Thursday, September 02, 2010
Assessing Your Hot Water Heater Needs
All Hot Water Heaters are Not Alike!
If you’re like most Americans, you probably take your hot water for granted. It’s there when you need it, and the only time you notice it is when it’s gone. The following is an overview of hot water heaters with some simple tips to help you figure out your home’s hot water needs to ensure you’re never left standing in the cold (water).
Hot Water Heater Sizes
Residential hot water heaters come in three basic sizes: 30-, 40-, or 50-gallon capacity. If you look at the nameplate on your water heater, it will tell you how large the unit is. Should you need to replace your heater, it’s best to choose a new one with the same capacity as the old one unless you’ve just added a dishwasher, washing machine, or bathroom, or plan to make these changes soon.
A good rule of thumb for calculating your home’s hot water needs is to count the number of bathrooms in the house. For single bathroom homes, a 30- or 40-gallon unit is sufficient; for homes with 1 ½ baths, a 40-gallon tank is the minimum; for homes with two or more bathrooms, you’ll need at least a 50-gallon capacity.
Gas vs. Electric Hot Water Heaters
The type of fuel used to power a hot water heater can have a significant impact on the device’s capacity. A water heater’s capacity depends on two factors: its total storage and its recover time, or how quickly it can warm a full tank of water. Both gas and electric water heaters are rated based on how many gallons they can heat to 90 degrees F in an hour.
For example, a 40-gallon gas water heater with 40,000 BTU can heat its entire capacity in an hour. A 40-gallon electric heater using 240 volts is only able to heat half its capacity in that time.
Electric water heaters take longer to warm up than most gas-powered models, so if you’re planning to buy an electric system it should be larger than its gas counterpart. This is especially true if you have a large family or use more hot water than the average household. Residential electric hot water heaters can be purchased with capacities as large as 100 gallons or more.
Tankless Hot Water Heaters
An emerging trend in hot water heaters is the tankless unit. Tankless heaters heat only the water that is needed in the moment; they don’t store heated water for future use. These devices are more energy efficient because they require less power than conventional water heaters that must constantly heat and reheat water stored in the tank to keep it ready for use. Though a tankless water heater will likely cost significantly more to purchase than a traditional hot water heater, it will more than pay for itself in monthly energy savings, and you’ll never have to worry about running out of hot water. There are electric tankless models, but gas-powered units are generally more effective.
Need Help With Your Hot Water Heater?
Horizon Services is always available fix or help you maintain your hot water heater. We also sell and install hot water heaters from leading brands such as Rheem, Bradford White, A.O. Smith and others.
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