Electric Hot Water Heat

I have an inspection scheduled next week for a home that has a “electric hot water” heating system, as described on the MLS sheet. I am not familiar with a heating system like this. I expect that there is some sort of tank or apparatus where electric coils heat water, a pump, and distribution system. I would like to know what issues I should look for, other than any normal electric appliance. Has anyone seen these? or is there a site where I can read up on them? Thanks.

There is a hot water heater with 4 connections. Hot water is circulated through a water coil (like an a/c coil) in the air handler. Makes the cold air warm.

Just turn it on and see if it makes warm air. Inspect the water heater like any other. Air handler like any other. Instead of refrigerant in the coil, you’ll have hot water.

Gee I have never heard of an electric being large enough to heat the home .
I have done a lot of gas ones .
Please keep us posted thanks .
Roy Cooke

Have seen it here in FL on one small home.

It was a DIY in a rental – Renters paid the electric bill

Hope the MLS is wrong


I’ve run across a couple in small homes out in the boondocks where they don’t have gas.

It’s called hydronic heating. I see this type of heating in the newer homes.

Here’s an illustration, except this one’s gas.

“Click to Enlarge”

Inspect the water heater like you would on an average water heater. Then follow the piping to the air handler. Then inspect the air handler like you would on an average air handler. The system looks complicated, but it’s not.

That’s why they sell Propane Russel. :wink:

You haven’t checked the price of propane out in the boondocks!

Regardless I do not think they build an electric Water heater that could heat a home in most of North America.
Roy Cooke

I guess we have different definitions of “home” because they do make them, and they seem to work quite well. Of course, you did say “most of North America,” so if you include Canada and the U.S. states that border Canada, where the cold is bone-chilling, yea, you’re probably right.

Thanks for your replies. It makes more sense that this would be a hot air system with the heat supplied through coils of heated water, but I share the concern that it will be sufficient for our PA climate. Of course, we’re in a prolonged cold snap at this time. I wonder if there is a capacity measurement for the system. BTU’s vs sq. ft. of living area? Anyone familiar with something like this?

There are hydronic hot water baseboard systems that exclusively use electricity to heat the circulating water.

They operate similarly to tankless water heaters immediately heating the water on demand as it is required.

Scroll down at this link:

There is no forced air component and I have seen them used in Pennsylvania, albeit rarely.

It may be an electric hydronic boiler, I see these on occasion and they are quite efficient:





Equipment for Electric Hydronic Systems

Electric hot water or hydronic systems deliver heat to a house by means of hot water. The three main components of such a system are:
a boiler to heat the water;
heating equipment – generally baseboard heaters or radiators – in most rooms, often installed against an outside wall; and
a pump to circulate water from the boiler to the radiators and ensure that it flows back through the pipes.

Figure 5: Central boiler for an electric hydronic system

The boiler in an electric hot water heating system is compact. Its heating elements are immersed directly in the water (as in an electric kettle). Where space is limited, the boiler can be installed on a basement wall, in a closet, under a kitchen cabinet–it can even be hung from basement ceiling joists.
If you are replacing a boiler in an existing hydronic system with a new electric boiler, you can probably use the existing heat distribution pipes.

The next home we plan to build for our retirement stage of life will have hot water heat. The water tubes will be in the floor (called radiant heating, check it out) and the water will be heated with a natural materials burning boiler (they burn corn, barley, or wood pellets). Up until recently, due to the interest in ethanol made from corn, the price was very affordable as a heating fuel. When technology catches up, we will be making ethanol from cellulosic materials such as switchgrass, cattails, and other high cellulose plants (incidently cellulosic plants yield ethanol much more efficiently than does corn). But, even at the current rate of $3.50 per bushel for corn, and $2.80 per bushel for barley, it is still cheaper than oil, propane, or electricity. Do a search for “corn stoves” or “corn boilers” or “corn heating” and see what you’ll be reading.
George Maher
Home - Safe Home, LLC
Fargo, ND

Do a search here and see how many use this type of heating make sure they do live where other heating equipment is available .
See how long they have used it and how satisfied they are .
Many have done like you wish to do and have in time saw it is not as good as some say it is .
Roy Cooke. Been there done that and do not want to go there again.

Guys my whole working career has been in some form or another in the theory of applying heat to a liquid or the removal of heat from a liquid.

In the matter of applying heat to water to heat a home in theory can sound great if you are only hearing what the equipment saleman is saying.

Most folks do not look at the other side of the picture the maintenance required to maintain a water system. Any time heat is applied to water No matter what the source of heat is gas, electric, coal or rubbing two sticks together you are separating the minerals out of the water and these minerals attach themselves to what ever metal they come in contact with and it does not matter if treated water is used or not this is still a natural occurrence with water. Treated water just prolongs the time frame required between maintenance.

So from someone that has been on the maintenance side of this story the cost of maintaining a water system in my own home will never happen???

I have seen several of these, and they do work fairly well

Hi buddy glad to see you on the board Made it home from T town last night in less than one hour. No Cops

Yes Bryon they do work fine just not for me I am lazy and don’t want the extra maintenance. I like just pointing my finger and saying that is wrong and needs to be repaired.

And I have a question why not using wood pelletsboilers?

There are thousands of electric hydronic boilers in use where electric is a cheaper energy source or natgas is not available.




These units are actually quite simple pieces of gear and generally have good track records…the zoning, piping, controls are the same as other boilers just a different fuel with a wall mounted heat source.