The Different Types of Water Heaters

The Different Types of Water Heaters
March 29, 2012 Lorelie

There are many different types of water heaters.  These water heating units, depending on their type and model, use different energy resources to raise the temperature of water.  The heated water will then be stored (as with storage tank water heaters) or be used instantly (as with on-demand water heaters).  The different types of water heaters would include storage tank water heaters, tankless water heaters, solar water heaters, and integrated space and water heating systems.

Storage Tank Water Heaters – these water heaters are the most common types and they are the types used in a lot of households all across the United States and Canada.  Perhaps the reason behind their popularity is that they are the most affordable to both buy and install.  This type of water heating system heats and stores the heated water on a tank so it will be available for use when needed.  The main advantage of this water heating system is that it can store large amounts of heated water continuously.  Of course, storing hot water does have its disadvantages as the heated water will eventually cool down.  This makes it necessary for the unit to reheat the water to the desired preset level once it reaches a certain temperature; something which inevitably costs money as heating consumes energy.  Having extra insulation will help prevent the fast cooling down of the heated water.  On average, a typical storage tank water heater will last you around 10 years.  A specific model may use electric, gas, or oil as its main heating element.  Gas-fired models may cost more to buy and install as compared to electric models.  Then again, if you compare operating cost and the savings you get from using gas instead of electricity, the savings you get with your utility bills may be well worth it in the long run.  The main issue with storage tank units is that they require regular maintenance in order to prevent the buildup of scale and lime inside the tank.  This kind of buildup will make the unit inefficient, making it work harder and consume much more energy in comparison to a regularly maintained unit.  Flushing the unit every 6 months will help to prevent such buildup.

Tankless Water Heaters – also known as instantaneous water heaters or on-demand water heaters, these water heating systems have rid the use of storage tanks.  Instead, they heat water only when it is needed thus eliminating any standby heat loss or the need for any tank insulation.  These types of water heaters are very efficient and cost effective since they heat water only when hot water is needed.  In addition, since they no longer use any storage tanks, owners will be able to save valuable household space.  Perhaps the best thing about tankless water heaters is that they are most likely to last longer than storage tank types.  In fact, if you maintain your tankless unit properly, it is likely to last you from 15 to 20 years.  This is likely the reason why manufacturers offer longer warranties for them.  Another thing that makes tankless-types water heaters the units to consider is that they are very easy to repair when compared to other types of water heating units.  The truth is there are basically two types of tankless water heating units –
the whole house type and the point-of-use type.  Whole house units, as the name suggests, are large enough to accommodate the hot water usage of a whole household.  Point-of-use units on the other hand are small units that are commonly installed near the area where they will be used.  There are even times they are used along with other water heating units to help raise the

temperature, particularly in households where a lot of hot water taps are turned on
simultaneously and the main water heating unit is not able to cope up with the demand.  Perhaps the main disadvantage with this type of water heating unit is that it takes some time before it reaches the hot water temperature you require for showering.  Another disadvantage it has is that when multiple hot water taps are opened simultaneously, the hot water it is able to provide dissipates as it will be providing hot water for multiple taps.

Solar Water Heaters – for people living in warm areas or areas where the sun shines bright most times of the year, a solar water heater can be the most cost effective way to enjoy hot showers.  Since solar energy is free, having a solar water heater will alleviate any additional cost in your utility bills used for water heating.  In fact, a solar water heater can provide nearly 70% of the hot water requirements of a typical household while the return of investment can happen in just five to seven years.  A solar water heating system basically works by storing hot water on insulated tanks and different solar water heating systems use different ways to heat water.  There are generally two types of solar water heaters – active and passive.  Active solar water heating systems uses either heat-transfer fluid (indirect) or allows water to circulate through the collector and heat exchanger (direct) in order to heat water.  Passive solar water heating systems on the other hand has a storage tank atop the solar collectors.  Once water is heated by the collectors, the heated water will go up the tank while the cold water that goes to the bottom will have its turn to be heated.  Depending on how a solar water heater is utilized, it is likely to cost less in the long run.  While it is true that the initial investment may be quite high, but the overall savings you get from using free energy will definitely offset the price you paid initially.

Integrated Space and Water Heating System – this is a type of combination heating system that heats both air-space and water.  For new homes on areas with cool climates, this may be a practical investment as only a single boiler will be used for heating both water and the inside space of the home.  The system works by heating water in an external storage tank.  The heat is then collected by fans and coils to be distributed inside the home as warm air.

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