Water Heaters: Which Type You Need to Buy for Your Home?
When you think of your home, you see the tasteful ottoman, potted plants, paintings, and state-of-the-art coffee machine. You don’t stop to consider the hum and grind of the heater, the energy-saving bulbs, or your automated garage door. And when you take a soak in the bathtub after a long day, you attribute the loosening up of your limbs to your favorite bath bomb and not the hot water.
Though the many appliances powering a modern home may not bear too much thought, it might be worth your while to consider the types of water heaters as meticulously as you decide the exact shade of eggshell you want on the walls before buying one. You will be using it every single day for showering, laundry, doing the dishes, and washing hands after all.
But why single out the humble water heater? Because a pressurized tank full of hot water powered by gas in your basement or utility closet can seem as scary as having an explosive down there. In the interests of reliable heating, regular maintenance, and performance, it’s best to get professional advice and assistance to install or repair your water heater periodically. Here’s a guide to the different types of water heaters out there.
Storage Tank Water Heater
Powered either by gas or electricity, the storage tank type is a sizeable well-insulated tank with three pipes for the inflow of cold water (called dip tube), an outflow of hot water (through the heat-out pipe) and a release of water when the pressure builds up (temperature/pressure relief valve). Storage tanks, usually in the 20-80 gallon range, use the principles of conduction and convection to ensure hot water at the ready.
Conduction occurs either through a gas burner transmitting heat to a plate at the bottom of the tank, or an electric element in the case of an electric storage tank. Convection causes the hot water to rise to the top, creating a warming ecosystem. The carefully calibrated mechanism of both gas and electric heaters then moves the hot water to the plumbing that runs through the house, saving you the jolt of cold water at sinks, showerheads, etc.
The other crucial components of a storage tank include the thermostat (which turns the heating on or off based on its reading of the temperature of water), anode rod (coated with aluminum or magnesium to take on the corrosion of water upon itself), and the drain valve (to clear out sediments).
Another element unique to the gas water heater is the baffle flue—a hollow column that allows the safe release of combustion gases while utilizing its heat-generation capacity to maintain water temperature.
- Gas heaters are famously cheaper than electric ones due to lower installation and operating costs
- Electric gas water heaters are more energy-efficient than gas-powered ones.
- Running out of hot water in times of increased usage
- Keeping a record of yearly maintenance to ensure the anode rod and flame sensor is in proper working condition
Tankless water heaters
These energy-efficient units pack power in the form of a coil heat exchanger, with water heating rapidly only when the faucet is turned on. Tankless heaters can be electric, propane, or natural gas-powered, with the latter two usually used to heat water for the entire house. The electric kind is nifty-sized, making it more suited to point-of-use installation and an easy fit for cabinets. The internal heat exchanger gets activated by the flow of cold water, which is identified through a sensor.
- More energy efficient since water is heated only when needed.
- Tankless water heaters last longer than the storage type.
- Slow flow owing to lag time unless a point-of-use or smaller tank is attached.
- Waiting for hot water might result in water wastage.
Hybrid water heater
This appliance, also called the heat pump water heater, combines the features of both storage tank and tankless variants to offer the best of both worlds. The hybrid tank utilizes heat from the surrounding air almost as an antithesis of the functioning of another taken-for-granted appliance, the refrigerator. With a pump mounted above the water storage tank, it works best in warm climates. Owing to this quality, it’s possible for homeowners to use a variant of the hybrid model—a geothermal pump system—for heating water as well as cooling or warming their homes.
- Significantly more energy saving than the storage tank water heaters, translating into monetary savings over time.
- Advanced eco-friendly models won’t pinch the pocket as much as expected in a couple of years.
- Retrofitting an ordinary gas water heater requires overhauling the electrical connection to accommodate a dedicated high-voltage circuit and breaker.
- Hybrid water heaters are about three times the price of their storage tank counterparts.
Solar Water Heater
A less common kind of storage tank water heater is the solar-powered one. The active solar water heater, fitted with circulating pumps and controls, often works in conjunction with a backup tankless heater to account for cloudy days. The passive water heater relies entirely on black tubes in a glazed box—the integral collector storage system (or batch system)—to concentrate heat and insulate the water from cooling down.
The batch system can be used without a backup heater in warm countries but there is the likelihood of the warmest water being available during the night instead of the day. This makes it untenable in areas where the temperature frequently drops below 4 degrees Celsius, which could cause the pipes to freeze overnight.
- Requires little maintenance after installation, working at a stretch for three to five years.
- Affordable installation costs and harnessing a natural source of power.
- Dependent on a variable, natural source of heat
- Water can cool down quickly unless supported by a backup heater.
Smile HVAC Provides Professional Water Heater Installation Services
Still don’t know what type of water heater to buy? We know that’s not a very easy decision to make. Our professional technicians can help you to find personalized solutions for your house. We will install and set up the water heater, so you don’t need to worry about anything. Additionally, we will explain to you how to use the model in the right way. Book your appointment now or call us at (+1) 437-777-4555