Whilst almost everyone has a hot water system in their home, we often don’t think about them until they stop working.
Although a plumber generally takes care of the installation and maintenance, it doesn’t hurt to know a little bit about different types of hot water systems, how they are installed, how to maintain them, and how to tell if there’s a problem. That’s why we’ve compiled all of the basics into this helpful guide.
Types of hot water systems
There are two main types of hot water systems that you should know about: instantaneous (also called continuous flow), and storage. Instantaneous systems can run off gas or electricity, and they work by heating the water as you need it.
Storage systems, on the other hand, involve a hot water tank built from either vitreous enamel or stainless steel. It’s important to consider the material carefully, as it affects the initial cost of the system, the lifespan, the purity of the water, and how much maintenance will be required.
Another important decision to make with storage hot water systems is which size you need, based on your consumption. Most tanks offer a rough guide as to what size household it is suited to, however you should consider your individual circumstances. For example, if all members of your household take their showers at around the same time, you may require a larger tank.
Aside from the two types of hot water systems discussed above, there are also hybrid systems. These combine advantages of both storage and instantaneous systems and don’t require a large tank.
Powering Hot Water Systems
There are four different power sources available for hot water systems. These are:
- Solar power
- Heat pump
Electric systems run off your home’s usual power system, whether that’s from the grid or solar panels. Whilst these systems are popular, they are the least energy-efficient option, unless if you are using solar.
Meanwhile, gas systems can run off the natural gas mains or an LPG gas tank. They are considered to be fairly energy efficient, and even more efficient than solar systems that are boosted by non-renewable electricity.
That brings us to solar boosted hot water systems. They obtain most of their power from the sun but are generally boosted by gas or electricity. Whilst these systems are often more expensive to install, you will most likely save money in the long run. This is also true for heat pump systems.
Installation of hot water systems
Once you have found the perfect hot water system for your household, it is time to install it. Whilst some people opt to do this themselves, there are a lot of common mistakes made by people who don’t know what they’re doing, and you may permanently damage the system.
Furthermore, your warrantee may be voided if the system is not installed by a licensed plumber.
In some cases, you may require the assistance of an electrician to install a hot water system, as well as a plumber. We recommend always leaving hot water system installation to trusted professionals.
The installation may take a couple of hours, however, this will depend on several factors. Firstly, if the old system needs to be removed, this may take approximately one hour.
Secondly, if you are replacing the old system with something almost identical then this will be faster compared to replacing it with something different. However, this isn’t a reason to not shop around and consider the best option.
Hot water system maintenance
Whilst most maintenance of hot water systems should be left to professionals, it’s helpful to at least be familiar with your system, and recognise when something isn’t right.
Two of the most important things to know about are the temperature-pressure release valve and the sacrificial anode. Ask your plumber to show you where they are and how to check them next time you have your hot water system installed or serviced, and you save yourself a lot of money and property damage in the long run.