How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

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I have great news for you, dear readers. I, like you, don’t know a damn thing about water heaters. In any case, it was so until, for your own sake, I “headlong” plunged into the topic and in three months studied it from all sides. Therefore, I can make you happy – I will tell you in the most accessible, “human” language.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Alexander Shub, expert reviewer of household appliances and electronic portable gadgets

And most importantly, I was not too lazy to collect as much information as possible from the Russian representatives of ALL market leaders in order to “digest” many points of view and give you, so to speak, dry steatite the result. So after reading this material, you will definitely become an “expert with a human face” in choosing the best water heater. Yes, so that friends and relatives will be able to give advice better than any other sales assistant, whose knowledge is often limited to outdated advertising leaflets of the “How to choose …” category, written for some online store by copywriters on maternity leave at a rate of 400 rubles per kilo.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

So let’s get started …

Content

  1. Types of Water Heaters
  2. How to choose the volume of the water heater
  3. Boiler shape and installation options
  4. How does a storage water heater work
  5. Rating of water heater manufacturers
  6. Enamel or stainless steel: which water heater is better to choose?
  7. How to choose an energy efficient water heater?
  8. Types of heating elements
  9. Service
  10. Spare parts – is it worth buying original parts?
  11. Instead of deducing

Types of Water Heaters

Which water heater is better? All water heaters are divided into four main types.

Accumulative boilers… There are both gas and electric. The most popular type of boilers is electric. They are sealed containers with a tank with a volume of at least 10 liters. The device heats up cold water coming from the water supply and then maintains the set temperature. As water is consumed, a new one is automatically added to the water heater.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

The principle of operation of an electric water heater

Advantages:

  • Provides water to the entire apartment or house – bathroom, kitchen, etc., there is no reference to any one water intake point.
  • Profitability. While instantaneous water heaters (about them a little below) spend from 3,5 kW and up to 27 kW (!), Storage boilers, even in the case of 300-liter models, consume no more than 3 kW. And in the bulk it fluctuates in the region of 1,5-2,5 kW.
  • High energy efficiency. With high-quality thermal insulation in storage boilers, the temperature loss is only up to 0,5 degrees per hour.
  • In the past, rather large sizes were attributed to the disadvantages of such boilers. At the moment, the market offers a variety of types of cases (“barrels”, flat, slim-versions) and mounting options (horizontal, vertical). This allows, depending on the installation location, to select a boiler so that it will not “eat up” a lot of space and interfere with the consumer.
How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Storage water heater with a flat tank from the French company Atlantic

Disadvantages:

  • Depending on the volume of consumed water, it takes time to heat the liquid in the tank to the desired temperature. But the wait is usually no more than 10-20 minutes, depending on the power of the heating element (tubular electric heater) and the capacity of the boiler tank.
  • Not that this is a drawback, let’s say – an inevitable feature. A storage water heater requires a responsible attitude of the consumer to regular maintenance. Depending on the type of heating element, this should be done once every one or two years. Otherwise, consequences may occur: from the failure of the heating element to a leak and the need to replace the tank.

Instantaneous water heaters… They work both on gas and electricity. Unlike storage water heaters, instantaneous water heaters provide almost instantaneous heating of the water passing through the device. The main advantage is that hot water is produced very quickly, without the need to wait for heating beforehand. The main disadvantage of such boilers is the high power consumption and binding to only one water intake point.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

The principle of operation of an instantaneous water heater

Advantages:

  • Low price. While storage boilers cost from 5-6 thousand rubles, the cost of instantaneous water heaters starts from only 2 thousand rubles.
  • Miniature dimensions, easy installation.
  • The user receives hot water almost immediately after turning the tap handle.
How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Instantaneous water heater Zanussi

Disadvantages:

  • Limited use, work with only one mixer. Providing hot water to the whole house will not work.
  • Due to the enormous energy consumption for taking a shower, an instantaneous water heater will not work. Is that for morning washing and washing dishes.
  • To be completely precise, a flow-through boiler is designed to produce warm rather than hot water. Depending on the pressure from the tap and the power of the water heater, on average, at the outlet, we get a liquid heated to 25-30 ° C. Whereas hot water, for example, for a shower, is a range of 36-40 ° C. Or we choose a powerful 6 kW commercial flow apparatus for 10 thousand rubles. But getting ready for space electricity bills.
  • Due to the high power, the flow models cannot be powered from a regular outlet. Requires a direct connection with a separate line to the switchboard.
How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Instantaneous water heater Thermex 15 kW. With this, you can take a shower. If you are not intimidated by the upcoming electricity bill!

Combined and indirect water heaters… Such devices are most in demand in private homes. The essence of indirect heating boilers is that the device itself does not spend energy on heating water. The device is connected to a heating boiler, from which hot water enters the water heater and passes through the coil. This is how the liquid in the tank of the device is heated.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

The principle of operation of the indirect heating boiler

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Indirect heating boiler

Combined models are more advanced due to the fact that they contain heating elements. Therefore, water heating is possible on our own, for which you just need to plug the boiler into the outlet or connect the gas.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

The principle of operation of the combined boiler differs from the indirect one in that it can heat the water in the tank not only with the heated liquid from the heating boiler, but also through its own heating element

In this article, I will consider in detail the most popular type of water heaters in Russia – electric storage boilers.

