Geysers, whether electric or gas, are a must-have in most homes.
These units are a significant investment, so it is only right that you consider all your options before coming to a final decision.
The question of which geyser is best, gas or electric, is probably the most crucial consideration you will have to make.
We dive deep to compare both options in this guide so that you can make an informed decision on which type of geyser is appropriate for your home.
Electric Geysers – How Do They Work?
As its name suggests, an electric geyser uses electric energy to heat water.
Coldwater flows to the bottom of an insulated tank where there are electric elements. These elements heat the water from the bottom, and the hot water rises to the tank's top.
Hot water flows from the top of the tank where the water is hottest when you open the tap or turn on the washing machine or other appliance.
The tank system automatically refills with cold water as the hot water flows out. The cooler water goes to the bottom, where the elements heat it, and the cycle continues.
Electric geysers also have a thermostat that maintains the water temperate in the tank between 49 and 82 degrees Celsius depending on the setting.
Components Of An Electric Geyser
The typical electric geyser has several parts that work together to ensure that you have hot running water.
Tank – Typical electric geyser tank capacity varies between 50L and 250L. The size goes up in 50L increments. Most tanks have an interior protective liner and exterior insulating cover.
Heating Elements – These work much like the electric coils you seen in an electric oven or older kettles. The elements heat the water.
Dip Tube – Connects to your cold water inlet and goes to the bottom interior of the tank. This design ensures that the cold water goes straight to the bottom of the tank for heating.
Hot Water Outlet – This is where the hot water leaves the tank.
Thermostat – Controls the temperature and ensures that you always have hot water when you need it. Most electric geysers will allow you to set your preferred water temperature manually.
Shut-off Valve – Stops water going into the tank when it is at full capacity. You will typically find this component on the tank's exterior.
Drain Valve – Allows you to empty the tank for repairs or any other purpose manually. You will typically find the drain valve at the bottom exterior of the tank.
Maintenance Of Electrical Geysers
All equipment needs some maintenance for longevity, and an electric geyser is no different. Here are a few things that you can do to ensure that you get the most life out of your investment.
- Lower the temperature setting. The water will reach the ideal temperature faster with less wear and tear on the system. You also save money on the electric bill.
- Manually drain the tank about a quarter way a few times a year. This action helps to remove sediment and debris from the tank.
- Consider replacing the plastic inlet and outlet pipes with metal varieties. The latter is more heat resistant and will last longer.
- Consider turning the system off when you don't need hot water urgently. Many new designs can heat water quickly and don't need to stay on throughout.
- Speak to your vendor or installer about annual maintenance.
Electric Geysers Pros & Cons
You will be in the best position to make an informed decision by considering both the upsides and downsides of electric geysers.
Lower Initial Cost: Electric geysers have a significantly lower initial cost than the gas alternative. This factor is especially true if you have modest hot water needs and can do with a smaller tank size.
Safer: You don't have to worry about a potential gas leak.
Widely Available: You only need to be connected to a power line to install an electric geyser. This option is more popular in South Africa, meaning you are more likely to get a good deal on the price and installation because of competition.
Easier Installation: Electric units are easier to install as long as you have sufficient space for the water tank. You don't need additional modifications like vents and gas lines.
Power Interruptions: South Africa is notorious for load-shedding, so there is no guarantee that you will have hot water when you need it.
Lower Recovery Rate: Electric geysers take more time to heat the water to the desired temperature than gas alternatives. Newer models heat water faster but not quite like gas geysers.
Higher Long-term Cost: Despite the lower initial cost, you can expect to pay more to run your electric geyser long-term than you would if you opted for gas.
Gas Geysers – How Do They Work?
A gas geyser has an electronic control unit (ECU) that detects water flow when you turn on the hot water tap.
The control unit then ignites the gas to heat the water as it flows through the system.
Standard gas geysers in South Africa do not have a water tank. Instead, the system heats water on-demand through the heat exchanger.
Components Of A Gas Geyser
The gas geyser's general mechanics are quite similar to the electric version, but these models have different components.
Gas Burner – Sits below the heat exchanger and is responsible for providing the flame. Most gas heaters have a sight window through which you can see the flame. You want to see a blue flame as a yellow or white flame indicates a combustion problem.
Combustion Chamber – This is where the combustion takes place in a controlled environment. Gas geysers have a fan under the burner to encourage the combustion process and quicken the heating process.
