Having a water heater in your home is as essential as having water running in your home. A water heater comes handy, and not having one installed in your home can be a bother because there are some things you would need hot water for.
Heating water has to do with using an energy source to heat water above its initial temperature. Water heating in the olden days was done in kettles, pots, and coppers. However, those means of water heating do not give a continuous supply of heated water at a preset temperature.
Thanks to technology, we now have new inventions of water heaters that use fuels and supply heated water steadily at a preset temperature. One of these wonderful inventions that have helped put an end to heating water in batches is the gas water heater.
Most gas water heaters do not use electricity to operate. However, many of them rely on a minimal amount of electricity to get their pilot light burning in order to light their igniter. So although the gas heater doesn’t need electricity to run, it does need a minimal amount of electricity to start it.
Let’s understand a little about gas water heaters…
Gas Water Heaters
A gas water heater is a type of water heater that is fuelled by gas.
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Gas water heaters carry out their heating processes through a law of physics termed ‘convection’ which is the transfer of heat through a fluid.
Just like every other water heaters fuelled by different energy sources, a gas water heater can also be designed with a tank or be designed tankless – this causes massive differences in gas water heaters.
Gas water heaters with tanks are less expensive and with lower initial cost and operating cost, compared with the tankless ones.
The question is, do these gas water heaters use electricity?
Let’s take a look at how these water heaters operate to arrive at our answer.
How Does a Gas Water Heater Operate?
The operation of gas water heaters also differs based on whether they have a tank or not.
Tank-type gas water heater
In the case of a gas water heater that uses a tank, the sealed container is designed with a gas burner underneath it while the cold water goes into the tank through a supply line.
The cold water supply line constantly supplies cold water into the tank. As the supply goes on, the dense cold water at the bottom of the tank, through the help of the gas burner, gets warm and eventually hot (depending on the present temperature).
By the time a certain level of hotness is achieved, the water would have started rising in the tank.
As the cold water supply keeps pumping in water into the tank, the already hot water at the top of the tank finds its way into the hot water supply line to provide hot water wherever it is requested.
The hot water discharge pipe is not as long as the cold water supply pipe because it reaches for the hottest water at the top of the tank.
A gas regulator controls the gas burner that does the work of heating water in the tank.
The regulator is typically mounted on the side of the water heater tank, and it is designed with a thermostat that helps you to monitor the temperature of the water in the tank.
Also, the thermostat turns the burner on and off. With this thermostat, you can set and maintain your desired water temperature.
Tankless gas water heater
A tankless gas water heater, just as its name implies, does not come with a tank to store water.
Instead, it heats the water as you request for it, thereby giving you continuous hot water supply.
A tankless gas water heater heats incoming water in the pipe as it is needed.
It uses a heat exchanger (a device that transfers heat from one place to another) to transfer heat generated by the gas burner to the water flowing through your pipe.
As you turn on your faucet, the incoming flow of water activates the heat exchanger and moves around it, thereby heating the water to your desired preset temperature.
Having known how gas water heaters operate, let’s then get back to our question:
Does Gas Water Heater Need Electricity?
In as much as gas water heaters do not solely depend on electricity to operate like the electric water heater, some, however, rely on minimal electricity for operation.
Not all tank-type gas water heaters use electricity.
Some models use electricity to get their pilot light burning while some are lighted through traditional means. Some gas water heaters use electric power to light their igniter through electric starters.
In the operation of a tankless gas water heater, the heat exchanger needs to sense the flow of the water to get activated and send heat generated by the gas burner to the flowing water; this can only happen through the help of an electric current.
Also, the digital remote and PC board it uses are powered by electricity.
Hence tankless gas water heaters need electricity to work.
However, there are ways you can power your gas water heater such that it would not need an electric supply to operate.
For instance, you can power the computer component of your tankless water heater through a computer battery backup or install the water heater together with another type of water heater that does not use electricity.
It would be best if you talked to your plumber as regards this.
It is evident that a lot of gas water heaters, whether tankless or not, require electricity (though at the minimal rate) to perform.
However, you would not have to plug them like other water heaters, and you would not spend much on electricity bills the way you would have done if you were using a water heater that relies solely on electricity.
The sole reason for electricity is to start the gas water heater’s ignition, which is not required in all cases, more so if your plumber can come up with other possible means of starting it.