It’s safe to assume that almost every household in the U.S. has at least one water heater. Now more often than not, water heaters need to be maintained and one of the most important parts that need to be taken care of are the water heater elements.

The heating elements are the soul of the water heater. They warm up the water so that you get hot water for your various chores like bathing, laundry, dishwashing, cooking among other things.

Heating of water is a thermodynamic process that uses energy to increase the temperature of water from its normal temperature so that it can be used for various purposes.

When you install an electric water heater, it uses electricity to heat your water. The water is heated with the help of water heater elements that are an integral part of this heating process.

Good brands of water heaters have good quality water heater elements. These elements are similar looking to the ones found in electric ovens. Based on the principle of allowing electricity to pass through them to heat up and thus heat the water inside the tank or even other as the case is with tankless water heaters, there are different types of elements.

While elements are designed to last for several years, it’s possible that your water heater’s elements burn out and break requiring replacement. When faced with such a situation, it’s advisable to replace the water heater elements with similar type of quality elements. Replacing elements is quite easy, but dependent on your heater’s type. Below are the 4 main types of water heater elements. We’ve tried to explain them in detail. So scroll down.

4 Main Types of Water Heater Elements

Tankless Water Heater Element – The element inside a tankless water heater is a special kind of water heater part. This type of element has many advantages. For example: you don’t need a storage tank to store hot water and you’ll never have to worry about heating water continuously ever again. Besides, the size of the tankless or on-demand water heater is compact and therefore, it can be fitted in various corners for easy concealment.

Tankless water heater uses an element and “heat exchanger” that heats the water and it is considered a very efficient way of getting the water heated. That being said, the price of efficiency is very thin walls, which could mean that the heat exchanger can break down sooner than later.

Elements fitted in tankless water heaters only heat up when hot water is required. This reduces the use of electricity and helps save money. The only issue with on-demand heaters is that you may need to run the hot water tap for a couple of minutes before you get hot water.

Storage Water Heaters: Storage water heaters can be compared with your kitchen’s kettle. Storage water heaters are equipped with a large storage tank that has one or two water heater elements at its bottom. The elements are controlled by a thermostat, which works to ensure that water is heated at the right temperature and is dependent on the range that you set it for.

Today, storage water heaters are considered to be energy inefficient, because it takes a long time heat up the volume of water in the tank. However, water heater elements in storage water tanks tend to last longer since they don’t heat water at very high temperature instantly. The heating is gradual and at a slower pace.

Heat Pumps
: Water heater elements like the heat pump can also be used to heat water. Heat pumps don’t use electricity directly for heating water. These elements use electricity to move compressed gas to heat the water. The principle is the same as used in a fridge, only backwards. As the water gets hotter, the cold air gets pushed outside.

Indirect Water Heater Elements: Water can be heated using an indirect electric heater, which will flow into the storage tank and stay warm. If you are using indirect water heater elements then make sure your tank is made of good quality SS, so that the entire system can work in a reliable manner. This is an efficient method to heat water as well.

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