How Does An Electric Water Heater Work

How Does a Hot Water Heater Work? Let Us Explain!

The less you have to think about your hot water heater, as is the case with most other household utilities, the better. The only thing that is actually vital to know is that it is operating to provide your house with the hot water that it requires. Nonetheless, having a basic understanding of how your water heater operates is always important. If the machine is one that is utilized on a regular basis, this is especially true. Water heaters are responsible for ensuring that water is delivered via the pipes to its intended destination at the right temperature every time you shower, wash dishes, or do a load of laundry.

Hot Water Heater Components

First, we’ll take a look at the many components that work together to provide you with the hot water you require. With the exception of a few minor variations, these components are shared by both electric and gas water heaters. It is possible that this will provide an answer to your inquiry about “how does a hot water heater work?”


Most water heaters used in houses around the US include enormous, insulated tanks which hold your hot water. These water heater tanks are available in a variety of sizes, commonly ranging from 20 to 80 gallons in capacity. The size of the tank should be proportional to the number of people who will be using hot water in the home, and the normal household tank has a capacity of 40-60 gallons of water.

Dip Tube

The dip tube is the point at which cold water from your home’s municipal water supply, well, or other water source is introduced into the tank for storage. It is right before the water heater that your main water line separates. Water is pumped from the main valve to your cold water faucet through a cold water service line when you switch on the cold water faucet. The water that comes out of the hot water tap is channeled via the dip tube and into the hot water storage tank. This occurs prior to the water traveling through the hot water service line to the house.

The cold water enters via this opening and is subsequently heated by the water at the bottom of the tank.

Heating Element / Gas Burner

A heating element in the tank of an electric water heater heats the water within the tank to a desired temperature. When using a gas water heater, the heating mechanism is provided by a gas burner. Both of these items may be found near the bottom of the tank.

Anode Rod

A heating element within the tank of an electric water heater heats the water within the tank of the heater. The heating mechanism of a gas water heater is provided by a gas burner. Located at the bottom of the tank, both items are accessible by ladder.


A heating element in the tank of an electric water heater heats the water within the tank of the heater. The heating mechanism of a gas water heater is a gas burner. Both of these items may be found at the bottom of the aquarium.

Heat-Out Pipe

The hot water service line is the pipe that transports hot water from the tank to the hot water service line.

It may be found at the very top. The hottest water rises to the top of the tank due to the fact that hot water has less density than cold water (and heat rises by its own nature).


  • Valve for Drainage– The drain valve is positioned near the bottom of the tank, on the exterior of the tank. The drain valve, as its name implies, is responsible for draining off silt that has accumulated inside the tank. Shut-off Valve– A shut-off valve is located on the outside of the water heater. Essentially, this stops the flow of water into the tank. Pressure Relief Valve– The water inside the tank is extremely pressured, necessitating the use of a pressure relief valve. An emergency pressure relief valve is designed to prevent pressure from accumulating to a dangerous level.

How Does a Hot Water Heater Work?

So, how do all of these components interact with one another? What is the operation of a hot water heater? So, here’s a synopsis of the situation. The trip of your hot water begins with the main water pipe and continues to your shower, washing machine, sink, dishwasher, and other appliances. Water heaters that use gas or electricity are both tank-type water heaters. These are the most prevalent types of water heaters that may be used in residential settings. They both function substantially on the same premise, with the primary differences being in their different heat sources.

Here’s how a water heater works:

In order for water to enter your home, it must flow via the main water line. Just before the water heater, the line is divided into two different paths, each of which serves as the water intake system for your home. After that, you switch on the hot water faucet. Ice-cold water pours through the shut-off valve and into the water heater tank, where it will soon be heated to a comfortable temperature. The water is heated by the heating mechanism located at the bottom of the tank in accordance with the thermostat setting.

After that, you switched on the hot water faucet, and additional water poured into your hot water tank through the dip tube.

This hot water rises via the heat-out pipe and is sent to the hot water faucet.

Tankless Water Heaters

Water goes into your home through the main water line, which is located outside your property. It separates into two different channels that serve as the water intake system for your house just before it gets to the water heater. You switch on the hot water faucet to start the shower. Ice-cold water goes through the shut-off valve and into the water heater tank, where it will soon be heated to boiling temperature. Heating occurs at the bottom of the tank, where a heating mechanism heats the water in accordance with the temperature specified by the thermostat.

The hot water tap was activated, and additional water was drawn into the tank through its dip tube, as a result of your action.

Using the heat-out pipe, this heated water is sent up to the hot water faucet on the wall.

