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What are the pros and cons of one large vs. multiple smaller commercial water heaters? Here’s some help.

Correct water heater sizing is crucial when you’re in the market for a new commercial water heater for your restaurant, hotel, or apartment property. With so many options, how do you know which one you need?

It will depend on how much hot water you need to run your business.

When you install one big water heater, the main thing to remember is that ALL your facility’s hot water comes from that large unit.

Installing multiple smaller water heaters is called a redundant system. A redundant system is staged—meaning that each smaller unit fires up to meet demand, but only as needed.

Pick Your Piping

Redundant systems are piped in two ways: in a series or a balanced system.

Series 101

A series system means your water heaters are piped in a row, one after the other. For example, let’s say you have three smaller water heaters in a series. Each one will fire one at a time to meet your current hot water demand. So heater #1 is always in use. Heater #1 is always running hard, so it will break down faster than the other two. Heater #2 is sometimes in use. And you might not use #3 much at all.

Balanced System 101

A balanced system differs in that it shares the workload by evenly supplying and distributing the water, drawing your hot water from all three units equally. However, it runs at a much lower rate than the series system.

So why choose one large commercial water heater over several smaller ones, and vice versa?

When You’re Down, You’re Down

One major drawback to installing one large unit is that you’re left with NO hot water when it breaks down. It’s either ON or OFF, no in-between.

When you have several smaller water heaters, your others are ready to go if one goes down. You may have less hot water, but your business operations are much less affected.

Wiggle Room

Wiggle room might also be a factor in whether you choose one large commercial water heater or multiple smaller units.

Space Requirements

One disadvantage of installing multiple water heaters is the wiggle room. If you want more water heaters, you’ll need more space.

So if you’re limited on space, you might need to choose one large commercial water heater.

Budget Considerations

Multiple units may also leave little wiggle room in your budget when deciding between one large vs. multiple smaller commercial water heaters. The installation costs look similar between one large or multiple smaller water heaters. But here are a couple of things to consider.

Multiple units require at least twice as much piping, so the extra installation time and materials will cost you.

One large water heater weighs a LOT. They often require several people and sometimes even special equipment to move. So, you’re looking at higher labor costs.

You Have Options

You have options. But it’s important to know the benefits of installing one large commercial water heater or multiple smaller ones. Contact a trained commercial plumber to help you analyze your hot water requirements based on your building layout and hot water needs.

One Large vs. Multiple Smaller Commercial Water Heaters

In the market for a new commercial water heater? Wallingford Sales is your trusted source, whether you’re looking for one large unit or installing several smaller water heaters. We ship top brands like Rheem and A.O. Smith to you at wholesale prices. Shop our online catalog today or call us toll-free at 888.721.2763.

Looking for more information about commercial water heaters? Check out our past articles.