Traditional Water Heaters - As an Essential Household Appliance
The water heater has become an essential household appliance for many homes. It is one of the household equipment that is very convenient to have, particularly if you live in cold regions or have cold running water most of the time. There are actually many types of water heaters based on design and the most common among the different types is the traditional water heater that uses a storage tank to store preheated water which it will then dispense when you open a hot water tap.
Traditional water heaters are often or also called storage tank water heaters and they come in either gas-fired or electric powered. However, the more popular of the two are the gas-fired units as they are able to heat water much faster and are cheaper to run. The storage tank of these units comes in a variety of sizes to accommodate different water heating needs of households, and the most common tank sizes are: 40 gallons, 50 gallons, 66 gallons, 75 gallons, 80 gallons, and 125 gallons.
Most homes have either the 40 or 50 gallon tank. However, the more common of the two would probably the 50 gallon tank. The larger tank models are normally used for large homes or homes equipped with a Jacuzzi or soaking tub.
Upsizing or downsizing your water heating unit is possible. Customers who request to have a larger tank installed will usually have a Jacuzzi or soaking tub installed. If you’re upsizing to a larger tank, it is important to make sure that the whole water heating system is installed properly along with the necessary adjustments made such as increasing the size of the flue and venting system (gas-fired water heater) to ensure the safety of the household. This is because a larger tank will use up more gas and flames to heat the larger volume of water and therefore emit more carbon monoxide which is a lethal gas. In order to avoid such situation, it is necessary to adjust and replace things accordingly. Customers who choose to downsize their water heater on the other hand downsize from 66, 75, or 80 gallon tanks to 50 or 40 gallon tanks. Downgrading from a 50 gallon tank to a 40 gallon tank is not recommended as both are nearly comparable in price.
There are also smaller water heater tanks that are used for different applications. They have sizes ranging from 2, 4, 6, 20, 25, and 30 gallon tanks. The lowboy is one particular use of small water heater tanks and it is placed under the sink. Small-sized tanks are useful for single sink usage. Small-sized water heaters are mostly available in electric models.
There are four factors on how traditional water heaters are measured – efficiency rating, recovery rate, first hour rating, and operating cost.
- Efficiency Rating – this is the measurement on how heat from your energy source can be transferred to the water effectively. The higher the rating, the less energy wasted in heating water. Electric storage tank water heaters have an efficiency rating that ranges from 88-95%, while gas-fired storage tank water heaters have an efficiency rating that ranges only from 55-65%. The main reason why electric tank models have a higher efficiency rating is because their heating element is submerged in the water it is heating which is why there is hardly any loss of energy. Compare this to a gas type unit that heats the water from below the tank, similar to how you boil water on a kettle or sauce pan. Although electric units have a higher efficiency rating, when you compare this to the cost of fuel, you will normally have a higher utility bill using electric models than gas-fired units. Due to this, residents are often encouraged not only by utility companies, but also by the government to use gas heating, especially when you have a choice between gas or electric fuel source.
- Recovery Rate – this is the volume of water the water heating unit can generate. Electric units normally can generate 20-22 gallons of hot water in an hour while gas units can heat 30-40 gallons of water in an hour. Simply put, the faster the recovery rate, the more hot water it can produce.
- First Hour Rating – this is the volume of water the unit can produce in an hour during continuous usage given that the storage tank is full of hot water. Gas-fired tanks with 50 gallon tanks will normally have a first hour rating of 70 to 80 gallons. Electric units with 50 gallon tanks on the other hand will normally have a first hour rating of 60 gallons.
- Operating Cost – the estimated operating costs are normally provided by the manufacturer of the water heating unit and they are highly subjected to energy prices.
Is a permit needed when replacing the water heating unit?
There are some locations that don’t and there are some locations that are strict about permits when replacing your water heating unit. There are some plumbers however who are willing to replace your unit without the necessary processing fee. There are some companies on the other hand who will take care of the processing permit for you and will not perform any installation tasks without it. In most areas, since replacing your water heating unit can be considered as an emergency service, you are allowed to replace the unit while applying for a permit at the same time. This means you no longer have to wait for the issuance of the permit before performing any installation tasks. Most plumbing companies will be able to perform the installation duty on the same day you contact them.
It is always a good idea and highly recommended that you apply for a permit when replacing your water heater. This is because there have been many cases where accidents involving water heater have happened as compared to any other household appliance, which is why many jurisdictions have adopted building codes and plumbing codes to ensure the proper installation of water heaters, whether they are being newly installed, or as a replacement. For your safety and the safety of those in your household, it is of the utmost importance that you only deal with licensed contractors that can secure a permit on your behalf.