Hot Water, Whenever You Need It

When you grasp the fundamentals of how a hot water heater works, it isn’t too tough to comprehend. If you’re experiencing problems with your hot water heater, require basic maintenance, or wish to investigate replacement alternatives, you’ll need a dependable plumber you can rely on to get the job done right.

South Jersey residents may turn toLaury Heating Cooling Plumbing for the best quality plumbing services available.

How Does A Hot Water Heater Work?

Please keep in mind that this content may contain affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, we may gain a small profit on purchases made via our links. The first step in understanding how your unit operates is to become familiar with the various components of your system and how they interact with one another.

Components of a Water Heater

Anode rod, dip tube, and pipes and fittings for hot water and overflow/pressure relief are all standard components of both electric and gas water heaters. The drain valve, the TPRvalve, an internal anode rod, and pipes and fittings for hot water and overflow/pressure relief are other common components. In both circumstances, the inside tank is insulated with a layer of material to keep the water hotter for a longer period of time. Electric water heaters are equipped with a separate thermostat, whereas gas water heaters have their thermostat integrated into the gas control valve.

How a Water Heater Works

When you get down to the nitty-gritty of water heater functioning, the distinctions between electric and gas water heaters become more evident. Cold water enters the unit through the dip tube at the top of the tank and is channeled to the bottom of the tank, where it is heated in both designs.

How Does an Electric Water Heater Work?

In electric variants, the thermostat is flush with the side of the internal tank, and it does not require any adjustment. A switch (or two, if you have a dual element system) is triggered when the thermostat detects that the interior temperature has gone below the predetermined threshold. This permits energy to flow to the heating element, which is then turned on. It is this heating element, which is submerged in the water of the tank, that warms up in the same manner as an electric stove burner does, by transmitting electricity through a heat-resistant substance and turning the energy it contains into heat.

When using dual elements, each with its own thermostat, they alternately heat the top and bottom sections of the tank, as only one heating element is turned on at a time with the dual elements.

How Does a Gas Water Heater Work?

A thermostat is also included in gas variants, which is often a tiny copper tube with a mercury sensor at the tip. They also contain a specific sensor known as a thermocouple, which detects whether or not the pilot light is currently lit. If the pilot is not lit, the thermocouple will not enable gas to pass through to the burner, preventing it from working. When the temperature of the water in the tank drops, the thermostat sends a signal to the gas control valve, which then verifies the signal from the thermocouple to ensure that there is a pilot light turned on in the tank.

If this is the case, Warmer water rises as a result of the heat generated by the flame, while cooler water descends, resulting in a natural circulation cycle.

In order for the thermostat to transmit a signal to the gas control valve, the water temperature must reach the required degree before the gas flow may be turned off.

Variations on Water Heaters

Several types of water heaters employ a hot water recirculating system, which maintains hot water moving through the heating system and avoids hot water flow from being stopped by “cold” bursts of unheated water throughout the heating process. Solar water heaters, which are the major means of heating water, employ a system that is similar to this. Hot water expands as it rises through the system, forcing cooler water ahead of the hot water and cycling water through the solar heater’s internal pipes.

How Water Heaters Work

To understand how efficiently and effectively a water heater accomplishes its job, let’s take a closer look at what’s going on within the tank. The thermostat on a water heater is responsible for regulating the temperature of the water in the tank. Temperatures between 120 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit are usually OK in most cases (49 to 82 degrees Celsius). For the most part, manufacturers recommend that the water temperature be set between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit (49 to 60 degrees Celsius).

  1. If you have youngsters in your household, it’s best to keep closer to the lower end of the price range than the upper end.
  2. Most of the time, the thermostat is hidden under a protective cover plate and is controlled by a knob or dial that you can turn to adjust the temperature.
  3. The heating device, which can be either a burner or an element, continues to operate until the water reaches the desired temperature.
  4. Close to the top of the tank is a pipe that removes the heat.
  5. Using the theory of heat rising to accomplish the difficult task of separating cold, entering water from hot, departing water is the key to understanding how a water heater is designed for this purpose.
  6. Published on April 1, 2000 in the original version.

How Does an Electric Water Heater Work – Home Water Heaters

Water heater powered by electricity Find out how electric water heaters operate and what each component is intended to do by reading this article. Whatever size home, apartment, or cottage you have, electric water heating offers consistent and dependable hot water delivery at any time and from practically anywhere in your home. It is critical to understand how an electric water heater operates in order to determine whether or not it is worth purchasing, as well as how easy or difficult it is to maintain, service, or repair.