How to choose the volume of the water heater

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

  • 10 liters… This volume is not enough for taking a shower, but if you only need to wash your face and wash the dishes, this is a very working option. And it will take very little space, you can install it both in a kitchen cabinet and under a sink.
  • 10-30 liters… The choice for those who live alone. But there is a nuance. As practice shows, usually women pay special attention to water procedures. Therefore, the real needs go to the level of boilers with a 40-50 liter tank.
  • 50-100 liters… Choice for a couple or a family with one or two children.
  • From 100 liters… A large family of 5-6 people is assumed. In addition, such large boilers will be a suitable choice for a private home where several families live at once.
How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Ballu water heater

Boiler shape and installation options

There are three types of water heater housings:

  1. Cylinder… The most common, classic look. Due to their inexpensive production, such heaters are the most affordable in comparison with other housing options. Of the disadvantages – in a cramped room (well, or if the boiler is installed in a narrow passage), you should be careful not to hit the barrel-shaped water heater.
  2. Ellipse… Slim version of cylindrical models. We observe a flattened body, due to which the model becomes taller, but also more “slender”. Therefore, it looks more aesthetically pleasing, and most importantly, the ergonomics of the boiler increases. The device will already be able to fit into a pre-planned apartment or a niche in the wall created by residents.
  3. Rectangular or flat body… Most advanced variation with minimal body thickness compared to ellipse or cylinder. In some cases, this is the only way out if the installation of a “pot-bellied” boiler is not possible.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

According to the installation options, water heaters are divided into two types. Either the boiler only supports the ability to fix it vertically, or – in addition, also horizontally… Here you should also build on the characteristics of the room and the aesthetic preferences of the consumer.

Horizontal installation allows you to “throw” the boiler up to the ceiling, usually taller than a person. As a result, the “eating up” of the useful space of the room by the boiler is reduced to almost zero.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Ariston horizontally installed water heater

At the same time, this approach is usually not possible in small bathrooms, where only vertical installation is suitable.

How does a storage water heater work

The main task of the water heater is to “drive” cold water into the tank, heat it up and give us a hot stream at the outlet. It turns out that the kettle is just a lot bigger. Yes, with the ability to get heated water almost instantly and at any time.

The operation of a typical water heater is quite simple. We have a body directly in which there is a water tank. There is a layer of thermal insulation between the “outer casing” and the container, usually this space is filled with polyurethane foam. The very thing that you probably used to insulate windows for winter at least once. In a water heater, polyurethane foam comes in handy to help maintain the high temperature of the heated water as long as possible.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Cold liquid enters the tank through a tube, near the end of which, as a rule, there is a restrictor – an “inlet diffuser”, also known as a diffuser or a diffuser. The purpose of this element is to prevent rapid mixing of large volumes of cold and hot water. And so that the latter flows upward evenly, and not in a sharp stream. And in the upper part of the tank there would certainly be a liquid brought to the required temperature.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Example of a diffuser (inlet diffuser) of water

Below, next to the cold water supply pipe, we see two objects at once. The thicker stick has a magnesium anode… I will talk about it in more detail below.

Next to the anode is a heating element, it is tubular electric heater, it will also be given special attention later.

Finally, the tallest pipe remains – I think it’s easy to guess that it serves to take hot water and supply it to your tap. Well, there are also “little things” – on the body of the water heater there is certainly an external thermostat for adjusting the heating temperature, its version is installed inside the tank.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Rating of water heater manufacturers

Atlantic

The company was founded in 1968 by two engineers Paul Rada and Pierre Lamour on the west coast of France. It is a family business and is still run by the children and grandchildren of its founders.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boilerHow to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Photos from the French Atlantic plant

Atlantic is the undisputed leader of the European water heater market with a share of over 50% per unit. In Ukraine, for about 10 years the company has been a leader with 40% of the boiler market. Atlantic ranks fourth in Russia. At the same time, the company demonstrated literally reactive growth from 25th place in 2013 and earned the title of the fastest growing brand among boiler manufacturers.

Atlantic has a total turnover of 2,3 billion euros and employs 23 people in 7 factories around the world. 200% of the annual income – about 4 million euros – is allocated to research and development.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boilerHow to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Photos from the Ukrainian factory Atlantic near Odessa

Dry water heaters are a revolutionary invention of Atlantic. The patented development still has no analogues and has become the only effective alternative to wet heating elements that are ubiquitous in boilers. The water heater of the Atlantic firm, namely the steatite models, is the most profitable and the most problem-free, the most energy-efficient and the quietest in Russia.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Steatite dry heating element for Atlantic boilers

I note that in the case of Atlantic we are talking about a purely European development – no Chinese. Atlantic has 23 factories in Spain, Belgium, Egypt, Poland, Turkey, Georgia, Thailand, Great Britain and other countries. There are 12 factories in France alone. But not a single one in China. Apparently, the company is well aware of the experience of other brands that spend too much energy trying to force the citizens of the PRC to work in good faith. And to produce products of consistently high quality.

