Traditional water heaters all operate in a similar fashion. The prime contrast between them is the fuel source, such as gas, electric or solar energy. To better understand how your water heater works, the very first step is to become familiar with the elements of your system, & how they interact.
Components Of A Water Heater
Electric & gas water heaters have various elements in common, including the drain valve, the TPR valve, an internal anode rod, dip tube, and pipes & fittings for hot water & overflow/pressure relief. In both the water heaters, the internal tank is wrapped with insulating material to keep the water hotter for a longer time.
Electric water heaters have a separate thermostat, whereas the thermostat present in gas models is built into the gas control valve. Gas water heaters also own a heat limiting device to counter overheating, a central, internal flue to vent gas & help circulate heat, & a thermocouple to shut the gas off in an emergency.
Extra Information About The Working Of Water Heaters
The variations between electric & gas water heater types are more obvious when you get down to the basics of their operation process. In both water heaters types, cold water penetrates the unit through the dip tube at the top & is funneled to the bottom of the tank, where it gets heated.
How Does An Electric Water Heater Works?
In electric water heaters, the thermostat is mounted flush against the side of the inner tank. Whenever the thermostat senses that the inner temperature has fallen below the preset threshold, it triggers a switch (or two, in the event of a dual-element system) that enables electricity to flow to the heating element.
The heating element is in turn submerged in the water tank containing water & heats up in the same way that an electric stove burner works, by transferring electricity through a resistant material & converting energy into heat.
When the thermostat feels that the water has reached the correct temperature, it shuts off the power to the element.
How Does A Gas Water Heater Work?
Gas water heaters also have a thermostat, typically a small copper tube with a mercury sensor attached to the tip. They also have a unique sensor called a thermocouple that senses whether the pilot light is currently burning or not. If the pilot is out, the thermocouple will not permit gas to flow to the burner.
Whenever the water temperature inside the tank falls, the thermostat transfers a signal to the gas control valve, which checks the signal from the thermocouple to determine whether there is a pilot light or not. If there is a pilot light, a valve opens, allowing gas to flow to the burner, igniting a flame.
The flame heats the base of the tank, causing warmer water to rise while cold water sinks, generating a natural circulation cycle. Additionally, the inner temperature is kept more uniform by heat rising through the central flue as it first rises through the tank & then leaves the home through a ventilation system.
When the water temperature touches the desired setting, the thermostat transmits a signal to the gas control valve, directing it to turn the gas flow off again.
Variations In Water Heaters
Some types of water heaters use a hot water recirculating system which keeps the heated water moving through the heating system & prevents hot water flow from being hindered by “cold” spurts of unheated water.
Solar water heaters utilize a similar method as their primary method of heating water. As hot water towers, it expands, pushing cooler water ahead of the hot water & circulating water through the internal pipes of the solar heater.
In principle, a solar water heater is just a circulation system that passes the water continuously through a concentrating device that is exposed to direct sunlight & channels heat into the core of the solar heater.