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How does an electric storage hot water system work?

What is an electric storage hot water system?

Electric hot water systems are one of the most commonly used hot water systems in Australia, with around 50% of households across the nation using electric storage hot water units. They are the most cost effective options when it comes to purchasing a unit and installing it, however, generally have expensive long term running costs.

Electric Storage Hot Water System

How does an electric storage hot water system work?

An electric storage system works in a similar way to a natural gas storage hot water system. The process begins by cold water being piped into a storage tank, where it is heated to at least 60°C. Once this occurs, it rises to the top of the tank and is sent to the relevant place when a hot tap is turned on.

The difference between natural gas and electric hot water systems however is the way in which the water is heated. Electric HWSs have one or two elements which are located inside the storage tank, heating water from the inside. Due to the fact that the heating occurs inside the tank, there is no need for a flue (like a gas HWS).

The water temperature is controlled via a thermostat and should the water pressure get too high, water will be pushed through the pressure relief valve and escape through the overflow pipe.

The heated water is kept in an insulated tank and can be used when required, with water being kept at 60°C+ to stop the growth of bacteria such as Legionella. The units can work from a gravity feed, otherwise known as a constant pressure, tank or on mains pressure. Tanks can come in different sizes and are made of different materials, mainly copper or glass (enamel) lined steel or stainless steel.

How an Electric Storage Hot Water System Works

What are the installation requirements for an electric storage hot water system?

As practically every home and workplace has electricity, the only installation requirements are regulatory. The federal government has indicated a phase out of electric hot water systems, so ensure your options are not limited to non-electric systems in your area.

Where your hot water heater is installed can also have a huge effect on the efficiency of your system!

What are the pros and cons of an electric storage HWS?


  • Low upfront costs, including purchase and installation.
  • Easy to install.
  • Can be installed either inside or outside, as do not require a flue.
  • Reliable.
  • Heating can occur in off-peak times.
  • Stainless steel tanks can last for long periods of time and have low maintenance requirements.


  • Expensive long-term running costs.
  • If you run your hot water on off-peak timing, a larger tank is needed to store water for usage all day.
  • Not environmentally friendly if not run on renewable sources.

Who does an electric storage hot water system suit?

Electric storage HWSs suit almost anyone, as long as you have the appropriate space to store a storage tank of the correct size. They are especially suited to those who do not want high upfront costs, but they can be more expensive in the long term.

For reference, off-peak systems have roughly the same running costs as natural gas models, but standard electric hot water systems are much more costly both financially and to the environment.

Brisbane Plumbing and Drainage

If you would like further information in relation to installing an electric hot water system in your home or workplace, give Brisbane Plumbing and Drainage a call today on {{ context.constants.company_info | parse_json | dig: 'secondary_phone' }} and we can assist.

Need some more help?

Learn more about how hot water systems work here, or head to one of our specific information pages below:


BUILD (Electric hot water systems):

Australian Government - Your Home :

Department of the Environment and Energy (Energy Basics) :

Department of the Environment and Energy (Hot Water Systems) :

Canstar :

Energy Rating :

Sustainability Victoria :


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