Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hot Water Demand Systems & Tankless Water Heaters – Great Home Improvement Products!

If you are looking for home improvement products, here is a great combination. Tankless hot water is energy efficient but it wastes water. Adding a hot water demand system will make your tankless unit water efficient as well. It will make turn your plumbing system into a green hot water system.

Tankless water heaters are more energy efficient than standard tank type water heaters because they don’t have the standby losses of a big tank of hot water. By eliminating the standby losses associated with storage water heaters they can save about 20 percent of the energy consumed for heating water when compared with storage heaters.

However, the tankless units also take longer to deliver hot water to your fixtures. For the water to be heated to full temperature it must pass completely through the heat exchanger all the way from the inlet to the outlet. The water in the center of the heat exchanger doesn’t ever reach full temperature before it exits the heater.

Thus tankless waters take longer to get hot water to the fixture. A lot more water is being run down the drain while you are waiting. Tankless water heaters really need a hot water demand system to address this problem.

Hot water demand systems typically consist of a pump located at the furthest sink from the water heater and connected to the hot and cold water lines. When hot water is “demanded” at the fixture you activate the system. The demand system speeds the water from the water heater to the fixture at high velocity and shuts off when the hot water reaches the pump.

The cold hot water in the hot water pipes left over from the last use gets sent to the water heater inlet through the cold water pipes. Instant hot water when you turn on the hot water faucet, and no water was wastefully run down the drain.

Traditional hot water recirculation systems with their low powered pumps won’t produce enough water flow in the pipes to turn on a tankless heater. Most tankless water heaters won’t work with traditional circulating systems and can void the warranty of the tankless heaters.

Hot water demand systems are different. Since demand systems are activated only when hot water is used they do not cause the tankless heater to cycle on and off over and over as is the case with traditional recirculation pumps. Demand systems do not affect the warranties for the tankless units.

Not all demand systems are created equal and there are models that don’t have enough power to turn on a tankless water heater. Be sure to find a pump that has the power to you need to send at least the ½ to ¾ gallons per minute normally required to turn on the heater. Longer pipe runs require more horsepower from the pump to produce the required flow, so take that into account as well.

Add a hot water demand system to your water heater and you will conserve energy, water, and money. At the same time you are turning your plumbing system green, and you will be reducing your carbon footprint. You will feel good every time you use hot water.

Finally, water conservation without inconvenience!

Combine Tankless and Demand

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Water Conservation - No Waste Reverse Osmosis Water Purification System

What is a zero waste reverse osmosis system?

Reverse osmosis systems squeeze water through a membrane that lets water through but the contaminants can’t pass through the membrane. The contaminants that are filtered out need to be flushed away from the membrane for the system to work properly. Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems typically flush down the drain 3 to 15 gallons of contaminated water for each gallon of clean water they produce.

From a water conservation point of view this is very inefficient. Watts has come up with a new RO system that recycles the contaminated waste water, eliminating the need to flush contaminated water down the drain.

Watts Premier "Zero Waste" ZRO-4 Reverse Osmosis System

The Watts patented ZRO-4 Reverse Osmosis System is the first system that does not waste water any water. The new Watts RO system simply pumps the contaminated water into your water heater.

The presumption is that it’s ok for the contaminated water is ok to bath in and wash your hands, dishes, and clothes in.

A small pump is connected in series with the membrane unit and they are in turn connected to the cold and hot water supply pipes. When the RO unit is operating the contaminated water from the input side of the membrane is slowly pumped into the water heater through the hot water line.

The instructions say to locate the ZRO-4 RO system at least 25 feet from the water heater. I wish they would tell us why. What happens if it is closer to the water heater? Is it an energy related thing? Is it to keep the contaminated water in the piping, hopefully to be purged when somebody draws hot water and thus not end up stored in a hot tank? I would really like to know.

Does it work with tankless water heaters?

I don’t know. I could not find any information about operation with tankless water heaters, but I presume it would still work. I see no physical reason why there would be a difference. But then there is that 25 foot distance from the heater thing. Does that still apply? Perhaps with tankless hot water you don’t need the 25 foot distance.

Will it work with a Hot Water Recirculation System?

Hot water circulating, often called recirculating systems and or recirc pumps come in several varieties these days. Some are simply hot water circulating systems with dedicated return lines for the hot water circulating loop, and some systems use the cold water return lines for the loop return.