Ariston

An Italian company well known to the Russian consumer. Its products actually opened the boiler market for Russians. Until now, Ariston has been ranked first in Russia in terms of sales of water heaters with 5 million units per year, rather by inertia than due to the availability of innovations and advanced products. It is known that Ariston flat boilers are manufactured at the company’s own factory in China.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Ariston has a full cycle production facility in the Leningrad Region. Judging by the materials available on the Web, only boilers with a cylindrical body are produced here

Unfortunately, there is not as much information about the brand as we would like. For example, the Russian-language official website in the “About Us” section does not say anything about technologies or advances in the field of water heaters. The history of the company ends in 2010 with a meaningless phrase “The development of our brand positioning in thermal comfort begins with the creation of a new visual concept. Global growth continues in all parts of the world from America to Asia. ” Informative, yeah …

Thermex

The brand was founded in Italy in 1949. Since 1995, it has been actively developing its presence in Russia, by 2020 it ranks second in sales of boilers in unit terms. In 2007, the Thermex automatic plant began operating in the city of Tosno, Leningrad Region. In 2015, it was already about the production of a full cycle with 90% automation. To compare the scale of work: let me remind you that the French Atlantic employs 7 people, while more than three times less work on Thermex boilers around the world, 200 workers. Unfortunately, the “Italian footprint” was lost over time, since the development of the company’s products is exclusively carried out by specialists in China.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

In Russia, Thermex is primarily remembered for its large-scale advertising of flat stainless steel domestic water heaters. Initially, the company produced really high-quality products of this type. Now the Thermex assortment includes many models in the budget segment from 6 to 15 thousand rubles. However, with a price in this range, it is impossible to ensure either the use of high-quality stainless steel, or the necessary technologies in production. In other words, stainless steel tanks are more of a marketing gimmick and may not always resist corrosion.

Electrolux and Co.

The Rusklimat Trade and Production Holding is an extremely talented organization. She owns the rights for the production and distribution of HVAC equipment for more than 50 brands. This is stated in plain text, for example, here. Electrolux, Zanussi, Ballu, Boneco, Royal Thermo, Weger, Shuft, Biasi, SFA, De Dietrich and many others are brands that have nothing to do with their real founders.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Several photos from Rusklimat’s participation in the Aquatherm Moscow 2020 exhibition. I would like to see the photos in more detail, but … On the official website of the holding, only frames in small resolution 650×488 pixels are published

That is, the Swedish Electrolux and the Italian Zanussi are, in fact, neither Swedish nor Italian. This is the Russian “Rusklimat”, which orders development from the Chinese and in the same place, in China, mainly produces equipment. Moreover, the manufactured products are not sold in the European Union. I can only assume that due to savings in technology and engineering, Russian-Chinese boilers do not meet the strict requirements of this very European Union. I would like to emphasize that at the same time Electrolux remains a truly Swedish brand, if you do not take into account boilers. On the official Russian website electrolux.ru, all kinds of company equipment are presented, but there are no water heaters. “As if” the official resource about Electrolux boilers is home-comfort.ru, which is registered at R-Klimat LLC. On various sites for tenders, I found the following lines: “Full name: R-Climate. Short name: Rusklimat “.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Screenshot from home-comfort.ru website. In fact, from the Swedish Electrolux there is only a brand

Enamel or stainless steel: which water heater is better to choose?

The inner tank of the boiler is made of metal, usually steel. Two main methods are used to protect the container from corrosion:

  1. Coating the inside of the tank with enamel. This creates a protective layer that prevents direct contact between metal and water.
  2. Manufacturing of a stainless steel tank. Here, the protective functions are taken over by the chemical properties of the metal itself from which the container is made. Namely – a chromium film, which prevents corrosion. For ordinary steel, this film is too thin.

I will note in advance that at present, among the household boilers sold in the European Union, there are practically no models with stainless steel tanks. The production turns out to be unjustifiably expensive for home water heaters: such steel is used only in professional products with a price of hundreds of thousands of rubles.

There is an important point. The high cost is due to the fact that in the European Union there are strict requirements for stainless steel boilers. In a water heater, the characteristics “fly into a pretty penny” if you follow all the instructions. The thickness of the sheets, the permissible steel grades and many other parameters are prescribed. There are simply no such requirements in Russia and China. So it turns out that in our country, the consumer is offered stainless steel water heaters literally for 6-7 thousand rubles. Coincidentally, these are always brands like Electrolux, whose products are NOT sold in the European Union.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

… When the stainless steel turned out to be very “rusty”

Stainless steel tanks… Stainless steel entails the following features and difficulties in the production of boilers.

1. Welding… When welding the steel sheets of the tank, the metal structure is disturbed in the processing areas. Chromium particles evaporate under the influence of high temperature. Intergranular corrosion occurs between the depleted metal particles during boiler operation due to moisture. First of all, this is exactly the case when welding is carried out using the simplest and cheapest technology – with filler material.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

These rods can be used as filler material. That is, they are used as a connecting link at the junction of the boiler tank walls.

