Storage Tank Water Heaters
Storage tank water heaters are the most common type of water heater found in homes. A storage tank water heater is the same type designed by Edward Ruud in 1889. Water is stored in the tank, then heated via electricity, propane, or gas. Hot water is drawn through the pipes and replaced as needed. If you are working within a budget or supplying a moderate amount of hot water to your home, a storage tank water heater could be the best choice. Insulated storage tank hot water heaters can prevent the loss of heat energy that occurs as the tank works to keep water heated even when it is not being used.
Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters work around the vent pipes to deliver hot water to various locations throughout your home. Depending on the size of your tankless water heater, you may require modification to existing vent pipes. The best aspect of a tankless water heater is that hot water is always readily available—no cold shower because the washer or dishwasher is running! Tankless hot water heaters are generally more energy-efficient (between 8 and 34 percent) than a storage tank water heater but do come with a higher initial installation cost. So, while you could save money by switching to a tankless water heater, the initial purchase and installation costs might keep you from seeing those savings for several years.
Solar Hot Water Heaters
Solar Hot Water Heaters are becoming more and more popular, particularly for those looking for long-term energy efficiency and cost reduction. A solar collector is carefully positioned on your home to reap the full benefits of the sun, then a pump or natural circulation system delivers water from the collector to the storage tank. There are two types of solar hot water heaters—active and passive. Active systems use circulating pumps to move hot water, while passive systems rely on convection where hotter water rises to the surface and cold water sinks. Solar water heaters require a hefty upfront investment, then will begin paying their value in the form of significantly lower utility bills. Once you reach the end of the solar payback period you will enjoy nearly free hot water for the life of the system. If, however, your home requires larger amounts of hot water you might have to rely on a backup grid-tied hot water heating system.
Hot Water Recirculation Systems
Hot Water Recirculation Systems can solve the problem of a large home or commercial building with long stretches of plumbing pipes. A hot water recirculation system ensures there is always hot water flowing in the pipes. With a traditional storage tank hot water heater, when hot water is not being used, the water cools off as it sits in the tank. When the hot water is turned on, the water heater must work to heat that cool water, potentially making you wait until the water reaches the desired temperature. A hot water re-circulator pushes hot water continuously into the plumbing system by way of a bypass valve that opens and closes to regulate the temperature of the water.
“Traditional” hot water recirculation systems have a dedicated return line for the hot water pipes that go from the furthest plumbing fixture in the building, then back to the water heater. Instant hot water recirculation systems don’t require a dedicated line to loop hot water and can be installed in any type of property.
There are three types of instant hot water recirculation systems:
- An over-the-water-heater unit locates the pump above the water heater, with a check valve under the sink The function of the pump is to pressurize the hot side of the system, sending hot water through the valve, pushing the hot water into the cold side of the unit, creating a loop.
- An under-the-sink model is installed under the sink and works in a similar manner to the over-the-water-heater unit, pushing hot water through the cold side of the system.
- An on-demand water recirculation system generates hot water at preset timed intervals rather than running hot water constantly through the system. The pump for an on-demand water recirculation system must be activated when hot water is desired.