Different Hot Water Heaters (and Which Is Best for Your Home) Part 2

There are just some things that a homeowner has to deal with – nosy neighbors, mowing the lawn, and if you stay somewhere more than ten years, you probably have to deal with getting a new hot water heater, too. This probably isn’t your favorite part about owning a home (it would be a little weird if it was), but it’s necessary. You’ll be thanking yourself down the road while you enjoy that hot shower.

If you’d like or need some help telling the difference between all those types of hot water heaters, we’re here for you.

Solar Water Heaters

One of the reasons solar heating for your hot water is appealing to people is because of cost-effectiveness. Able to be used in any climate, your fuel (sunshine) is free. All solar water heaters are made up of storage tanks and solar collectors (AKA solar panels). There are two types of solar water heaters, active and passive.


Active solar water heaters have circulating pumps and controls. There are two types of active solar water heating systems.

Direct circulation systems are where pumps circulate household water through the collectors and into the home. These typically work best in climates where it rarely freezes.

Indirect circulation systems circulate a non-freezing, heat-transfer fluid through the collectors and a heat exchanger, which heats the water that then flows into the home. These work well in climates where freezing temperatures are more common.


Passive solar water heaters are usually less expensive (but also less efficient) than active systems. However, they are considered more reliable and long-lasting. There are two types of passive systems.

Integral collector-storage passive systems work best in warmer climates, for households with large daytime and evening hot water needs.

In thermosyphon systems water flows through the system when warm water rises and cooler water sinks. They are more expensive than integral collector-storage passive systems. The collector also has to be installed below the storage tank, allowing the warm water to rise into that tank. These systems are reliable but heavy, so careful attention must be given to the roof design.

Before purchasing a solar hot water heater, take into account their cost and energy efficiency, the solar resource of your site, the size needed, and local codes, covenants, or regulations.

Heat Pump Water Heaters

Heat pumps are typically used to heat and cool homes themselves, but can also be used to heat water. They can be used as on their own as a water heating system or in combination with space conditioning.

As a water heater, they move heat from one place to another instead of generating the heat directly. This makes them two to three times more energy efficient than conventional electric resistance water heaters. It pulls heat from the surrounding air into the tank to heat the water.

Heat pump water heaters have specific temperature and space requirements – they needed to stay between 40º–90ºF and have at least 1,000 cubic feet or airspace. Cool air is often exhausted into the room, cooling the space around them, so it’s recommended to install them in spaces with excess heat (like the furnace room). Because the system pulls heat from the air around it, these systems tend to work more efficiently in a warm climate.

If you’re thinking of purchasing a heat pump water heater, keep in mind their size and first-hour rating, fuel type and availability, energy efficiency, and overall costs.

Hot water heaters got you feeling hot-headed?

Take a deep breath and call Flatley’s Plumbing Express today!

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