A “cathodic protection” is needed to prevent oxidation of the seams. But in this case, production becomes much more complicated and expensive. Or seamless welding is required – also an expensive pleasure. Judging by the reviews, and common sense, it is not worth buying a boiler with a stainless steel tank at a price of at least 20 thousand rubles. And you certainly shouldn’t take models in the region of 10 thousand rubles. Obviously: neither high-quality welding, nor a decent quality of stainless steel should be expected there.

Cheap welding is especially dangerous if the magnesium anode is not changed in time. As soon as it becomes thinner to a non-working state, corrosion will hit exactly the welded seams and literally “eat through” the tank walls in one or two months. In other words, when the boiler really needs the protective properties of stainless steel, they will turn out to be meaningless and powerless due to the manufacturer’s savings on welding. Moreover, the manufacturer will refuse to replace the tank, because we are talking about a non-warranty case. An Electrolux stainless steel water heater attracts buyers with a guarantee of 8 years, knowing that the manufacturer will not have to answer for leaks in the tank.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

2. Material… There are dozens of types of stainless steel. Some, the cheapest ones, do not have the ability to resist corrosion at all. That is, in fact, this “type of stainless steel” is no more durable than ordinary steel sheets. Additionally, manufacturers can save on metal thickness. We get thin walls, which after a short time will begin to corrode and still leak. So it turns out that due to stringent requirements in the European Union there are no domestic stainless steel boilers – only with an inner enamel coating. But in Russia there is a whole scattering of seemingly stainless and at the same time inexpensive models. Let’s say you can take a large 80-liter “stainless” boiler from us for just 15 rubles. Sounds great if … If you do not know about the frauds of the manufacturers I have described.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Electrolux EWH 30 Major LZR H – a water heater with a stainless steel tank at a price of 8 rubles

Enamelled tanks… Bathroom enamel should not be confused with that used in water heaters. The usual enamel coating will quickly crack and peel off due to the constant narrowing-expansion of the metal of the boiler walls under the influence of different water temperatures. Manufacturers use various admixtures to achieve better adhesion (adhesion) of the enamel to the metal and at the same time impart elasticity to the layer. This prevents peeling of the enamel coating, as well as the appearance of microcracks in the enamel. Through the efforts of marketers, brands attribute to their boilers certain “unique” coating options – the enamel composition can be called, for example, “glass ceramics” or “glass porcelain”. Which, in fact, does not change the essence at all.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Boiler with enamel coating inside the tank

The advantages of enamel include:

  • Relatively low cost of application – despite the fact that in terms of its protective properties, enamel with a high-quality composition and application is not inferior to high-quality stainless steel.
  • High wear resistance, the ability to use even the most “hard” water.
  • Formation of a non-toxic, biologically neutral surface.
  • Preventing the growth of bacteria in the tank.

In addition to the composition of the enamel, the application method plays an important role. The best way is electrostatic powder coating with further firing at a temperature of 850 ° C. This is the most expensive, but also the most reliable method of obtaining a resistant, non-corrosive coating. Here, for sure, the tank will in no way be inferior in durability to that of an expensive stainless steel. If the manufacturer is confident in the durability of the container, then the corresponding guarantee is given – 7 or even 8 years. Against more “standard” 5 years. Well, if the tank warranty is only 2-3 years, this is an unambiguous reason to bypass a specific boiler, and indeed the products of such a manufacturer, by the side.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boilerHow to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Ukrainian plant of the French company Atlantic, a site with a furnace for firing water heaters

Thrifty manufacturers are not averse to using the outdated, but cheap way of applying enamel – bulk (liquid). In this case, a whole heap of probable problems is recruited, from poor adhesion to the tank and cracking to the presence of toxic components. Unfortunately, it is impossible to determine the enamel application method purely by characteristics. Therefore, as I noted above, pay attention to the warranty period. Or look for videos from the production of a particular company. For example, at 02:40 it is shown how at the Ukrainian plant of the French company Atlantic, enamel is applied precisely by the powder method.

Which water heater is the best for energy efficiency?

Electric boilers, pardon the tautology, are powered by electricity. Therefore, an enterprising consumer probably wants to get a model that, in comparison with competitors, with the same power of heating elements and a liter of tank, will consume as little electricity as possible. The question is – how to objectively understand which water heater is economical and which is not very?

The answer is both simple and complex. The easiest way is with water heaters, which are also sold in the EU countries. Since 2015, such devices have been undergoing mandatory testing for the assignment of an energy efficiency classification ErP (Energy related Products).

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

To be precise, we are talking about complex information. Boilers in the EU must be accompanied by this label, which indicates the energy efficiency class, annual calculated energy consumption and noise level during operation. I will clarify that energy efficiency mainly reflects the ability of a boiler to minimize the cost of maintaining a given water temperature. Therefore, the water heater should have everything “ok”, first of all, with heating elements and thermal insulation.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Atlantic Boiler Energy Label

Among domestic boilers, the highest energy efficiency class, “B”, is mainly found in all Atlantic models, and is found in selected Ariston boilers. It is much more difficult with Electrolux, Ballu, Zanussi and other brands of Russian owners from Rusklimat. Their products are not sold in the EU, and therefore have the right not to meet even the minimum requirements of the ErP directive.

