Handy Water Heaters
No matter how you view it, heating hot water can be a costly exercise, especially if not done correctly. By the time hot water travels from the hot water heater through metres of pipe, the tap has sent litres of cold water down the drain. This equates to wasted energy and water which are both precious resources.
There are two main approaches available when providing hot water to residential and commercial properties.
A single storage or reticulated instantaneous water heater will generally be installed in houses and will meet the demands of all the sinks, showers and appliances around the house. Small facilities may be able to follow in the same approach; however, larger facilities will generally require smaller water heaters installed close to the appliances they are servicing.
“The demand for instantaneous electric water is going to continually grow,” says Zip Director Alan Butler. “Growing demand will come from a combination of factors such as Government legislation, end-user demand for compact units and a push by the housing industry to gain an edge on the competition.
“Most of all, demand will come from the plumbing industry sellers and tradies who want to provide a better product – at attractive margins – that takes less time and space to install and which delivers a better service and reliability record,” says Alan.
THE INSTANT ADVANTAGE
Point-of-use water heaters supply hot water to a single fixture such as a kitchen sink or shower. Their small stature allows them to be installed either above or below a fixture and they can be kept out of sight, such as in a cupboard.
Plumbers are presented with a great opportunity to provide their customers with instant hot water that requires little space and effort to install. This also presents an opportunity to supply hot water to areas that were not previously thought possible.
There are several products on the market for both residential and commercial applications but for the purpose of this article we’ll be focusing on single phase models.
STIEBEL ELTRON DHC INSTANTANEOUS SINGLE PHASE WATER HEATER
Stiebel Eltron have been involved in the heating of domestic hot water for almost 90 years, having produced more than 20 million water heaters in this time.
“The Stiebel Eltron DHC was the first electrical single phase instantaneous water heater to be WaterMarked to the Australian Standard,” says Stiebel Sales Director, Darren Fletcher.
“For years there were no other instantaneous water heaters on the market but four or five have now popped up in the space of 12 to 18 months so it is definitely a growing market.”
The hydraulically controlled DHC single phase instantaneous water heater utilises a tubular heating element encased within a pressure tested copper casing and is suited to servicing smaller hot water requirements, such as sinks and basins.
“There appears to be some confusion in the marketplace regarding suitability of these models and the difference between single phase and three phase models. It is important to realise that ‘energy in translates to energy out’, hence you won’t get the same performance from a single phase water heater as you would with a three phase.
“For example, the DHC single phase model is not recommended for residential showers; however, you can get away with it in an office shower that doesn’t get used on a regular basis. Water pressure and temperature is compromised in a shower so it pays to steer customers away from single phase water heaters in a residential shower. It will save you the hassle of dealing with dissatisfied clients later on.”
The compact size of the DHC allows it to be installed in areas where conventional storage systems won’t fit, thanks to the fact that it does not require a safe tray or drainage (check local regulations).
“Although they are not plug in appliances; the hard wiring required is a one off expense at the time of installation. The units are able to supply hot water to many isolated fixtures and as such you can avoid the delays experienced when waiting for hot water to arrive,” says Darren.
This allows your customers to enjoy a significant saving on their electricity and water bills.
CHRONOMITE TANKLESS ELECTRIC WATER HEATER
The Chronomite is a tankless electric water heater designed to be installed at point-of-use applications. Kel Lupis is director of RBA Group and says what sets this unit apart is its micro size.
“There are no size issues compared to tank systems,” says Kel. The micro units utilise a microprocessor to control the output temperature to no greater than 50°C. This means you don’t require a tempering or thermostatic mixing valve on standard installations (TMV is required for aged or health applications).
The bare element assembly houses a series of coils that instantly heat water as it flows through the unit. A unique flow switch automatically applies electric current to the coils only when hot water is requested. The electrical current is not applied when water is not in use.
With the series, the microprocessor can be pre-set at the factory to maintain constant output temperature, even at varying flow rates of the unit so as to minimise power use. It will only draw the power it needs to hit the set temperature.
“The bare wire technology allows the unit to be up to 99% efficient in its energy transfer,” Kel says.
The unit is best designed for point of use low flow applications. Hand washing, kitchenettes, low flow showers and any other low water use point application where tempered water is required.
As is the case with other point-of-use water heaters, the Chronomite only requires a cold water line to the point of use. There is no TMV or tempering valve on standard applications, it fits neatly under the bench, creating more space and it eliminates ‘dead leg’.
“There are great energy savings especially for low use areas as you are not keeping water hot 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” Kel says.
As for maintenance, a visual inspection for damage or leaks can be done as well as cleaning of outlet fixture strainers to ensure flow rate is correct. Testing of output water temperature is also done to ensure the unit is functioning within tolerances.
ELWA HOTRUN RANGE
Elwa has developed a range of electric continuous flow water heaters that improve water delivery and energy usage. They have been manufactured in Germany since 1988 and utilise electronic temperature limiter/controllers that are developed and made in South Australia.
“HOTRUN water heaters can be fitted in any position – horizontal or vertical – above or under a sink, providing complete flexibility of installation,” says Director, Sales & Marketing, Margot Sage. “This is made easier thanks to its compact size. Its height and width comes in smaller than an A4 piece of paper.”
All units perform on mains pressure from 100kPa. The HOTRUN can be connected to more than one outlet, but the closer to the point of use, the better for water and energy efficiency.
“While the HOTRUN range is ideal in commercial environments such as schools and hair salons, there are benefits available to residential customers too,” Margot explains.
“For customers who are extending their properties to include a third bathroom or outdoor kitchen, the HOTRUN is ideal to place at the point of use as it negates the need for extended pipe runs that experience heat loss. Customers have also found the HOTRUN range to be ideal for holiday houses that do not require hot water all-year-round.
