San Francisco has recently decided to go all electric on all new construction projects. Many people are now wondering if they can also convert to all or some electric.
Electric tanks are typically the most economical way up front to go electric. Costs are fairly close to the price of our gas tanks listed on our website. However, operating costs are quite high. Most 50 gallon electric tanks will cost around 600 dollars or more a year to operate, which is about double the cost to operate a 50 gallon gas tank. They also have slow recovery rates, so most homes that have a 50 gallon gas tank, may want to consider a 65 gallon electric or a 50 gallon electric with booster option. This will ensure a reliable hot water supply.
Another tank option is a hybrid electric tank, sometimes called a heat pump electric tank. These will cost more up front due to a few factors, however, a 50 gallon hybrid electric tank can cost as little as 100 dollars a year to operate. These units are about two to three times the cost of a standard electric tank. They require minor water re-piping as the water supply inlet and outlet are on the side. They also require a PVC condensate line to be ran outside, to a drain or to a wash basin. Lastly they can be noisy, they do have a heat pump mounted to the top which creates vibrations and a fan noise. This may be an issue if the tank is mounted near a bedroom or office. If mounted near an exterior wall, ducting can be ran to the outside to help reduce the noise. Ductwork is required if the room size is less than 700 cubic feet. Most installations are 4500 dollars and up depending on many factors, such as tank size and location.
We do also offer heat pump only models which consist of an exterior heat pump, and an interior or exterior mounted tank. These are expensive, but solve a lot of the issues with hybrid models. These units are 6500 dollars and up.
When considering going electric tank, hybrid or heat pump, panel size is important. Most homes will need a 150 to 200 amp panel. They will also need enough space to add dual 30 amp breakers. Costs to add a circuit can start as low as 500 dollars and go up depending on access and distance of electrical run.
Electric tankless units have gained popularity for years, especially in Europe.
The most common question we get is if we can replace their gas tank water heater with one electric tankless that can power my entire home, the short answer is yes.
The long answer is that it will typically mean that you will need a new main electrical panel. A 36 Kilowatt tankless unit will require four, 40 Amp breakers. It will draw a maximum of 150 amps, this means that in most cases, a 200 amp panel will not cut it. A 300 or 400 amp panel will be needed. Panel upgrades can cost 8000 dollars and up.
We have seen handymen and other unlicensed contractors install these units without proper electrical requirements with less than stellar results. Inconsistent hot water, lights flickering, and error codes are some of the few complaints that we see.
In new construction or heavy remodels, these units can be installed at each hot water source in the home to supply endless hot water reliably and quickly. This can be expensive and is usually not an option unless we have full access to water lines.