Note that it is not so easy to find information on ErP. On the website of Russian representations, this information, as a rule, is not indicated. And for some reason you can’t even find them in the instructions. Therefore, mentally prepare yourself to thoroughly “shake” the consultant of the online store. Who will have to strain and find a sticker in the box with the model (as in the photo above) with the information the consumer needs. Or, the easier way is to find a store that offers the widest possible selection of water heaters. Then the consultants will certainly have boxes of products at their side and the ability to quickly remove the required label from the package.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

If you are not afraid of the language barrier or the quirks of automatic translation of web pages, visit the “original” (read – European) sites of the same Ariston and Atlantic. There, on the page of each model, an ErP rating is always given. Alas, for the same Electrolux, information cannot be found even on the website, because in fact it is a Russian brand with production and development in China. And without sales in the European Union.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Fragment of a page on the English-language site Ariston. Energy efficiency class is indicated for each model. Also, under the tap icon, you can see on which “profile” the amount of hot water was measured. Roughly speaking, it’s like a clothing size, from S to L. The higher, the more hot water will be, although the energy efficiency classes may overlap

This information is not indicated on the Russian-language site.

Types of heating elements

Which water heater is better, if you start from the type of heating element? Unfortunately, in about 99% of cases, the authors of articles on the topic “how to choose a water heater”, due to their own low competence, “disarm” the consumer. In the sense – they provide completely incorrect information about modern species, in particular, dry heating elements. As a result, they interfere in one heap and reward completely different electric heaters with the same advantages and disadvantages. Well, I hasten to correct this state of affairs.

Heating elements for boilers are divided into three types.

Wet (submersible) heating elementsusually copper. By design, this is an ordinary electric boiler, where a heating nickel-chromium thread is contained in a hollow tube. Quartz sand acts as an insulator with high thermal conductivity. Water heaters with dry TEN appeared only in 2012, and before that wet “heaters” were, in principle, the only available option for the consumer.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Copper heating element for storage water heater

  • Dry steatite heating elements… Patented development of the French company Atlantic. In other words, there is no concept of “dry steatite heating element” apart from this manufacturer. In any case, it is the “dry steatite heating element Atlantic” that is meant. It is based on heating elements from a subspecies of ceramics – steatite. This natural material has excellent thermal conductivity, high mechanical strength and durability, and can withstand temperatures over 1000 ° C. The bottom line is that the heating element does not have direct contact with water, as it is protected by a steel enameled flask. A predictable plus – the service life is on the verge of fantasy. Up to 20 years versus 2-3 years for an ordinary wet copper heating element.
How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Dry steatite heating element Atlantic for storage water heater

  • Pseudo-dry heating elements… Of course, other manufacturers didn’t want to lag behind Atlantic. But to become completely dependent on one company and to pay royalties to the French for the right to use their technology, apparently, was not part of the plans of competitors. A rational understanding of the benefits of steatite heating elements outweighed corporate pride only for a couple of brands like a small Drazice with a single plant in the Czech Republic. In general, Atlantic’s competitors decided by any means to achieve the ability to call their heating elements “dry”. Even if it has almost no real advantages over conventional wet copper counterparts. What came of this, I will tell you very soon.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boilerHow to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Black “pins” are pseudo-dry heating elements, which are inserted from below into enamelled steel tubes.

And now – in detail about each type of heating element.

Ordinary wet heating elements.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Plain wet copper heating element

Advantages:

  • Lower price of the boiler in comparison with models with dry steatite heating elements. This is especially evident in the Atlantic assortment, where almost all models are presented in versions with both dry and wet heating elements. Depending on the displacement and other features, the price for steatite options is 10-30% higher. But not 100%, as the authors of some articles on the topic “how to choose a boiler” claim. Looking ahead, I note that this difference of 10-30% is subsequently covered by dry heating elements by about three times lower operating costs. So the miser pays twice – this saying most accurately reflects the main disadvantage of conventional wet heating elements – high maintenance costs.
  • Cheaper “consumables”, in particular, heating elements – in comparison with steatite options. So, a wet heating element for 1 W from Atlantic costs 500 rubles, and a dry one – 1 rubles, almost 500% more expensive. But, again, a spoiler – you need to change the steatite electric heater every 2 years, while a wet copper one – on average, once every three years.

Disadvantages:

  • The main disadvantage is that with a relatively small heat transfer area, an extremely high heat release per square centimeter of the heating element surface is obtained. As a result, the formation of scale, that is, solid deposits of salts, occurs with increased intensity. So much so that the magnesium anode is not able to fully loosen it. Over time, the heating element becomes covered with a dense hard crust of limescale. Due to this, heat transfer decreases and it takes more and more time, and therefore, electricity to heat water. If you miss the timely cleaning of the heating element or its replacement, the electric heater may simply burn out over time.
  • Another drawback, which manifests itself mainly when untimely cleaning the boiler tank. The loosened scale accumulates in the form of flakes at the bottom of the tank. Over time, a rather high layer of several centimeters forms, which sticks around the base of the heating element. In the case of a wet electric heater, heat transfer occurs over the entire surface, including directly from the base. Therefore, only a dense ring of scale flakes at the bottom is enough to impair thermal conductivity or disable the heating element.
How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Bursting wet heating element