If your hot water system has a recirculation system with a dedicated hot water return line then there should be no problems. However, if you have a system that uses the cold water line as the return then there will be some problems.

The pump for the circulating or demand system causes water to flow through the RO unit as though it were running whether or not it is running at the time, which can slow down the delivery of hot water from a demand hot water system, and can potentially end up putting contaminated cooled off hot water in the cold water lines.

The warm water circulating systems will also end up allowing contaminated water into the cold water piping.

A solenoid valve is incorporated into the retro-fit version of the zero waste system in series with the pump. The valve may prevent the circulating systems from pushing water through the RO system and thus solve the problem but I have not tested it so it’s just a maybe at this point.

What are the contaminants that the Watts ZRO-4 removes?

The Watts ZRO-4 reverse osmosis system reduces Arsenic (V), Cysts, Cyrptosporidium, Giardia, Entamoeba and/or Toxoplasm, Barium, Hexavalent, Chromium, Trivalent Chromium, Copper, Lead, Fluoride, Cadmium, Radium 226/228, Selenium, TDS, and Turbidity.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hot Water Demand System - Only $179.99 – Make Your Hot Water System Green!

A hot water demand system will save you time, water, and money!

A hot water demand system is an easy and inexpensive way to save water and have instant hot water (when you turn on the tap). Your hot water is pumped quickly from your water heater to your sinks, and fixtures and no water gets run down the drain. It will turn your hot water plumbing green.

Tired of waiting for slow hot water?

If you have to stand around waiting for your hot water to reach your sink or shower while you run gallons of water right down the drain, then you need a hot water demand system.

Demand systems works with any kind of water heater including solar and tankless; the water heater only needs to have a common cold water connection with the cold water fixtures. It makes no difference how the water actually gets heated.

Old fashioned hot water recirculating pumps raise your energy bills since you must keep your pipes full of hot water. The newer warm water circulating systems such as the Laing Autocirc 1, the RedyTemp, the AstroExpress, Watts Premier, and the Grundfos Comfort System do the same thing. Even the thermo siphon type units such as the Nibco and Hot Water Lobster increase your water heating bill.

Not so with a hot water demand system. It only fills the pipe between the fixture and the water heater with heated water, which you would have to do anyway to get hot water at the fixture. The pump only runs for a few seconds when you want hot water and the cost of running the pump is neglible. A 4 person home would use less than $2.00 a year in electricity.

A hot water demand system mounts under the sink furthest from your water heater. It connects to the hot and cold water supply lines and needs an electrical outlet to plug into. Typically a push button is included and wireless remote switches are available to use from locations other than where the demand system is located.

When you push the start button the pump turns on and when hot water reaches the pump the pump shuts off.

Tankless considerations

Most hot water delivery systems will not work with most tankless water heaters. Most tankless water heaters require from ½ gallon per minute to ¾ gallons per minute to turn the unit on and keep it on. The warm water circulating systems like the Grundfos, Laing Autocirc, and Astro Express don’t have enough flow to turn on the tankless heater. This is also true of all thermo siphon systems like the Hot Water Lobster and the Nibco device.

Not all hot water demand systems produce enough flow either. The Metlund S-50T is not recommended for tankless hot water for that reason, and the Metlund S-70T is only recommended for systems with short piping runs.

Dedicated Return Lines

If your plumbing is equipped with a standard hot water circulating system and has a dedicated return line, then in most cases you can simply replace the standard recirculating pump with a demand pump and start reaping the benefits. You will see a substantial saving on your water heating energy bills.

Map Your Plumbing Layout

If you aren’t sure how your plumbing is configured then there is a straight forward way to find out where to locate your hot water demand system and whether you need more than one pump to cover your entire system.

When your pipes are all cold, like the first thing in the morning, go to the sink that you believe to be the one furthest from your water heater and turn on the hot water faucet. Let it run until the hot water reaches the faucet and then turn it off. Now go to the fixture that is the next furthest from the heater and turn on the hot water faucet. Time how long it takes to get hot water.

If it shares a common hot water feed pipe then it will get hot water faster than usual. You can get a one gallon milk jug and measure how much water gets run down the drain while waiting for hot water.

