Did you ever come home, wanting to take a hot bath, but there was no hot water?
Have you ever gone on a vacation and left your water heater on the entire time?
Do you ever wonder how much does keeping water hot actually costs you?
We have a solution to all of these problems, and it’s called smart water heaters. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about them and how to turn your regular water heater into a smart one.
Smart Water Heater? What is that?
It’s a water heater, just like any other, but smarter.
Just kidding - we’ll give you an actual explanation.
All water heaters have the ability to monitor water temperature in the tank. The main thing that separates smart water heaters from conventional ones, is the ability to make further use of that data. Conventional water heaters are equipped with a thermostat, which keeps the water temperature at a set level. This device simply turns the heater on, when the water is too cold and off again when the water reaches a predefined temperature.
Smart water heaters, on the other hand, can do much more than that. They use the water temperature measurements together with your water consumption patterns or preset instructions. This allows them to provide you with hot water only when you need it and to stay turned off when you don’t.
But wait, smart water heaters have another trick up their sleeve. Like other smart devices, they are connected to a gateway, making them accessible via your smartphone. This means you can control them at your will and monitor them in real-time. Additionally, you can monitor your energy consumption.
Now you must be wondering: “How can I update my old heater to become smart?” No worries, you will find that out along with other useful tips down below.
An Introduction to Water Heaters
Throughout most of human history, water for domestic use was heated mostly in pots and kettles. While this got the job done, it didn’t ensure a continuous supply of water at the right temperature, making it a tad inconvenient. As a solution to this problem, water heaters were introduced. This invention single-handedly eliminated the need for fetching a kettle each time we needed some hot water by heating it beforehand and keeping it warm. They were truly an important innovation and are still widely in use today.
But they also came with their own problem - they’re inefficient. Even though they are well insulated, some heat still escapes the heater. So in order to ensure hot water on demand, they turn on every once in a while to replace the lost heat.
While this satisfies our hot water needs, it wastes a lot of precious energy. It was this energy-wasting that sparked the desire for a more efficient, yet just as convenient system.
What Kind of Water Heaters Even Exist?
Before diving straight into the realm of smart heaters, you should learn a thing or two about the conventional ones. After all, smart heating system is often just a normal heating system paired with a smart controller.
Storage water heaters are the most common ones. They utilize natural gas, propane, fuel oil, electricity or wood to heat your water and store it in a tank. This way, you have a supply of hot water whenever you need it, but as mentioned above, such systems have great energy losses.
Tankless water heaters are already a substantial upgrade from conventional storage water heaters. They are also called on-demand heaters because they only heat the water you are about to use, and right before you use it. They might seem perfect at first glance, but they do have their drawbacks. Such units are generally more expensive, and because the water needs to be heated before it reaches the faucet, their water output rate might be lower than usual.
Hybrid water heaters or heat pumps are similar to conventional water heaters, but are a newer and more efficient solution. They still preheat your water and store it in a tank, but the way they heat the water is different. Instead of burning resources directly, they absorb the residual heat from their surroundings.
There are many other different ways of heating water for domestic use, such as solar-powered heaters, but these are less relevant to this topic. They are not as suitable for upgrading, putting them in a separate category.
Make your Water Heater Smart
The three mentioned water heater types make up more than 80% of all the domestic water heaters and - good news - they can all be upgraded to smart water heaters. All you need to do is install a suitable smart module and you’re good to go. But like with heaters, there are also several different kinds of smart water heater modules. Choosing the right device depends mostly on the type of water heater you’re using. Another criteria is your preference, or in other words, what do you wish to monitor and control.
Your most basic module, that makes your current water heater smart, is basically just a smart thermostat, that connects to Wi-fi. Of course, you don’t have to settle for the most basic solution, most smart controllers already come with advanced functions.
>But you don’t have to stop there. There are a lot of different smart devices available on the market, featuring many different functions. This might make your decision a bit more difficult, but it will also enable you to set your heating system up just the way you want. You can find separate devices or complete modules with functions, such as:
- Energy consumption monitoring
- Water consumption monitoring
- Leakage protection
- Smart on-off switches
- Hot water circulation pump regulation
But enough of this tech talk. Let us explain how improving your water heaters can help make your life easier and more convenient.
If descriptions and technical terms didn’t convince you, this segment surely will.
5 Reasons to Upgrade your Old Water Heater
1. Have Control Over Your Water Heating System
Having a smart water heater allows you complete control over its functions and the data it gathers. You can turn your heaters on and off, or have them do that automatically. You can set them to prepare you water for a hot bath every day at 17:47 sharp, and tell them to postpone your bath in case you got stuck in traffic. And while you are waiting for the cars to disperse, you can check your last week’s power and water consumption.
This technology effectively brings your furnace out of the basement straight into your hands.
2. Smart Technology Brings Safety
Your smart heating system can use its data not only for making heating more convenient but also safer. Their sensors are on all the time - even when you’re not home - and can warn you in case anything seems off. The controller can be programmed to report you any irregularities, such as leaks or uncontrolled power consumption.
You can even go a step further and pair your system with a smart valve or electrical switch. This way your smart heating system can act on its own in case of emergency, giving you one less thing to worry about.
3. Let Your Smart Heater do the Thinking
Smart water heaters are even smarter than you might think. The smartest of their kind is able to learn your hot water usage patterns. Once they know when you need hot water most, they’ll turn on and off on their own and keep your need satisfied.
4. Be Environmentally Friendly
It is estimated that over 15% of all the power of an average household is consumed for heating water. This is largely due to the way conventional heaters operate. By turning on and off constantly, they do keep your water hot, but they also keep burning electricity or other resources in vain. Making your water heater smart will thus eliminate this unnecessary energy spending.
5. Have Control Over Your Heating Bill
What saves you energy also saves you money. Though smart water heaters are more expensive than the conventional ones, the savings they enable are substantial. And besides, this technology, like many others, is getting more affordable every day. Choosing the right smart controller for your heater pays for itself in as little as one year.
To conclude, smart water heaters are a welcome addition to basically any home. Whether you’re looking for just a small upgrade, or you want to thoroughly revamp your water heating system, this is the technology you are looking for. They will keep your water hot when you need it, and help you save money when you don’t.