Nov 26, 2006, 8:02 PM
Post #12 of 12
Yes Cynthia, they have been around for a long time. My ex-wife’s uncle had one in a weekend cabin he built in Lake County, California in 1937. I was the type called a “side arm” heater. It was attached to the side of the kitchen range. It was a wood burning range, so it wasn’t very instantaneous. You had to build a wood fire in the firebox, and wait a while before you had hot water; there was no tank though. They also made side arm water heaters for gas fueled kitchen ranges in those days; they were instantaneous.
The first instantaneous water heater I had was in a house I bought in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1976, the house was about five years old. It was integral with the water heater for the hot water heating system for the house. It operated independently of the home heating system though.
That type of instantaneous hot water heater is very common in Alaska, once you are away from the Anchorage area. The Anchorage area is the only area in Alaska with a piped natural gas supply. All other areas in the state primarily use heating oil for home heating fuel. Natural gas is much cheaper than heating oil; so many, not all, homes in the Anchorage area have conventional water heaters in them.
It is amazing how well instantaneous water heaters work up there. Almost everywhere in Alaska, water from the tap is 40° F. That is the same temperature as in the food compartment in a refrigerator. You’re wasting your money if you buy a refrigerator with an ice water dispenser up there, all you have to do is let the water run for a few moments, and you’ve got ice water. In all but the littlest towns and some villages it will be pure water.
The domestic water supply is so cold up there, that all newer homes have tempering valves to mix some hot water into the supply pipes for all the toilets. If they didn’t have them, there would always be water “sweating” off the sides of the toilet tanks and dripping on the floor, summer and winter.
I do think that instantaneous water heaters are a good idea to use down here, although the water pressure is so low in most homes here that not much water is used for showers. We are renting, so we will live with what we’ve got for now. Our water heater has a small tank, just 38 litros, that’s just a little over 10 US gallons. There are four of us in the house usually. We can take long showers one after another, and never come close to running out of hot water.
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