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Electric water heaters are often intended to heat water that has been held in a cylindrical storage tank, which is typically constructed of metal.

Depending on the size of the tank, its capacity might range anywhere from 2 gallons to more than 100 gallons.

A single tap, showers, bathtubs, dishwashers, and washing machines are examples of such amenities.

Main components of electric water heaters

  • Hot water heater powered by electricity. Explore the operation of electric water heaters, as well as the functions of each component. Whatever size home, apartment, or cottage you have, electric water heating offers consistent and dependable hot water delivery at any time and from practically everywhere in your residence. You should understand how an electric water heater works in order to determine if it is worth purchasing, as well as how easy or difficult it is to maintain, service, or repair the appliance. Troubleshooting can be difficult, but if you understand how each component works and have the required tools and skills, you should be able to fix it on your own with no difficulty. Electric water heaters are often intended to heat water that has been held in a cylindrical storage tank, which is typically built of steel. Tank-type water heaters are what these are referred to as informally. Storage tank capacities range from 2 gallons to more than 100 gallons, depending on the model. When installing a water heater, small versions are often positioned close to the point of use, giving hot water to a single fixture, whereas bigger ones can give hot water to several fixtures or applications. Single-handle faucets, showers, bathtubs, dishwashers, and washing machines are examples of such appliances.

How does an electric tank-type water heater work?

In a nutshell, electric water heaters function by putting cold water into the tank, heating it with immersion heating elements, and then distributing the hot water from the top of the device throughout the residence via standard piping.

Electrical connections

Electric water heaters are powered by electricity and must be installed with a complete electrical system. Some smaller electric variants are delivered with an electrical chord that can be plugged into an outlet plug, however bigger models must be hardwired into the wall. When purchasing a larger unit (e.g., 30 gallons and higher), look for a junction box on the top of the container, where you or a technician may attach the electrical connections. To gain access to wires and connect to the circuit, you must first remove the cover from the junction box.

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Safety elements are protecting users and a water heater

The top thermostat is equipped with a reset button, which is also known as the ECO (emergency cut-off) switch or the high limit switch. This button is there for your protection. This is a safety feature that protects a water heater from being overheated and causing further harm to the unit. Anode rods are intended to protect the steel tank from rusting via corroding. In order to protect a water heater from high temperatures (more than 210 degrees Fahrenheit) and pressure (more than 150 psi), it is necessary to release hot water to the exterior of the building.

The drain valve, which is placed at the bottom of the water heater, is used to drain and flush deposits that have accumulated inside the tank of the appliance.

There is less energy waste as a result of the greater insulation.

How does an electric tankless water heater work?

Electric tankless water heaters are becoming increasingly popular. Electric tankless water heaters operate by heating cold water that passes through the unit with the help of coils. Tankless water heaters do not store hot water; instead, they heat just the water that is required. Electric tankless water heaters are intended to produce hot water on demand and constantly, allowing you to save up to 60% on your heating bills. In response to the activation of a hot water faucet, a flow sensor activates, therefore turning on the heating unit.

The hot water is subsequently provided to an open tap or to any other device that requests hot water from the system.

Electric water heaters are found in many houses throughout North America, and understanding how they function will assist you in properly maintaining, installing, or even repairing one of them.

If you’re interested in learning more about various types of water heaters, check out the following articles, which cover topics such as gas water heaters, tankless water heaters, and heat pumps.