Dry steatite heating elements… Benefits:

  • The key idea of ​​a dry heating element is to separate the protective shell of the heating element from the electric heater. Atlantic developers fundamentally solved this problem in the 90s. But an Atlantic water heater with a dry heating element appeared only in 2012. Free flowing quartz sand was replaced by the solid mineral steatite. Which made it possible to separate the protective flask into a separate element, not in contact with the heating element. Therefore, the electric heater was completely isolated from contact with the liquid in the tank. And I got the opportunity to work with equal success in water with any degree of hardness.
How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Dry steatite heating element in a protective flask in a boiler

  • At the same time, the design genius of the French lies in the passing solution of another key issue. Namely – increased heat transfer per square centimeter of surface in conventional wet heating elements and intensive formation of scale. Due to its device, a wet heating element cannot be made “plump”. But steatite is easy, which means that at the same time we will get a more voluminous flask. As a result, the total heat release from wet and dry heating elements is the same. But per square centimeter, the steatite variant is 3-4 times lower. Therefore, the intensity of scale formation is up to 4 times lower. The load on the magnesium anode is significantly reduced, which will need to be changed not annually, but once every two to three years.
  • Steatite heats up quickly, but cools down for a long time – which predictably leads to less energy consumption compared to conventional wet copper heating elements. The benefit in favor of a boiler with a steatite heating element is about 10% in comparison with models with a wet heating element.
  • A nichrome spiral in a dry heating element is laid so that the lower part of the flask and the electric heater remains practically cold. The main heating occurs about 5 centimeters above the “foundation”. Therefore, unlike wet heating elements, there are no conditions for fouling the bottom of the flask with a dense ring of scale with a subsequent deterioration in heat transfer up to the breakdown of the electric heater.
How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

The blue zone remains relatively cold, the main heating of the heating element is higher. Therefore, scale does not “hug” the base of the protective flask

  • A steatite water heater means that the protective bulb of the dry heating element is covered with the same enamel with an admixture of cobalt and zirconium as the tank walls. As a result, the casing is protected from corrosion, although hard scale cannot fix on it anyway. However, all the same, due to the low intensity of scale formation, the anode manages to almost completely loosen it. The bulk of the flakes from the flask subsequently flies off during the heating of the water and the movement of the hot water mass from the bottom of the boiler to the top.
How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Protective flask of dry steatite heating element Atlantic

  • The walls of the boiler and the protective flask are made of the same steel and covered with the same enamel composition. Therefore, even if the anode fails, the corrosion process does not begin, since the casing and the tank do not form a galvanic pair.
  • Over time, conventional boilers can become more and more noisy. The most common reason is that the heating element gradually becomes overgrown with solid scale, which is why loud extraneous sounds appear during water heating. In the case of dry steatite heating elements, as I have already indicated, in principle, solid scale cannot accumulate on the protective flask. As well as in a large volume – loosened, in the form of flakes. Therefore, we can say that boilers with dry steatite heating elements are the quietest among all water heaters.

Disadvantages:

  • Boilers with dry steatite heating elements are more expensive compared to copper electric heaters. The difference reaches 30%. However, models with a soapite option are about three times cheaper in maintenance (why – we will figure it out below). In addition, if boilers with wet heating elements, with rare exceptions, belong to the energy efficiency class “C”, then water heaters with a dry “heart” – to a higher class “B”.
  • Consumables for “steatite” boilers are more expensive. So, an ordinary wet heating element for 1 W from Atlantic will cost 500 rubles, and a more modern dry one – 1 rubles, which is almost 500% more. But, again, a steatite electric heater needs to be changed every 2 years, while an ordinary wet copper one – on average, once every three years.

Pseudo-dry heating elements… Again, major players like Electrolux and Thermex did not license Atlantic the right to use dry steatite heating elements in their boilers. And at the same time, competitors could not copy the French development cleanly – after all, it was patented! Therefore, other boiler manufacturing companies reasoned as follows. If the consumer needs a dry heating element, an electric heater must be made, which at least formally fits this term.

As a result, the so-called pseudo-dry heating elements appeared. At first glance, this is a more progressive solution in comparison with wet electric heaters. However, upon closer examination, it turns out that in this case “dryness” does not bring any fundamental advantages.

A pseudo-dry heating element can be described as follows: it is a wet heating element, which was simply put into a protective tube sealed from above. In this case, the electric heater does not come into contact with the protective casing, and the space between them is filled only with air.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

A flange into which two pseudo-dry heating elements are inserted

Interesting fact. There are no pseudo-dry heating elements with a capacity of more than 1,3 kW. Therefore, in boilers, in order to achieve a power of even 1,5 kW, manufacturers like Electrolux have to install systems as in the picture above – with two electric heaters in a bundle.

