Water Heater Options That Will Work for Your Commercial Building
Whether you need hot water for manufacturing or processing operations, for sanitation, for client health and safety, or for simple cleaning, it is important that you choose the best kind of water heater to provide the amount of hot water you need when you need it. Commercial building owners and managers have several water heater options to choose from. Any one or a combination of water heater styles and types could be sufficient for your needs, depending on your requirements.
Styles of Water Heaters
Water heating accounts for a substantial percentage of a building’s monthly energy budget. Water heaters typically burn fuel or use electric heating elements to produce hot water. The two main styles of water heaters are:
- Tank storage styles: These water heaters produce hot water and store it in an internal tank until the hot water is used. These are the most common types of residential and commercial water heaters. They provide a reliable but finite supply of hot water. Tank-style water heaters can sometimes waste energy and money when water in the tank cools off and must be heated again before it can be used. In most cases, however, additional insulation can be applied to the tank to prevent excessive heat loss during storage.
- Tankless or demand styles: Tankless water heaters, also known as demand or instantaneous water heaters, produce hot water on the spot without the need for storing any water in a tank. They use heating elements to heat water as needed. Since no water is stored in a tank, there is no chance of wasted energy and money from heat loss. Tankless heaters also have the advantage of producing a steady flow of hot water without concern for running out of water when the tank goes dry.
Whichever style of water heater you choose, make sure the heater is properly sized to provide the amount of hot water you need. Your HVAC professional can help you determine your water needs and select a water heater that will be able to supply the required amount of hot water. In general, your water heaters should be able to produce somewhat more than the total amount of hot water needed during peak times of water usage. You can attain additional savings on fuel costs by looking for high-efficiency water heaters that carry the U.S. government’s Energy Star certification. An Energy Star water heater can often save 25 percent or more over the monthly operating costs of uncertified models.
Water Heater Fuel Types
Water heaters need energy to either produce the flames or power the heating elements that heat the water. When choosing a water heater, you often have choices such as:
- Electric: These units use electricity to warm up heating elements that transfer their heat to the water inside the system. They widely available and are very common in American homes and commercial establishments.
- Gas: Natural gas water heaters use a gas supply to generate flames that produce hot water. Natural gas is a relatively economical and efficient fuel supply and is usually readily available from local utility companies in urban and suburban areas. The advantage to gas models is that a supply of natural gas is quickly and consistently available through the utility company.
- Oil: Oil-burning water heaters also produce flames, but the fuel they use is most commonly stored on-side in a large tank. These types of water heaters can also be highly efficient, but if they run out of oil, they won’t work again until the tank is refilled. Another disadvantage is that oil must be bought in large amounts at one time, which could create problems with monthly budgeting.
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