The answer to who invented the electric water heater begins around 1850 with an experiment that was created in which both water and bath, on the underneath side, were heated by gas jets. An Englishman Benjamin Maughan, however in 1868 invented the first instant water heater called “The Geyser”, a device where the water was heated as it flowed into the bath. They were known to be quite dangerous.
Maughn’s invention influenced the designs of a Norwegian mechanical engineer by the name of Edwin Ruud, who immigrated to Pittsburg. Ruud who invented the electric water heater (automatic storage) in 1889, founded the Ruud Manufacturing Company, which is still in operation today, and pioneered the advancement of them, in both the residential and commercial market.
The Water Heater is still sometimes referred to as a geyser in the UK. Other terms include: an electric water boiler, electric dispensing pot, or electric water urn.
There are various kinds of water heaters. The most common of them are the storage water heaters. Instantaneous (tankless) heaters are newer on the market, and newer still, solar heaters.
Storage Tank Water Heaters:
This is typically the kind of water heater you saw growing up, the big white tank often beside the furnace. Tank type heaters come in different varieties – gas, oil & electric. This refers to the type of burner used to heat the water. Energy efficiencies between the different types of burners on the tank water heaters can differ greatly. In this tank, cold water is used to fill the tank, and an element, usually near the top & bottom inside the tank is used to heat it. In between the inside tank and the outer shell is often insulation to help keep the water hot, without the elements having to do all of the work.
Instantaneous Water Heaters:
Instantaneous Water Heaters, also called Tankless are just that. They do not have a tank, and therefore are thought to be more energy efficient. Sometimes they are called an in-line heater, as it only heats the water it needs as it passes through, and therefore energy is not wasted by heating extra water all day that is not in use.
Other terms for Tankless are Combination, Combi Boilers, Continuous Flow, Inline, Flash, On-Demand or Instant-On Water heaters.
These particular Water Heaters are rapidly gaining in popularity and will soon become the standard. Often, one main Tankless Water Heater will be installed near the furnace, and supplemental smaller Tankless ones will be situated in tactical spots, such as a far reaching bathrooms, etc to be located right where the water is being used. This strategy saves water as well as energy, thereby making this option one of the most efficient, as well as saving on space.
Solar Water Heaters:
If you’re fortunate enough to live someplace sunny most of the year around, a solar powered water heater may be an option for you. Solar collectors are typically installed on the exterior of the building on the roof or nearby. If insufficient sunlight or at night, an automatic sensor turns off and keeps the remaining water from cooling.
For colder climates, you’re not out of luck. The evacuated tube collector solar powered heater is an alternate type of solar water heater, smaller and deemed more efficient, also roof mounted, is said to work very well in cold climates.
True to its name, the evacuated tube collector solar powered heater has a row of glass tubes which contain heat conducting rods. Inside the heating rods is antifreeze, which is in a circulating loop. The heat is captured and transferred into a heat exchanger. The result is excellent, with very low heat loss due to the fact that once the inside coating has absorbed solar radiation, the air has been evacuated from the glass tubes to create a vacuum.