Your office’s kitchenette may be known as a beacon for salacious gossip, but it’s also the primary place your employees gather to prepare their morning coffee fix, afternoon tea, or their less-than-satisfying cup o’ noodles. As the size of your workforce grows, so too will your need for hot water; potentially putting a strain on an aging water heater. Taking steps to ensure your hot water supply continues to flow freely doesn’t necessarily mean your costs or environmental footprint will rise commensurately. Simply put, when it comes to hot water in the office, you’ve got options.
To serve its function, the conventional hot water heater is designed to continuously heat the water within a tank, or boiler, when the temperature falls below a certain threshold. When a faucet is turned on, the system delivers hot water quickly to the user and will continue to do so until the supply from the tank has been exhausted. In truth, this type of water heater is still widely used in homes and businesses and, for the most part, performs its job well.
There are however three inherent drawbacks when it comes to this type of heater, especially if installed in the workplace; and while these so-called flaws may be minor in the eyes or many, issues like cost of operation, efficiency, and the limit to supply is enough to at the very least give pause when considering a new water heater installation.
Cost becomes a factor for these units because they are designed to keep the water at a certain temperature even when it isn’t being used. This means that money is being spent continuously. Even the best-insulated units will lose heat over time (that’s just the laws of thermodynamics) – an identifiable shortcoming in efficiency to be sure.
Additionally, depending on the number of people drawing hot water, there is a limit to how much of it can be delivered at a given time (essentially, we’re talking about the capacity of the tank).
The Benefits of an On-Demand Water System
While they may be referred to as “sources of instantaneous hot water”, you should know that this is a bit of a misnomer. Tankless water heaters don’t provide hot water “instantly”, but it’s close. In truth, tankless water heaters share many of the same characteristics as the conventional water heater; hot water is circulated using a series of pipes, and is delivered to the end user in much the same time. This type of system has two substantial distinctions however, and they have to do with the unit’s size and the fact that it does not need to run continuously in order to provide hot water.
In a typical office setting, you might not have your own source of hot water. Even if your team, like your workspace is a small one, there’s a chance that part way through the day your “hot water” can only be generously described as lukewarm because you’re sharing the same hot water supply as several other offices on your floor. This means that your water supply is, for lack of a better term, compromised – compromised in the sense that you have no way of knowing if and when the hot water supply will be tapped. By installing or renting your own efficient water heater, you needn’t ever worry about serving a potential client a tepid cup of Joe.
Tankless heaters also deserve a nod for their ability to be installed in more diverse locations than a conventional heater. Depending on the size and required purpose of the water heater, a tankless heater can be mounted beneath a sink or other space with access to a water line.
The way this type of water heater works is pretty simple. Rather than heating a stored supply of water, water that is heated by a tankless system passes through a high-powered and energy efficient heat exchanger on it’s way to the faucet. Ultimately, this is how tankless heaters can be marketed as a “limitless supply of hot water.”
Is One Better Than the Other?
Like many comparable products, the question “which one is better” or “which one should I buy” is often posed. The best answer however, is neither. The question regarding which one is “right”, can really only be answered once a needs analysis has been performed, a budget outlined, and all intended uses identified.