Hot water and long pipes

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 07/30/2007 - 18:07
Every now and then, I see somebody who -just as Russell did today- talks about the advantages of water heating systems not being tank-based, but tankless! Sounds kewl, hah? Shiny, new?
Well... I live at a house that is slowly but steadily started to show its age. Built in 1955 and owned for almost two decades by the very renowned phycisist (of course, my father's mentor and teacher) Marcos Moshinsky, my parents bought it in 1974, and it has been my home since 1976. And, at least since 1980 (I cannot be sure about earlier events for reasons that might be obvious to the casual reader), we have always had an Calentador Ascot de paso. Ascot (and further companies that have bought their name) have manufacutred this kind of water heaters for at least 60 years in Mexico. Yes, they are gas-based and not electricals like the ones Rusell links to, but that might just be because in Mexico gas has always been incredibly cheaper than electricity. And yes, the heater is godsent for ecolocigally conscious people - No more storing 20 to 40 lt (the sizes of the usual storage-based tanks around here) of hot water all day around just because you might want to take a shower, no more waiting for 20 minutes after you turn it on until you start having your morning shower (and more important, no more taking your morning shower ice-cold just because you overslept!)
Yes, it seems like life is perfect with our tankless (de paso) system... Almost.
As I said, our house was built over 50 years ago. It was built on what intended by then to be a middle-upper class suburb, on a very modern house with fancy stuff and all. And of course, the heater was not planned for the most visible or hearable areas of the house - specifically, nowhere close the living room - or the bedrooms. Silly details, the bathrooms are close to those areas. So, what's the answer? Want to take a shower? Ok, open the water...
And wait.
For around 3-5 minutes, until the hot water finishes the looong ride from the opposite corner of the house.
Of course, it takes a path that's not easy to intercept in order to move the heater to a saner place: The hot water pipe goes right under the middle of the living room, yay.
So we use our fancy de paso system whenever we are too lazy. Nadezhda and I prefer to fill one hot water bucket (~20lt) for each in the washing room, just by the kitchen (and the heater, of course!) and throw hot water over us to get a nice bath. Or, in case we are too lazy for that, collect as much as possible from the otherwise-wasted hot water in another bucket (we usually get ~10lt - but I fear another such amount just falls around it) and use it later for our various household duties.
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Zack Weinberg's picture

Re: Hot water and long pipes

The system you're describing sounds like it has just one heater for the whole house. Seems to me the problem you describe would go away if there were one heater for each hot water outlet. This would also allow even bigger energy savings, simpler overall piping - just one pipe to each point of use - and different heater presets for different uses (hotter water for the dishwasher, for instance)...
Gunnar's picture

Re: Re: Hot water and long pipes

It's even simpler than that: We only have one place that truly requires hot water: The bathroom. We don't use a dishwasher, and we almost always (hand)wash the dishes with cold water. The bathrooms are located one on top of the other. Having, as you say, the heater just by the bathroom would be ideal... :-/