By repeating the process at multiple fixtures after letting the pipes cool between measurements you can determine where is the most beneficial location for the pump and whether you need more than one pump for your home.

Turn your hot water plumbing system green with a hot water demand system and start saving time water and money!

Related article: Hot water demand systems

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Takagi - Noritz - Rinnai - Navien – Comparison of Tankless Water Heaters

Of the major brands of tankless hot water heaters Noritz, Navien, Takagi, & Rinnai, which brand is best? I recently asked a friend of mine this question. He installs and services tankless water heaters so I figured if anyone would know he would. Here is his reply.

All the major brands of tankless hot water heaters are very similar in construction, operation, and quality. Each brand has claims by the manufacturer that theirs is better, but nothing really stands out in my opinion, to differentiate between the brands.

Noritz advertises its "Dual Burner" technology as a big advantage. Is that a significant advantage over the others? I don’t think so. Since all of the brands modulate the flames I don’t think having two small burners is any better than one larger burner. In fact, if I had to choose I would take the single burner since it is simpler and I think simpler is better.

Rinnai, Noritz, and Takagi are all made in Japan and Noritz and Takagi both share some components, and they have similar warranties. Rinnai uses a different venting system than Noritz and Takagi. Do I think its better? Not really.

I do like the fact that Rinnai tankless water heaters have a built-in condensation trap. Sometimes installers forget or just don't bother to include the condensation trap when installing a tankless water heater because of the additional cost. This can result in a much shorter life expectancy for the heat exchanger. Unless the customer knows something about tankless heater installations he would have no idea that it was missing. Vent condensation is highly corrosive and should not be allowed to drip on parts of your water heater.

Navien tankless water heaters are made in South Korea. Navien is better established in Canada. The Navien units have unique and interesting features, like a built in small buffer tank that lets you obtain low flows of hot water and eliminates cold water sandwiches.

Navien heaters have 98% efficiency while the other major brands have about 94%. Is the 4% difference significant? It would not be enough for you to notice on your utility bill.
Navien, Noritz, Rinnai and Takagi are mechanically very similar. They all deliver roughly the same amount of hot water for the gas or electricity used. The warranties are all pretty much the same.

I personally like Takagi because of their excellent service. They even have a toll free number 24/7 that I can call when there is a problem. When your hot water heater stops working on Friday night, and you can’t get any help until Monday morning you can become quite frustrated.

I feel that the most important thing when buying a tankless water heater is to be sure that heater is installed correctly; it is not like your standard storage type water heater where you connect a couple of pipes up and you are done.

With a tankless hot water heater It is very important to purchase it and have it installed by a plumber that is experienced with tankless water heaters particularly with the brand you are purchasing. If you experience problems in the future, you will be glad you did.

Another tankless water heater comparison article: Compare Bosch, Takagi, Noritz & Rinnai

Friday, February 5, 2010

Best Home Improvements – Home Improvement Idea for Your Kitchen and Bath

If your home has long hot water pipes then it can take a long time to get hot water, which can be quite annoying. However, an easy, low cost solution to get you your hot water much more quickly is available. It’s a solution that speeds up your hot water, and saves you thousands of gallons of water a year.

A hot water demand system is the answer. Hot water demand systems are small pumps located under a sink furthest from your hot water heater. When you want hot water you just push a button and the system speeds the hot water from your hot water heater to your fixture without running water down the drain.

The water that has cooled off in the hot water pipes, is returned to the water heater through the cold water pipes. When the hot water reaches the the pump at the fixture it stops pumping and no hot water gets into the cold water pipes. Turn on your hot water and you have nearly instant hot water.

Other fixtures that share the same main hot water trunk line will also have faster hot water from the demand system. If your plumbing happens to be looped from fixture to fixture in a daisy chain fashion then all of your sinks will have faster hot water. By placing the system under the sink in a bathroom the shower and tub are also only seconds away from hot water once your demand system has finished its pumping cycle.

Hot water demand systems work fine with tankless water heaters as long as they have enough power to turn on the tankless hot water heater. Tankless heaters need a minimum hot water flow rate to turn on, typically ½ gallon to ¾ gallon per minute. Most recirculating pumps can’t produce a flow rate high enough to turn on tankless heaters.

