Water Heater Buying Guide

If you are planning to buy a new water heater or geyser, you may very well end up being puzzled by the types of water heaters and geysers, models and sizes available. What you eventually choose will depend mainly on the purpose of the hot water, where you install the apparatus, bathroom spacing, your preference for instant geyser or storage geyser, and yes, your budget! Consumer VOICE brings to you this buying guide to assist you to consider important factors and features of a water heater before taking a decision.

Factors to consider before buying a water heater

Here is a compilation of all the things you should know before making the all-important purchase.

1. Type of water heater or geyser

The first decision is necessarily about the heating method: electric or gas? An electrically heated storage-tank system is usually relatively cheap to buy and install, but is usually the most expensive to run, especially if it’s on the continuous (full day) rate. Electric instantaneous water heaters are also available. An LPG water heater is a good option if you want an instant water heater. It’s cheaper than the electric type.

Then there is the solar water heater (SWH), which is the conversion of sunlight into heat for water heating using a solar thermal collector. A sun-facing collector heats water that passes into a storage system for later use. You need a large tank to allow for days with less sunlight. If your panels cannot be installed in an ideal location, they may be less efficient and you will then need a larger collection area.

2. Storage tank or instantaneous water heater

The next decision is between a water heater with storage tank and one that heats water instantly. Most electric, gas and solar water heaters have a tank. Stainless steel tanks are more expensive but generally last longer and do not require as much maintenance as mild-steel tanks. Water heaters with copper tank are best but costlier.

Instantaneous or continuous-flow water heaters give only as much water as you need, when you need it. They are not truly instantaneous, though – it can take a few seconds before hot water starts flowing from the tap, especially when there is a fair distance of the pipe between the water heater and the tap. Instantaneous water heaters are available in gas and electric models. There are no heat losses; they are often cheaper to run than storage systems.

3. Household size and water usage

What is the right size of water heater will depend on how much hot water you use. For a small household (about 2 persons), an instantaneous water heater (gas or electric) will do just fine. For a medium-size household (3 to 4 persons), gas systems (instantaneous water heaters or storage) may be preferred. For a large household (5 persons+), multiple instantaneous water heaters may be an option; gas storage units may be more economical but are equally risky due to release of carbon monoxide in the closed toilets.

4. Energy efficiency or star ratings of an electric water heater

Electric water heaters have energy-efficiency star rating labels; the more the stars, the more efficient is the water heater. The highest rating is five stars. The modern tankless water heaters are much more energy-efficient than the traditional ones. When the water in the tank cools off, the power kicks in and heats it up again. An energy-efficient water heater saves you money on your monthly electricity bill. Before buying a water heater, look for one with a higher star rating.

5. Space matters

A conventional water heater is bulky in size and may take up a good amount of space in your house. On the other hand, a tankless water heater is compact in size and takes up significantly less space than a conventional tank.

6. Longevity

A tankless water heater’s longevity is more than that of a hot-water tank heater because the latter is subject to decay. A tankless on-demand water heater’s lifespan is approximately 20 years, compared to 10 to 15 years for a tank-type water heater. Tankless water heaters also have easily replaceable parts that extend their life.

Features to Consider

  • Auto-off: This is a very useful feature and needs to be present in all appliances. In a heater with the auto-off feature, the appliance automatically turns off thereby preventing unnecessary power consumption.
  • Power consumption: A water heater may contribute as much as 15 per cent of your electricity bill. Winters are when you usually make most use of your water heater and hence its energy efficiency should be considered. Nowadays all home appliances are star-rated and opting for products with high star ratings is advisable.
  • Capacity: The capacity of the water heater is important to consider. It is advisable to opt for instant water heaters for small requirements as it is budget-friendly and occupies very less space as compared to water heaters with storage tank.
  • Hard water: Hard water is high in dissolved minerals, both calcium and magnesium. This kind of water requires special attention when you are buying a water heater. You will need to go for a corrosion-resistant tank and also install a water softener so as to reduce the water hardness.
  • Safety: Water heaters come with a thermostat capable of heating water up to 60 degrees – this also means you should be sure of mixing the water with normal to cold water. Most of the branded storage water heaters carry the ISI mark—assuring one of basic safety parameters.

Warranty: Warranty coverage for most water heaters is 1 year to 2 years. Choose a water heater with the longest warranty.

Consumer VOICE recommendations or tips before buying a water heater or geyser

  • Buy branded electric water heaters ONLY.
  • Look for a product with the ISI Mark to ensure safety.
  • Five-star rating is preferable.
  • By reducing the temperature setting of water heater from 60 degrees C to 50 degrees C, one could save over 18 percent of the energy used at the higher setting.
  • Location of installation of the water heater is very important. People living near the coast have to take corrosion into account. Saline water can also corrode internal parts of the water heaters.

Our experts compared popular water heaters to help consumers  decide which is the best water heater to buy. 

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