What’s the Difference Between Oil and Gas Water Heaters?

October 27, 2017 | Articles
What's the Difference Between Oil and Gas Water Heaters?

Like your HVAC system, water heaters often go forgotten. As long as they keep working, as long as you have warm water to shower with, you probably don’t think much about the water heater that makes it all possible. Don’t feel bad, because you’re not the only resident of Easton, Maryland, to be so forgetful. However, your water heater doesn’t just keep water warm, it also plays a role in your home’s energy efficiency and thus impacts your utility costs.

Much like different HVAC systems operate at different levels of efficiency, the different water heater fuel types will affect your home and lifestyle. By understanding the difference between oil and gas water heaters, you can take greater control of your home’s efficiency. Here’s everything you need to know.

Gas Water Heaters

These are the peanut-butter-and-jelly of water heaters. Gas water heaters are the most common water heating appliance for reasons that we’ll get to in a minute. How do they work? Gas water heaters use convection currents to transfer heat. Cold water enters the storage tank through a dip tube. When a sensor detects that the water temperature has fallen below your set threshold, the sensor sends a signal to an igniter that activates a burner sitting in a combustion chamber.

The generated heat travels through the tank’s core, which heats the water. The hotter water then rises above the cold water, where it falls through a hot water discharge pipe and into your plumbing to meet your needs. Finally, a flue pipe vents any waste byproducts outdoors.

Oil Water Heaters

Oil water heaters may be less common than their gas-fueled cousins, but that doesn’t make them any less worth your consideration. They may just be the perfect fit for your home. Much of the oil water heater’s design is the same as the gas heater. However, a unique burner assembly sets the oil heater apart.

The process begins when oil is mixed with air, transforming it into an atomized mist before it’s injected into a power burner. A spark ignites the oil-water mixture, lighting a concentrated flame that’s then propelled into another chamber where heat transfers to the tank’s core. The rest of the process mirrors that of the gas heater, from hot water distribution to waste discharge.

Gas vs. Oil Showdown

Now you generally understand how they work, but what does that mean for your home’s energy efficiency? Which water heater is best for your home? As usual, the answer largely depends on your budget, your needs, and your lifestyle. Both types of heater come with their own pros and cons, but both will provide the heated water you need.

Gas water heaters tend to be more efficient than oil heaters, which trims utility costs, and also cost less to install and maintain. Gas fuel tends to be cheaper than oil as well. Some gas water heaters don’t even require electricity to operate, which can be especially helpful during extreme weather conditions. However, it’s important to note that using a gas water heater opens the possibility of a carbon monoxide leak.

Oil water heaters tend to have a shorter lifespan than gas heaters because of the complexity of the burner assembly and they often cost more to install and maintain. Possibly the greatest advantage of oil water heaters is the ability to heat water faster than any other fuel source. In fact, the oil heater burn process warms incoming cold water three to four times faster, which is especially helpful for large families.

Oil water heaters also burn clean. With proper maintenance, your heater can give off zero emissions. So while you’re getting a warm shower, you’re also helping the environment. Unlike some gas water heaters, all oil heaters require electricity to operate.

What will it be? Do you want greater efficiency and lower overall installation and maintenance costs? Or are you ready to stop waiting for cold water to warm in the shower and get rapid heating? You know best which type of water heater will fit your home, so don’t settle for less. Our professional technicians can help install a gas or oil water heater for you. Call Griffith Energy Services at 888-721-5707.

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