will a water heater work without power?We’ve all experienced a power outage at the worst of times. They’re never convenient, and usually lead to more stress and questions than we’d prefer.

One thing many people have asked about is whether they will still have hot water during a power outage. And the answer to that is: it depends.

There are a lot of different types of water heaters and sources. Depending on which one you have in your home will determine if you can still take a long luxurious shower in the dark, or if you’re stuck with boring cold water until your power returns.

Electric Vs. Gas

Pardon the pun, but the answer essentially boils down to two things:

Does your water heater run off of gas or electric?

Is the heating source itself gas or electric?

In a power outage, anything that runs exclusively off electricity will not work. Gas powered water heaters however, will continue work and heat your water, because the gas is not connected to your electric system. Below is a breakdown of the different types of water heaters that operate on varying fuel supplies.

  • Do Gas Conventional Tanked Water Heaters need electricity? – These heaters typically don’t use electricity for everyday operation, and rely solely on the use of a pilot light and gas ignition for heat. As a result, these heaters will usually work during a power outage. Unfortunately, many gas water heaters do use electricity to re-light the pilot light, which means that gas water heaters do need electricity if your pilot light goes out.
  • Do Electric Conventional Tank Water Heaters need electricity? – Because these water heaters are electric-based, they will not work during a power outage. That being said, any water that had been previously heated and stored in the tank will still come out hot, as it is being pulled from the reserve in the tank. This is a short-term solution, and should be used sparingly.
  • Do Gas Tankless Water Heaters need electricity ? –While these heaters use gas to heat the water, they require electricity to power the hardware for the process. A power outage will result in the heater not working during the outage. And since these heaters are tankless, there is unfortunately no reserve of hot water to pull from.
  • Do Electric Tankless Water Heaters need electricity? – These types of heaters have the same result as gas on-demand water heaters. With no electricity to power the heater or heating elements, and no tank to pull reserve from, you’ll be stuck with no hot water for the time being.

Other more specific types of water heaters are available outside of gas and electric, but if any of them operate using electricity, then you’ll still be stuck with the same problem.

Conventional Tank Water Heaters

Essentially, your only chance of maintaining continuous hot water supply during a power outage is if you own a gas conventional tank water heater that runs solely on a pilot light. Without the connection to the electric circuit, there is no disruption to the power of the heater and it will continue to work.

Your only other alternative is if your electric water heater is a conventional tank heater. You’ll have a reserve supply of hot water to pull from in your tank for a limited time.

You may be wondering how long water will stay hot in a tank without power, and the answer is typically around a day or two depending on how big your tank is, where it’s located and insulated, and how recently you used your hot water supply.

In the meantime, you may just need to sit tight and wait out the power outage. Or you could try a cold shower if you’re feeling brave! If this just isn’t an option for you, be sure to get in touch with our team of plumbers for a water heater repair in Manteca, Ripon, LathropModesto, and other cities in the Bay Area.