Heat Exchanger – The heat exchanger transfers the heat from the burners to the cold water from the tap. The water flows through the heat exchanger, where it is heated to the preset temperature.
Ignition System – Ideally, the ignition system should work without electricity so that you can still get hot water in the event of a power outage. This component ignites the flame on the gas burners.
Control Panel – This is the brains of the operation. You can set the temperature here as well as read error codes depending on the design.
Venting – Venting brings in oxygen for combustion and discharges gasses out of the house through the roof or a sidewall.
Safety Features – Flame sensors tell the system to turn the gas off when there is no flame. A water flow sensor ensures that there is enough water flow for the heat exchanger to work safely. An overheat sensor shuts the system down in case of overheating or if the water gets too hot.
Maintenance Of Gas Geyser
Gas geysers have a high initial upfront cost, so you want to do proper maintenance to protect your investment.
- Descale the gas geyser at least once a year or twice if you live in an area with unusually hard water.
- Consider setting your unit to a lower temperature. Minerals dissolve much better in hotter water and may build up around the heat exchanger.
- Schedule professional maintenance. You could easily void your warranty if something goes wrong while you attempt to service or repair your gas geyser.
Gas Geysers Pros & Cons
Just like their electric counterparts, gas geysers also have their pros and cons.
Durable: Gas geysers can easily last twice as long as their electrical counterparts.
On-demand Hot Water: You don't have to wait for the water to heat or worry about running out of hot water mid-shower. You can also enjoy hot showers even when there is a blackout.
Long-term Savings: Gas is more efficient and cheaper than electricity. The savings in your power bills will eventually pay for the system.
Space Saving: Not everyone has room for a hot water tank. A gas geyser takes up minimal space.
Increased Efficiency: A gas geyser only heats water when it is needed. An electric geyser needs to keep water hot throughout until you need it, which is incredibly inefficient.
Higher Initial Cost: A gas geyser will cost you significantly more to install than an electric option. You also have to consider retrofitting your house, including creating venting, which further adds to the cost.
Safety Concerns: Gas geysers are made with safety in mind. Even so, the potential for a gas leak is every homeowner's nightmare.
Limited Out: Unless you get the correct sizing, a gas geyser may find it difficult to keep up with all your appliances or during heavy hot water use. You may notice occasional cold spots in such scenarios.
Which Geyser Is Best, Gas Or Electric: 5 Best Selection Tips
When it comes down to it, there are a few parameters that you can use to compare electric and gas geysers.
#1. Cost And Lifespan Of A Geyser
Electric geysers are definitely cheaper to install at first, but gas geysers last longer.
A good electric geyser can give you 8-15 years of reliable service.
By comparison, a standard gas geyser will last up to 20 years. You can further increase the lifespan of your gas geyser by replacing some parts.
Additionally, a gas geyser costs less in operational and energy costs, saving you more money. You should be able to recoup the initial gas geyser installation cost.
#2. Size Of Geyser
If you have a large family and multiple appliances requiring hot water, an electric geyser may be ideal.
A large tank will keep up much better with your needs as opposed to installing multiple gas geysers.
On the other hand, if you have minimal hot water requirements and limited space, a gas geyser is the way to go.
You can consult with an expert to figure out which option suits your situation.
#3. Performance & Efficiency Of A Geyser
Gas geysers win in terms of efficiency. They heat water much quicker and don't have to spend the extra energy to keep the water at a consistent temperature.
Electric geysers offer more consistent performance as long as you have an appropriately-sized tank. You might need two or more dedicated gas geysers for large homes with multiple bathrooms and appliances.
In the event that the amount of water running through your gas geyser exceeds its capacity; you may notice sudden blasts of cold water while you're taking a hot shower.
#4. Geyser Maintenance Requirements
Electric water heaters require minimal maintenance aside from draining your tank a few times in the year to remove sediments.
On the other hand, gas geysers have complex parts and systems that require regular and annual maintenance to work correctly.
Most gas geysers come with maintenance recommendations that only a qualified technician can perform.
#5. Convenience Of Use Of A Geyser
Gas geysers are more convenient to use since there is no waiting time. You also get hot water throughout, unlike electric geysers, where you can run out of hot water.
If you already have an electric geyser, you may want to wait until you have to replace it to switch to gas.
Gas geysers may be more economical long-term, but it could take a few years until you recoup the initial cost.
A gas geyser is perfect when you are renovating an old home or building a new one.