All your home water heater questions answered
When it comes time to replace or repair your home hot water tank or hot water system, it's normal to have a lot of questions. Most people only have to purchase a new hot water system for their home once or twice in their lifetimes.
Although servicing and installation should be left to a qualified plumber, knowing your options, general costs, and advantages/disadvantages of different systems will help you choose the best option for your home. I've laid out a few common questions - hopefully you'll find what you're looking for!
What are the different types of water heaters?
Storage tank water heaters, or conventional water heaters: these are the most common types of hot water systems (HWS). They are made up of a tank that stores heated water until it is needed in your home. Conventional water heaters can be powered by electricity or natural gas; natural gas HWS may be more pricey upfront to purchase and install, however they can save on costs in the long run. Advantages/disadvantages include:
running out of hot water as the tank empties
conventional HWS's are less expensive than other types of units, but usually last no longer than 12 years
they require annual servicing
risks to watch out for include leaks and sediment build up
generally least costly upfront
On demand hot water systems: these systems do not require a tank - they are made up of a unit that heats water as it runs through using gas or electric high powered burners. Advantages/disadvantages include:
lesser risk of a large leak
saved costs on gas or electricity
gas-powered units can last up to 20 years (electric-burning units will not last as long, usually around 10 years max)
more compact than conventional HWS
initial costs to purchase and install are significantly higher than with conventional
units may require the home to undergo upgrades in regards to energy capacity (i.e. upgrades to gas pipes)
new units are becoming even more energy efficient and smart (i.e. some units connect to a smart phone, making it easy to pinpoint issues etc.)
Condensing water heaters - tank and tank-less: these units are powered by gas, and are the most fuel efficient. They re-capture what would normally be lost heat from gas combustion and use it to provide extremely efficient water heating capabilities. These types of units, whether tank or tank-less, are becoming much more popular due to their energy efficiency. Advantages/disadvantages include:
ultra energy efficient and thus provide saved costs in energy at a quicker return than regular on-demand heating
smaller tank-type models would provide as much hot water as the larger, conventional models
more environmentally friendly (less release of combustion gases as these vapors are condensed)
more complicated, time-consuming, and expensive installation and maintenance
Solar powered water heaters: these heaters use energy from the sun captured in solar panels and transferred to a closed-loop system that carries heat to the tank and heats water. Advantages/disadvantages include:
solar-energy is free, environmentally friendly, and plentiful in Australia
cost-savings on fuel
often rebates associated with installation of solar powered water heaters https://www.solar.vic.gov.au/solar-hot-water-rebate
purchasing and installing solar powered panels and systems are still quite costly, and you may not see a return on your investment for over ten years
Thanks for reading! For more in depth questions or concerns that you can't find an answer to, feel free to call for advice. We're more than happy to assist in any way we can.
Grant and team