They are not really something you can get too exited about but they are something we cannot easily do without. We all want hot water. We need it to wash and bathe in and we need it to clean with. Some of us want to use it to warm our pools up, wash our cars, heat our homes or sit in our hot tubs but at the end of the day we all want hot water and the only easy way to get it is to use a water heater.
So thinking about it then, what types of water heater are there? Well there are four main types but most of us will only need to use one. I have three but I tend to use only one at a time, two at the most.
Solar water heaters. These types of water heaters rely on the power of the sun to heat your water. How efficient they are depends on the amount of sunlight they get so this usually depends on where you live. The more sunlight the better and the more intense the sunlight the better and if the climate is hot in the first place then the water is sort of pre heated to ambient temperature before the action of the sun. They are a good source of some hot water but are not really good enough to be classed as your main water heater so you will need a conventional water heater as a backup. Solar water heaters can also be used to help warm the water in your pool and for this they can be very efficient but again they rely on sunlight to provide a high enough water temperature. I have one of these and I am very impressed about how good it is as a water heater for my pool. It wasn’t cheap though.
Electric water heaters. This is the third type of water heater I have but it is my backup as it is relatively expensive to run but it is useful as within 15 minutes I can have hot water to use for a shower when returning from a vacation and the heating has been off. It is there as a standby for me but is very easy to use as I just switch it on and before long I have hot water. For many people who do not have a stove or fire type water heater this is one of the few choices you have and in this case they are very good. My first house had two sources of hot water. One was an electric powered shower and the other was the electric water heater which heated water in the hot tank. I had nothing else and it worked, but I found it much more expensive than using my wood stove or using solar energy.
Tankless water heaters work as a supply and demand system. In this system water is not heated in a storage tank. As you turn on your faucet/shower cold water travels through a pipe into the unity and a gas or electrical element heats the water. Since water is not being stored in a tank and it is not constantly being heated 24/7 the system is already saving you energy and money. As long as the demand is there the tankless water heater will supply you with hot water when needed.
The final type of water heater is a gas heater. These tend to heat both your hot water and provide heating for your house as well. Not all areas have a supply to gas although some people can also use a supply of bottled gas but this tends to be much more expensive than a piped supply. Gas heaters operate much faster than an electric water heater and they tend to be much cheaper to operate than electric if it is a piped supply so if you are looking to choose between the two then this may be your best choice.
Whichever system you decide to install, do your research first and work out which is the cheapest to operate. You will also need to look at the costs of the water heaters and the water heating systems you install and work out what is best for you.