Water Heater Buying Guide


What is a Water Heater?

A water heater is an electrical appliance used to heat water for domestic purposes.It is one of the must-have electrical appliances in a typical household.

Why do you need a Water Heater?

Water heaters are a necessity in today’s time and age.Almost all middle-class and upper class homes have a water heater installed in them.The reasons are very simple.

A water heater heats water instantly.In today’s metro world, there is no time and patience for an individual to warm water on a gas stove.With the help of a water heater, you can access hot water instantly just by pressing a button.Thus, it is time saving.The amount of time taken to collect a bucket of water by using a water heater is much less than the time spent on warming the same amount of water.

What are the different types of Water Heaters?

Water heaters can be categorized into four types.

Storage tank water heater is the most commonly available water heater.It is designed to have an insulated storage tank to store water.The storage capacity of a tank could vary from about 30 to 80 gallons.The heater has a gauge fitted inside the tank which checks the temperature of the water.When the temperature goes below the preset value, the gauge starts off the unit to get the water temperature back to the preset level.The water heater also has a temperature and pressure release valve which automatically opens if the temperature or pressure exceedsa specified level.

In the storage tank water heater, the heating process continues throughout the day, 7 days a week, even when you are sleeping or away from the home.The fuel used in a storage tank heater can be natural gas, oil, liquid propane, or electricity.

Tankless water heaters are instant heaters that provide you with hot water instantly.Tankless water heaters offer significant energy cost savings since they heat the water only when needed.They will save your energy costs by approximately 30%-35% a year.A tankless unit can deliver 5 to 7 gallons of hot water per minute.Since they use running water, tankless water heaters never run out of water.

Electric Heat Pump Water Heaters are electrically powered.The heater, when in operation, draws in heat from the air and transfers it to the water contained in its storage tank.The heaters coefficient of performance (COP) can go upto 400%.Cost can be controlled by setting the operating period of the heater.Heat pump water heaters are widely used in homes, restaurants, hospitals, hostels etcetera.Ease of operation and readily available hot water at a constant temperature are some of its advantages.The heaters need to be set the first time and can continue running on the same setting throughout the day.

Solar Water Heaters are powered by sun, which is an unlimited source of energy.Solar energy is free of cost and can be used as much as one wants.A solar water heater is made up of two parts — a solar energy collector and an insulated water tank.The heaters can be mounted on the roof or placed in the yard.Using a solar heater is a very good way of contributing to cleaner environment as the heater does not use any fossil fuels.These units are low maintenance and a good long-term investment.

What should you look for when buying a Water Heater?

Since a water heater is a major contributor to the energy costs amounting to almost 18% of the total utility cost, you should choose your water heater wisely.Before stepping out to buy a water heater, be aware that you may have to spend more now in order to get a good payback later.Check on the following features when in a store:

First and foremost, you have to decide what type of a heater you intend to buy.Whether you want to buy a heater with storage or without storage, or one that runs on electricity or solar energy.Is budget a constraint?Answering these questions can help you choose between a conventional storage tank water heater or a tankless model.

Also, there are certain types of water heaters that are highly energy efficient than others, like the tankless water heater.Some are more expensive than the others, such as the solar water heater that has high upfront cost.Choose a model that meets your needs.

Once you have finalized the type of water heater, the next thing you should look at is the capacity of a water heater.By determining the quantity of water you use on average, you can figure out the ideal size of the water heater unit you should buy.For a family of four, a tankless water heater would be ideal.

Capacity is measured differently for different types of water heaters.For a storage tank water heater, the first-hour rating,and for tankless water heater, gallons-per-minute rating gives you an idea of the amount of water it will heat in a given period of time.A storage tank water heater is particularly advantageous in places where there is no continuous supply of flowing water.The storage tank water heater can provide you with 30 to 80 gallons of hot water at a time.On the other hand, tankless water heaters can provide limited hot water, about 3.5 gallons of hot water per minute.

Temperature of hot water is also an important factor to consider.The best of water heaters can heat the water instantly and appropriately.Some water heaters may not be as efficient in heating water at very high temperature, for example a solar heater or electric heat pump water heater.The temperature of hot water from a solar heater greatly varies.Whereas the storage tank and tankless water heater can heat water more uniformly and at the preset levels.

A water heater will use some form of energy to heat water, whether it is electricity, gas, oil, or solar power.Apart from solar energy that is free of cost, for all other sources of energy, you have to pay a price.An electric water heater can consume 18 to 20% of electricity in an average household.Therefore, people nowadays are highly conscious about the energy efficiency of a water heater.Heat pump water heaters and solar water heaters are energy saving models compared to the other models.

Price of water heater is also an important parameter to consider.An electric water heater with or without tank is the cheapest of all models.A gas powered model is slightly more expensive due to its burner units.Gas or oil-fired water units also need proper ventilation system, which can add to the cost.Heat pump water heaters also are priced higher than the traditional electric water heater, but they save a lot of utility cost.Solar water heaters also have higher purchasing and installation cost, but they have a high payback.

Most manufacturers offer warranties that cover anywhere between 3 to 12 years.However, warranties do not cover valve failures, temperature and air shutter adjustments and many such minor functions.You may have to pay a little extra for longer warranty coverage, however, longer warranty models tend to also give better performancesin water heating.It is always wise to choose a brand with higher warranty.

Values, located at the base of the water heater,are used to emptythe heater.These valves can be made of plastic or brass.Choose the model with brass valves for greater durability.

Some manufacturers offer many additional features along with the basic configuration, such as digital displays and glass-lined tanks, to name a few.

What brands are reliable and available in the market?

Following are the companies selling water heaters in the Indian market today.

Glossary of Terms:

An anti-scale device is used to swirl the water and reduce the accumulation of mineral scale at the base of the tank.Mineral scale can impact the heating element and reduce its life.

A control circuit is a system that controls the temperature of hot water, prevents the water from under or overheating, and thus controls the operation of the unit.

An expansion tank is a water tank that protects a water heater from excess pressure by taking in or expelling excess water.

Electric heating elements are situated inside an electrically powered water heater, used for heating the water.The heating capacity of heating element is indicated in watts per hour.The heating capacity ranges from 1440 to 5500 watts.

Glass-lined storage tanks have a glass lining inside the tank.This special coating prevents the storage tank from corrosion.