A Comprehensive Guide to Point-of-Use Water Heaters
Hot water is a necessity in every household, but waiting for it to arrive can be time-consuming and frustrating. Fortunately, point-of-use (POU) water heaters are here to solve this problem. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide to POU water heaters, including their types, benefits, and when to choose them.
What is a Point of Use Water Heater?
A point-of-use (POU) water heater is a small and compact device that heats water close to where it is needed. This type of heater is ideal for areas where hot water demand is low or intermittent, such as under sinks, in guest houses, or in RVs. It can easily be integrated into the existing plumbing system, and it’s often referred to as a “point-of-service” water heater or an “on-demand” POU water heater.
There are two main types of POU water heaters available: tank and tankless. Tank POU water heaters are designed to look like miniature versions of traditional tank water heaters, with sizes ranging from 2.5 to 20 gallons. In contrast, tankless POU water heaters do not store heated water and only heat water when a tap is turned on. Tankless POU water heaters have a smaller footprint than tank POU water heaters, but there may be a slight delay in hot water delivery.
POU water heaters are also available in different designs based on their location, including under-sink, over-sink, and wall-mounted models. A tankless heater is the most compact option as it does not require storage space, while a point-of-use tank water heater is perfect for spaces where a tankless model may not be feasible.
What are the Benefits of a Point of Use Water Heater?
Energy Efficiency: Water heating is the second highest energy use in residential homes, second only to HVAC, and can account for nearly 20% of a typical home’s electric bill. The Energy Star initiative shows that even homes equipped with a central water heater can benefit from POU water heaters, as they can help reduce heat loss in the water distribution system. POU heaters can restore the hot water temperature in fixtures farthest from the central heater. Compared to increasing the temperature setting of the central storage water heater, POU heaters can be advantageous in terms of energy efficiency. POU heaters can also be a better choice when heating water for a hot tub.
Utility Savings: According to the DOE, homeowners can lower their monthly water heating costs by as much as 50% by using POU water heaters at each water outlet. This translates to a minimum savings of $100 annually when using a POU water heater.
Longevity: Tank water heaters typically have a 10-15 year life expectancy, while tankless water heaters can last up to 25 years with proper maintenance. Additionally, tankless POU heaters are much easier to replace compared to bulky central storage tank units.
When Does a POU Water Heater Make Sense?
POU heaters are ideal for the following cases:
- Smaller homes with limited fixtures: POU heaters make better sense in homes with only one bathroom and a limited number of hot water outlets, such as a kitchen sink and washing machine.
- Larger homes with distant water outlets: Heat loss can be an issue for large residences. Even with well-insulated pipes, the farther the water has to travel from the central heating tank, the cooler it gets when it reaches its intended destination. A POU heater can boost the temperature at the endpoint without having to raise the temperature of the storage tank itself.
- Infrequent hot water use: Homes with less hot water demand can save a lot by using POU heaters, instead of relying on a wasteful storage tank heater that keeps water heated even though it’s infrequently needed.
- Low-demand fixtures: POU heaters excel in water outlets that are rarely used, such as guest rooms or powder rooms.
- Homes with limited space or plumbing issues: POU heaters can easily fit under most sinks, especially the tankless models. They can also be installed right into the existing pipe.
Step 1: Determine your hot water consumption
Before choosing a POU water heater, you should know how much hot water you use for each fixture. For example, a bathroom faucet requires 2 gallons per minute (gpm) with a minimum pressure of 8 pounds per square inch (psi), while a bathtub requires 5 gpm and a minimum pressure of 8 psi. You can find the flow rate and pressure requirements for all your water fixtures online or in their user manuals.
Step 2: Determine the type you need
There are two types of POU water heaters: tankless and tank. Tankless heaters are more energy-efficient because they only heat water when you need it, while tank heaters store hot water in a tank until it’s used. Tankless POU heaters typically have a flow rate of 0.35 to 0.5 GPM, while mini-tank POU heaters can hold 2.5 gallons. Larger tank POU heaters can hold between 4 to 19 gallons.
Step 3: Determine the size
If you choose a tank POU heater, you’ll need to decide on the tank size and recovery rate. The tank size is how much hot water the tank can hold at any given time, while the recovery rate is how quickly the unit can heat new water. In general, higher wattage means shorter recovery time.
Here are some of the best POU water heaters for 2023
Budget tankless POU water heater:
The EEMAX EMT1 1.5 Gallon Electric Utility Water Heater, 120 Volt is a small and affordable option. It measures just 14×10 inches, making it easy to fit in tight spaces. It includes an adjustable thermostat to control the temperature, and an indicator light to let you know when water is being heated.
Premium tankless POU water heater:
The Bradford White 2 Gallon Electric Utility Water Heater, 120 Volt is a more expensive option, but it has a 90°F recovery rise of about 7 minutes and an ETL rating for HUD Mobile Home Construction and Safety Standards for Energy Efficiency. It also comes with fully automatic controls and the brand’s Vitraglas® Lining enamel layer, which protects the unit from the corrosive effects of hot water for a longer lifespan.
Mini-tank POU water heater:
The Bradford White RE16U6-1NAL 6 Gallon Electric Utility Water Heater, 120 Volt is a great option for those who need a bit more hot water. It can store up to 6 gallons, which is enough to service a dishwasher load or a 5-minute hot shower. At less than 17 inches tall, it’s compact enough to fit in tight spaces.
Larger-capacity tank POU water heater:
The Bradford White RE120U6-1NAL 19 Gallon Electric Utility Water Heater is a larger-capacity option that combines the storage capacity of conventional tank water heaters with the compact size and energy efficiency of POU heaters. It’s a great choice for situations where hot water demand is intermittent but space is at a premium, such as small boats, RVs, or wet bars. It also boasts fully automatic controls, Vitraglas enamel lining, and an ETL HUD Mobile Home Construction and Safety Standards for Energy Efficiency
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