Aug 22, 2017

Yikes! What's In Your Electric Hot Water Tank May Shock You.

August Is Water Quality Month

Considering that the heat index in Charleston was hovering at 110° F last week, it makes a lot of sense to draw attention to the importance of having clean water during a month in the summer when people are trying to stay cool by enjoying rivers, lakes, and oceans across the country.

National Water Quality Month reminds us here at Heatworks why we are singularly focused on changing the way the world heats water through our products and innovation. For the last 100 years, electric hot water tanks have all been designed with one fundamental flaw: they all use metal heating elements to heat the water. Over time, those elements rust and scale. 

This is what it looks like inside a two-year-old standard tank-type electric water heater.Screen_Shot_2017-08-02_at_2.26.19_PM_large 

Clearly, you can see the sediment and impurities. If you have a traditional electric hot water tank, this is what it probably looks like inside your tank, too. Just think, you are routinely cooking with and showering in hot water that is stored in there. In addition, all that mineral build-up means greater inefficiencies. More energy is spent heating the water, more money paid to your utility company each month.

Tankless water heaters aren't much different. Although they do produce water instantly (also called on-demand), they still use the same metal heating elements that traditional tank-type water heaters use to heat the water. Those same metal heating elements over time will leave the homeowner with murky hot water filled with impurities.

At Heatworks, we have eliminated metal heating elements all together. And instead, our water heaters use Ohmic Array Technology. A patented way to heat water more purely. To hear about this technology firsthand, we sat down with Heatworks' Chief Technology Officer, Michael Wieckowski, to get his take on how it works and why it is better than other products that are available.

Q: How does Ohmic Array Technology Work?

Instead of having elements that get really hot and then transfer the heat to the water, we pass electrical currents through the the water itself. Since our everyday drinking water contains naturally occurring salts and minerals, it can conduct electricity, though not very well. This causes the water itself to heat up without any heating element. Using this type of direct energy transfer, your water is heated instantly, within (+/-) 1 degree Fahrenheit of the temperature setpoint.

Q: Is Ohmic Array Technology Safe?

Contrary to popular belief, the fresh water we use everyday for drinking, cooking, bathing, etc. is not a great conductor of electricity. The electrical current does not really “want” to stay in the water, and instead finds the shortest path to ground. This path happens to be within the water heater itself. For this reason, the electric current generated with our Ohmic Array Technology poses no risk to the end user. As a second layer of protection, we have added two non-heating, leakage electrodes to the Ohmic Array. These electrodes are positioned just next to the inlet and outlet pipes, and their only purpose is to “capture” any leakage current. Our family of water heaters are all tested and certified to the UL 499 standard, which also has a required test for leakage current.

Q: How does water quality affect Ohmic Array Technology?

The level of minerals and salts dissolved in water (conductivity) ranges from very pure distilled water to extremely salty ocean water. When using water as an electrical conductor to generate heat, the current through the water is directly proportional to the conductivity. So a 240 V system that was designed to draw 10 A of current in the cool mountain water of the Pacific Northwest would draw 1,000 A in the warm salty water on the coast of Florida. Our Ohmic Array Technology addresses this challenge by controlling the resistance of the water circuit, and the resulting power draw: with electrode width, height and separation. By changing these parameters dynamically as the conductivity of the water changes, the power of the system as a whole can be precisely controlled.

Q: Why is Ohmic Array Technology a better way to heat water?

Electric hot water tanks, as well as tankless water heaters, use metal heating elements to heat water. This instantly creates impurities as the high temperatures of the elements cause compounds to fall out of solution. Our technology allows us to heat water only to the exact temperature you desire. The water coming out is identical to the water going in, just hotter.

For more information about Heatworks or to order one of the world's most advanced water heaters, click here.

Topics: News