How electric water heater works Typical 240 volt household water heater has 2 heating elements. the upper and lower elements. Elements are controlled by upper and lower thermostats. Each element is connected to a thermostat.Thermostats are mechanical bi-metal switches that read temperature through side of tank wall and turn elements ON and OFF. Typical water heater thermostats are not voltage specific, and are rated for residential 120 to 240 and any commercial voltages up to 480 volt, including 208, 277, 415, and 480 volt.Residential water heater thermostats can be manually set to temperatures between 90�F to 150�F, or 110� to 160�F, depending on brand and calibration. High Limit trips at 170�F.All thermostat settings are approximate. all values+/- 5%.Higher temperature settings use more electricity. Higher temps over 135�F risk scald and permanent injury.Average bath shower 104�F.Commercial water heater thermostats can have higher, more dangerous range of 120-180�F. Maximum temperature allowed for water heaters of all types is 210�F before the TP valve releases water. Higher temps risk violent steam explosion if TP valve is capped off or removed.Do not install high temperature commercial thermostats on residential water heater. It is unnecessary and dangerous. Typical bath-shower is 104�F.For safety and to avoid scalding, the recommended setting for all water heater thermostats (commercial and residential, gas or electric) that supply potable (drinkable) water into pipes where water can come in contact with people is 120�F.Higher temperature commercial thermostats are used for dishwashing and other high-temperature applications that are often governed by health codes, or need for space heating etc. but high temperatures are never introduced into water pipes where water can come into contact with people. A mixing valve is installed to temper or reduce temperature of very hot water to 120�F before it enters supply lines.ResourcesHow to adjust thermostatsHow to replace thermostat on electric water heater/ commercial and residentialHow to wire thermostatsAdvantages mixing valveHow to increase amount of hot waterElectric water heaters arenon-simultaneous Residential 240 volt 2-element electric water heaters arenon-simultaneous, as can be seen on product label located on side of tank. This means both elements are never ON at same time (simultaneously) unless specific wiring inside heater is changed significantly. One element is ON, or the other element is ON, or both elements are OFF.How to wire water heater for simultaneous operationUpper thermostat is main controller. Starting with a cold tank, upper thermostat turns on upper element until top 2/3 of tank reaches temperature setting. After top of tank is heated, upper thermostat turns-off upper element and sends power to lower thermostat which turns on lower element. Lower element runs until tank reaches temperature setting.Lower element turns on-and-off during standby hours to keep tank temperature at thermostat set point.There is no air inside tank When hot tap is turned on at kitchen sink, hot water immediately exits top of tank. Hot water travels through hot-side pipe until it reaches faucet. At same moment hot leaves top of tank, new cold water immediately enters bottom of tank through plastic dip tube pipe.To save energy, never turn on hot tap when using only cold. because new cold water that enters tank must be heated to set point.ResourcesRead about dip tube9-ways to save with water heaterDuring ‘standby’ hours, between hot water use, lower element maintains tank temperature. Lower element keeps water hot by turning-on approximately 1-4 minutes each hour throughout day and night which equals 45Kwh – 216Kwh each month for standby operation depending on tank efficiency, maintenance, and seasonal incoming cold water temperature. Newer tanks with more insulation, or tanks located in naturally warm area turn on less frequently.ResourcesSee math charts for heating waterKwh hour calculationsOnce hot water is used at faucet, cold water quickly fills bottom of tank. Lower element is a activated first, and when the upper part of tank is below set point, the lower element turns off and upper element turns on, and the heat cycle repeats.The temperature of incoming cold water affects how much energy is consumed. In winter, the incoming water is colder. Colder water means the elements must heat longer to reach the thermostat set point.Average groundwater temperatureTempering tank

Everything You Need To Know About Your Home’s Water Heater

It’s likely that you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about your water heater, which is a positive thing. As long as it is providing hot water, there isn’t much you need to do to maintain its operation. However, you should have at least a fundamental awareness of how the system operates and what alternatives you have when the heater needs to be repaired or replaced. There are four primary varieties of residential water heaters: tank-type, hybrid, tank-less, and point-of-use. Tank-type water heaters are the most common form of home water heater.

Hybrid vehicles are still in their infancy, but they are worth considering if you want to save as much energy as possible.

Listed below are brief descriptions of how each sort of device operates:

Tank-Type Water Heaters

JulNichols Photographs courtesy of Getty Images Westinghouse Electric Hot Water Heater Tank-type water heaters, which are often found in most households and are powered by either gas or electricity, serve the great majority of people’s needs. In general, gas water heaters are more expensive to purchase than electric water heaters, but they are less expensive to run since natural gas is less expensive than electricity. Electric water heaters, on the other hand, are more energy efficient than gas water heaters and have better efficiency-factor ratings.

  • The way it works is as follows: Cold water enters the tank through the bottom and is heated either by a gas flame below the tank or by electric components suspended inside the tank, depending on the model.
  • A pressure-relief valve is used to avoid an excessive accumulation of pressure within a holding tank.
  • As the water level in the tank begins to drop, it is automatically replaced with cold water, and the cycle is repeated once again.
  • If you’re in the market for a gas water heater, a condensing unit could be worth considering.
  • The entering cold water subsequently absorbs a significant amount of the heat emitted by the gases.
  • Another issue is that tank-type heaters consume energy (gas or electricity) 24 hours a day, seven days a week to keep the water at a constant temperature no matter how much or how little is being used.
  • GEGeoSpring Hybrid Electric Water HeaterA hybrid water heater is a tank-type heater that is also fitted with an electric heat pump for increased efficiency.

The consequence is that the hybrid model consumes 60 percent less energy than a standard water heating system.

