Learn how to correctly choose and install these 5 types of water heating system.
Commercial water heaters are crucial for some businesses. There are many considerations to take note of when choosing between water heater types. This post from the team here at Green Planet Plumbing, based in Newcastle, NSW, will discuss some important factors to help business owners decide on the correct type.
Tips on choosing the right commercial water heater
The specifications, prices and requirements of water heaters can vary significantly. As such, it’s important to consider some factors to get the correct commercial water heater for a business. Here are some ways to find the right unit for your business (Click on each one from the list below to find out more):
- Business type
- Frequency of use
- Frequency of peak use
- Your available space
- Heater efficiency
- Power source
- Tank capacity and flow rate/size
- Consider using multiple types.
The first factor is the type of business where the water heater will go. This will dictate the requirements regarding the specifications of the water heater.
For example, inns and hotels need a constant hot water supply for guests. Because of this requirement, a tankless water heater per bathroom is best. On the other hand, restaurants also have different requirements. For instance, kitchens need a constant supply, while bathrooms need less – in this case, a tankless or condensing water heater can work in the kitchen, and a storage tank heater is sufficient for the bathroom.
Frequency of use
Heavier use suits some commercial water heaters compared to others. Business owners need to first consider the frequency of hot water use before deciding on a heater type. There are two critical things to consider in this regard: the type of business and how many users the heater will accommodate:
- Business type: As was discussed earlier, some business types have more specific requirements regarding hot water use.
- Users: Naturally, the more users, the more intensive hot water use becomes. Heavier usage may require higher tank capacities or faster hot water production.
Businesses that use less hot water can go for storage tanks, solar, or heat pump water heaters. Tankless or condensing water heaters, on the other hand, are better for businesses that see constant hot water use.
Simply put, consider peak use when quantifying water usage. Installing a water heater system with peak use in mind prevents interruptions or inefficiencies regarding the hot water supply. This makes sure that production remains steady even if many people simultaneously tap into the supply. If you have no idea how to compute for water consumption during peak use may consult a plumbing service such as Green Planet Plumbing for help.
Available space is another important factor to consider when deciding on a water heater type. Take note of the following, as not all businesses have readily available space, so it pays to note which heater would work best with the usable space:
- Bulky water heaters: Some are bulky, like storage tank heaters and condensing water heaters. These need a large amount of space for installation.
- Special space requirements: Other types have special space requirements, like solar water heaters that need their panels exposed on the roof.
- Compact water heaters: The most compact types, like tankless water heaters, don’t need much space to install. However, these require special considerations regarding flow rate or pipe size.
Each commercial water heater type heats water differently. For example, some types use natural gas to gradually warm water stored in the tank. Other types use electricity to heat the water instantaneously.
Also, each type has a different energy requirement in heating water. Some, like heat pump water heaters, use up less energy. Others may require more electricity or natural gas to function.
The two factors mentioned above both play a big role in the heating unit’s efficiency. As such, make sure to pick a water heater that is efficient enough for the business’ needs. If the business involves relatively low amounts of hot water use, the less efficient heater types could work well. On the other hand, if hot water use is constant, it’s better to go for the more efficient types.
Survey the business’ water needs and try to strike a balance between cost and efficiency. This is one great way of deciding which type to get. If still in doubt, consult with a plumbing service regarding heater efficiency.
Some water heater types use gas, some use electricity, while others can use both. Make sure to check what power source a heater type uses before purchase. This is to prevent any unnecessary expenses on the business’ part – for instance, if there’s already a gas line installed, it might help to go for a gas-powered heater. Otherwise, an electrical heater would work.
Also, check for the gas or electricity capacity of the premises – larger water heaters are more power-intensive and are sometimes not compatible with low-capacity gas or electricity lines.
Aside from deciding on the type of water heater, it’s also crucial to factor in tank capacity or flow rate and size. The former applies more to water heater types with a tank, whereas the latter is more for tankless heaters.
How does tank capacity factor in? For water heaters with tanks, naturally, larger tanks lead to longer-lasting hot water supplies. As such, businesses that heavily use hot water should consider getting larger tank capacities. Conversely, those who use hot water sparingly can go with smaller tanks.
Tankless water heaters highly depend on flow rate and pipe size. This type heats water instantaneously as water flows through. As such, the heater’s size should match the pipe’s flow rate and size. Failure to do so can lead to uneven heating. If you are not certain about flow rate, size, and tank capacity, consult with a professional plumbing service.
Purchasing a water heating unit and having it installed is sometimes quite expensive, so make sure to do some research beforehand. Some types, like solar, condensing, and heat pump water heater units cost more than the others.
