Electric Anode Rod: Game Changer in Water Heater Protection

Electric anode rods operate on electric currents to prevent corrosion within your water heater tank. An electric anode provides unyielding protection for your water heater as long as there's electricity flowing through the tank. If the current drops, the level of protection decreases until the current is restored.

Contrarily, traditional magnesium anode rods depend on the rod itself to counteract corrosion. They serve as the first line of defense against rust, sacrificing themselves to protect the tank. Once the rod is depleted over 60% - often known as the stage of a hex head anode - the water heater's rust resistance and lifespan take a significant hit.

Cathodic Protection at a Glance

HomeCathodic protection is a worldwide technique used to reduce corrosion damage on active metal surfaces. It safeguards numerous structures and vessels, including pipelines, water treatment plants, storage tanks above and below water, ship hulls, offshore production platforms, reinforcement bars in concrete structures, piers, and more. The two primary forms of cathodic protection are sacrificial (like a magnesium anode) and impressed current (similar to a Powered Anode).

Comparing Sacrificial and Electric Anodes

Sacrifitial Anode

These anodes are created from a metal alloy with a more negative electrochemical potential than the material it's designed to protect.

Often made from magnesium or aluminum-zinc, they shield the less active metal surface from corroding by becoming the target of corrosion themselves - hence, "sacrificial" anodes. For long-term corrosion protection, they need replacement every few months.

If you use a water softener, expect the sacrificial anode to wear out even quicker.

Electric Anode Rod

Electric anode rods are special. They don't degrade over time. With innovative technology, they send electric pulses that combat rust in your water.

The benefits of electric anodes are numerous. They offer long term protection, combat smelly water, and shield your hot water tank from rust, irrespective of your water type.

Designed for longevity, they outlive regular magnesium anodes. Plus, they are compatible with all types of tanks - electric water heaters, gas, hybrid, solar, etc.!

Why are Electric Anode Rods Better?

Both technologies work well, but if we compare them to roofing materials, it's like comparing asphalt shingles to metal roofing. Initially, both are effective, but over time, the asphalt shingle roof will require inspections and replacements. On the contrary, the more expensive metal roof provides long-term peace of mind.

This analogy holds for anodes. A sacrificial anode lasts between 1 to 2 years, while an electric anode rod can last up to 50 years. By resisting and preventing corrosion, electric anode rods can extend your tank's lifespan. They also offer benefits you won't get with a sacrificial anode.

Quality Check for Electric Anode Rods

The rod itself is the key. We're talking about the part submerged in water, emitting the electrons that protect against corrosion.

Made of titanium, the rod is coated with mixed metal oxides (MMO) for better conductivity. The secretive MMO is composed of various metals.

Check the width, length, and thickness of the MMO-coated part to gauge its lifespan. This is the anode's priciest part. Some manufacturers cut corners, reducing its quantity, thus lowering the efficiency and lifespan.

The quality of the power supply is also crucial, as it delivers the current to the anode. For more information, visit our detailed page: "How to Choose Your Electric Anode Rod."

Certain power supplies have an LED light to confirm active protection. Ensure the LED only illuminates if there's current inside the water heater. If the light is on immediately after you connect the power supply to the anode (with no water inside the tank), it likely only indicates there's current at the outlet. Some high-end electric anodes also provide an audible alarm on the control module, alerting you if the rod ceases to work.

Benefits of Electric Anode Rods

Smelly Water

One key reason for electric anode rod popularity is their ability to eliminate sulfur smell in hot water.

The current supplied by the electric anode kills the bacteria responsible for the smell in hot water, making it a cost-effective long-term solution.

While bleach treatment might seem cheaper, it's a temporary fix. Also, switching the magnesium rod for an aluminum one only works in specific cases.

Limescale Buildup

While not universally agreed upon, it seems that impressed current anodes may reduce lime accumulation.

One popular site provides a plausible explanation:

''The energy sent by the (...) imposed current anode is used to destabilize the calcium molecule found within the water, which has the effect of preventing the chemical reaction that normally creates calcite.''

Compatibility with All Water Types

A huge advantage of impressed current anodes is their versatility. Whether you're on city water or using a well, the anode will offer corrosion protection to your hot water tank.

If you have a water softener that makes your water more corrosive, the impressed current anode will be even more beneficial.