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Furthermore, state and municipal energy incentives can help to reduce the time it takes to recover your investment even further.

They are also known as instantaneous or on-demand water heaters since they give hot water on demand.

The way it works is as follows: An electric tank-less water heater remains dormant until a hot-water faucet in the house is turned on.

As the cold water goes through the heat exchanger, it is heated to the temperature that has been specified.

Combustion gases produced by gas-fired units are expelled through a specialized, hermetically sealed vent pipe into the atmosphere.

Tank-less water heaters only heat water when it is required, as there is no storage tank to maintain.

And for even better energy efficiency, consider a condensing tank-less water heater, which operates with an efficiency rating between 90 percent and 98 percent; non-condensing tank-less heaters run with an efficiency rating of 80 percent or so, which is still quite good.

Furthermore, tankless water heaters have a lifespan of up to 20 years, which is nearly twice as long as traditional tank-type water heaters.

On the negative, tank-less water heaters are more expensive to purchase and install than normal water heaters, and they are also more expensive to repair than standard water heaters.

Point-of-Use Water Heaters

Electric Mini-Tank Water Heater from Bosch Point-of-use water heaters, in contrast to the previously described whole-house water heaters, are tiny, tankless types that supply hot water practically instantly to a single place, such as a bathroom sink or shower. It is most common to find this sort of electric heater placed at fixtures that are far away from the main water heater. This product’s most compelling feature is that it avoids the all-too-common inconvenience of opening the faucet and then waiting for hot water.

  • Most point-of-use units are about 10 in.
  • in size, making them small enough to fit within vanity cabinets and closets.
  • Heaters for single-family homes and small businesses are quite dependable, and they may easily endure for up to 25 years.
  • Assuming there isn’t a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) electrical outlet nearby where you want to plug the device in, you’ll have to contact an electrician to install one.
  • This material was generated and maintained by a third party and imported onto this website in order to assist users in providing their email addresses for further consideration.

Tankless or Demand-Type Water Heaters

Known as demand-type water heaters or instantaneous water heaters, tankless water heaters supply hot water only when it is required. They don’t cause the standby energy losses associated with storage water heaters, which can save money. Here you’ll discover basic information on how they work, why a tankless water heater would be good for your house, and what criteria to apply when picking the perfect type. Take a look at theEnergy Saver 101: Water Heating infographic to determine whether a tankless water heater is the best option for you, and our AskEnergySaver conversation on water heating for additional information on energy-efficient water heating.

How They Work

Tankless water heaters heat water immediately without the requirement of a storage tank. When a hot water faucet is switched on, cold water passes through a heat exchanger in the unit, and either a natural gas burner or an electric element warms the water. As a result, tankless water heaters produce a continual supply of hot water. You don’t need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with adequate hot water. However, a tankless water heater’s output restricts the flow rate. Typically, tankless water heaters deliver hot water at a rate of 2–5 gallons (7.6–15.2 liters) per minute.

Sometimes, however, even the biggest, gas-fired model cannot deliver enough hot water for simultaneous, numerous usage in large families.

To address this difficulty, you can install two or more tankless water heaters.

However, extra water heaters will cost more and may not be worth the additional expense. Demand water heaters are also used in the following other situations:

  • Bathrooms or hot tubs in a remote location
  • Increases the efficiency of household appliances such as dishwashers and laundry washers. Thermoelectric booster for a solar water heating system

Advantages and Disadvantages

Demand water heaters can be 24–34 percent more energy efficient than typical storage tank water heaters in residences that utilize 41 gallons or less of hot water per day on average. For houses that utilize a lot of hot water – around 86 gallons per day – they can be 8 percent to 14 percent more energy efficient than standard models. If you install a demand water heater at each hot water outlet, you may be able to achieve even larger energy savings in some circumstances. A tankless water heater will cost more up front than a normal storage water heater, but they will often live longer and have lower operating and energy expenses, which may more than compensate for their higher purchase price in the long run.

  1. They also feature readily changeable parts, which might potentially increase their lifespan by many years.
  2. With tankless water heaters, you won’t have to worry about the standby heat losses that come with traditional storage water heaters.
  3. When compared to a storage water heater, the removal of standby energy losses might sometimes outweigh the savings from using a tankless water heater.
  4. A tankless water heater’s pilot light has a cost associated with it that differs from one type to the next.
  5. Instead of a standing pilot light, look for versions that contain an intermittent ignition device (IID).