While these costs pay off in the long run due to savings in electricity or gas, do some accounting first. Try to determine how long the return of investment is and decide from there whether the cost for a particular unit is worth it or not.
Finally, businesses should not limit themselves to just one water heater type. If mixing and matching two or more types is worth it, then do so if they are efficient.
5 most common types of commercial water heater
The different types were mentioned multiple times earlier. Here is a more detailed explanation of each of the types:
1. Storage tank heaters
These are the most widely used water heater systems worldwide. As the name implies, they use a tank that contains water for heating.
Internally, they feature a heating system for warming water collected within the tank. Externally, the tank is insulated so that water can remain warm after heating. There are systems in place to allow users to control the heat and pressure of the water within.
Storage tank heaters are highly effective and affordable but only have a few extra features. The biggest drawback to using this type is that it could take a bit of time to refill and reheat the tank if the water runs out. This means that hot water use is generally limited based on tank capacity.
Finally, this type also requires little maintenance. Clean the tank twice a year to prevent internal corrosion. The heater will work just fine even without regular cleaning and maintenance. However, regularly getting rid of deposits in the tank will make it last longer.
2. Tankless water heaters
Tankless water heaters have become much more common in recent years. These systems don’t have tanks, and instead, they have metal coils that heat water almost instantaneously. Since there’s no tank, and because instant heating occurs, the hot water supply will never run out while the heater is functional.
Pros and cons of tankless water heaters
The biggest consideration for tankless water heaters is the size of the unit itself. Smaller heaters are suitable for lower water flows, like taps. Larger heaters are required for heavier flows.
Tankless water heaters have several advantages, such as:
- Energy efficiency, since these only heat water on demand. They don’t constantly have to heat the entire day compared as is the case with conventional heaters.
- Unlimited hot water, since no tank limits the capacity of hot water production.
- Space-friendly, because the heating unit is compact.
- Easy maintenance – only requires cleaning once a year.
Of course, there are also some drawbacks, like:
- Precise heater size is needed: Heaters that are too small will not heat effectively, while heaters that are too large will waste energy.
- Cost: Larger heaters may require increasing gas line size or electrical capacity.
3. Heat pump water heaters
Heat pump water heaters are innovative and work differently, using the heat present in the air and ground to transfer to the water for heating.
Other types of water heater use electricity to heat the water directly, but heat pump heaters use electricity to transfer heat from the air or ground into the water, using much less energy than the other types.
Some of the advantages of this type are:
- Energy efficiency, for reasons stated above.
- Saves money in the long run, because of the lower electrical consumption.
Some drawbacks are:
- Costly at first, because the unit itself is expensive.
- Limited use in cold weather or cold environments due to a lack of natural heat.
- Tank capacity can limit hot water availability.
4. Condensing Water Heaters
Condensing water heaters utilise flue gases for heating water. It redirects these gases away from the flue and uses that energy to heat the water within the tank.
This type comes with advantages like the following:
- Cheaper in the long run because it can save on natural gas use.
- Efficient. Since this type transfers heat to the water quickly, it speeds up hot water production.
- Environmentally friendly, using less energy than conventional heater types, while reducing greenhouse emissions.
Some disadvantages are:
- High initial cost because this type is quite expensive.
- Bulky,so it requires quite a bit of space to install.
- Difficult installation since gas lines and vents require reconfiguration before installation.
- Designed for heavy use, so it may not suit some businesses.
5. Solar Water Heaters
As the name implies, solar water heaters use solar energy to heat water. Solar panels mounted on the roof collect energy, then transfer this energy into a system that conducts heat. This heat-conducting material then uses the stored energy to heat the water stored in the tank.
Some of the benefits of solar-powered waters heater are the following:
- Environmentally friendly, because they use renewable energy.
- Money saving in the long run, because they don’t rely on electricity or gas.
Some drawbacks include:
- High initial costs, since the unit and installation fees can be pretty expensive.
- Productivity is dependent on sunlight, so consecutive gloomy days can affect heat production.
- Alternate heat sources can be required if sunlight isn’t enough to produce sufficient hot water. This means that a gas or electric heater works with the solar heater. These fail-safes kick in when sunlight is inadequate.
- Solar panels need enough roof space. Businesses with limited roof space may have trouble installing solar water heaters.
Call Green Planet Plumbing for your commercial water heater needs
Installing a commercial water heater, especially the more complex types, must be done correctly and safely, so ensure that you call a professional plumbing service for your commercial water heater needs.
If your business is in Newcastle, you are welcome to approach us, Green Planet Plumbing, for help. We are happy to hear about the water heater needs of your business, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Learn more about us by clicking here or contact us on 02 4911 9402. We are looking forward to hearing from you!