Tankless water heaters require longer waiting times for hot water since they have to heat the water from scratch unlike storage water heaters. This makes demand systems even more important when you have a tankless water heater.

Solar water heaters work with hot water demand systems as well. Any kind of solar water heater will work with hot water demand pumps. If you are green enough to have a solar water heater on your home then you certainly should have a hot water demand system. In my opinion water savings is just as important as energy savings.

By reducing the amount of water you run down your drain you reduce the amount of sewage that must be processed and treated. That saves you more money and further reduces your carbon footprint.

If you have a septic system it reduces the load on your system saving you potential septic system problems.

This is an easy inexpensive home improvement project that saves you time, water, energy, and money and provides you with the convenience of fast hot water. Not many home improvement products can claim that.

Hot water demand systems for providing your home with instant hot water can be purchased online for less than $200, and some systems can be hooked up to your plumbing system with just supply hoses like the ones already on your fixtures. You don’t even have to turn off the water to your house.

A very easy and inexpensive home improvement project for the do it yourselfer and the novice alike. Possibly one of the best home improvements a homeowner can make.

Best Home Improvements

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Better Tankless Water Heater? Navien Tankless Water Heater – A Product Review

Navien tankless water heaters have a couple of great features that make it an outstanding choice for many homeowners. It appears they have solved several of the problems most tankless water heaters are saddled with.

Tankless water heaters a becoming quite popular, largely to due the perception that tankless water heaters are green and save energy. However, since tankless heaters require longer wait times to get hot water to the fixture, they can end up wasting water. Another problem with them is obtaining a small stream of warm water is very difficult.

Tankless units require a minimum flow rate to turn on, typically requiring ½ gallons per minute to ¾ gallons per minute. To get warm water you end up needing to mix cold water with the hot water and thus you can end up with a minimum flow of over a gallon a minute.

Navien has tankless water heaters with a built-in buffer tank and circulating pump. According to the Navien literature this feature allows you to use as little as .1 to .2 gallons per minute and the water heater will keep putting out hot water. With these models your hot water will reach your fixture more quickly since there is water already hot waiting to be sent to the fixture as soon as you turn on the hot water faucet.

This system also eliminates what is known as the “cold water sandwich” which is a common problem with tankless water heaters.

These tankless heaters can circulate the water internally between the heat exchanger and the buffer tank, or you can even connect them to a traditional dedicated return line and the internal pump will circulate hot water so you have instant hot water at your fixtures.

There are three “A” models, the NR-180A, the NR-210A, and the NR-240A offering a good range of flows for just about any residential application.

From the Navien website it sounds like the heater is well constructed. It has stainless steel heat exchangers and boasts a 98% efficiency, the highest in the industry. The exhaust temperature is low enough to use PVC for the venting, up to 100 feet long.

The three Navien water heaters that have these features are as follows:

Input 17,000~199,000 BTU/h
Thermal Efficiency 98%
Energy Factor 0.95
Flow Rate At 35˚F Rise : 11 GPM
At 45˚F Rise : 8.6 GPM
At 77˚F Rise : 5.1 GPM

Input 17,000~180,000 BTU/h
Thermal Efficiency 98%
Energy Factor 0.94
Flow Rate At 35˚F Rise : 10.0 GPM
At 45˚F Rise : 7.7 GPM
At 77˚F Rise : 4.6 GPM

Input 15,000~150,000 BTU/h
Thermal Efficiency 98%
Energy Factor 0.94
Flow Rate At 35˚F Rise : 8.3 GPM
At 45˚F Rise : 6.5 GPM
At 77˚F Rise : 3.8 GPM

Navien claims its condensing technology uses less gas than standard storage tank type water heaters and that it results in lower CO2 Emissions than other brands.

It’s further disclosed that the Navien heaters dramatically reduce NOx emissions, giving it the lowest emission level in the industry. Interestingly Navien states that its Condensing 98% tankless water heater has become more eco-friendly by dissolving NOx in condensed water to neutralize the alkaline sewage in your house, improving water quality. Interesting concept, but is it anything significant? I don’t know the answer to that.

All Navien heaters will work great with hot water demand systems, and with the A models the low required turn on flow will probably allow it to work with just about any of the hot water circulating systems and demand type systems on the market.

Recent article: Motion Sensing for Residential Hot Water Demand Systems