Selecting a Demand Water Heater

Before purchasing a demand water heater, you should take the following factors into consideration:

  • Consider the following factors as well when purchasing a demand water heater:

Installation and Maintenance

It is possible to maximize the energy efficiency of your demand water heater with proper installation and maintenance. A variety of elements influence the success of an installation. These considerations include the type of fuel used, the environment, the needs of local construction codes, and safety concerns, particularly with regard to the combustion of gas-fired water heaters. As a result, it is recommended that you use a licensed plumbing and heating professional to install your demand water heater.

  • Request written cost estimates, as well as contact information for references. Check with your local Better Business Bureau to see whether the firm is legitimate. Check to see if the firm will seek a local permit if one is required and if they are familiar with local building rules.

If you’re determined to install your water heater yourself, first speak with the manufacturer about the best way to proceed. The relevant installation and instruction manuals are normally available from the manufacturer. Contact your municipality for information on acquiring a permit (if one is required) and on water heater installation codes in your area.

Periodic water heater maintenance may considerably increase the life of your water heater while also reducing the amount of energy it consumes. Seek advice from your owner’s handbook on particular maintenance requirements.

Improving Energy Efficiency

Consider implementing some further energy-saving measures once your demand water heater has been properly built and maintained to help reduce your water heating rates. Some energy-saving gadgets and systems are more cost-effective to install in conjunction with a water heater than they are separately.

Heat Pump Water Heaters

A heat pump water heater is one that uses electricity to transport heat from one location to another rather than generating heat directly from the source. So they may save two to three times the amount of energy used by ordinary electric resistance water heaters, on average. Heat pumps operate in the same way as a refrigerator does in reverse to transport heat. Instead of drawing heat from within a box and distributing it across the room, a stand-alone air-source heat pumpwater heater draws heat from the surrounding air and transfers it to a storage tank where it may be used to heat water at a greater temperature.

  1. It is also possible to convert a heat pump to function in conjunction with an existing conventional water heater.
  2. The air that passes over the evaporator can be vented into the room or outside the building.
  3. Installing them in an area with excessive heat, such as a furnace room, will improve their efficiency.
  4. In the winter, these combination systems draw their heat from the outside air, while in the summer, they draw their heat from the inside air.
  5. Homeowners generally use geothermal heat pumps – which extract heat from the ground in the winter and from the interior air in the summer – to heat and cool their houses.
  6. You may use adesuperheater in conjunction with a geothermal heat pump system to heat your water.
  7. Afterwards, the hot water travels through a conduit to the storage water heater tank located within the home.
  8. Summertime: The desuperheater makes use of the extra heat that would otherwise be released to the ground by the air conditioner.
  9. During the autumn, winter, and spring, when the desuperheater isn’t producing as much surplus heat, you’ll have to rely more on your storage or demand water heater to meet your water heating needs.

In addition, some manufacturers provide triple-function geothermal heat pump systems that may be used for heating, cooling, and even hot water production. They employ a separate heat exchanger to satisfy all of the hot water requirements of a family.

How Does a Water Heater Work?

You will be better able to make educated decisions regarding your house if you are a well-informed homeowner, so it is crucial to understand the fundamentals of how your water heater works. Knowing even a few basic facts about your water heater will assist you in keeping it in good working order, as well as in determining when it is necessary to call a plumber.

A Little Hot Water History

Start by noticing and expressing gratitude for the fact that not only can we turn on a faucet and very instantly have access to hot water, but we can also have quick access to clean water by just turning on a faucet. It is frequently regarded as a modern-day luxury that we take for granted. Prior to the invention of the hot water heater, we relied on natural resources such as fire, hot springs, and natural gas to heat water for purposes such as cooking and bathing, among others. Edwin Rudd designed the automatic storage water heater in 1889, which is the type of water heater that most people are acquainted with today.

Fun Facts:

  • The typical lifespan of a storage tank water heater is 11 years (if adequate maintenance is performed). The typical human consumes around 64 gallons of water each day
  • Nevertheless, It is estimated that the average household will spend $400-600 per year to heat their water.

How Does a Hot Water Heater Work?

In most cases, a normal water heater will use a storage tank (which looks like a large metal cylinder and is commonly located in a laundry room, utility closet, or garage) and will either use gas or electricity to heat a certain volume of water at one time (depending on the size of your tank). Gas water heaters generate heat by burning a flame beneath the tank, whereas electric water heaters generate heat by heating the water with an electric heating element. Each tank contains inlets that allow water to enter and exit the tank in order to convey it to the location where it is needed (i.e.

Thermostats and a pressure release valve are also included to assist guarantee that the heating process does not result in dangerously high levels of water pressure during the process of heating.

