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COMMERCIAL PROPANE APPLICATIONS: STORAGE TANK WATER HEATERS

Propane storage water heaters provide a versatile, proven, efficient, and dependable solution for many commercial applications, both in new construction and as replacement units in existing buildings.

APPLICATIONS FOR USE

  • Restaurants.
  • Retail.
  • Education.
  • Hospitality.
  • Multifamily Buildings.
  • Hospitals.
  • Laundromats.
  • Salons.
  • Health Clubs.

AT A GLANCE

  • Superior hot water delivery and reduced energy costs compared with electric units.
  • Large tank capacities often over 100 gallons meet high-volume demands.
  • Heat water up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Faster recovery rates than electric storage tank units.

PERFORMANCE

Propane Storage tank units offer superior hot water delivery and reduced energy costs compared with traditional electrical storage tank units, and come in a wide range of capacities to meet the hot water demands in any commercial building. Tank type water heaters maintain hot water temperatures, depending on the need of the commercial business, typically at 110-180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Commercial propane storage tank water heaters are more robust versions of the residential units. Typically, they are labeled for 200,000 Btu/h or more. The storage tank capacities are often 100 gallons or more, and can heat water up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. These higher temperature levels are often needed for sanitation purposes such as cleaning dishes in a restaurant.

Propane storage tank water heaters work well in many commercial applications, offering the following advantages:

  • Faster recovery rates compared with electric storage tank units.
  • Scalable to meet a wide range of hot water demands.
  • Generally lower operating costs compared with heating oil or electric storage tank units.
  • Smaller gas/propane line compared with tankless units that often require a larger line.
  • Easily adapted to re-circulation applications, which are increasingly common designs to save energy and water and expedite hot water delivery.
  • Resist hard water complications better than electric heaters.
  • Easy integration into solar hot water systems as a storage and back-up heating component.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

New propane storage tank water heaters have efficiency features such as added insulation to reduce heat loss from the stored water, and electronic ignition to eliminate the fuel consumption of a standing pilot light. Newer units also have increased burner surface area to optimize heat transfer and overall efficiency.

Propane storage water heaters are often compared with electrical storage units based on energy costs and overall performance. Various estimation tools are available, including an online calculator from the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), to compare propane storage versus electric for small to moderate commercial applications.

As TABLE 1 shows, the propane water heater can provide significant annual energy cost savings. Further, in the example, the propane storage water heater offered life-cycle savings of over $7,700.

ENERGY COST RESULTS FOR PROPANE AND ELECTRIC WATER HEATERS

INPUTS PROPANE STORAGE ELECTRIC STORAGE
Energy Factor 0.67 0.95
Energy Consumption 1,140 gallons 21,564 kWh
Annual Energy Cost $2,284 $3,235
Lifetime Energy Cost $23,685 $31,412
Life Expectance (years) 13 13
Assumed Daily Water Consumption (gal) 300 300

ENVIRONMENTAL

Except for water heaters powered solely by renewable energy, any system will have some environmental impact in the form of CO2 emissions. Annual CO2 emission rates will vary depending on the fuel source. Propane offers the advantage of lower emission rates when compared with electricity. This is driven by a large portion of the nation’s electricity being generated in coal-fired power plants, which have a relatively heavy carbon footprint.

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