Maybe someone will be surprised, but the gas water heater, this legend of Soviet times, has not disappeared from the expanses of our country at all. On the contrary, a natural gas water heater is still a reality for millions of Russians today, an integral part of the hot water supply for multi-apartment and private houses throughout the country. Just as in the Soviet past, a gas water heater was perhaps the only publicly available type of water heater, and now in the homes of people in any Russian city you can easily find this, so to speak, rarity.
It is a rarity, since these water heaters, which have served so far not for ten or twenty years, but two or three times more, have long exhausted the entire resource allotted to them. Today, the old geyser is not so much a source of comfort in the form of hot water as the cause of dangerous situations.
And yet, in spite of everything, the refusal to use gas water heaters of the “column” type is impossible for objective reasons. Natural gas has been the cheapest and most convenient fuel for decades, especially in those settlements where gas pipelines are laid. And in general, radicalism in the form of «expulsion» of the gas column from everyday life is completely useless. All that is needed is the timely replacement of obsolete speakers with modern safe models. In Moscow alone, for example, a municipal program for the modernization of gas equipment has been operating for several years. Many townspeople have already replaced the old column with a high-tech water heater, appreciating the reliability and convenience of the novelty.
It is advisable to consider what qualities a modern water heater differs from a classic Soviet-style column.
A spark will ignite a flame!
The column, in essence, is a flowing water heater. The principle of its operation is simple. Natural gas is burned in an open combustion chamber, and as a result, the water flowing through the heat exchanger circuit is heated. In most cases, such domestic-made gas equipment was deprived of automatic control, and users controlled the functioning of the gas column manually. In accordance with the rules for the use of gas water heaters, it was necessary to strictly follow a certain procedure for turning on and off the device. To get a stream of boiling water, it was first necessary to open the water supply, then supply gas and light the fire with a match.
It is the state of gas burners that causes concern among specialists. A worn gas burner is a potential hazard in older types of gas water heaters. Alas, it is not uncommon today — an abrupt decrease in gas pressure in the network — leads to instability in the burning of the flame, which can go out altogether. The flame goes out, and the gas, meanwhile, continues to flow. The consequences are easy to guess. The use of automatic switching on and off circuits, as well as flame adjustment in a modern instantaneous water heater, virtually eliminates the possibility of gas leaks. The ease of use is also greatly improved. First of all, there is no need for such an archaic source of open fire as matches. The gas is ignited by an electronic ignition spark or a piezoelectric element.
Electronic ignition is used in the most advanced and convenient models of water heaters. To turn on the device, you do not need to perform any actions, you just need to open the water supply tap. The flame will automatically flash and hot water will immediately flow. The system functions like a car ignition. The spark discharge occurs thanks to two finger-type batteries, the charge of which is enough for about a year of operation. When the water supply tap is closed, the water heater is turned off and the flame goes out.
Another type of ignition, piezoelectric, is based on the effect of converting mechanical movement into a spark discharge of electric current. To start the water heater, you must press the key — the button — located on the front panel of the device, and the spark of the piezoelectric element will set fire to the wick. Further, the water heater functions automatically. When the water tap is opened, the wick ignites the flame of the main burner, and after a few seconds hot water is at your service. You should focus on the fact that the flame of the wick burns constantly.
A mandatory element of a modern instantaneous water heater is a security system that prevents the occurrence of dangerous situations typical of outdated models. The most important node of the system is the flame control device. In most cases, the device is implemented on the basis of a thermocouple that reacts to a decrease in the combustion temperature of the gas, or an ionization sensor that monitors the actual presence of fire. When the flame goes out, the thermocouple or sensor sends a command, upon receipt of which a special protective valve is activated that shuts off the gas supply.
An integral part of the water heater design is the draft sensor. When the outlet ventilation pipeline is blocked or clogged, when combustion products can get into the room, the draft sensor is triggered, and the gas supply stops automatically.
This is useful to know
The average water consumption during the most common household activities ranges from 4 to 8 liters per minute. In other cases, the flow rate can reach 10-12 liters per minute. Sufficient power is needed to heat such volumes of running water to at least a comfortable temperature of 40 ° C.
Most modern water heaters develop a power of 20-30 kW. This power is quite enough to provide hot water to a small family. However, it should be noted that the nominal value of the power of the device at a gas pressure of 13 mbar is indicated in the water heater’s passport. At lower values, the column will not develop maximum power. Therefore, sometimes it makes sense to purchase a water heater with a power reserve of 20 to 30%.
The use of a modern water heater provides the user with the ability to control water heating. With the help of a regulator mounted on the front panel, the water temperature can be maintained regardless of the flow rate. This became possible due to the use of an electronic control unit in the design of the devices, which smoothly regulates the thermal power in automatic mode.
The specified control unit has its own security system. It is based on a thermostat, the use of which does not allow you to set the water heating temperature above 50 ° C. Thus, thermal burns of the skin and precipitation of calcium salts on the inner walls of the heat exchanger tubes are prevented, that is, a direct decrease in the efficiency of the device as a whole is not allowed.
Due to the use of electronics, when the water pressure decreases, the heat exchanger does not overheat and fail prematurely. In domestic networks of cold water supply, the standard water pressure is from 2 to 4 bar. This is directly related to the number of storeys and the time of day. Water heaters adapted to Russian realities are able to efficiently heat water even at a pressure of 0.2-0.3 bar. At a lower water pressure, protective automatics will work, and the water heater simply will not turn on.
In order not to lose hot water at all at a stable low pressure in the water supply, experts recommend using special booster pumps together with a water heater. Such a device is mounted directly on the pipeline. Sufficiently quiet and reliable is the pump manufactured by GRUNDFOS, equipped with the so-called «wet» rotor. Thanks to the use of a special flow sensor, the pump operates automatically while the water tap is open. The installation of pumps requires the passage of approval procedures in municipal structures.
Where to buy a gas column.
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