A Stress-Free Guide to Buying a Water Heater
A water heater will be one of the major appliances to get for your new home. For new homeowners, buying a water heater can be somewhat overwhelming if you don’t know where to start looking.
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To make it easier for you, we’ve put together a guide to explore the different types of water heaters available in Singapore so you can make a more informed decision on which to get.
Types of water heaters in Singapore for residential use
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Essentially, there are four main types of water heaters to select from in Singapore: Storage (electric), Instant (electric) and Gas water heaters. Within the category of instant water heaters, there are also multipoint instant water heaters. These are essentially instant water heaters and are tank-less. The main difference is that, unlike most instant water heaters, they can channel hot water to more than a single point.
How do they work?
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Storage water heaters hold water in a tank, which gets heated up when you switch it on (via a switch outside your bathroom). The heated water then gets drawn out to the tap. Any remaining hot water is reserved in the tank and can last a few hours, although that is dependent on the outside environment as well as the make and model of your storage water heater.
Instant water heaters do not come with a water tank. Instead, they rely on a heating element inside their unit to turn cold water hot. Turning on your shower tap for hot water will start the process. Most instant water heaters (with the exception of multipoint instant water heaters) can only connect to a single point. This is unlike storage water heaters.
Similarly, gas water heaters do not work with a tank and also heat up water on demand. Cold water is drawn into the gas water heater when you first turn on your tap towards the hot water setting, and is heated up at the heat exchanger within the unit before being channelled to your shower tap. Most gas water heaters can connect to more than single point, although some models only connect to one.
How is hot water heated up?
Storage and instant water heaters use electricity to heat up hot water, while gas water heaters here use piped town gas to heat up hot water.
Waiting time for hot water
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You will need about 5 to 20 minutes (depending on how much residual hot water you have left or how large is your tank) to heat up water in a storage water heater.
With instant water heaters, there is almost no waiting time and you get immediate hot water. Multipoint instant water heaters have a slight delay in hot water supply (around 10 to 30 seconds), depending on the location of the heater and the length of piping.
For gas water heaters, it is also technically instant heating. However, some homeowners in Singapore with gas water heaters have reported in forums and renovation groups a long-ish waiting time for hot water (may be up to a couple of minutes) after turning on their hot water tap. According to City Gas, this delay is dependent on the location of the gas water heater and the length of piping it has to pass through.
Consistency of hot water and water pressure
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In terms of consistency of temperature and water pressure, storage water heaters are your best bet, as long as there is sufficient time given to heat up the water in the tank. Because hot water is eventually drawn from the tank and released to the shower tap, it is easier for the system to control the temperature consistency and the water pressure.
With instant and gas water heaters, water is drawn from the inlet and then immediately released after passing through a heating chamber. This can result in fluctuations of hot water temperature depending on your inlet water pressure and temperature. This idea also applies to water pressure from instant and gas water heaters.
There have been improvements made for instant and gas water heaters however. Newer instant water heater models like Ariston’s Aures Luxury Round RT33 and the Rheem Prestige Instant Water Heater as well as the Rubine Bene 10-FE gas water heater come with in-built sensors and technology that help regulate the hot water output.
Placement of the water heaters
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Most storage water heaters are located either at the service yard or in the bathroom near the ceiling. BTOs already come with a designated area for your storage water heaters so there are no additional installation costs if you choose to get a storage water heater. If you don’t have a lot of space, you’ll find that storage water heaters can be rather bulky.
Instant water heaters are typically located next to your shower fixtures, although multipoint instant water heaters are usually located at a centralised location similar to storage water heaters.
Gas water heaters needs to be located at an open area for ventilation like your service yard or externally (for some private properties) either at the balcony or the AC ledge.
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You can get instant water heaters for under $100, although more premium models start at about the mid-range of $100. Multipoint instant water heaters are more expensive, and cost upwards of $250.
Most gas heaters are priced at around $300 plus, while the prices for storage heaters are dependent on their capacity. 15 litres can go for about $200, while larger capacities range from $200-$700.
These prices don’t include installation. City Gas charges $140 for installation and the extension of your existing gas pipe to your gas water heater position (although it’s currently free for now). Installation for storage water heaters start from about $120, while installation for instant water heaters are priced from $80.
Storage water heaters: What size to buy?
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Sizing options apply only for storage water heaters. The sizing refers to the tank size. The bigger the size, the more water it can store and hold. There isn’t a hard and fast rule, as it is very dependent on how many showers you take in a day, how many people are showering at one time, and whether you have a bathtub.
A two-person household can go with a 15-litre unit if you both take one shower a day. For larger households with four people, you will want at least a 30-litre storage water heater. Opt for a larger capacity (at least 50 litres) to fill a bathtub that just about fits your HDB bathroom.
What brands are out there?
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You can get storage and instant water heaters from a large number of retailers in Singapore. Popular brands include Joven, Ariston, AOS, Rheem and Champs. There are not a lot of brands out there for multipoint instant water heaters though. The well-known ones include Bennington and Europace. For gas water heaters, you can only get them from City Gas, which carries a number of brands such as Macro, Rubine and Rinnai.
Here’s a table summary:
StorageInstantMultipointGasHot water heats up byElectricityElectricityElectricityPiped Town GasWaiting time for hot waterApprox 5 to 20 minsAlmost no waiting time10 to 30 secsA few seconds to a couple of minsConsistency of hot water and water pressureUsually stable, given enough time to heat water in tankCan fluctuate, depending on model, inlet water pressure and temperatureCan fluctuate, depending on model, inlet water pressure and temperatureCan fluctuate, depending on model, inlet water pressure and temperaturePlacementCentralised location, either at service yard or bathroomNext to shower fixturesCentralised location, either at service yard or bathroomNeeds to be in open areaUpfront costs of unitFrom $200 for smaller tanks to about $700Under $100 to $100 plusAbove $250Most cost about $300 plusCommon brandsJoven, Ariston, AOS, Rheem and ChampsJoven, Ariston, AOS, Rheem and ChampsBennington and EuropaceMacro, Rubine and Rinnai from City Gas
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