A Look Into the Types of Water Heaters

A Look Into the Types of Water Heaters
December 8, 2011 Lorelie

According to experts, when it comes to choosing a water heater, there are two factors you need to consider – the fuel type and the first-hour rate (FHR).  The type of fuel you choose should be an energy source that is available in your area, while the FHR is the volume of water your water heating unit can heat during a period of one hour.   When buying a water heater though, you need to focus more on the FHR so you do not run out of hot water during peak use.  The FHR that is listed on the specification of a water heater unit is based on heated water that is stored inside the tank and how much volume of incoming cold water it can heat in a period of one hour.  This makes the FHR factor very important, especially during peak usage such as when everyone in the household is trying to get a hot shower during the morning of work days.

Each time you turn on the hot water tap, hot water will flow through the pipe to provide you the heated water you want, while at the same time, cold water enters the water tank.  If the rate of flow of your storage tank water heater is more than the amount cold water it can heat to replace the used-up heated water, then the temperature of the water inside the tank will drop.  If you often encounter this problem with your water heater unit, it might be better to invest in a point-of-use tankless water heater for every hot water tap you have in your household, specifically in the shower areas.  Although these tankless units may not start out with instant heated water, after several seconds though, it will be able to provide you with heated water at a near constant temperature without ever running out.

There are experts who claim that electric water heaters are more cost effective than gas water heaters because they are more efficient in heating.  This is probably because gas water heaters lose a lot of heat on venting.  Then again, since natural gas rates are significantly lower than electricity rates in many countries, a gas water heater is still the most cost-effective choice.  In addition, gas-fired units are able to heat water much faster than electric models which mean they are able to provide more hot water during peak usage.  This enables the homeowners to run a smaller tank.  However, when it comes to buying a water heater, homeowners must also consider the different types of water heaters available.  The list below shows the different types of water heaters:

Solar Water Heaters – these are the most energy efficient types of water heaters.  Then again, they are also the priciest.  However, if your locale offers federal tax credit, you may want to take advantage of this as you may be able to get up to 30% of this on cost and installation.  Since most solar water heaters are used in combination with a storage tank water heater, you no longer need to spend much on your utility bills as the water being stored inside the tank is already being preheated by the solar water heating system.  The main reason why solar water heating units are used in conjunction to storage water heaters is it allows households to compensate during cloudy or rainy days.

Storage Tank Water Heaters – these are the most popular types of water heaters and they can be found in many households all across the U.S.  This is mostly because storage tank water heaters are the least expensive to both buy and install.  On average, a storage tank water heater will last around 10 years before it needs to be replaced.  Gas type storage tank units’ costs more than electric models and are more laborious to install.  However, since many areas have lower natural gas rates as compared to electricity, there are many who invest in such as they cost less to operate.  The main problem with storage tank water heating units is that they need to be regularly maintained so that they do not form any lime or scale buildup inside the tank.  Such buildup will cause inefficiency, making the unit work harder and consume more energy as compared to when it is regularly maintained.  Flushing the unit at least every six months will help to alleviate such deposits.

Tankless Water Heaters – these are often called as on-demand or instantaneous water heaters.  These water heater units are very cost effective as they only heat water when there is a demand for heated water.   In addition, since they do not use any storage tanks for storing heated water, the units are able to save quality space for the household.  The best thing about tankless water heating units is that they last longer than the more traditional storage tank types.  If a tankless unit is well maintained, you are looking at a lifespan of 15 to 20 years.  This is the very reason why tankless units have much longer warranties.  Another good thing about tankless types is that they are easier to repair as compared to other types of water heating units.  On some locales, gas-fired tankless water heaters that meet the Energy Star standards are eligible for a 30% tax credit.

When it comes to tankless water heaters, there are larger models such as the whole-house tankless water heating unit, and there are smaller models like the point-of-use units.  The smaller units are sometimes used in conjunction with other water heating types to help elevate the temperature, especially if there are many hot water taps that are being opened simultaneously, which, in many case, the main water heating system will not be able to cope up with the demand.  The point-of-use unit is basically there to help keep the temperature up.  There are times though that this can be used independently.  If the temperature of the water in an area is really not that cold, then the point-of-use water heater will be able to heat up the water at a certain temperature, good enough for a hot shower.

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