Buying a Water Heater
If you are out in the market or you are currently browsing online to find a new water heater for your home, then there are some things you need to know before you actually get one. Below is a simple guide to help you when buying a water heater that is most suitable for you.
Types of Water Heaters
Below are the many types of water heaters available in the market today:
1. Storage tank water heaters, storage water heaters, tank-type water heaters
Almost all of the storage tank water heater units are typically steel cylinders that are fed by a cold-water inlet pipe (also known as the dip tube) which protrudes into the water tank. The water is heated up inside the tank and then hot water exits through a hot-water pipe at the top of the tank. Another pipe which emerges from the tank includes the TPR valve or temperature and pressure relief valve that opens when it exceeds a preset level. You will usually find a drain valve as well that is near the bottom of the tank and then a control unit outside for setting temperatures and, if you have a gas unit, controlling the pilot light valve.
2. Tankless water heaters, instantaneous water heaters, on-demand water heaters, instant-on water heaters
Tankless water heaters are usually the size of a small suitcase which heat water only when needed with the use of an electric coil (for low demand usage) or natural gas (for high demand usage) to heat up water that passes through a heat exchanger inside it. Tankless water heaters are very flexible as they eliminate the risk of tank failure and the energy lost by means of constantly re-heating the water up, but keep in mind that their heat exchanger can clog up or fail. Furthermore, they can be very expensive to buy and install, and most people who live in huge households often complain about its limited hot-water flow rates.
3. Hybrid electric water heaters
Hybrid electric water heaters usually have a conventional electric storage heater that is paired up with a heat pump which extracts heat from its surrounding air and uses it to help heat up the water. Most models of hybrid electric water heaters use about 60% less energy than standard electric water heaters, which account for about half of all the water heater units sold. Even if hybrid electric water heaters cost a little bit more than the electric-only models, the installation is just as the same and the payback time is also short.
However, you have to be made aware that hybrid electric water heaters also have their disadvantages. Due to the fact that the heat pump is usually situated on top, they require as much as 7 feet from floor to ceiling. You will also have to have up to 1,000 cubic feet of uncooled space in order to get enough heat from the air, along with a condensate pump (which costs about $150) if there is no drain available close by. Also, hybrid electric water heaters are a tad more noisy than traditional storage tank water heaters, they exhaust cool air, and they can also steal some heated air in wintertime.
4. Solar water heaters
Every solar water heater supplements an electric heater just basically the same way – a roof-mounted collector absorbs the heat of the sun and then it is transferred to a sort of antifreeze fluid in a closed-loop system that runs to the tank. The collector is usually an array of glass cylinders called evacuated tubes or it can just be a flat panel. You can save a lot of money if you live in areas where there is always sunny weather outside. However, your savings can dwindle down if most of the days have cold and cloudy skies. One downside to solar water heaters is that even if you get federal and local rebates, the thousands of dollars that you have had spent to buy and install this type of water heater would usually mean that you have to wait around 10 up to 30 years before their savings pay for their costs.
Basic Features of Water Heaters
1. Heating source
Many people prefer to have an electric water heater model at home, while there are those who prefer natural gas water heater models. Oil-fired water heaters account for only a small percentage of sales, most likely due to the fact that they have an expensive price tag and there is only a small market for oil-burning equipment.
2. Brass vs. plastic drain valves
These kinds of valves are usually placed near the bottom of the water heater unit in order to be fitted with a garden hose for the purpose of draining the water heater. Opt for the brass drain valves (because they tend to be more on the durable side) rather than the plastic ones.
The warranty for most water heater units generally runs from 3 up to 12 years. While it is normal that you are willing to pay a little more money if you would like to have a longer-warranty unit, you need to know that such units tend to have bigger heating elements or burners that can easily speed up water heating which essentially increases the hot water available, along with a much thicker insulation for less heat loss. It is recommended that you choose water heater units that offer the longest warranty available.
4. Safety concerns
Storage tank water heaters for homes usually have an FVIR or flammable-vapor ignition resistance feature which prevents flashback fires when vapors coming from a flammable liquid like gasoline come into contact with the pilot light or burner.
If you have a fuel-fired water heater unit, a fireplace, or any fuel-burning device, ensure that your home is equipped with a carbon monoxide alarm system. Due to the fact that water heaters usually are vented through the same chimney as a boiler or furnace, if you change the venting for one appliance, then you might have to change it for the other as well. If you are going to get a tankless water heater and if you run a vent pipe to the outside of your home, then you would have to use a Category 3 stainless steel venting in order to prevent corrosion from condensation that might form in the pipe.