There are powerful wet heating elements, even 2,5 kW. But for this, the tube of the electric heater has to be bent in half two or three times. Otherwise, you get a long, irrational construction. Which, due to its height, will also heat hot water in the upper part of the tank. You cannot bend anything in pseudo-dry heating elements – otherwise it will simply not be possible to replace the “hairpin”.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Wet heating element with a power of 2 kW, the tube is bent in three places. If you straighten the heating element, you get a pole about a meter in height. As we remember, pseudo-dry heating elements are the same wet ones, only in an additional protective tube. So the manufacturers have to “reinvent” the bicycle with two heating elements instead of one.

In comparison, Atlantic’s dry steatite electric heaters allow for scalable designs. And to produce boilers with only one heating element, but in a version with a capacity of even 3 kW for 300-liter boilers.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Boiler Atlantic Steatite Central Domestic 300 with dry steatite heating element 3 kW

Advantages:

  • As in the case of dry steatite options, there is no direct contact of the heating element with the liquid in the tank. However, this practically does not affect the durability of the electric heater. If wet heating elements are changed on average once every three years, then pseudo-dry ones are changed every 4-5 years. Slightly more than normal wet ones.
  • Ease of replacing the heating element, without the need to completely drain the water from the tank and unscrew the flange. This is an indisputable plus, but only at first glance. The fact is that pseudo-dry heating elements, unlike dry steatite ones, do not reduce the amount of scale in comparison with wet models. The load on the magnesium anode remains the same, which means that this element still needs to be changed every year. That is, drain the water and unscrew the flange. In the case of a conventional wet heating element, when replacing the anode, as a rule, at the same time, the electric heater is descaled. This ensures the service of the last about three years, or even longer. So it turns out that a simple replacement of a pseudo-dry heating element does not apply to weighty advantages, since the boiler still requires annual maintenance.
  • If the protective tubes of the heating element are covered with enamel, as is the case with the flask of the steatite heating element, this prevents the accumulation of solid scale. And in addition, it will prevent the formation of a galvanic pair “tank-casing” when the anode “burns out”. On the other hand, the question of enamel quality and possible subsequent microcracks remains open. Through which water contacts the flask and develops foci of corrosion. In the absence of enamel, hard scale will accumulate on the tube in the same way as on a wet heating element. Unpleasant consequences are expressed in the possible through-eating of the casing, after which the water fills with a pseudo-dry heating element.

Disadvantages:

  • A pseudo-dry heating element does not solve the key problems of wet options, therefore both types of electric heaters (with a conventional wet and with a pseudo-dry heating element) have the same disadvantages. The area of ​​the protective casing barely exceeds the dimensions of the heating element itself, therefore, an extremely high heat release per square centimeter of the heating element surface is still obtained. This means that the formation of scale occurs with increased intensity. So much so that the magnesium anode is not able to fully loosen it. Over time, the heating element becomes covered with a dense hard crust of limescale. Due to this, heat transfer decreases and it takes more and more time to heat water, and therefore electricity. If you miss the timely cleaning of the heating element or its replacement, the electric heater may simply burn out over time.
  • The frequency of replacing the magnesium anode remains unchanged, as in a conventional wet heating element – as before once a year against 2-3 years of operation with a dry steatite electric heater.
  • Since, in comparison with wet heating in a pseudo-dry heating element, heating comes from the base, there remains a problem with the adhesion of scale from the bottom and a decrease in heat transfer, up to the burnout of the electric heater. More precisely, in this case, a dense layer is formed around the protective tubes. But this does not change the essence – over time, the heating element begins to heat the water longer, the power consumption increases. If you do not clean the tank in time, then, most likely, the heating element will rupture.

Service

Most often, articles on choosing a boiler do not touch upon the topic of subsequent maintenance of water heaters. And completely in vain. Since our people do not like to read not only relevant materials on the Internet, but even complete instructions. Even a water heater does not always know the characteristics. Or he professes the principle of “his own master-lomaster” and has some of his own principles of water heater maintenance. As a rule, something like “works – and okay, it breaks – then we’ll figure it out.”

Often, buyers have no idea about the peculiarities of the boiler’s operation and therefore believe that it is not at all necessary to regularly and on time service the water heater. In fact, calling the master every year – isn’t it too often? Consumers think so, after which they look with surprise at the burnt out heating element, a leaking tank and other consequences of savings. And instead of a couple of thousand rubles, they simply “get” for repairs at half the price of a boiler

Boiler maintenance consists of the following operations.

Timely replacement of the magnesium anode… If you “score” – the consequences depend on the material, the protection of the tank walls and the type of heating element. So, with cheap stainless steel with poor-quality welds, there is a high probability of a quick leak. In the case of an ordinary wet heating element, it will quickly begin to overgrow with solid scale. Consequences – from corrosion of the copper tube to reduced heat generation and failure.

In boilers with conventional wet and pseudo-dry heating elements, the frequency of replacing the anode depends on factors such as water hardness and operating intensity. Some manufacturers recommend checking the anode six months after installing the water heater. To roughly understand the resource of the element and replace it in time. On average, it is required to change the “defender” once a year.

