Different Types of Hot Water Cylinders

May 10, 2018

Hot water systems can be surprisingly complex in shape and function. Because of that level of complexity, this is a field that has moved away from domestic engineering and closer to science. For instance, there’s no outright engineer-approved hot water cylinder type. To the contrary, several form factors and heating principles rule hot water tank designs. Let’s begin with the standard direct-heated cylinder type.

Direct Heat Cylinders 

Referred to as immersion heaters in some parts of the world, this cylinder type incorporates a heat source. Expect to find one, possibly two electrical elements at the base of the cylinder. The two element solution exists to satisfy energy saving needs during peak and off-peak hours. An opening for a thermostat is included in this model, plus the inlet and outlet tubing. Due to the laws of convection currents, the cold water enters at the bottom of the cylinder while the hot water discharges from the top.

Introducing the Unvented Model 

While the direct feed option takes cold water from a tank, the unvented cylinder utilizes a medium-pressure connection. In other words, the cold water comes directly from the water mains. While it’s true that the flow rate to room showers, baths, and taps will be high, unrestrained mains pressures require safety mechanisms to keep the equipment working safely. Typically, an external expansion device provides relief as the heat-generated pressure increases. Due to the thicker cylinders and additional safety features, this cylinder type should only be installed by a professionally accredited heating technician.

Vented Hot Water Cylinders 

We save the standard solution for the end of this post. These cylinders employ a venting pipe at the top of the appliance column. When cold water enters the bottom of the appliance, it’s heated. Incurred pressure increases then exit the venting conduit. Defined as a gravity fed system, a cold water tank is usually fitted in the highest point of the structure when vented hot water cylinders are installed. Obviously, however, a usable vent must remain unobstructed at all times if this system is to operate safely.

Purposefully, the subject of heating energy has been left vague. In the immersion heater unit, an electrical element was briefly described. Otherwise, we avoided this topic. Well, the different types of hot water cylinders do operate on gas and electric sources, parts that are self-contained. Alternatively, though, there are indirect heating systems working away in the background. When these mechanisms are in use, a heat exchanger coil is fitted inside the cylinder, a component that receives thermal energy from water, as heated by a boiler or some other source.

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