shower room

How Does A Hot Water Cylinder Work? A Beginner’s Guide

If you need a new hot water cylinder for your home, then research is key. You want to make sure that your home’s needs are well catered for and this all begins with ensuring that you have the right system in place. An efficient and reliable system will do this for you. Moreover, there are many different types available for use, ranging from gas, electric and solar. Whichever model you choose will come with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.


How do they work?

A hot water cylinder stores aqua for household use. An indirect system is reliant on an external appliance, like a boiler, to heat the liquid in the system, whereas a direct system heats the liquid internally, using immersion heaters. If you are planning of having a new system installed, always consider professional advice.

In terms of the process, cold liquid enters the storage tank when the warmer liquid exits. This means that the bottom of the tank is filled with relatively colder liquid, which triggers the thermostat. The thermostat is basically a thermometer that controls the aqua temperature within the tank. When the temperature drops below a certain point, the thermostat activates and begins heating the liquid to the required temperature. This is an ongoing, 24/7 process, thereby ensuring that you have a good supply from your hot water cylinder.


What size do you need?

The size of the new hot water cylinder for your home is predicated on the needs of your household. If your system is too large, then you’ll find yourself paying excessive utility bills for energy use you don’t need. On the other hand, if the system doesn’t provide enough for your household, you’ll begin having colder showers, which no one wants. The best way to gauge how much you need is not based off the capacity of the device (which is generally listed in litres) but to conceptualise it in terms of the number of rooms/outlets in your home. Indeed, consider how many bathrooms, taps and shower outlets you have. Generally, a single tank will suffice for a household of 1-3 people, however, a family of 4+ will need a much larger hot water cylinder.


How to insulate your hot water cylinder


Most modern devices come with an internal insulating system that ensures that the liquid remains heated. Usually, this insulation mechanism will be made from polyurethane foam, which generally does an adequate job. However, if your installed device is a much older model, you might need to do some of the insulating yourself. Indeed, you can easily purchase a “jacket” for your system, which is made from polythene. This will act as an additional form of insulation.


What else might affect the efficiency of my hot water cylinder?

The efficiency of your system could depend on several factors. Firstly, if your home or apartment has old plumbing, then there is a good chance that the pipes are not insulated. This means that on very cold days or in colder climates, the system might initially struggle to provide adequate heat to your showers/baths.

Similarly, the distribution of your plumbing and the structure of your home can also affect the reliability of your system. If you live in a larger home with several storeys, the proximity of your system will affect the strength of heat and flow. For example, the bathroom located the furthest away from your hot water cylinder will likely encounter more heating issues compared to the shower recess located closest to the system. In these situations, the best thing to do is to limit shower times or, if possible, consider having additional pipes installed to divert liquid to that outlet in a more direct way.