Gas vs. Electric Water Heaters in Singapore
When Singaporeans are deciding to get either a gas or storage heater, most struggle with finding accurate information on the pros and cons for both systems. Since A. O. Smith manufactures both gas and storage heaters, we have come up with a simple comparison for both systems based on feedback from our Singaporean customers.
A simple comparison chart features the common instantaneous gas heater (gas heater) and storage electric heater (storage heater). It is good to note that there are many different types of gas and storge electric heaters in the market which are potentially more energy saving than these two because they are more technologically advanced. For simplicity, we are only comparing the most basic and widely used versions of gas and electric heaters in Singapore.
1. Initial Cost
You can find both gas and storgae heaters in the affordable $200 – $400 range. Top selling gas heaters come only in one size and are in the low $200s. The more commonly used storage heater sizes which are 30 and 40 liters, are closer to the $300s.
It can cost up to $200 – $350 to install a gas heater because it is a central system installed at the yard or balcony which requires extra piping. Storage heaters can be installed in bathrooms so installation is around $80 – $120.
2. Running Cost
Gas companies have a done a study that shows how much users can save using gas heaters, but on closer examination, the unit cost of running a gas heater is about the same as running a storage heater. There are no significant savings for end users.
Gas heaters require much more safety features than storage heaters because of the dangers that gas leaks may pose. Gas is toxic and gas related fires are difficult to put out beause gas will flow continuously from the pipe source.
In international markets where gas is widely used, some gas heaters have about 8 safety features and cost about $800+. In Singapore, gas heaters have only about 3 of these safety features which is why they cost about $200+. They also have to be installed in areas outside the internal living space such as the yard or balcony.
Electric heaters have been used for a long time in Singapore without trouble and they are much safer systems than gas heaters.
4. Shower related convenience
Because gas heaters must be installed outside the internal living space for safety reasons, home owners might face the daily inconvenience of wasted water. Once the hot water tap is switched on, you must wait for water to warm up and flow from the yard to the bathroom. Cold water can be running for about a minute before hot water starts coming in, especially if the distance between the yard and the bathroom is far. Storage heaters can be installed in the bathroom so you can get hot water almost immediatedly without wasting water.
5. Installation related convenience
Storage heaters can be positioned at your own convenience because an electrical supply is easily directed to your tank. However, you cannot determine the location of your gas heater as the installer needs to pipe the heating system to your gas source.
6. Utility consumption
Previously, we established that the running cost of a gas heater was slightly more costly than a storage heater, but we did not include the cost of water left running while waiting for the shower to heat up. This water can be collected for other uses such as manually flushing the toilet or mopping the floor. Of course, hauling pails around is a rather tedious chore and you will be collecting water that you won’t have an immediate need for.
7. Water Pressure
The gas heaters are instantaneous, so users will experience a water pressure drop of about 50% at the shower. If two bathrooms are used at the same time, water pressure will drop even further. If your kitchen faucet is connected to hot water, water pressure drops too. With gas heaters, is not advisable for two showers to be running at the same time or for users to have rainshowers at home.
Storage heaters are closed tank systems which preserve the same water pressure from the PUB water supply. If two showers are running simultaneously, water pressure will still drop, but users will still have higher water pressure than if they are using a gas heater.
8. Water Temperature
An acceptable shower temperature is around 38°C and that is the maximum pressure an instantaneous gas heater can give. Previously, we mentioned water pressure changes in gas heaters. If there is a pressure fluctuation, the temeprature will drop below 38°C.
Some users are more comfortable taking hot showers between 40 – 42°C. These users should go for storage heaters because they can give consistent temperatures and high water pressure. However, it is important to size your tank correctly or you may run out of hot water.
Gas heaters rely on batteries to kickstart the heating process. These batteries need to be charged bi-monthly to ensure full performance of the heater. Users also need to be wary of gas leaks, the gas heater must be well ventilated and kept away from flammable objects. Gas heaters are only available from City Gas Singapore so maintenance and products can only be purchased from them.
Electric heaters are available in many brands and sizes and you have the flexibility to pick one according to your preference. There are no other maintenance requirements.
9. Clean energy
Gas is a cleaner source of energy compared to electriciy and a gas heater can produce about 60% less carbon than an elelctric heater. This is because gas is piped direct to the heater and burned at the gas heater itself instead of needing to go through a gas power station to generate electricity for a storage heater.
Storage heaters score 3.5 of 5.0 stars while gas heaters score 2.5 of 5.0 stars.
Though gas heaters have a lower carbon emission, they are not necessarily cheaper to install, run and maintain than electric heaters. Also, if you prefer stable water pressures and temperatures, a storage heater will be the ideal choice.
Conventional gas and storage heaters do not have features that can save you money by reducing your utility bills, but heaters that can save money for you are:
Digital heaters – save $200 a year
Heat pumps – save $600 a year