Does A Gas Water Heater Need A Dedicated Circuit? (Explained)

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A gas water heater does not need a dedicated circuit as they are not connected to electricity. Even if your gas water heater has a powered vent, the amount of wattage does not require a dedicated circuit.

Why Does My Gas Water Heater Have A Dedicated Circuit?

A few factors might contribute to your gas water heater having a dedicated circuit, even if it does not primarily run on electricity.

Electrical Usage

If your gas water heater has an electrical connection, it may require a dedicated circuit. While not all will depend on a circuit, the functionality of your electrical connection will determine whether you will need a dedicated circuit or not.

Suppose you are using an electrical connection to monitor and control the gas water heater. In that case, you will need to wire it to its own circuit according to the National Electrical Code 220-30 and 220-31 for new buildings and existing ones, respectively.

Local Codes

The National Electrical Code does not require a dedicated circuit for appliances without a primary electrical connection.

However, your local codes may need you to install a circuit for appliances that need even the slightest bit of electrical connection.

Local codes call for this measure to ensure that your building has a complete electrical system in case of any scenario.

Existing Breakers

Electricians often install circuits when there is the presence of an electric heater, a dryer, or any other electrical appliance, even if they are not being used straight away.

If you decide to use a gas water heater, the dedicated water heater circuit will still be there, but you do not have to use it.

What Size Breaker Do I Need For My Gas Water Heater?

If you are using a tankless gas water heater, you know that it uses less voltage and draws less power than electric water heaters, so their breakers cannot be the same size.

Since your gas water heater needs minimal power to trigger its electric ignition system, a 15-amp, 120 volt dedicated circuit breaker will be suitable for its function.

Which Water Heaters Use Electricity?

Gas Conventional Tank Water Heaters

These water heaters use electricity on demand, and the electricity is only used to ignite gas they function with to and switch on the pilot light. In case of a power outage, these heaters will work just fine as they have already heated the reserve water.

Gas Tankless Water Heaters

These heaters use gas to function but require electricity during the heating process.

If there is a power outage, the water heater will not work, and since it is tankless without heated water reserves, there will be no hot water to fall back on.

Electric Conventional Tank Water Heaters

These water heaters are electric-based and need a full electric connection to function. They will not work during a power outage.

However, if you heated the water prior to the power outage, there will be some reserve hot water in the tanks for a short time.

Electric Tankless Water Heaters

These water heaters use electricity on demand to heat water.

If you experience a power outage, the electric tankless water heater will not function because it does not have the electricity to power the heating elements.

These heaters do not have a reserve tank, so you cannot store hot water for usage during the outage.

Hot Water Heating Boiler Installation. Condensing Boiler Accumul

Does Every Heater Need To Be On A Dedicated Circuit?

As long as your heater powers on electricity, it will need to be on a dedicated circuit.

According to the National Electrical Code, water heaters are considered major appliances, and major appliances need a dedicated circuit.

Depending on the size, some heaters may overload circuits and trip breakers. Such occurrences may result in electrical fires, so it would be best to get dedicated circuits for these heaters.

These two factors will determine whether your heater needs a dedicated circuit.

Power Demand

Heaters that use a small electrical flow do not need dedicated circuits; maybe just breakers.

To be on the safe side, it would not hurt to have one in the event that there are power surge issues within your home that might affect your heater’s electrical connection.

Gas water heaters use minimal power flows, so they may not need dedicated circuits.

Electrical conventional tank and tankless water heaters have a high power demand. Sharing their circuits with other electrical appliances will cause power overloads, trips, and eventually fires.

Dedicated circuits ensure that your water heater has enough operational amperage to prevent circuit breaker trips.

Critical-Use Appliances

The National Electrical Code states that critical-use appliances must have their own dedicated circuit. A critical-use appliance is essential for everyday use within a household.

If your water heater gets damaged, you will have to cope with cold water, which might not be the healthiest choice.

If your water heater does not have a dedicated circuit, it is at risk of breaker trips from other devices.

Water heaters are not the only appliance that this rule applies to. Household heaters, such as electric space heaters, run on a high-power supply and are a must-have device in your home to keep you warm. So all your major heaters should have dedicated circuits.

How Do Dedicated Circuits Work?

Dedicated circuits supply the right amount of power within your water heater. Dedicated circuits enable them to accommodate high voltage and heating by upgrading their wiring and connectivity.

While you can manually install the wiring and connectivity across your home, the wires are expensive and may not be suitable for all your appliances.

Dedicated circuits are cheaper and are only purchased for the single appliance they serve.

Dedicated circuits also increase the longevity of your circuit breaker. By controlling the high power loads in your appliance, you are increasing the life expectancy of your breakers. There will be no circuit overloads, and therefore no circuit breaker trips and wear-outs.

How To Install Dedicated Circuits?

Dedicated circuits are sensitive devices to operate with, especially in your home, so it is best to get a professional to install them for you. The reason is, an electrician will know what exact type of dedicated circuit is suited for your appliance.

When installing your dedicated circuit, the professional will use the right tools and materials to prevent accidents and faults.

They will also help you label the power panels and all the circuits. Labeling your circuits is vital so that you can have a visual understanding of what to turn on or off during a circuit trip.

While installing your dedicated circuit, work within your budget. Getting a professional will cost some money, depending on the amount of labor going into installing your dedicated circuit.

Another factor to consider as you budget is how many appliances need a dedicated circuit and what size is required.

Dedicated circuits come in different amps, that is, between 20 to 50 amps, all with different buying and installation processes. During installation, your electrician will determine the amperage you need and watch out for the wiring.

Your dedicated circuit’s wiring and amperage are critical as an incorrect wire-sized circuit with low amperage connected to your appliance will result in overheating and a possible fire.