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How Does a Hot Water System Work?

What Does a Hot Water System Heater Do and How Does It Work?

As the name suggests, hot water systems are appliances used to heat water for household consumption and keep it at an elevated temperature. Equally as importantly, a water heater is relied upon to provide a constant and steady supply of hot water. Water heaters vary in whether they provide drinkable or non-drinkable water and whether they are used for commercial or residential purposes. Even newer systems like tankless set-ups are expected to provide constant and steady hot water.

How Does a Solar Hot Water System Work?

Solar hot water systems work by harnessing the energy from the sun's rays on a roof-mounted collector and transferring this to heat water stored in a tank. Ground-mounted systems use a built-in circulator that pushes water throughout the system, whereas roof-mounted systems rely on a natural 'thermosiphon' effect. Water is pumped through the solar collector, where it is heated. Then, the water moves out of the collector and down into the tank. The water temperature within the tank progressively gets warmer until the water reaches its maximum stored temperature.

Space Is Important

For those with ample roof space, the tank can be positioned next to the panel on the roof. Otherwise, for a split system, the water is stored in a tank mounted on the ground and pumped through to be heated. Which system you select will come down to where you live in Australia, which direction your home faces and even the roof's pitch.

Solar hot water systems are usually a more expensive initial investment compared to other systems but become cheaper to run over time and are less impactful on the environment.

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How Does a Heat Pump Hot Water System Work?

Heat pump water heaters absorb warmth from the air and transfer this to heat water. Whilst still using electricity, they are, on average, three times more efficient than the conventional electric water heating set-up. Heat pump water heaters work similarly to a fridge, but instead of cool air, it is warm air. They use electricity to pump a refrigerant through the system, which transfers the heat absorbed from the air into the water within the tank. Heat pumps come in two configurations:

  • Integrated/compact system: The compressor and water tank are a single unit.
  • Split system: the tank is separate from the compressor, much like a split system air conditioner.

Unlike the traditional electrical system that uses electricity to heat the water directly, a heat pump system can harness a more significant amount of heat energy from the air, directly into the water. When the outside air is warmer, it is easier for the heat pump to provide hot water. So, in places where the temperature is lower, heat pumps are not as effective, but electric assists are available to mitigate this.

How Does an Electric Hot Water System Work?

Often when asked “How does a hot water system work?”, Plumbers will refer to the electrical hot water system as a standard. An electric system is one of the most commonly used hot water systems in Australia as they are usually the least expensive. It works by linking the tank to the household's regular electricity supply. The system utilises an 'element' with an inner wire inside of it. The inner wire is electrified, and the current creates friction which heats the water in the tank.

Electric systems use a lot of energy, which can be bad for the environment. As only cold water can be pumped into the tank, depending on its size, it can take a long time to heat. They benefit from being one of the cheaper systems to install and are found all across the country in older properties.

How Does a Gas Hot Water Tank Work?

Gas hot water systems require the property to be connected to either a natural gas mains supply or an LPG bottle that is independent of the building. Gas systems use a burner, which ignites the gas as it is pumped into the system. The pilot flame is only ignited to heat the water when needed. Some systems have attached tanks that store heated water for use, whereas other gas hot water systems have a continuous flow. These instantaneous systems, as they are also known, heat water only when required.

Against the other systems previously discussed, gas systems are typically more efficient than traditional electric systems and cheaper overall to run. However, they also carry more of a price tag than other systems. If you’re after licensed and qualified gas installation, contact CDL for more information about gas hot water installation in Newcastle & Lake Macquarie areas.

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What System Is Best?

When it comes to 'how does a hot water system work?' the follow-up question usually is which of them is best. In reality, no one system trumps them all. The best system will come down to what you are looking to get out of the system and how many users you have in your household. Not all homes are suited to every system and each one will have a different lifespan while all will be maintainable and repairable but it is best to contact a plumber to discuss the right system for you.

Talk to the Experts at CDL Plumbing

If you are confused as to the sorcery of hot water system heating, then let the team at CDL Plumbing clarify everything for you. We have over 15 years of experience and have keenly followed the evolution of the hot water system and know the ins and outs. Whatever system you'd like to set up in your new home, or if you're thinking of upgrading your system, give our team of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie plumbers a call today on 0477 76 2937.

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0477 76 2937

CDL Plumbing & Drainage are expert plumbers and gas fitters servicing Newcastle & Lake Macquarie from our Gateshead HQ. We have over 15 years of experience and specialise in all domestic and commercial plumbing, able to take on large-scale drainage projects. Fully qualified (Level 4), licensed & insured with free quotes. We have 2 teams of friendly and reliable plumbers with fully equipped vans.

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