Indirect-Fired Water Heaters Are Great Boiler System Options

February 16, 2021

Save Home Heat - Water Heater Boiler Home HeatingIs your home heated by hot water, with a central boiler powering the system? If your answer is ‘yes,’ then we urge you to continue reading and learn more about indirect-fired water heaters, a high performance domestic hot water option that might make good sense for your home.

Indirect-fired water heaters are a great alternative for homes heated by a hot water boiler that have a traditional, conventional tank water heater. As a replacement for a conventional water heater when it’s ready to be replaced, or installed as an upgrade, indirect-fired water heaters afford a number of valuable benefits that our customers appreciate.

What is an Indirect-Fired Water Heater?

Superstor Ultra Indirect Water Heater - Save Home HeatAlso referred to as a ‘sidearm tank’ or an ‘indirect water heater,’ an indirect-fired water heater is a high quality, thermally efficient storage tank that has an internal heat exchanger which heats water in the tank by means of hot water circulating from the boiler. The tank does not have its own burners or flue stack, and operates at the same efficiency as the boiler heating it. With no flue pipe and high insulation values, heat loss is considerably lower than a conventional water heater, and the system fires up much less often. Compared to traditional gas or electric water heaters, hot water supply from an indirect water heater is significantly greater.

An indirect water heater is often installed as a prioritized zone on the heating system, so that when the tank ‘calls’ for more hot water, the entire BTU capacity of the boiler is directed toward heating up the tank. Domestic hot water demand is satisfied rapidly, and the heating needs of the home are not noticeably interrupted due to the fast recovery time of the indirect heater.

Indirect water heaters are designed to outlast traditional tank water heaters, and many models carry limited lifetime warranties against leakage to the original purchaser.

Indirect Water Heaters Afford Numerous Benefits

Triangle Tube Solo Boiler Installation - Save Home Heat Denver Boulder COSo, what makes indirect water heaters such a great option for homes heated by hydronic systems? For starters, with a properly sized boiler, and with the new sidearm tank setup as a priority zone, recovery rates are typically up to five times faster than conventional water heaters – in some cases, customers report virtually limitless hot water (all jokes about teenage daughters aside!). The combination of the highly efficient heat exchanger and storage tank powered by the whole-house boiler is a hard one to beat!

The procedure of installing and setting up the new sidearm tank with its own zone valve, prioritizing the controls for domestic hot water, is not an overly complex job for a skilled plumber such as we have at Save Home Heat Company. Our plumbing team is highly experienced performing this type of work.

Is an indirect water heater a good fit for my home?


Advantages of an indirect-fired water heater include:
  • Plentiful domestic hot water supply
  • Great hot water recovery rates
  • Domestic hot water at the same efficiency as your central boiler
  • Minimal standby heat loss compared to conventional water heaters
  • Longer equipment life compared to conventional heaters
  • Superior warranties from highly reputable manufacturers

If you’re currently relying on a conventional tank type water heater that is nearing the end of its lifespan, and have a hydronic heating system with a central boiler heating your home, an indirect-fired water heater is certainly an option worth considering. Whether as a replacement for a leaking tank that needs to go, or as a performance upgrade, these unique products make good sense both as a proven solution for increasing your hot water supply, while improving efficiency at the same time.

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For instance, if hot water is not always plentiful in your home (especially when there’s visitors), or if you project increased demand in the near future (a growing household?), we urge you to take a closer look at the recovery rates and first-hour ratings of a quality indirect water heater versus a standard tank. Or, if you’re currently planning to replace your existing boiler, consider the dollar savings you can obtain by having both jobs done at the same time, the bonus being that you end up with a superior water heater in the process. While the upfront investment will likely be greater for an indirect-fired water heater than a standard tank, as we’ve stressed, there’s a big difference in performance, in addition to a longer projected lifespan and improved efficiency.

Quality features found on many indirect-fired water heaters:
  • High grade 316L stainless steel storage tank
  • 2” thick, environmentally safe foam insulation
  • Self-cleaning, descaling heat exchanger
  • Stainless steel plumbing connections
  • Broad range of tank sizes to choose from

Interested in an Indirect Water Heater for Your Home?

Save Home Heat - Master PlumberWhether your existing water heater is due for replacement, or if you simply want to achieve improved domestic hot water supply in your home that’s heated by a hot water boiler, a professionally installed, high quality, indirect-fired water is an alternative that could be the right fit for your home. In the Denver-Boulder metropolitan area you can count on our highly experienced, expert plumbing team at Save Home Heat Company to help you find the right water heater solution to suit your specific needs, all in a friendly, informative, low-pressure manner!

Please contact me to schedule a free install quote, or to schedule a service call!

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