07th February, 2022

What is an Immersion Heater and What Does it Cost?

The definitive guide on immersion heaters

What is an Immersion Heater and What Does it Cost?

Immersion heaters are still quite popular with certain properties and you may be considering having one installed into your home to provide hot water for your family.

We have created this definitive guide to immersion heaters, letting you know what they actually are, how they work and (most importantly) how much they will cost so you can decide whether they are a good option for your home.

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What Is An Immersion Heater?

First things first, we need to address the heater in the room. You will not be able to consider getting an immersion heater installed in your home without understanding what one is in the first place.

Immersion heaters use electricity to heat water so you can use it. They can also be connected to solar panels, making them highly efficient for these eco-conscious times.

These kinds of heaters can also be referred to as megaflow boilers or invented hot water systems, so keep your eyes out for these names when looking into different brands or companies.

These heaters are electric water heaters that sit inside a hot-water cylinder. They rely on an electric resistant heater, which looks like a metal hoop or coil, to heat up the surrounding water.

Essentially, they are large kettles as they operate in the same way.

They are connected to their own power source through a cable, again much like an electric kettle. This makes it easy for you to switch on or off your immersion heater, so you do not have to be using it all the time and wasting energy.

Immersion heaters can be used as both a primary heater for your property or as a backup water heater for properties that already use a combi boiler.

This means they are versatile and could be ideal for your home or business.

How Do Immersion Heaters Work?

Think of an immersion heater like an electric kettle as they have essentially the same operation.

Both devices use a metal element, like a coil or hoop, that is immersed in the water and will heat it up once it has been turned on.

Immersion heaters are connected to the mains electric using a cable and come with its own on/off switch. This allows you to control the heating of water in your home and decide when it is needed most.

Once the immersion heater has been switched on, the metal element in the water will start to heat up, which in turn will increase the temperature of the water it is in.

Depending on the type of immersion heater you use, it could take between one and two hours for water to heat up. This is why using insulating layers can be very beneficial as they will maintain a warm temperature and decrease heating-up time.

Is an Immersion Heater Expensive To Run?

If you are considering installing a new heater or boiler system in your home, then this is perhaps the most important question to ask.

It has been said that they are not the most affordable options, especially for family homes, where you need to have access to a lot of hot water at all hours of the day.

This is because when you use an immersion heater, you will be heating a large amount of water when you may only need a small amount. For example, when you turn the hot tap on in your kitchen sink to wash your hands after cooking, you will be heating the whole tank of water surrounding your immersion heater even though you only need a small amount.

Using an immersion heater on its own at home can also mean that you will have to wait a long time for your water to heat up. This will mean planning ahead for your evening bath, so you have given the heater enough time to get to work.

This is why some homes will leave their heaters on all of the time so they will always have access to hot water.

It is recommended for you to insulate the hot water tank when using an immersion heater, as this will speed up the time it takes for the water to get to the right temperature.

This will save you money as you will not have to keep your heater on for as long.

Is It Better To Leave An Immersion Heater On All The Time?

As we have mentioned, it can take a long time for water to heat up when using an immersion heater. This means you will need to either plan ahead for every use of hot water or leave it running all the time.

Some people will argue that it is better to leave your immersion heater on all the time. They will claim that not only does this give you constant access to hot water, which is ideal for most family homes, but that it can actually be more energy efficient when compared to constantly turning it off and on.

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This is actually a myth.

Well, it may be easier for you to leave your immersion heater on all the time if you constantly need hot water but who actually needs hot water all of the time?

As long as you are using an immersion heater that has a good insulating layer or jacket, then it should keep water at a warm temperature all day even once it has been turned off. If you need hot water, then it shouldn’t take too long for it to reach the desired temperature once it has been turned back on.

It is a good idea to have a timer and temperature control installed into your immersion heater to give you greater control over it.

With a timer, you can decide when you want it to turn on and heat water up. For example, if you have the same bath time every night for your kids, then set the immersion heater to automatically turn on a couple of hours before so you will be prepared.

Most household appliances, like washing machines, dishwashers, and even electric showers have their own supply of cold water that they will heat up themselves, so you do not need to worry about having the immersion heater on when using these.

Does An Immersion Heater Work With Radiators?

Immersion heaters will only work to provide your home or property with warm water. This is why a lot of properties will use immersion heaters alongside another type of boiler, like a combi, to provide them with a backup source of hot water.

If you are interest in a combi boiler then read our article on our best combi boilers.

One of the biggest advantages of immersion heaters is the fact that they are separate from your boiler. This is why they cannot heat up radiators on their own, but they do give you some backup power should your boiler stop working.

When using an immersion heater as a backup alongside another type of boiler, you will still be able to have access to hot water even if your boiler breaks down.

If you are using an immersion heater that is well insulated (which you should be), then it can keep water hot for several hours.

Using one with a thermostat will save you money, as you will be able to control the desired temperature and shut the heater off once it reaches this.

Do Immersion Heaters Have Thermostats?

It is possible to purchase an immersion heater to have thermostats. This is recommended for most properties as it can help you save money and will give you more control over the hot water in your home.

With thermostats and timers they can be controlled to fit around your routine and needs.

Those with a thermostat can be programmed to turn off once they reach a certain temperature. If you have an immersion heater that is well insulated, then it can remain at this temperature for several hours, saving you money on your energy bills.

Immersion heaters that have a thermostat can be controlled to suit your needs and are much easier to manage.

Do I Actually Need One?

There are a lot of options when it comes to heating and boiler systems, so it is likely that the first one you look at won't be the right fit.

Immersion heaters are not suitable for everyone

But they can be quite beneficial in some circumstances.

Households that do not have a gas supply, like flats, will need to use immersion heaters as this will be their only source of hot water.

However, this is not applicable to everyone. Most homes will have access to some other form of heater or boiler, but could still benefit from using an immersion heater as a backup.

Most homes will use a combined central heating and hot water system as this is most reliable and suitable for our modern needs as they can be easily controlled. In this case, an immersion heater can be installed as a backup should your boiler break down.

This will allow you to still have access to hot water while you wait for your main system to be restored.

Benefits Of Immersion Heaters

It is true that immersion heaters aren’t suitable for everyone, but there are some significant benefits to having this system in your property.

  • Immersion heaters with a thermostat can be very energy-efficient as they will automatically shut-off once they have reached the desired temperature
  • Well-insulated heaters can keep water warm for several hours so they will not need to be switched on again
  • Timers can be installed so you can program your immersion heater to fit with your routine or off-peak hours for a cheaper energy bill
  • Immersion heaters are very easy to use as they have a simple on/off switch
  • They can be used as a backup system should your main boiler break

Whats the cost?

When it comes to installing an immersion heater into your property, there are some things you will want to consider – especially if you are using it as your main hot water source.

It comes down to cost!

These heaters rely on electricity, which can make them more expensive to run than traditional boilers or combined systems.

This is made more expensive by the fact that the will typically need to be switched on for around two hours to provide hot water. This can add up to quite the bill at the end of the month.

The cost of running an immersion heater may put a lot of households off, but there is no denying that there is still a place for these devices, even with our modern needs.

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