  1. For the most part, water heaters employ a storage tank (which looks like a large metal cylinder that’s commonly found in a laundry room, utility closet, or garage) and either gas or electricity to heat a certain volume of water at a time (depending on the size of your tank). Heat is generated by a flame beneath the tank in gas water heaters, whereas heat is generated by an electric heater using a heating element. There are inlets and outlets on each tank that allow you to transport water to where you need it (i.e. shower, dishwasher, etc.). Thermostats and a pressure release valve are also included to assist guarantee that the heating process does not result in dangerously high levels of water pressure throughout the process of warming.
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**If you have a tankless water heater, the procedure is a little bit different. Because there is no storage tank, a heating exchanger is utilized to heat the water, which is a more efficient method. As a heat source, it makes use of natural gas, which allows heat to be transferred from the heat exchanger to the water. You will never run out of hot water with a tankless water heater, which makes it a perfect option for households with many family members or for households that use a lot of hot water.

Inside Your Water Heater

TANK– The tank itself is composed of a number of levels, each of which has a particular function. Heavy metal is used for the inner shell, which has a protective glass lining and has a capacity of around 40-60 gallons of hot water. The outside of the tank is coated with an insulating material, which is then covered with an outer layer (which is only for outward cosmetic purposes) and maybe an extra insulating blanket to provide more insulation. The gas valve or burner assembly (heating) is comprised of a flame beneath the tank, whereas the heating element in an electric water heater is comprised of an electric heating element.

  1. You should be able to customize the temperature to fit your requirements.
  2. It is positioned at the top of the tank and travels all the way down to the bottom, where the water is heated further.
  3. It’s actually a different component from the water heater, and it’s positioned outside and above the water heater itself.
  4. DRAIN VALVE– Although this valve is not used on a regular basis, it was designed to allow you to quickly empty the tank in order to replace the elements and remove sediment, or to relocate the tank to a new position.
  5. This is positioned on the exterior of the tank, near the bottom of the tank.
  6. The SACRIFICIAL ANODE ROD is a rod that is suspended in the water tank to assist in keeping the tank from being corroded.

It’s commonly composed of magnesium or aluminum, with a steel core as a supporting structure. If your water is really hard, this should be updated every 3-5 years, or more frequently.

Heating the Water

The temperature of the water within the tank is controlled by the thermostat on the water heater. According to most manufacturers, the suggested water temperature setting is between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature range of 120-140 degrees is ideal since it is hot enough for everyday usage without posing a danger of scorching. If you have youngsters in your house, you may wish to set the temperature at a more moderate level. Setting your water heater to a lower temperature also helps you save money on electricity, and you can even lower the temperature before you go for vacation to further reduce your carbon footprint.

  • A protective cover will need to be removed from an electric water heater in order for you to reach the control panel.
  • The heating element is activated until the water reaches the temperature that you specify.
  • It’s crucial to consider the recovery period of a hot water heater in this context.
  • As a result, if the temperature of all the water in your tank starts at 120 degrees, but you’re adding 50-degree water to the mix, the temperature will gradually decrease as you consume hot water.
  • When you utilize the thermometer, it creates a difference, which means that your heater will not switch on as soon as the temperature goes below your set point; otherwise, it would turn on all of the time.
  • Installing a low-flow showerhead or a recirculating pump, for example, can help reduce the quantity of water you use while also extending the period of time you have access to hot water.
  • *** As previously said, hot water heaters are relatively basic equipment that will last for 10-15 years if you take excellent care of them and keep them up to date.
  • Wes Holloway is an American actor.
  • He has a great deal of expertise in the home plumbing industry.

Pros and Cons of Electric Water Heaters

The reading time is 5 minutes. Heating water in your home consumes a significant amount of power. In reality, heating water accounts for around 12 percent of the total energy consumed by an ordinary home. The amount of energy your own water heater uses is determined not only by the amount of hot water you use, but also by the sort of water heater you place on your own property.

If you’re considering replacing your water heater in your house, it’s crucial to examine several different alternatives before making a final purchase decision.

Electric water heaters: what are the pros and cons?

