Immersion heaters for use with boilers for hot water
Immersion heaters have their place, but do you need one? Choosing to get one of these heaters to assist your heating may help, but like anything, they do have their pros and cons.
An immersion heater is similar to an electric kettle, as they perform the exact same function using an element submerged in water in a direct hot water cylinder, therefore these can not be used with combi boilers.
There are many factors to consider when choosing between a standard boiler, renewable energy, or an electric immersion heater to heat your home. You should consider whether you have a combi boiler or system boiler, ease of use, your property’s type, and the cost of a new combi boiler instead.
What is an immersion heater?
This electric water heater heats water using electricity. They can be connected to your mains or solar panels making them extremely efficient for eco-conscious times.
These electric water heaters can also be known as Megaflow boilers, unvented hot water systems, and you should keep an eye out for them when researching different brands that use these types of water heaters.
These heaters are electric water heaters and sit inside a hot water cylinder. To heat the water, they use an electric resistance heater that looks like a coil or metal hoop. This is then transferred to the cold water surrounding it gradually warming it up and storing it in a hot water tank. You should always ensure a hot water tank is well insulated.
How do immersion heaters work?
Each device uses a metal element such as a coil or hooves that is submerged in water. Once turned on, it heats up just like a kettle.
The immersion heaters can be connected to the mains electricity via a cable. Each heater comes with an on/off switch. This allows you to control the heating of your water and when it is most needed.
After the immersion heater is turned on, the water’s metal element will heat up. This will raise the water’s temperature.
It can take anywhere from one to two hours for water heat up depending on which immersion heater you use. Insulating layers are a great idea as they can keep the temperature warm and reduce heating time.
They are basically large kettles that operate in the same way.
The immersion heaters are connected to the power source via a cable, therefore they can turned on and off as and when required. If you need to get your water hot quicker, then simply turn up the thermostatic control and your away.
Immersion heaters can either be used as a primary heater or as a backup water heater for properties that have a boiler with a tank.
They are versatile, so they could be great for your home or office or even an outbuilding if you are lucky enough to have one.
How to use an immersion heater?
Your hot water needs will determine how to use an immersion heater. If you feel you require a steady and constant supply of hot water, you might leave the heater on continuously. This is a very inefficient and expensive way to use the heater. This is because electricity is required to heat the tank.
Your thermostat can be set to lower temperatures to help you save money on energy. However, it is important to heat the tank to at least 50 degrees celsius to kill any bacteria. The thermostat tells the heater to stop when it reaches the right temperature and then it will start up again when it falls below.
A timer can be used to set your hot water immersion to turn on at the off-peak hours or when your household is using the most hot water.
An immersion heater has one problem. You need to plan when you will use the hot water. You will have to wait for the whole tank to heat before you can take a shower, bath, or do the laundry. An immersion heater cannot be used to heat water instantly like a combi boiler.
Electric water heaters offer many benefits
An immersion heater has the advantage of being independent from your boiler. You can still heat water in your home even if your boiler fails.
Immersion heaters also have the advantage that your hot water will not cool down until the heater is turned off. An immersion heater timer is recommended, which works in the same way as a thermostat.
The immersion tank will turn off automatically when water reaches the desired temperature. This ensures that you don’t waste money.
Ask your energy supplier for a time-of use tariff to help you keep your costs down. You can set your immersion heater timer so that your hot water heater turns on only during off-peak hours. This will help you save money.
There are disadvantages to using an immersion heater
There are many ways to reduce your immersion heater’s operating costs, but heating water with electricity is still more expensive than using natural gas.
An average energy-efficient immersion heater will consume three kilowatts per hour of electricity, which would cost the average household 50p each hour. Your typical immersion heater will be needed for at most two hours to produce hot water depending on how cold the surrounding water is. This adds up quickly.
Are immersion heaters expensive to run?
This is the most important question you should ask if you’re considering installing a heater or boiler system in your house for your hot water cylinder.
They aren’t the most cost-effective option, especially for families who need hot water throughout the day.
An immersion heater heats large amounts of water even though you might only use a small amount. If you heat water in your kitchen to wash your hands after cooking then you are heating the entire tank surrounding the immersion heater.
An immersion heater can be used at home, but you may have to wait for the water to heat up. You should plan ahead for your evening bath to ensure that the heater has enough time to heat up.
Is it better to leave an immersion heater on all the time?
It can take time for water to heat up if it is heated using an immersion heater, as we’ve already mentioned. You will need to plan ahead or let the heater run all day.
Some will argue that an immersion heater should be left on continuously. This will allow you to have hot water all the time, which is great for families. It can also save energy as it doesn’t need to be turned on and off.
Are immersion heaters equipped with thermostats?
An immersion heater can be purchased to include thermostats. It is a good idea for most properties, as it will save you money and give you more control over your hot water.
They can be programmed to work around your schedule and requirements with thermostats and timers.
A thermostat can be programmed so that they turn off when they reach a specific temperature. An immersion heater with good insulation can be left at the same temperature for many hours. This will save you money on your energy bills.
The thermostat allows you to adjust the temperature of immersion heaters to your liking. They are also easier to maintain.
What is the point of an immersion heater?
Immersion heaters are best used as either a backup or assistance to a boiler or other type of water heater. They are not meant to be used on their own. There are many options for heating and boiler systems.
Immersion heaters may not be suitable for everyone
They can also be very beneficial in certain situations.
If there is no gas supply for a household, such as flats, they will have to use immersion heaters or electric boilers. This will be the only option to use a heating source that uses electricity.
This isn’t the case for everyone. While most homes have access to a boiler or heater, many others will still be able to use an immersion heater as an alternative.
A combination central heating/hot water system is the best choice for most homes. It’s reliable, convenient, and can be controlled easily. An immersion heater can be added to your home as an alternative in the event that your boiler fails.
This will allow you access to hot water even while your main system is being restored.
How much does an immersion heater cost?
Immersion heaters cost anything from £20. They are cheap to buy, so you may think about just buying one anyway and seeing how it goes.
There are some important things to remember when installing an immersion heater in your home, especially if it is your main hot water source.
Whilst we don’t recommend electricity as the main way of getting hot water to anyone due to the high price of electricity, if it helps and makes sense in your home as a backup for a broken boiler, then maybe it is worth the price.
It all comes down to the cost of running an immersion heater
These heaters are powered by electricity and can be more costly to operate than traditional boilers or combined systems.
The fact that hot water will need to be turned on for approximately two hours makes this more costly. This can quickly add up and make your monthly bill quite expensive.
While the cost of an immersion heater might be prohibitive for some households, there are still many people who use them.
Cheaper options than an immersion heater
A combi boiler is a much cheaper alternative to an immersion heater. It is generally more economical to heat water with gas than electricity. Installing a new gas boiler is cheaper than using an immersion heater daily as a source of hot water.
You might consider replacing your old boiler with a more efficient combi boiler. This will provide hot water for your home and save you money over the long term.