How An Indirect Water Heater Compares To Others

Heating and cooling systems are vital to every household. Heat strokes and hypothermia are major concerns during unpredictable weather conditions and should be safeguarded against at all costs.

Indirect Water Heater

Winter is fast approaching, so it wouldn’t hurt if you started thinking about how an indirect water heater compares to others on the market. 

Water heaters are paired with HVAC systems to provide heat for your home and water. An indirect water heater is an older system that was once popular but is used today. However, indirect water heaters are making a solid comeback. 

What Is An Indirect Water Heater?

What Is An Indirect Water Heater

An indirect water heater is an insulated water storage tank that holds a coiled heat exchanger which transfers thermal oil from your boiler. The tank doesn’t produce heat but instead gets it from an indirect source, the boiler.

Should I Get An Indirect Water Heater?

An indirect water heater may seem odd at first, but if you have a boiler, then it would be a good investment. A boiler uses less energy and is cost-efficient. However, this isn’t your only option regarding efficient water heaters. 

Installing An Indirect Water Heater Tank

Installing An Indirect Water Heater Tank

Connecting an indirect water heater tank to your boiler is easy if you have plumbing experience. Those without experience would need to enlist a professional plumber.  

Step 1: Prep The Boiler

Turn off the boiler’s main power and water supply. This will help reduce injury risks and accidents.

Attach a hose and water pump to the boiler’s draw-off valve and drain the water. Wait until the water in the boiler has cooled off beforehand.

Step 2: Prep The Fittings

Find a safe spot for your water heater that’s close to the boiler. The area should be level. Make sure there are a few inches of space around the boiler. Dry fit a 1” copper pipe from the boiler to the heat coil input.

Place a Y-strainer after the ball valve. This will help filter and drain the remaining water inside. Use adapters and plumber tape to attach everything appropriately. 

Step 3: Sand And Flux

Sand and flux the connections and solder them. Now wouldn’t be the time to learn how to solder, If you do not have soldering experience, do not attempt this yourself. Please, enlist a professional to help you.

Next, break the connection to the boiler draw-off valve. Dry fit a 1” copper pipe from the heat exchanger coil output to the boiler’s input. 

Step 4: Finish Up

Solder the main water supply pipes. Add an emergency shutoff valve. Attach a temperature sensor to the indirect water heater so you can monitor it. Next, attach an electronic relay to the boiler.

Turn on the main water supply and valve. Engage the purge valves to eliminate excess air. You’ll need a bucket to catch any water that escapes during this process. 

Note: it may take time to fill the water tank. You’ll need to allow a few hours before the hot water supply will be available. Also, the installation process takes a few hours, which means you won’t have hot water immediately. 

Types Of Water Heaters


There are a few types of water heaters available that you can use for your home.

Types Of Water Heaters

The following water heaters are the most popular today:  

Storage Tank Water Heater

This model is the most popular water heater, and it’s also one that you probably already have. Often referred to as a conventional storage-tank water heater, it utilizes a tank to hold heated water.

The size of the tank determines how much hot water will be available. The insulated tank keeps the water hot while the valves control the water temperature.

What To Know About Owning A Storage Tank Water Heater

A storage-tank water heater requires cleaning every six months. The water heater is popular because it can last 20 years and is inexpensive. 

Some people do not prefer storage tank water heaters because they require maintenance. Also, the tanks can only heat a certain amount of water at a given time. 

Tankless Water Heater

Tankless water heaters are becoming popular thanks to modern-day technology. A tankless water heater, as its name suggests, tank and instead uses coils that fill with water and heat water quickly.

Known as an on-demand water heater, they usually have hot water stored and ready to use. However, the heater is not big enough to accommodate a family.

What To Know About Owning A Tankless Water Heater

The shelf-life for this water heater is ten years. It’s energy-efficient as it doesn’t keep water heated at all times and instead only provides what is needed.

They’re not as popular because due to their price.  They also don’t pay for themselves like other models. Their short life span makes them even more expensive. 

Heat Pump Water Heater 

A heat pump water heater, otherwise known as a hybrid water heater, utilizes atmospheric heat in the air and ground. It also uses electricity to transfer heat to your water.

What To Know About Owning A Heat Pump Water Heater

Heat pump water heaters are energy and cost-efficient, which explains their popularity. As the heater recycles heat, and it only uses half the energy that  most water heaters require.

A few drawbacks include how the heater requires more vertical space and can’t work in just any climate. If the ground area does not have enough heat, it will be limited to how much heat it can supply.

Solar-Powered Water Heater

Solar-Powered Water Heater
Image from flicrk.

A solar-powered water heater relies on the sun for power. If you already have solar panels, then this heater would be a solid investment. If not, you’ll need to install solar panels first.

We do have a guide on buying solar panels which can help you get started. Several inexpensive options are available. 

What To Know About Owning A Solar-Powered Water Heater

Arguably the most energy-efficient water heater as solar panels is the greenest choice available.

Solar powered-heaters aren’t as desirable because they require a backup option during low-sunlight conditions. It’s also an expensive option and could take a few years before you start to notice a difference in savings.  

Condensing Water Heater

Probably the most interesting choice available as it relies on unused gas fumes in your home to heat your water. A condensing water heater works well if you already use gas heat instead of electric heat. 

The gas fumes in your home are funneled through a coil at the bottom of the tank to heat the water. It requires very little energy and instead recycles energy you’ve already used. 

If you’re already using gas, this option might be the most energy-efficient choice. If not, it wouldn’t be worth pursuing, especially in homes without gas fumes. 

Choosing The Right Water Heater

Now that you’ve learned the differences between water heaters, it may be easier to choose the right one. Would an indirect water heater be your best choice, or is there a better option?  

The best way to find out would be to contact a professional who could give you a non-biased opinion. Contact one today and see if they can help you decide the best water heater for home and family. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What are the disadvantages of an indirect water heater?

If you use water that’s rich in minerals, it could damage your heat exchanger. Also, if you have a boiler with a lifetime warranty, you should know that they have built-in disqualifying limitations. Usually, the warranty only applies to the original owner. They cannot be transferred after you sell your home. 

How much to indirect water heaters cost?

40-gallon indirect water heaters cost between $350 and $1600. On average, the installation would be anywhere between $800 and $1,700.

How does an indirect water heater work?

Indirect water heaters rely on heat transfers. The water tank itself does not use electricity or gas. Typically, the heater is connected to your boiler, which uses steam as a heat catalyst.

Indirect Water Heater Conclusion

As colder temperatures have arrived and with winter fast approaching, you need a water heater that will provide you with warm water at affordable prices.

For those unfamiliar, an indirect water heater may seem unconventional at first, but after you’ve learned more about them, you’ll discover they might help you more in the long term. Regardless of what you decide, do not wait until the last minute to replace your water heater.