The storage tank is the most common type of electric hot water system in Australian households. These water heaters use electricity to heat cold water which is then stored at a preset temperature in an insulated water tank. The tanks can store large volumes of hot water in order to provide continuous hot water during peak hours.
Instant water heaters are popular as they are more energy efficient and require less space to be installed. Unlike storage tanks, instant water heating operates on a demand-based system, in that, cold water is only heated when a tap is turned on. This is what makes them more efficient, however it can also cause a lag in the hot water supply depending on the demand.
Heat pumps function quite differently from the two previously mentioned hot water systems. Heat pumps use electricity to transfer heat. This is the most efficient form of electric water heating, however they can be prone to problems and replacement parts are often difficult to source.
Electric hot water storage systems usually have one or two electric elements located within the storage tank. Cold water is transferred into the base of the tank to be heated by these elements. As the water heats, it naturally rises to the top of the tank, where it is then stored until it is required to provide hot water for use in showers, sinks, dishwashers, washing machines, and so on.
The water temperature is controlled by external thermostats, often set to 60°C, that are connected to the heating elements. This temperature is both safe as well as being the minimum temperature required to prevent bacteria growth in the tank.
If the water pressure in the tank becomes too high, water will be automatically released through a pressure relief valve, flowing through an overflow pipe.
These water heaters are still the most common in Australia households, so what makes them so popular?
If long term running costs are a top priority for you, storage hot water heaters probably shouldn't be your top pick.
Instant electric hot water systems are a space saving innovation that provide hot water instantly when required.
Also known as continuous flow heaters, instant water heaters rely on a heat exchanger. When a demand for hot water is registered, cold water is transferred through a copper pipe coiled in the heat exchanger where it is heated before being delivered to the desired water outlet.
Instant electric water heaters are a good investment for those wanting to save money on their energy bills, being more efficient than their storage counterparts.
They are fast, efficient, and save on space, but there are some notable drawbacks to instant hot water systems.
Electric hot water systems are reliable and generally easy to install and maintain, but with rising electricity prices, they may not be right for you. It is also worth noting that, due to their inefficiency, electric storage hot water systems are being gradually phased out in some locations. In these cases, gas and solar become the only water heating options.
If you are in need of a new hot water system and are unsure which choice is ideal for you, the team at Jetset Plumbing are always ready to help. With years of knowledge and experience, our experts will be able to evaluate your household's needs and make personalised recommendations based on their findings.
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