You may have had the unlucky experience of running out of hot water in the middle of the shower. And if you haven’t gone through that, the best way to avoid that is by ensuring your water heater is up to date. When it comes time to replace your old water heater, you will have to consider gas or electric conventional water heaters, but which one is better?

From gas to electric-powered conventional water heaters, we at Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric have installed and serviced thousands of these water heaters in homes across Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. For over 15 years, we’ve identified how electric and gas water heaters can be alike and different. Now, we’re ready to pass that knowledge on to homeowners looking for a reliable water heater.

We’ll examine how electric and gas conventional water heaters share differences and similarities in the following categories.

  • Heating mechanism
  • Cost differences
  • Efficiency ratings
  • Impact on the environment

Let’s jump right in!

What’s the Difference Between Gas and Electric Conventional Water Heaters?

Electric and gas-powered conventional water heaters look the same and are designed to provide a home with hot water. The main difference between these two water heaters is their power source.

Here’s a quick list of the pros and cons of each water heater to help highlight their advantages and disadvantages.

The pros of electric conventional water heaters are.

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Lower upfront cost
  • Quieter than gas water heaters
  • Safer than gas water heaters

The cons include.

  • Higher operating costs
  • Not available for use during an electrical outage

The pros of gas-powered water heaters include the following.

  • Heats water faster
  • Lower operating costs
  • Still operational during power failures
  • Longer lifespan

Gas-powered conventional water heaters have the following cons.

  • Higher upfront costs
  • Require more maintenance
  • Noisier than electric water heaters

In the next section, we’ll dive into the differences in heating mechanisms between gas and electric conventional water heaters.

Heating Method

Conventional water heaters are tank-style water heaters powered by electricity or gas. Electric water heaters have electric-powered heating elements to directly heat water, whereas gas-powered water heaters use natural gas to combust and heat the water in the tank. Overall, gas water heaters tend to heat water faster than electric-powered water heaters, but the difference in heating time is minimal.

To simplify things, here’s a breakdown of how these two traditional water heaters heat water.

  • Electric conventional water heaters: As you might have guessed by its name, these water heaters rely on electricity to help heat and maintain hot water inside the water storage tank. The inside of these water heaters has metal heating elements that carry electrical charges capable of heating water. This water heater relies on electricity to keep the water heated at a specific temperature without ever needing gas.
  • Gas conventional water heaters: These water heaters have a built-in gas burner at the bottom of the tank that is ignited. The ignited, gas-powered flame then creates enough heat to transfer to water. The heated water is then stored and kept hot at a specific temperature whenever hot water is required inside a home.

These two systems have distinct methods to generate heat to produce hot water. Apart from different heating methods, gas and electric conventional water heaters have different yet overlapping price ranges.

Cost Comparison

In terms of cost, electric and gas-powered conventional water heaters have similar price ranges. Without installation, gas and electric conventional water heaters can cost as low as $600 to $4,500. With installation, these two traditional water heaters range between $2,500 to $7,200.

Installation fees play a huge factor in the final cost of gas or electric conventional water heaters. Still, other factors can impact the price, such as.

  • Brand: Most brands make electric and gas conventional water heaters. Here’s a look at the top five brands of conventional water heaters for 2024.
  • Size: Conventional water heaters for homes come in different sizes, from 30 to 75 gallons. The various gallon capacities are available to accommodate different hot water needs for homes in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas.
  • Installation relocation: If a new electric or gas conventional water heater needs to be relocated, those costs will be factored into the final price. The modification will increase the final cost.
  • Water filtration: Although entirely optional, whole-house water treatment can benefit a new gas or electric conventional water heater by protecting it from limescale buildup that can negatively impact its performance.
  • Additional add-ons: Expansion tanks and recirculation pumps aren’t always included in a new conventional water heater. Whether you have a gas or electric traditional water heater, different add-ons can help improve your water heater’s performance.

These factors are why there’s an extensive range in price for gas and electric conventional water heaters. These two water heaters may cost the same, but their efficiency is another category they’re different in.


Electric-powered conventional water heaters are more energy efficient than gas water heaters. Water heater energy efficiency is rated using the Uniform Energy Factor (UEF), and the higher the rating, the more efficient a water heater is. Electric conventional water heaters have a UEF rating between .90 to .95, whereas gas-powered water heaters range from .65 to .80.

In terms of energy usage, both gas and electric water heaters can provide homeowners with energy savings. Electric conventional water heaters can potentially save homeowners more money on monthly utility bills. Both water heaters can last over 15 years with proper maintenance, which can contribute to the total annual energy savings.

Besides energy efficiency, homeowners should also consider environmental impact when comparing electric and gas-powered conventional water heaters.

Environmental Impact

Gas-powered water heaters negatively impact the environment more than conventional electric water heaters. Whenever gas conventional water heaters burn natural gas, they release carbon dioxide, which contributes to greenhouse gasses that are harmful to the environment.

To help offset greenhouse gas emissions, the state of California encourages homeowners to consider installing electric-powered water heaters that aren’t as harmful to the environment. The state is looking to implement initiatives to ban the sale of gas water heaters by 2030, making electric water heaters higher in demand.

Electric-powered water heaters are also seen as less dangerous and less noisy to homeowners than gas water heaters because of potential gas leaks and CO2 poisoning. To avoid issues, it’s always best to have a technician install a new water heater instead of completing the installation as a DIY project.

Is a Gas or Electric Conventional Water Heater Right for Me?

At first glance, gas and electric-powered water heaters look the same, but their energy sources and water-heating technology differ. By highlighting and comparing their differences and similarities, you can start seeing which conventional water heater can be suitable for your home’s unique hot water needs.

From small homes to large residences, we at Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric have helped homeowners find the right conventional water heater. Whether these water heaters are powered by gas or electricity, our technicians are trained and certified by the top brands to install these types of water heaters.

If you’re considering a gas or conventional water heater for your home, contact us using one of the buttons below. You can also book an appointment with one of our technicians through our online scheduler.

Conventional water heaters are available in hardware stores, but for a more in-depth look at some of the top water heater brands, check out this review on the top five brands of conventional water heaters for 2023.

If you want to explore other water heating systems, check out this similar article comparing electric vs. gas tankless water heaters. By reviewing other water heaters, you can narrow down your search for the ideal water heater for your house.

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