When your hot water heater goes (perhaps with a bang, a whimper or even a flood), it tends to go with little warning. At this point, you don’t have the luxury of comparing all the available options – unless you love cold showers, of course. Instead, you have to make a quick selection and arrange to have it installed as soon as possible. This is why it’s a good idea to think about replacing the heater before it’s carked it – it gives you time to compare.
What’s the best fuel source – electricity, gas, solar or a heat pump?
Systems that run on off peak electricity are easily the cheapest to run, but you will need a large tank to store water that has been heated overnight for use during the day. These heaters can be installed indoors or outdoors and cost between $300 and $1500 (not including installation).
Natural gas is a great option if you have access to it, as it’s cheaper than electricity (though gas prices are rising). They’re usually installed outdoors due to venting requirements but can be installed indoors with a flue. They cost between $900 and $2000 (not including installation).
These systems are only possible with a storage tank. If your solar panels can’t be installed in an ideal location, they will be less efficient. Tanks have an electric or gas booster to keep the water hot on days with less sunshine. They cost between $2000 to $7000 (not including installation).
? Heat Pump
These systems extract heat from the air and use it to heat water. Units are usually integrated but can also be split and need to be installed in well-ventilated areas. They tend to work best in warm and temperate regions. They cost between $2500 and $4000 (not including installation).
What’s the best type of tank – storage or continuous flow/instantaneous?
? Storage Tank
You will find that most electric, gas, solar and heat pump systems utilise a tank. The quality of your local water supply may actually dictate what type of tank will best meet your needs, so be sure to check with your installer for more information. Mild-steel tanks are known to corrode over time, whereas stainless steel ones will last longer but are generally more expensive. Tanks are always insulated.
? Continuous Flow
Also known as instantaneous hot water heaters, these systems only heat as much water as you need when you need it. Most units use gas, although electric models are available. They’re often cheaper to run that storage tank systems, as there is no need to keep stored water warm. The size you need will depend on the number of outlets the system needs to service and the number of people in your household.
If you’re wondering how to compare hot water heaters, we hope that the information provided above has given you everything you need to know. The first step should be to determine what fuel source you prefer, then you can move onto to determining what the most appropriate type of tank is for your personal situation. If you’re having any trouble choosing a heater for your home, speak to the experts – they’re more than happy to help.