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Modern Plumbing Industries, Inc. Blog

What Does the “Hybrid” Mean in Hybrid Water Heaters?

question-mark-badgeWith the multiple options available today when it comes to new water heater installation, people can become confused about just what type of system they’re looking for. The standard storage tank water heater remains popular, but there’s competition from the energy-efficient tankless water heater.

The option we want to look at today, the hybrid water heater, is one that can cause some bewilderment among homeowners. The word “hybrid” in hybrid water heater can mean different things depending on whom you ask. We’re going to go into detail about the hybrid water heaters we offer and what makes them “hybrid.”

A Hybrid Water Heater Combines a Water Heater and a Heat Pump

Because of the increasing popularity of the hybrid car, people sometimes make the mistake of thinking that a hybrid water heater is one that operates off a combination of natural gas with an electric battery. But this is not the case—although the energy efficiency results are the same. A hybrid water heater combines different types of technology to allow for a reduction in energy use.

The hybrid water heaters that we are focused on are hybrids in the sense that they’re a marriage between an electric water heater and a heat pump, which is why they are also called heat pump water heaters. These are completely electric-powered systems, but have superior efficiency to the conventional electric storage tank water heater. The standard electric water heater model heats up the water inside the tank using heating elements. Electrical resistance heating—i.e. moving electricity through coils and causing them to heat up—is an expensive way to provide energy to the water in the tank. The hybrid heat pump delivers energy into the tank in a more efficient manner: by removing it from the air outside the tank. It takes less power to move heat than to generate it.

The way this hybrid operates is that a heat pump unit sits on the top of the water tank. The heat pump contains a compressor, a fan, and an evaporator coil. Cold refrigerant flows through the evaporator to draw heat from the outside air (which the fan draws into the system across the evaporator coils). The heated refrigerant than moves into a condenser down inside the water tank, where through condensation it releases its heat into the colder water. A hybrid water heater can be both a stand-alone system or combined with a heat pump that’s also used to heat a house.

A hybrid system needs to be installed in a location that remains above 40°F around the year, and that makes them ideal for use here in Florida. The Department of Energy generally recommends them for warmer climates such as ours. You can expect a hybrid water heater—professionally installed, of course—to work two to three times more efficiently than a standard electric water heater.

We’re experts with all types of water heaters in Orlando, FL, and we offer a wide range of installation options for homes looking to upgrade from an aging storage tank system.

Modern Plumbing Industries, Inc. has proudly served Central Florida since 1975.

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