How to Choose the Right Hot Water System

Hot water is one of those creature comforts that you don’t often think about until it disappears. Don’t wait until your hot water heater has given up the ghost to start exploring your options – now is the time to find out which hot water system is the best fit for your home.

Not all systems are created equal. In fact, you’d be surprised at how different types and even brands of water heaters perform, making it even more important to choose one that’s right for you. But who has time for all that research?

We do! Our team at Precise Plumbing & Electrical has taken care of the research for you to make shopping around for a hot water system easier than ever. All you have to do is reference our handy guide, and you’ll be ready for that inevitable day when it’s time to replace your system.

Which Type of Water Heater Should I Choose?

Surprisingly to most homeowners, water heaters actually account for a large chunk your monthly bills. Using the wrong system can be a costly choice. There are several factors to consider when shopping around for a hot water system. One of the most important ones? What Type of water heater will work best for you?

Electric

Electric water heaters work by using electrically-powered heating elements to – well, heat your water. The design is fairly simple: cold water comes in, travels to the bottom of the tank, is heated, and rises to the top ready for you to use.

Pros

  • Low upfront costs. Electric heaters are one of the cheaper options on the market, running anywhere from $200-$2000 for a unit, not considering installation costs.
  • Easy installation. Most homes are already wired for an electric water heater. Replacing your current unit with a similar model may take as little as a few hours.
  • Energy-efficient. Electric heaters are relatively good at producing hot water without wasting resources.
  • Versatile and reliable. These heaters can be installed both indoors and outdoors and are very dependable across the board.

Cons

  • Expensive in the long term. Electric systems can be one of the most expensive water heating options if used on a continuous rate.
  • May not be environmentally friendly. Unless they’re powered by electricity that comes from renewable resources, electric heaters aren’t so great for the environment.
  • Slower heating times. Electric heating is slower than other options, meaning if you don’t like waiting for your shower to heat up, this might not be the right option for you.

Gas

Much like an electric water heater, gas-powered heating systems rely on the law of convection to get your hot water to you. This type of water heater works a lot like a gas stove: a pilot light ignites the gas, heating up the burner at the bottom of the tank. Cold water is quickly heated and rises to the top of the tank, ready for use.

Pros

  • Fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Natural gas has a higher energy content when compared to other types of fuel, meaning that it emits fewer greenhouse gases.
  • Cheaper than electric. They may be slightly more expensive to install, but gas-powered water heaters will save you money in the long run as gas is often cheaper than electricity.
  • Faster heating times. Gas heaters are twice as good at heating than their electric counterparts and will be able to keep up with higher hot water demands.

Cons

  • Must be connected to main gas. Not every home has the ideal connections for gas water heaters. If you’re not one of those lucky few, installing a gas system can get expensive.
  •       Must be used outside or connected to a vent. Gas hot water systems must either be used outside or connected to a ventilation system. If using indoors, this means shelling out a bit more for a quality ventilation system to keep you and your family safe.
  • Potential risk for gas leaks/explosion. Utilizing natural gas appliances in the home puts you at higher risk for carbon monoxide leaks, gas leaks and gas explosions.

Solar

Solar hot water systems use panels installed on your roof to collect heat from the sun that is then used to heat your water. They can be used in conjunction with electric or gas boosters for those times when the sun inconveniently decides to take some time off.

Pros

  • Cost-efficient. Take advantage of one of the cheapest and most renewable sources of energy: the sun. The upfront costs might be a bit expensive, but you won’t have to pay for your daily hot water.
  • Environmentally friendly. There are few things more sustainable than solar energy. If zero-emissions is your goal, this is the best choice for you.
  • Offers potential rebates. You may be eligible to receive some help covering initial costs under the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme.

Cons

  • Most expensive systems. Even with rebates your solar hot water system will probably still cost you a good amount.
  • Heavily dependent on the weather. These systems work best in sunny areas, where you’re less likely to need a backup heater.

Heat Pump

These hot water systems work much like the opposite of a fridge: they draw heat from the air and direct it into the tank to warm your water.

Pros

  • Very efficient. Even though they use electricity, heat pump water heaters are approximately three times more efficient than your average electric water heater.

Cons

  • Expensive upfront and installation costs. Heat pump heaters are one of the pricier options on the market. Not only that, they have some very specific installation requirements that might make them a less feasible option for some homes.
  • Work best in warmer climates. Because they utilize hot air, these water systems become less effective during cooler months or in colder climates.

What’s the Difference Between Water Tank and Instantaneous Designs?

Now that you know the options you can choose from, it’s time to decide whether you want a continuous flow (or instantaneous) design or a storage design. The main differences between the two are:

  • Storage hot water heaters heat and hold hot water until you use it. It can be available in an instant, but all that water has to be stored somewhere. These storage tanks do corrode over time, making it necessary to replace them occasionally. Annual maintenance can help prolong the life of your storage tank.
  • Instantaneous hot water heaters heat water as you need it. Rather than storing large quantities of warm water that might not be used, these designs save energy by only heating water when necessary.

Both designs are available in all four types of hot water heaters.

Which Brand Should I Choose?

Once you’ve decided on the type and design of hot water heater, you can start shopping around for the best one.

Canstar Blue surveyed hundreds of households throughout Australia to find out which brands are the most popular. Solahart and Vulcan topped the list, with four other popular brands following close behind and Dux and Bosch bringing up the rear. You can read more about their findings here.

What Size Do I Need?

The size of your hot water heater depends on the number of people in your household. Generally, plan on each person consuming 50L of hot water a day. If your household members are prone to long showers or frequent bathing, or if you use a dishwasher or clothes washer often, you might want to consider planning for higher water usage.

When in doubt, it’s important to consult your local plumbing company to make sure you’re choosing an option that’s right for you. Here at Precise Plumbing & Electrical, our knowledgeable and professional team can answer any questions you may have and help you find the water heater that’s best for you. Get in touch and ask one of our plumbers to provide  a quote  for the installation of your hot water system.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

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