A water heater can account for at least 25 percent of the energy utilized in an average home. That is why, most people have started opting for energy efficient water heaters that conserve energy and save money. There are many types of water heaters provided by well-known brands like Bajaj and Racold, which are available at a very affordable price. Many factors are to be considered when buying a new water heater. Some of these include the unit’s energy efficiency, type, size and installation requirements.

Purpose of this buying guide

The immense progress on the technology front has enabled users to get a number of water heating products with high-end features. However, this has made it difficult for users to choose an ideal water heater for their needs. Also, there has been a steady decrease in the water heater prices. Here, we have highlighted some essential factors that need to be considered when buying a water heater. This, buying guide is a simplified walk through to clear you confusions and enable you to buy a perfect water heater for your home.

What is a Water heater?

Water heaters usually look like big metal cylinders or tall drums that are installed in a bathroom. Currently, there are many different styles of water heaters available that offer some interesting features. Water heater is a pretty simple appliance which has a drum filled with water and equipped with a heating element on the bottom or inside. The instant water heater is the most popular which has an ingenious design and offers high performance to users.

Types of Water Heaters

storage water heaters

Storage Tank Heaters

Water heaters come in various types that range from storage tank designs and tankless models. The main features of the storage tank model include an insulated steel cylinder, valves, a thermostat and control panel. In a water heater, the cold water enters through the inlet port located in the lower portion of the tank. An automatic shut off valve and relief valve exists on the water supply line. It also has thermostat cycles that can help the heating element to maintain an appropriate water temperature. The water is released as soon as the water inside the tank reaches a pre-set temperature. There is a separate hot water supply line through which the heated water is released. In case the water pressure in the tank reaches an unsafe level then the relief valve releases the excess water. Also, the lower portion of the tank has a drain valve which removes the excess sediment that gets accumulated inside the water heater.

Nowadays, many water heaters come with control panels that provide users with the capability to monitor the performance of the unit. Also, instead of installing a whole new tankless system, it is preferable to get a storage tank heater which is less expensive than the tankless unit.

tankless water heaters

Tankless Water Heaters

These water heaters are also known as instantaneous water heaters. It is a tankless system that doesn’t store and continually heat water. When the hot water faucet is opened, the system gets activated. An electromagnetic reaction triggers the heating element as the water begins to flow. The water is heated to the desired temperature when it passes through these elements. This water heater conserves energy and reduces utility bills.

As opposed to conventional water heater, a tankless unit provides a continuous supply of hot water. It heats the water very quickly enabling users to take a shower immediately. This water heater also eliminates the risk of water damage that can be caused due to a leaky water tank. Some of the tankless models can supply water to a single faucet in one room or an entire house.

Energy Source

Electric, Gas and Oil Units

A water heater usually uses electricity or gas to heat the water. There are also some water heaters that use home heating oil. The electrical water heaters are very inexpensive as they are easy to install and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. A gas unit runs on either natural or propane gas. As it has a burner unit, this water heater is quite expensive.

Hybrid Design

The latest innovation in storage tank design is a hybrid system. These units incorporate heat pump technology into a traditional electric water heater. The heat pump removes heat from the surrounding air and uses it to increase the temperature of the water. These water heaters are more expensive than the traditional water heaters but save energy and reduce utility costs. They are usually installed in basements as they need at least 1,000 cubic feet of space along with a condensate pump or drain. These water heaters generate more noise as compared to the traditional water heaters.

Solar Water Heater

Solar Water Heaters

An eco-friendly solution to fulfill the hot water requirements in a home is to get solar power water heater. It has a roof mounted solar collector that absorbs energy from the sun to heat the fluid in a closed loop system. The loop runs through the water tank after which the heat energy is transferred to the water. These water heaters are ideal for tax credits and help in compensating for their high price. This water heater gives the best performance in warm and sunny climates.

Additional Water Heater Features

Flammable-Vapour Ignition Resistance

The water heater needs to be equipped with a flammable vapour ignition resistance (FVIR) which proves beneficial when evaluating a gas-fired unit. This feature helps in preventing against flashback fire. The flashback fire occurs when flammable vapours like paint thinner or gasoline contact the burner unit or pilot light. If you are using a gas-fired water heater inside your home then it is also essential to install carbon monoxide detectors.

Anti-scale Devices and Drains

The anti-scale devices are designed to reduce the mineral deposits accumulated in the bottom of the water storage tank. These mineral deposits can shorten the serviceable life of the heating elements inside the tank. The drain valves on the storage tank may contain plastic or brass. These valves can be connected to a garden hose to drain the unit and perform routine maintenance. Brass valves have a longer life and make a better hose connection.

Glass-lined Tanks

You could buy a water heater that has a glass-lined storage tank. During the manufacturing process, a special coating is applied to the inside of the tank that reduces the corrosion of the storage tank.

Advanced Water Heater Technology

High Efficiency

Water heating efficiency is measured by Energy Factor (EF) rating. The most efficient water heater is the one that has the highest EF rating. Usually, the most efficient models are more expensive than other models. However, they are designed to save money and run efficiently in an environment friendly way.


Energy Star is a trusted and government backed symbol for energy efficiency. It helps consumers to save their money and protect the environment through energy-efficient products. Many of the energy-conscious users opt for Energy Star approved models as they give environmental benefits and are beneficial for long-term savings.

Intuitive Technology

Currently, there is a new line of water heaters that comprises of temperature and other operating features which can be adjusted based on the needs of the users. Some of the benefits offered by this technology include better energy efficiency, increased durability and smarter performance.

Premium Electronic Gas Valve

Some of the water heaters available, today, feature a new, advanced electronic gas valve. They have less moving parts as compared to conventional mechanical gas valve. So, they provide reliable and accurate performance with better temperature control and faster hot water recovery. The thermopile powers this innovative valve. As such there is no need of any external power for it.

Dry-Fire Protection

The dry-fire protection is available in electric water heaters. It ensures that the upper element doesn’t burn out when the unit is not able to sense water around it.

Water Heater Accessories

There are many kinds of accessories available for water heaters that improve its safety and efficiency.

Water heater stands

These are used to raise gas units above the ground. They help in reducing the risk of fire if there is any flammable liquid spill nearby.

water heater pan

Water heater pans

The water heater pans sit under the heater. Its main use is to collect water from leaks or overflows that are caused by excess pressure in the tank. It has an opening in the side for a drain hose which carries the overflow water away.

Water alarms

Water alarms are on the floor or in the pan that is beside the water heater. The alarm senses the liquid that has leaked from the heater and gives an audio alarm to alert the user.

Expansion tanks

These tanks are plumbed to the water heater. They are designed to hold the extra volume of water that is produced when cold water is heated in the tank.

Pressure regulators

Pressure regulators are connected to the outlet side of the water heater. This ensures that the water pressure doesn't exceed beyond the preset limit. The interior pipes are protected from leaking or bursting by regulating the pressure. The bursting of pipes occurs due to the pressure surges in the plumbing system.




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