What is a Water Heater and How Does it Work?

As simple as it sounds, a water heater’s job is to warm up your domestic water. Whenever you want to take a hot shower, or maybe do your laundry, this simple-looking machine supplies cold water from the mains and heats it. Let’s not forget that you also use this water for cooking and cleaning purposes. It’s important to mention that in the UK, any water unit that receives water from the public mains should comply with the water supply regulations.

On the outside, this cylindrical appliance looks ordinary, but the insides are complex for someone with lack of experience. Each water heater includes a heating element, powered by fuel or electricity. Depending on the model, the type of fuel can vary. Before getting to the model and types of fuel, let’s discuss the difference between a water heater and a boiler.

The Difference Between Boilers and Water Heaters

Now that we know how a water heater works, it is time to define how water heater and a boiler differ from each other:

Things to Consider Before You Buy a Water Heater

Size and Capacity

When sizing your water heater, you should consider the type and technology your water heater uses. To choose the proper size for an on-demand water heater, you need to know the number of appliances and taps that can use hot water simultaneously. To that, consider the maximum flow rate of your appliances and the temperature rise. 

It is not a secret that the bigger the family, the higher the hot water consumption. That is why you need to have a water heater that can store enough water for your household. Here are some recommendations in terms of water heater capacity:

Flow rates are usually presented in the manufacturers’ manuals and counted in litres per minute. Sum the flow rates of your appliances, and you will find an estimated maximum of a flow rate needed for your household. 

Temperature rise is a difference between the desired water and the incoming water temperatures. For most domestic appliances, the desired temperature is around 49 ?. On average, the incoming water temperature in the UK is equal to 10?. Therefore, you need to have a water heater that can produce a temperature rise of at least 39 ?. The higher the temperature level, the bigger the size of the water heater. 

To correctly identify the needed size of a water heater with a storage tank, you need to think of what time of the day you and your family use hot water the most. Consider what is the maximum amount of water you use in that hour.

On average, one minute of a shower is equal to 12 litres, a single dishwasher program uses approximately 10 litres, and a load of laundry needs 60-70 litres per single wash. Compare your results to the water heater’s first-hour rating, that you can find in the manufacturer’s instructions. Search for the models that match your peak hour demand within 3 to 6 litres. 


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