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By Roy Collver
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For new commercial facilities, higher efficiency equipment is now available for every domestic hot water option. Traditional high temperature boilers and direct-fired tanks are still favored by hotels and apartment buildings as they provide storage for systems with large “dump” loads. In the on-demand category, the options have exploded. On one end of the scale are large copper tube units of 2 million Btuh and beyond. In light commercial, the newer tankless units start as low as 90 thousand Btuh and have been increasing in popularity. Larger tankless units are easily combined in modular banks to provide redundancy and load matching for facilities of every size.
Air-to-water domestic hot water heat pumps are improving, and solar thermal domestic hot water heating is well developed. Many options are available to de-centralize domestic hot water distribution systems by providing point-of-use heaters in individual suites or smaller mechanical rooms in various zones of a building.
In many facilities where the reliability of domestic hot water heating equipment is paramount, saving money on first cost and operating costs sometimes take a back seat to durability and redundancy. When making critical decisions, facility managers should engage consultants and manufacturers who specialize in domestic hot water equipment and systems. Manufacturers that focus on domestic hot water applications generally provide ready access to their sales engineers — the type of experts needed to help select the solutions that make the most sense. Domestic hot water options have increased dramatically in recent years and it is important to look at them all.
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