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Types of Water Heaters
Hot water has become an essential part of our everyday lives. We use it daily, actually, multiple times a day, and typically don’t give it a second thought, until we realize it’s gone. From Bathing to washing laundry, from cooking to cleaning, hot water is a vital part of our daily lives, but how do we get hot water? There are two main styles of water heaters: Tank Water Heaters (Conventional) and Tankless. Typically, a domestic water heater consists of a cylindrical tank, a cold water inlet and a hot water outlet, and a primary heating source, whether Electric, Gas, Solar, or Geothermal.
Electric Water Heaters
Electric Water Heaters are typically powered via a 220-volt circuit. Most electric water heaters have an Upper Element & Thermostat (near the top half of the tank) and a Lower Element & Thermostat (near the bottom half of the tank). The thermostat detects the water temperature around the element, and tells the elements to turn on and heat the water to a predetermined temperature setting, if the temperature is not satisfied.
The water pipes in your home have incoming pressure, this is why when you turn on a faucet to wash your hands, the incoming pressure forces the water to the path of least resistance, hence the opened faucet, which is why you see the water come out of the spout into the sink. When you open the hot side of the faucet, the cold water from the street (or well) enters the house and then flows into the water heater. On the inlet side of the water heater, there is a device called a Dip Tube. The dip tube forces the colder water down to the bottom of the water heater where it mixes with the preheated water. The hot water then exits the heater and travels down the pipe until it reaches the open faucet where the hot water is desired.
Gas Water Heaters
Gas Water Heaters are similar to Electric Water Heaters; however, they are heated with a gas burner, located on the bottom of the tank. The thermostat works in the same fashion that when the temperature of the water in the tank drops, the gas control valve will open, allowing for the burner to ignite and heat the tank. Gas water heaters produce exhaust gases which are vented up and away from the heater, typically with an atmospheric vent or a power vent.
Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless Water Heaters, commonly referred to as Instantaneous or Infinity, are the latest and greatest when it comes to hot water. Tankless water heaters only make hot water when a faucet or fixture is opened. The cold water will enter the tankless unit and pass through a series of coils. As it flows through the coils, the burner heats the water and it is carried down the pipe to where the demand is.
Hot Water Circulation Pumps are used to create the “On-Demand” hot water affect, so no more waiting for the hot water to finally make it all the way to you. This is created by adding a hot water return line from your furthest fixture, back to the water heater, where a recirculation pump is set to pump the water from the heater to the fixture and back when the temperature drops below a predetermined setting. A recirculation pump is ideal for reducing water waste, due to the time it takes for hot water to arrive at a fixture.