Normal wet heating element after 11 months of operation. Looking at such a photo, you understand that manufacturers like Electrolux for models with wet electric heaters do not just recommend the first service six months after the purchase and installation of the boiler

With modern dry steatite heating elements, replacement, as a rule, is required every three years, that is, three times less often. As I mentioned above, this is due to the much smaller volume of scale. However, Atlantic appears to be reinsured and requires boiler maintenance every two years. As a motivation, the company gives an additional free year of warranty if the user calls the master on time. In total, we get 8 years of warranty versus 7 standard ones. Or another option – you need to buy a set of three anodes and replace it every two years yourself. In this case, similarly, the user receives 8 years of warranty.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Replacing the heating element… With a conventional wet heating element, the state of the element should be assessed when changing the anode. As a rule, if you delay the replacement of the latter, not long before the electric heater burns out. Or the development of banal corrosion.

Pictures from the story of a user who decided to clean the boiler with a wet heating element Ariston ABS PRO ECO 100V five years after installation. According to the narrator, the water heater was operated with very hard water. Quote: “It turned out a whole bowl of scale, oxidized anode and enamel from the walls of the tank”

To install a new “protector”, it is necessary to completely remove the flange, on which the heating element is also installed. So do not be lazy at the same time to clean the electric heater from both hard deposits and scale flakes. It is recommended to change the wet heating element once every three years.

In the case of a pseudo-dry heating element, the electric heater itself should be replaced every four to five years. It is important not to forget to descale the protective tubes in which the “pins” are installed.

According to Atlantic, the service life of a modern dry steatite heating element is at least 20 years. It is not yet possible to check this. Let me remind you that a dry TEN water heater first appeared only in 2012. Nevertheless, in the recommendations for boiler maintenance for a period of 7-8 years, the replacement of the heating element is not assumed. That is, Atlantic claims that the electric heater works smoothly.

Spare parts – is it worth buying original parts?

This subsection was pushed to me by one of the videos on YouTube, which caused the wildest surprise. In it, it seems like a specialist in the selection / maintenance of boilers with a serious look voices such wild things that, as they say, “he says, but I am ashamed.” The bottom line is that the master discusses the choice between the original flange-bulb and the non-original. On one side of the scale – a variation WITHOUT enamel coating and with a thinner stainless steel [of unknown quality and origin]. On the other – the original with enamel and steel walls with a decent thickness.

Extensive reasoning hovers around the topic “Well, the original can fail. Although a non-original spare part too. But the original can. And the other can. ” And such transfusions from empty to empty – about five minutes. I will say briefly – when it comes to pseudo-dry heating elements, protective flasks and flange-flasks for them, you have to be a hefty masochist to get used to non-original spare parts. As a rule – for the sake of saving 10-20% in comparison with branded parts.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Three variants of non-original flanges for Electrolux boilers with pseudo-dry heating elements. On the left – at least a version with enamel. Although its composition, application method are all unanswered questions. It is possible that the enamel layer will quickly crack and peel off. In the center and on the right there are stainless steel tubes of unknown grade and thickness. The copy on the right looks ridiculous. The Chinese did not care so much that they were even too lazy to paint the base of the flange separately, before welding the pipes. Instead, the final design was painted, so at the bottom of the tubes we see sloppy blue streaks

What do we get in return? Without enamel – we immediately prepare for the fact that the flask will become overgrown with hard scale and rust. And given the thin walls, it will leak quickly. After that, the heating element will immediately turn into the queue for replacement. Further, if the boiler tank is not covered with enamel, then in the event of anode failure, galvanic vapor will be guaranteed to form between the walls of the container (or seams) and the “casing”. The consequences depend on the specific case – either the tank or the flask will begin to actively collapse.

It is worth avoiding non-original “casings” for Atlantic boilers. Option number one – the spare part is still covered with enamel. But in the original Atlantic flasks, the enamel used is a special composition with cobalt and zirconium in order to avoid the formation of microcracks when the walls expand or contract under the influence of temperature. A cheaper original of unknown origin, most likely covered with ordinary enamel. With the prospect of fouling with microcracks, through which water will pointwise contact with the walls of the flask, as a result of which foci of corrosion may form.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

This is how the original flask for Atlantic boilers with dry steatite heating element looks like

Option number two – flasks without enamel. The situation is the same as with the “casing” for pseudo-dry heating elements. A reference copy for lovers of a kind of “Russian roulette” with corrosion. Only in the event of a bulb leak, most likely, you will still “get” to replace the heating element. So you will have to buy immediately a set of spare parts for at least 3 rubles.

How to choose the best water heater? The most detailed instructions for choosing a boiler

Non-original flask for Atlantic boilers with dry steatite heating element

Therefore, be careful if you go to non-branded stores in search of spare parts, and choose only original products. Otherwise, the scanty savings can turn into large expenses in the future.

Instead of deducing

How to choose a water heater? I examined the main criteria by which the choice of a water heater is made. I hope they will help you find the best model for you depending on your specific needs. If you still have questions or doubts about any aspects – do not hesitate to contact me at schub.alexandr@yandex.ru. Recently, I have the opportunity to promptly receive answers to the most tricky questions from specialists in water heaters of one of the leading European manufacturer of boilers. And we will definitely check the rating of water heaters, or rather their manufacturers, next year.

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