Monday, September 30, 2013

Electric Water Heaters

            It is nice to have hot water in your home.  It is good for cleaning dishes, clothes, and us (people)!  It is also something that we don’t think much about unless it runs out some day.  There is nothing more frustrating than being in the middle of a shower or washing dishes and all your water has gone cold!  This is where water heaters come in.  There are many different types of water heaters, among them are electric, natural gas, and propane (lp) water heaters.  Today I want to focus on the electric category.

            The most basic and fairly common water heater in the US is the upright model.  The residential models usually come in 40 and 50 gallon capacities, tall and short models.  They heat water by filling up the tank, and once there is water inside the tank there are two heating elements that warm the water until they reach the set temperature on the thermostats. 

Among this type of model is also the direct vent electric water heater.  They are used in places where there isn’t much combustion air and have a vent kit to redirect the air.  They are used inside mobile homes, for example.  The difference between them and a regular unit is that they have a vent on top of them and need additional parts to vent it to the outside air.

When you have limited space available you may consider getting what is called a low boy water heater.  They can range anywhere from around 19 gallons in capacity up to 47 gallons.  They are designed to fit in tight spaces, so they are shorter than a regular tank.  There are also utility models that have smaller ranges of capacity so that they can be used only for appliances such as dishwashers and washers.  The gallon capacity goes as low as 6 gallons and as high as 30 gallons.

More recent on the market is the tankless water heater.  It is much smaller than other units because it is just as the name says: there is no tank (tankless). This means that the water is heated as it is turned on, instead of being stored in a tank and heated throughout the day.  These models are good when you want to be energy efficient; they are the “green” model.  The difference is that if you are trying to run your dishwasher and/or clothes washer while taking a shower at the same time, it may not be able to heat all the water that you need.  If this is a major problem, you can install a separate unit that is specifically for your appliances.

Whatever application you need hot water for, there are many options and styles available.  Electric water heaters are nice in the fact that you don’t have to worry about gas leaks and the pilot light going out, causing the water to not be heated.  Your electric bill will be a little higher, but it is a small price to pay when it comes to the safety of your home.

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