“The HOTRUN-T range is ideal for personal hygiene applications due to a unique built in tamperproof temperature limiter. Being tamperproof makes the HOTRUN-T range ideal for schools, aged care facilities and detention centres,” says Margot.
To complete the range, Elwa has developed an all-in-one solution for hand washing which comprises of a quality made stainless steel basin with a sensor tap and HOTRUN-T built in.
“These units were originally designed for McDonald’s restaurants in Europe but have also become ideal for medical facilities where separate hand washing areas are essential. They also make for a great solution for bars and food handling premises which require mandatory hand wash basins to be installed,” says Margot.
For easy installation, Elwa make all of the HOTRUNs plug and play. They are supplied with a cord for hard wiring and two approved hoses for the hot and cold water connections.
The range is available in single phase; however, the various kilowatt ratings dictate which models are best-suited to various applications – so size up correctly. The 7.2 and 9kW models come in 2-phase and a new range of advanced 3-phase electronic controlled models for apartments and larger demand applications has just been launched.
ZIP INSTANTANEOUS HOT WATER
Zip has developed a range of hot water heaters to satisfy a growing demand for the technology.
“The hot water market in Australia has just changed forever. And, like so many other advances in our modern world, you can thank technology for the improvement, says Alan Butler, Director of Zip. “Specifiers, resellers and tradies are going to see some very positive outcomes and the end-user will be just as pleased.
“The thing that makes the Zip range so different is the electronic controls and the ability to suit different amperages,” says Alan.
“It’s easy to overlook this advantage but the Zip range can provide significant benefits via improvements in heating and cost saving due to its multi-amperage feature. We already have reports from installers who have been able to take advantage of this feature to solve model selection issues in both new-builds and existing residential and commercial sites.
“The electronically controlled Zip models have undergone long-term testing in Europe. The technology was developed in Germany – well-known for its fine engineering and its freezing winters; so they know the importance of efficient operation. Over long term testing (more than 10 years) the Zip range was found to save 85% in energy costs compared to a comparative storage water heater,” Alan says.
The Zip range utilises bare wire technology which sees the heating element directly immersed in the water flow path. “This allows heat to be transmitted directly to the water, giving significantly greater efficiency and a much quicker heat up time,” says Alan.
Zip has launched its Instantaneous Hot Water range to complement their energy efficient offerings to the commercial and residential markets. “We are really excited to be at the forefront of this innovation revolution. It is good news for everyone and creates a great business opportunity for plumbers,” states Alan.
MicroHeat is a new player on the market. The private Australian company focuses on the development of advanced fluid heating technology applications.
The key to their growth in the industry is the development of direct energy transfer technology, which they claim sets new benchmarks in energy efficiency, water efficiency and stable water temperature control.
The foundations for this were set in 2000. “We had set deliverables,” says MicroHeat Technologies technical director Cedric Israelsohn. “We were looking for compact size, energy savings, and water savings. We felt that even though instantaneous electrical water heating technology had been around since the mid-1980s, nobody had looked at where the benefits of this technology actually lay.
“The truth is, if you’re starting to compare energy-savings, irrespective of whether the energy source was gas or electricity; it really didn’t come down to a device-to-device comparison which is basically where the market is today. We were looking at something a little bit more.”
What MicroHeat did was look at ways to mitigate appliance inefficiencies and improve on deliverable benefits. Cedric feels that what was being delivered was based on size of unit and flow rate, irrespective of what the consumer requirements were.
In 2000, MicroHeat technologies began prototype development and they developed a proof of concept for patent purposes for a new continuous flow hot water system design. It has been a long journey.
Cedric likes to stress that MicroHeat is not a manufacturer. The company is a research and development facility. The business behind the manufacturing is Futuris Automotive, who produced the first products for distribution in Australia in August 2012.
“We were looking at companies who were at the top of the tree in terms of manufacturing and distribution. We were fortunate enough to catch the interest of Futuris Automotive who brought an automotive discipline to the manufacture of this particular item; they brought product validation, and made it extremely robust. Their input into design also brought to the table a mean time between failures.
“Should it be green, should it be red, should it be fat, should it be thin, should it be tall? When the first commercial reality came to light in 2008, we actually defined this. We could deliver any format as far as the appliance was concerned. The technology was such that it could be fat, thin, tall, and short; it didn’t really matter. We weren’t constrained mechanically, but we needed to know from a commercial point of view what the requirement was.”
And so a new Continuous Flow Electric Hot Water system was created. The MicroHeat patented technology is founded on the basis that fluids can be conductors of electricity and are; therefore, electrically resistive. If electrical energy is directly applied to a body of conductive fluid, the temperature of the fluid body will increase.
Directly energising conductive fluids in this manner provides for a controllable and energy-efficient means of heating. When applied, this technology is designed to achieve a stable, set output temperature via a microprocessor controlled feedback system.
Aldo D’Eramo is the director of global marketing and strategy. He says, “As with any new entrepreneurial venture, it is important for a company to generate credibility in a market place, and in our case, maintaining independent validation of our technology platform capability is the key.”
“Futuris is a well-recognised and respected brand in the automotive industry and their ability to design and engineer solutions has instilled us with fantastic quality assurance in Microheat.” This quality has been recognised by potential distributors, globally.
The team at MicroHeat believes they are onto a winner; a continuous flow hot water product that is sustainable, robust, has manufacturing capability and application.
And it’s great for the local market; it’s an Australian-made technology, created in Victoria for global markets.”
This is a growing market that has a positive effect on water and energy savings and as such provides plumbers with a smart business addition.