Buying a new water heater is not something you do all too often, so if it’s time to replace your water heater, you want to do it right. If you are on the hunt for a new water heater for your home or office, consider these five factors before you determine what to purchase.
1. Fuel Source
The most common residential water heaters run with gas or electricity as their fuel source. If your existing tank water heater is gas-fired, be sure to confirm whether it uses natural gas or propane. Gas water heaters generally have a higher up-front cost and require special ventilation for health and safety. However, they offset their up-front costs over time with a lower operating cost. Electric models tend to have a smaller up-front cost but typically have higher operating costs. The main thing is to know which source your home uses so that you can purchase the proper replacement.
2. Energy Efficiency
No matter which fuel source you choose, a water heater can be the third largest energy consumer in your home. Therefore, you want to select a new unit that is energy efficient if possible. Fortunately, all new water heaters have a high degree of energy efficiency to meet strict Federal energy standards. Look for the Energy Factor (EF) rating on the unit. This rating measures how efficiently a unit converts energy into heat and how much heat is lost during storage. The higher the energy factor, the more efficient the water heater.
3. Storage Type
Tank storage water heaters remain the most popular option in the United States. A storage heater operates by continually heating and storing hot water, then releasing it from the top of the tank when hot water outlet is turned on. To replace that hot water, cold water enters the bottom of the tank, ensuring that the tank is always full. Because the water is continuously heated in the tank, energy can be wasted even when no faucet is on. Newer energy efficient storage models, reduce the amount of heat loss and energy wastage.
It is possible to eliminate heat waste and reduce energy consumption by 20 to 30 percent with on-demand or tankless water heaters which are either electric or gas powered. With this option, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit and is heated as needed. With these systems, you never run out of hot water. But there is one potential drawback with demand water heaters—limited flow rate, which can be problematic in a large household where multiple people may need hot water at once.
4. Storage Capacity
Most tank water heaters are evaluated by how many gallons they hold. The first-hour rating and the gallons-per-minute rating for storage-tank water heaters tell how quickly water is heated and delivered over a period of time. On-demand water heaters do not hold any water, but the gallons-per-minute rating indicates the “capacity” of flow. If you plan to draw hot water from multiple sources simultaneously, you may want to consider two or more units to run in parallel for adequate flow rate.
5. Space Required
Another factor to consider for your selection is the available space. If your area does not accommodate a standard-sized water heater, there are alternative options. Lowboys or short water heaters are shorter and wider than standard water heaters, allowing them to hold the same amount of water, while still fitting in areas with limited headroom. This will enable them to be installed in out-of-the-way spaces such as crawl spaces and under cabinets. Tankless water heaters also typically take up very little space compared to traditional tank options.
Always carefully consider your options when referring to these five factors while choosing your next water heater installation. For specific advice regarding your needs or environment, talk to Magnificent Plumbing for assistance with water heater installations.