Changing building codes, environmental protection laws, and efficiency-concerned homeowners are all encouraging the switch from gas-powered to electric water heaters.
This transition is very doable, although it will require experts in both plumbing and electricity.
Converting a gas water heater to an electric water heater requires the following:
- Expanding the circuit to accommodate the water heater.
- Electric wiring runs to the water heater closet.
- Capping off the gas line.
- Closing the old venting system or removing the chimney.
- Installing the water heater and hooking it up to the house’s plumbing.
Because this involves working with electric circuits and gas lines, we suggest hiring a professional.
Please keep reading for a detailed description of each step in the conversion process, why it is done, and how much it costs.
Steps to Converting From Gas to Electric Water Heaters
Because gas and electric water heaters operate differently, they have different needs. Therefore, when converting from one to the other, you must make a handful of changes to your home.
1. Expanding the Circuit
The first step in converting from a gas water heater to an electric one is expanding the circuit in your home. An electric water heater requires its’ own double circuit, meaning it will take up two breakers in your breaker box.
This is because it needs to draw large amounts of power to each of its two heating elements, and you need to be able to cut power to just the water heater in case of a malfunction.
It cannot share a circuit with anything else, a big safety concern.
How To Get This Done
Some plumbing companies will have an in-house electrician to help you convert from gas to electric. Otherwise, you should hire your electrician to expand the circuit and run the wires.
Complex electrical work like this is unsafe for DIY, as you are likely to electrocute yourself or cause a fire risk in your home.
2. Running Wires to the Water Heater
After the circuit board has been expanded to allow for an isolated double breaker, wires must be run out to your water heater room.
This is simpler than expanding the circuit, and the same electrician that did the expansion will also be able to do this for you.
3. Capping the Gas Line
Next, the old unit will be removed, and the gas line will be capped. This is typically where a plumber steps in.
Capping the gas line prevents a gas leak in your home, a major health and fire hazard.
4. Closing the Old Ventilation System
After the old hardware has been safely removed, the prior ventilation necessary for a gas heater can be closed off. Again, this can be a simple or more involved job, depending on your previous setup and goals for the new installation.
The simplest way to close the system is to block it off with a wall. This is easily DIYable.
However, if you’d like to reclaim the space the ventilation system took up or remove the old attached chimney, that will take some time and carpentry skills, so that you can expect a few extra square feet but nothing massive.
5. Install the New Heater
The final step is to install the new heater. It needs to be hooked up to the intake and outtake pipes, hooked into the new circuit, and have its pressure release valve calibrated.
Electric water heaters can explode if this is done incorrectly, so I recommend hiring an experienced plumber.
The Cost of Converting From a Gas to an Electric Water Heater
This price will heavily depend on your area’s labor costs, so call around for quotes before panicking.
The most expensive part of the process will be the new wiring and circuit expansion, which costs about 60-100 dollars per hour on average.
Converting from a gas-powered water heater to an electric model is long and expensive. You can expect it to take several professionals and a couple of dollars.
The five steps of converting from gas to electric water heating are:
- Expand the circuit.
- Run the wires.
- Cap the gas/remove the old heater.
- Close the ventilation.
- Install the new heater.
Despite the hassle, electric models are more efficient and more environmentally friendly.
They are also safer because there is no potential for a gas leak and no open flame. You can also say goodbye to ventilation in the water heater cabinet, which will further insulate your home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is an Electric Water Heater More Efficient?
Yes, electric systems are usually more efficient, although they are slower. Gas systems lose heat via vents, while electric systems are fully enclosed.
Is It More Difficult To Convert From Gas to an Electric Tankless Water Heater?
No, converting from a gas water heater to an electric tank and from a gas to a tankless electric heater is very similar.
The only difference is that tankless water heaters can draw more power, but you’ll already be expanding your circuit anyway.
Should I Get the Same Size Water Heater From Gas to Electric?
Not unless you are downsizing. Electric water heaters are slower at heating water than gas models, so you typically need one size larger to have the same hot water supply.