Electric water heaters are one of the most common choices for household water heating, yet it can be difficult to understand the advantages and disadvantages of installing an electric water heater as opposed to a gas water heater in some cases. Some of the most significant advantages and disadvantages of utilizing an electric water heating setup are as follows:

Pros and cons of electric water heaters

Pros Cons
Low upfront costs Relatively slow heating time
Efficient use of energy Susceptible to power outages
Safe to operate High operating costs

Pros of electric water heaters

A number of factors influence whether or not a home should install electric water heaters instead of gas water heaters. The following are some of the most significant benefits that electric water heaters have over their competitors:

Lower initial costs

When it comes to upfront cost, an electric water heater is likely to be the most economical alternative among the several water heater options available on the market today. What’s more, the cost will be heavily influenced by the size and kind of water heater installed, independent of the fuel used to operate it. For example, standard tank water heaters are less expensive than tankless, on-demand water systems, which are often more expensive up front than tank water heaters. As a general rule, the price differential between different types of hot water heaters is mostly due to the cost of installation.

Electric water heaters, on the other hand, do not necessitate the installation of any new in-home equipment, making the installation procedure both easier and quicker.


Considering the energy factors of various water heaters is the most effective technique of comparing the efficiency of different water heaters (EF). This statistic assesses the efficiency with which a water heater produces hot water by evaluating how much fuel or electricity is necessary to heat your water to a desired temperature. The efficiency of each type of water heater may be easily compared using the EF numbers, which are relatively simple to calculate: greater efficiency heaters will have higher EF values.

Electric water heaters can have EF numbers more than 0.9, but conventional gas water heaters normally have EF numbers ranging from 0.5 to 0.7.


Water heaters, whether electric or gas, are both reliable and safe options for heating your water. In addition, water heaters, like any other equipment that runs on gasoline, are prone to gas leaks whether they are powered by propane or natural gas. By performing regular maintenance and inspections on your gas water heater, you may reduce the likelihood of these dangers occurring.

While electrical appliances have their own set of safety problems, the likelihood of witnessing a gas leak with a water heater is higher than the likelihood of observing any type of electrical safety issue with the same equipment.


Almost every residence is connected to the electric grid, and as a result, they all have access to a reliable source of electricity at all times (save for when the power grid is down). This implies that an electric water heater may be used efficiently in almost any home. A natural gas water heater, on the other hand, requires that your home be connected to a natural gas line or has access to a propane supply source before installation can be completed. If not, the expense of completing these improvements in order to install a gas water heater might be too expensive.

Cons of electric water heaters

A large majority of American homes are connected to the electric grid, and as a result, they all have easy access to an abundant supply of energy (save for when the power grid is down). As a result, an electric water heater may be used efficiently in almost any residence. Alternatively, if you’re considering installing a gas water heater, you’ll need to make sure that your property is either linked to a natural gas line or has access to a propane supply. Installing a gas water heater will be more expensive if you do not make the necessary upgrades beforehand.

Heating time and recovery rates

Does it seem like you spend a significant amount of time waiting for your shower water to heat up? With electric water heaters, this procedure will take even longer to complete than it would with a gas-powered water heater. This is due to the fact that the combustion process of gasoline creates heat more quickly (often even twice as quickly) as electric heating. Gas water heaters have a better recovery rate than electric water heaters (i.e. the amount of water the appliance can heat to a set temperature in a given time frame).

Households with only a handful of persons, on the other hand, will not require the same recovery rate that gas water heaters can provide.

Power outages

If the power system is disrupted by a storm or other incident, you will be unable to use your electric water heater because you will be without hot water. Gas water heaters, on the other hand, may continue to run even if the electricity is gone. This is an essential consideration if cost is a main factor in your selection. It is crucial to establish that your gas water heater does not require electricity to function before proceeding. It is possible that some contemporary gas water heaters will employ an electrical ignition rather than a pilot light, even if electricity is not the major source of fuel in the unit.

Operating costs

Despite the fact that electric water heaters are more energy efficient than gas water heaters, you will most likely spend less money overall if you heat your water supply with gas. Due to the high expense of the fuel source, this is the case. Natural gas is now one of the most affordable sources of energy, and in most circumstances, the cost of electricity will be significantly greater than that of natural gas. Because the rates of natural gas and electricity vary depending on where you live, it’s a good idea to evaluate the expenses of each before making a final decision on how you want to heat your drinking water.

Some utilities may provide financial incentives for the installation of electric water heaters, which can help to make this a more cost-competitive alternative.

Powering electric water heaters with solar panels

It is always possible to combine an electric water heater with a solar energy system if the only thing that concerns you about acquiring an electric water heater is the operating costs. By installing solar panels on your roof, you will be able to operate your water heater entirely on solar energy rather than electricity purchased from your utility provider. As an added benefit, solar panel systems may help you save money on more than just your water heating costs; they can also help you save money on your whole power bill (by reducing or even eliminating it entirely).

You may obtain up to seven customized solar quotations that are tailored to your specific home for free.

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