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The History of Hot Water Heaters

by | Jan 5, 2021 | 0 comments

Hot Water Heater History

It is crazy to think how hot water has evolved over time. Could you imagine a time before you were able to take hot showers? A lot of homes use hot water heaters to run hot water through their home, whether it’s for taking hot showers or washing the dishes after dinner. This makes it one of the most important appliances in your home and something many people take for granted. Most of us today would not even give a second thought as to the original source of the hot water we utilize daily.

The First Appearances of Hot Water

Having hot water in your home was never as simple as turning a handle. During ancient times, water would be taken in buckets and pots from a water source and then heated by a fireplace or stove. Once the water was scalding hot, it would be transported by hand to the bathtub or washtubs where it would then be poured in for use.

In ancient Rome, bath houses were built around hot springs for people to use natural hot water to bathe themselves. At home, they would have to heat their own water and transfer to the tub. See below or ruins to an ancient bath house in Rome…

Hot water was considered a luxury during this time. For those who wanted a hot bath, they would have to heat it in small batches from the oven or stove one bucket at a time, and then pour each bucket of hot water into the bathtub or water basin.

When the steam age came around, boiling pots of water were retired and boilers came into play for heating water within homes. Boilers became a viable heat source within homes and are still used to this day!

Who Invented the Water Heater

It is hard to say who actually invented the hot water heater, but a few names come into mind, including Benjamin Waddy Maughan and Edwin Rudd.

Benjamin Waddy Maughan patented a device in 1868 that was used to heat water. He called it the “gas geyser,” as it used natural gas to heat the water as it flowed into the tub. He had a great idea for a residential water heater system, but the idea fell short when his heater relied on natural gas, and this made it a little too dangerous to use as intended. It did not have a system set up to vent the gas vapors, therefore it did not last very long as a method for heating water.

Edwin Ruud was another innovator that created an updated model 21 years later after Maughan that had many safety features added. This device is generally considered the first true home water heater, for both of it’s usability and safety features. He created a gas-heated, cast iron appliance with a valve turned by a person that activated on the heater’s burners.

Edwin Rudd bought the rights to his invention and formed his own company in 1897. Today, Ruud remains one of the most well respected names in water heating history and is a subsidiary of Rheem, one of the water heater brands we use today!

The Innovation of Electric Water Heaters

During the Industrial Revolution, water heater companies began to rise and and thrive. However, the rising industry of water heaters came to a halt after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

At this point during the war, water heater factories began to aid in the war effort. They also began producing boilers for use in naval vessels in order to heat the steam needed to run the vessels.

After the war ended, most of the water heating factories were back in business. However, a few new companies sprang up to create even more competition in the Postwar era. Electric water heaters became widely available during the Industrial Revolution.

State Water Heaters opened its doors in 1946 as a stove company but joined a new area of electric water heaters in 1948.

The demand for the alternative to electric water heater to gas quickly increased. State and other companies took advantage of this demand, leading them to become some of the largest companies in the world to this day.

The New Age of Modern Water Heaters

After the emergence of electric water heaters, more innovations came into the world of hot water heaters. This included the invention of solar water heaters, storage water heaters, and tankless water heaters.

Solar Water Heaters

For more energy efficiency, solar water heaters became widely used by companies. Solar technology began gaining more momentum in the ‘90s and today and gives a wide range of advances in efficiency and reliability.

Storage Tank Water Heaters

The storage tank heater, still the most common type of water heater still in use in the united states, heats a supply of water and stores it for later use.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters use a series of tubes running through electric elements to heat only the amount of water needed for a particular purpose. Tankless water heaters can save massive amounts of heating bills and ensure that homeowners have endless hot water.

Between solar, tankless, and new hybrid models, it seems more and more likely that traditional gas and electric models will slowly fade into history.

If you have any questions about the water heater in your home and want to learn more, contact us today!

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