average the smallest size of boiler costs approximately £1,500 and the largest could be up to £2,500. However, installation costs will vary depending on the installer you choose.
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.
How much do electric boilers cost to run?
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.
Installing an electric boiler that’s too powerful will see your energy bills increase, so it’s important to install an electric boiler of the right size. Our What Size Electric Boiler do I Need? guide will help you when it comes to installing an electric boiler will sufficient power.
Electric boiler efficiency explained
The reason for the high running costs of electricity 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 also have a 99-100% efficiency.
As most electricity is produced by fossil fuels, which emits lots of carb on 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 elctricity 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 National Grid believing that all UK electricity generation could be producing zero carbon emissions by 2025.
Find out more with Electric Boiler Efficiency Explained.
Interested in an electric boiler?
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.