Ever notice that we don’t always realize how much we value something until we lose it?
Like if the power goes out in the middle of a storm you’re suddenly filled with a deep appreciation for electricity. Or if your hot water heater is on the fritz every hot shower you have becomes a treasured moment – until it goes ice cold and immediately jumps to scalding hot. Moment over.
While power outages are inevitable (get yourself a generator!) we can help you do something about your hot water heater. We’ve compiled descriptions some of the most popular water heaters to help you figure out which one is right for your home.
Conventional Storage Water Heaters
A conventional storage water heater is simply a reservoir of ready-to-use hot water. It releases hot water from the top of the tank and replaces that with cold water at the bottom of the tank, so it’s always full and always hot. Tank sizes range from 20 to 100 gallons, depending on your hot water needs. Different fuel sources include natural gas, propane, and electricity, among others.
One of the most prominent concerns when it comes to conventional storage water heaters is wasted energy. Since water is constantly being heated but not in constant use, some energy loss is inevitable. This is called standby heat loss.
Some models are heavily insulated, which can help reduce standby heat loss and lower costs. If you take the conventional storage water heater route, a model with a thermal resistance between R-12 and R-25 is ideal.
When buying a conventional storage water heater, consider its size and first-hour rating (the number of gallons of hot water it can supply per hour), fuel type and availability, and energy efficiency and costs.
Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless heaters are also known as demand-type or instantaneous water heaters. Tankless models heat the water directly. This means they can fit into smaller places and don’t produce standby heat loss. When you need hot water, cold water runs through the pipes and into the unit.
Gas or electric is used to heat the elements that heat the water. Tankless water heaters don’t have to wait for a storage tank to fill up, so they’re are able to produce a constant supply of hot water.
A tankless water heater’s output limits the flow rate, typically providing 2-5 gallons of hot water per minute. Gas-fueled heaters produce higher flow rates than electric. Even a good gas-fueled heater may not be enough for a large household when there are simultaneous demands for hot water. To combat this problem, you can install multiple tankless hot water heaters. These can be connected in parallel or you can install a separate heater for appliances.
The initial cost of a tankless hot water heater is more than a conventional storage hot water heater, but tankless heaters usually last longer (up to 20 years vs. a conventional storage heater at about 10-15) and have lower operating and energy costs. It also avoids standby heat losses, which can save money.
However, gas-operated tankless heaters can waste energy if they have a constantly burning pilot light. The cost varies in different models, so be sure to ask about the amount of gas the pilot uses. Also consider an intermittent ignition device, which avoids the problem of a standing pilot light altogether.
When selecting a tankless hot water heater take into account the size, fuel type and availability, energy efficiency, and costs.
Feeling hot under the collar about hot water heaters?
Need help picking and installing a hot water heater? Give Flatley’s Plumbing Express a call today!