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Types Of Water Heaters
Most homes today heat and store water in a traditional water tank. While this method is fairly reliable, it has some limitations. Fortunately, there are many different types of water heating systems that homeowners can consider. Each system has advantages and disadvantages and operate in completely different fashions.
Conventional Storage Water Heaters
Typically, conventional storage water heaters are the most common and most popular type of water heating system. Water enters the tank, which is anywhere from 20 to 80 gallons in size, and it is heated. When hot water is needed by a water source in the household, it exits out the top of the tank. As hot water leaves the top of the water tank, cold water enters the bottom, and it is heated. Conventional storage water heater tanks can be heated with electricity, natural gas, propane or fuel oil. While they are the most popular, they are vulnerable to standby heat loss. Energy is wasted to keep the water in the tank hot even when it is not in use.
Demand-Type, Coil and Indirect Water Heaters
There are many different types of water heater systems that do not require a reservoir. One such system, a demand-type water heater, only heats water that is about to be used. Cold water is heated by an electric element or a gas burner and then exists the system heated. Cold water is only heated in this system when the hot knob on a water source is open. This provides hot water constantly. It will never run out as long as the system is running properly. These systems have limitations, however. While they are not vulnerable to standby heat loss, demand-type water heaters have a low outflow rate. Typically, hot water can only be used by one water source at a time. Coil water heaters work in a similar fashion to demand-type water heaters. Water is heated only as it passes through a boiler or a furnace. Indirect water heaters are heated in a similar fashion as coil water heaters, but they require a storage tank.
Heat Pump Water Heaters
Heat pumps are frequently used to heat the home, but they can also be used to heat water. Heat pumps use warm air from their surroundings to heat flowing water. Since heat pumps need surrounding warm air to function, there are certain places in the United States where they will not function. Temperatures in the surrounding air must be between 40°F and 90°F all year. Additionally, they need at least 1,000 cubic feet of surrounding air. Heat pump water heaters are generally more energy efficient than conventional storage water heaters.
Solar Water Heaters
There are two different types of water heaters that use solar energy. Active solar water heater systems collect solar energy with a solar panel, which generates the necessary energy to heat cold water. Passive solar water heaters are the other type of solar water heaters. While they are cheaper and typically more reliable than active solar water heaters, they are not as efficient. Water in passive solar water heaters is directly heated by solar energy, rather than heated by something that is powered by solar energy.