December 29, 2009

Getting Into Hot Water

In response to a series of negative posts regarding on-demand water heaters on a mailing list:

While we have a gas-fired tank hot-water heater in our townhouse, I'm a bit surprised at the number of negative anecdotes regarding on-demand heaters.

As mentioned, they have been in widespread use for decades in Asia and Europe. I had several apartments in Japan with on-demand heaters and never experienced running short of hot water, or being subjected to spurts of cold water. And no matter what the outside temperature, it never seemed to take more than 10-20 seconds to get a steady flow of piping hot water -- certainly not any longer than it takes now for us to get hot water in the upstairs shower from the tank heater in the basement.

My wife's parents' place is in northern Japan, and it gets bloody cold up there for 4+ months each year, yet the suitcase-sized on-demand water heater in their house has never exhibited any such negative behaviour in 20 or more years of use.

If I may be so bold, I'd also venture that Japanese are among the greatest lovers of hot water in the world, and most have a tolerance, nay, an affinity, for soaking in water so hot that simply dipping a foot in it makes me want to scream :-).

Many Japanese shower/baths have faucets with a colour-gradated blue-red dial, accompanied by degree C markings. The top end of the red zone abuts a safety interlock button, which one can depress to be able to turn the faucet even further.

I wonder if some of this can be chalked up to a lack of experience in NA? I admit that when our hot-water heater died several years ago, we replaced it with another tank heater, but that was mostly due to the limited availability and greater initial expense of on-demand heaters here, combined with seemingly little knowledge or experience with them in local stores and among local plumbers.

Posted by Paul at December 29, 2009 09:26 PM