Informational Guide

Does A Gas Water Heater Need Electricity?

Many people wonder, does a gas water heater need electricity? Well, that depends on the type. We take a closer look at the different systems.

by Matt Moran

Water heaters are essential to have in the home, whether they use electricity, gas, or are tankless heaters - we all have one and probably couldn't live without it. These appliances provide you with hot water for cooking, cleaning, and showering.  

Many people wonder, "does a gas water heater need electricity?" so we put together this thorough guide for you. 

There are several different types of water heaters that you might have at home. They could include any of the following: 

Tank Vs Tankless

A tankless gas water heater doesn't use a tank to hold water. Instead, it works by heating the water as you turn on the tap, giving you a constant stream of warm water. The tankless option heats the water inside of the pipes directly. On the other hand, a tank heats the water there and stores it for later use. 

Natural Gas Vs Hybrid 

A natural gas water heater uses the gas as a fuel to heat the water. However, a hybrid system uses both electricity and natural gas to provide your home with warm water. 

Either of these options can have a tank or be tankless- making for a wide variety of options on the market. If you have a natural gas heater, you might be wondering if it can also run on electricity. 

Does a Gas Water Heater Need Electricity

Does A Gas Water Heater Need Electricity To Run? 

Technically, your gas heater won’t need electricity to run, although it will need it to start. Many modern gas water heaters don’t need electricity constantly. Instead, they use a small amount of power to ignite their pilot burner. From there, it doesn't require electricity anymore, as its igniter is already lit. If you have a digital remote, that also needs electricity to run. 

If you need to, you can connect the water heater to a battery, which provides power to get the machine running. However, you won't need to do this in a power outage. Instead, the pilot lights should stay on, even during a blackout- continuing to provide you with hot water. 

Tank Gas Water Heater

It’s important to keep in mind that water that’s already been heated is stored in the tank. It should remain hot for a good amount of time since the tanks are insulated. If you know you won’t have power for a few days, you can keep the water hot for longer by turning off the water and power connections to the tank. This stops new, cold water from mixing with the stored warm water- which would cool it down. 

Overall, you don’t need to panic about losing access to hot water during a blackout. The power is likely to return before the reserves run out. 

No Electricity - How Can Gas Hot Water Heaters Function?  

Will a gas heater work without electricity? Many natural gas water heaters work by using a pilot light. This allows them to continue heating your water during power outages. So, you can continue running a gas hot water heater without electricity. 

This is possible since the pilot light should already be lit- it won’t go out when the electricity does. That way, you can continue using hot water, even after the electricity goes out. It’s safe and efficient to use your natural gas heater in most circumstances. Heaters that are strictly electric won’t be able to do this. 

Can I Convert My Hot Water Heater? 

Gas To Electric 

It is possible to convert your gas water heater to an electric one. You’ll want a certified electrician to work on the wiring and other electrical aspects.

You’ll also need to spend time shutting off the mains and removing the gas lines. This will require you to go under your home, so you may want to (and will probably be required to) hire professionals to do this for you. 

There are a few benefits to making this switch. First, the appliance is much smaller and won’t take up as much space as the gas model. Second, an electric water heater should last you much longer. 

Electric To Gas 

It’s also possible to convert your electric heater into a gas one. These heaters are generally seen as being more efficient and heat water twice as fast as electric units. 

If you’re constantly running out of hot water at home, this is the best option for you. You also should have hot water for days during a serious power outage. 

You’ll need to install gas lines, which is a job that should be handled by professionals. But, overall, it's a relatively easy task for many certified plumbers. Fill out the form below for a free quote in your area!

People also Ask (FAQs)

Is it cheaper to heat with gas or electricity? 

In many places, it’s much cheaper to use natural gas than electricity. This is because gas tends to heat the water faster and more efficiently. These features tend to draw people to these heaters, even though they do cost more upfront. 

Do I need to turn off gas when power goes out?  

When the power goes out, you don’t need to scramble to shut down your gas. You don’t actually have to turn off your gas main when the power goes out. The gas might still work with some appliances in the home- so you don’t want to cut off the gas. It’s safe to leave it on. 

Does gas still flow when the pilot light goes out?  

If your pilot light is out, you should still be safe in your home without the worry of gas leaks. When the light is off, the heater should shut off its supply of gas. Many newer models do this automatically.

For extra peace of mind, there is usually a gas knob that you can turn to the "OFF" position until you are able to relight the pilot. 


Overall, a gas water heater doesn’t need a source of electricity in order to function. As long as the pilot flame is lit, it should operate properly. However, it does need power to light that flame.  

There are also many benefits to having a variety of water heater types. Today, many people prefer natural gas, as they're more cost-efficient. 

Matt is a freelance writer, English graduate, & keen traveler from the UK. As a specialist plumbing expert, he enjoys writing about everything there has to do with at-home plumbing products & related problems. When he isn’t writing, he’s usually drinking coffee or planning his next adventure. In his spare time, he also runs his own blog all about digital nomad life.