How to Choose the Right Water Heater Heating Element

hot water heater elements
Water Heater Heating Element

When you are choosing the right water heater heating element, you’ll have to consider these three factors.

  • Element flange style (Flat, Screw-In, etc.),
  • Wattage/Voltage,
  • Watt-density.


  1. Element Flange Style.

Hot water heater elements are sold in a variety of styles. Ever since the innovation of the modern water heaters, manufacturers have utilized several methods’ of installing new elements’ into their client’s water heaters.

We still have many of the older models in operation to this date, and they also feature the old style water heater elements.

The most common are the Round Head style, Flat Flange, and the Universal Flange. The Flat and the Universal Flange elements’ are fastened to the tank using four 3/8 inches bolts.

The Round Head water heater element is bolted to the tank using a separate four-bolt flange.

Today, all residential water heaters and manufacturers only use Screw-in style water heater elements’. This style allows stress-free service ability and installation since it bolts into a spud welded right on the water heater’s tank.

The thread is standard for all domiciliary water heaters that utilize screw-in water heater elements’.

  1. Wattage and Voltages.

Most residential style water heaters utilize 240v power. The 120v water heater elements are mainly utilized for smaller water heaters or in locations where 240v circuits are not available.

The wattage rating, which controls the heat output of the 240v element tends to be anywhere between 10000 watts and 6000 watts. 120v water heaters element’s wattage rating is around 1000 watts to 2500 watts.

Every water heater model was designed for a particular wattage/voltage rated water heater element. Your replacement element needs to be the same wattage and voltage as the water heater element you are replacing.

Do not ever go beyond the nameplate rating on the water heater element.

  1. Watt Density.

The other crucial distinction that you ought to note when you are choosing the right water heater element is the watt density construction. Regardless of whether the element is 240v or 120v, bolt-in or screw-in, there are 3-watt density ratings available. Awater heater element’s watt density is principally the volume of heat concentrated at any point on the element’s surface.

The lesser the watt density, the higher the amount of element surface. The heat per square inch of the surface is lessened, but then again the total surface is escalated such that the total heat of the water heater element is similar for a particular wattage.

In general, a lower watt density in a water heater element implies the element will last a long time. But note that lower watt density water heater elements will last much longer in water with a high lime content. The –fold back- feature of many “lime life” and low watt density water heater elements is to keep the length diminutive enough to fit all tanks.

Below are some of the standard watt density elements.

  • Regular High Watt Density Element.

It’s the most standard water heater element. It is also the least expensive and can be utilized in all replacement situations as long as the same voltage and wattage are used.

  • Better: Low Watt Density Element.

Most of these are “fold back” elements. They are better suited for regions with water problem (such as hard water, lime, etc.). The lower watt density has no loss of effectiveness but diminishes lime deposit build-up.

Can likewise be utilized to replace any high watt density water heater element as long as the same voltage and wattage are used.

  • Premium: Lime Life Element.

Features a special metal surface, Ultra low watt density, and a limited five-year warranty. The special surface metal reduces the chances of lime build-up.

Might be costlier but it’s worth every penny. It may even outlast the lifespan of the water heater.


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