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Commercial Water Heaters

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ENERGY STAR certified commercial water heaters include gas storage and instantaneous (tankless) units that use 25 percent less energy than a conventional commercial unit by employing more efficient heat exchangers. The label will be available for electric commercial heat pump water heaters in the future.

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Savings and Benefits

How It Works

Current Specification Effective Date:  March 20, 2013

Commercial hot water heater specification covers high–efficiency gas storage and tankless water heaters. It will also cover electric commercial heat pump water heaters in the future.

Commercial Water Heater Key Product Criteria: ENERGY STAR

Learn How a Product Earns the Label

Below we provide some guidance on buying, installing, and operating commercial water heaters:

  • More and more restaurants are moving to tankless water heaters. For example, 10,000 square foot Drago’s Restaurant in Metairie, Louisiana replaced their 150 gallon storage tank unit with 3 tankless water heaters. The restaurant:
    • Could refill their 80, 60, and 40 gallon kettles with 160 degree F water, since tankless units can provide an endless supply of hot water.
    • Saved space by moving the tankless units outdoors.
    • Manifolded together two tankless units to meet the overall water needs and be able to supply hot water if one of the units failed. The third unit was dedicated to the kettles.
  • If you currently use an electric storage water heater consider an electric heat pump water heater (HPWH); such units use half the energy of a conventional electric water heater. They work best in hotter conditions – like a restaurant kitchen or a laundry where the processes use a lot of heat. Most HPWHs are used as pre–heaters, in combination with a regular water heater and tank.. They are not currently included in the ENERGY STAR program, but will be once a Federal test method is established.
  • ENERGY STAR certified condensing commercial gas water heaters need a drain line to dispose of condensate. Some combustion byproducts cause this condensate to be acidic, which can be corrosive to certain materials. Plastic piping typically used in new construction is not affected by this. However, acidic condensate can damage cast iron piping, which may be present in some existing facilities. In these facilities, you must either replace the drain lines with plastic or some other material immune to the effects of the acid, or install a neutralizer. A neutralizer is a device containing a base material (e.g., limestone chips) that counters the acid and eliminates the corrosive effects of the condensate. In commercial food service facilities, cleaning agents used during the dish washing process are known to neutralize acids. A neutralizer is not necessary in this situation as long the condensate line from the water heater is connected downstream from the dishwasher.
  • ENERGY STAR certified condensing water heaters are not compatible with natural draft vent systems. When a standard efficiency gas water heater is replaced with a condensing model, the existing vent system will not work properly. Condensing water heaters are typically power–vented and include a fan that can exhaust combustion gases up to 60 feet horizontally through plastic pipes. The end cap of this exhaust must be above the snow line or other obstructions. The vent also must be sloped toward the water heater so that any condensate formed is directed back toward the drain and does not freeze on the end cap, which could block the exhaust.
  • For commercial kitchens, please see Design Guide Improving Commercial Kitchen Hot Water System Performance Energy Efficient Heating, Delivery and Use for a comprehensive overview of how a restaurant designer or engineer can use innovative strategies to deliver the service of hot water as efficiently as possible by: (1) reducing hot water use of equipment and faucets while maintaining performance; (2) increasing the efficiency of water heaters and distribution systems; (3) improving hot water delivery performance to hand washing sinks; and (4) incorporating “free–heating” technologies like waste heat recovery and solar pre–heating.

Did You Know?

A full service restaurant could save $1,500 per year with an ENERGY STAR certified commercial water heater – that pays for the incremental cost in a year and a half!