At Tankless Experts, we work to educate our customers on all aspects of the products we sell, install and maintain. We hope this brief tankless water heater history lesson helps our clients further understand the beginnings and growth in popularity of the modern water heaters we know today. In our previous posts, we have outlined the benefits of tankless systems compared to traditional water heaters. But, why are tankless models only rising in popularity seemingly recently? We will discuss the complete story of hot water heaters from their first invention to the current rise in popularity.

The Invention of the First Hot Water Heater

The story of modern water heaters begins all the way back in the 1860s when the first patents were created for a gas-powered residential water heater. This was the first invention of its kind that focused on bringing the luxury of sustainable hot water features to an everyday household. The patent was written by an English painter named Benjamin Waddy Maughan. His design used natural gases to heat water for in-home use. Even though he is regarded as the first to patent the idea of a residential water heating system, his initial works never saw much use as they were not safe to use in most homes. Benjamin’s creation did not take into account the dangerous fumes of his invention. This oversight caused his design’s benefits to not outweigh the dangers they posed.

Re-Invention of Hot Water Heating

Around 1890, a mere 30 years later, the first commercially sold automatic water heater was introduced to the public. The design is credited to an American Immigrant by the name of Edwin Ruud. He solved the riddle of making Maughan’s design safer while still capable of similar hot water heating. Ruud also introduced the idea of a self-regulating mechanic which maintained a desired hot water temperature and reduced the amount of gas consumed by the model.

The 1890s did not stop there though. The time was a type of renaissance for the modern day water heater. Other inventors began to experiment and create designs using different methods of heating and sources of energy. This era brought forth the first early designs of tankless water heaters we use today. Earliest designs utilized high-energy gases and liquids to rapidly heat water on demand. This idea was referred to as in-line heating at the time. The process was still wildly inefficient but paved the way for future inventors to create the tankless models available to us today.

Birth of the Electric Tankless Water Heater

The year is 1927, a german engineer by the name of Dr. Theodore Stiebel created the first electric tankless water heater design in his backyard workshop.

“The first small instantaneous water heater delivering 1000 watts and featuring the revolutionary “2-stage technology” goes into production. As the first of its kind, the appliance is awarded the VDE test symbol. The company now employs 30 people.” source: History Stiebel Eltron

The company he goes on to create is Stiebel Eltron and still produces and innovates residential and commercial water features to this day.

Back to our discussion on tankless water heater history, the innovation of instantly heating water through a system using electricity furthered the popularization of the first major growth of tankless water heating over tank heaters.

Growth of Tankless Water Heaters Popularity

As time goes on, more and more innovations and improvements are made to the original designs of our water heating history pioneers. Improvements to energy efficiency eventually lead to the expansion of the tankless water heater market and an increase in viability. Around the 1950s, European and Asian markets began to see the appeal and benefits of tankless models. The storage tank water heater was still widely used, but a new type of water heater arrived and was here to stay. As of today, the tankless versions were sold in electric models and gas-powered models. Popularity goes on to rise substantially over the next several decades until eventually, even the North American market began to take notice.

The 1990s was the second renaissance of the modern water heater. A massive wave of improvements brought forth even more efficiency and greater performance. The North American market could no longer be blind to the benefits of tankless water heating systems. Tankless models swept the markets and boomed in popularity while continuing to grow even today.

Going forward, the benefits of tankless water heating will continue and further distance themselves from the antiquated storage-tank water heater of the past. Tankless Experts is here to provide professional installation and servicing of residential tankless water heaters.

When it comes to finding the right tankless water heater solution for your situation, trust the industry leaders. Tankless Experts is dedicated to offering informed advice, an affordable water heater option, and solutions based on your unique needs. We carry and service various types of tankless water heaters capable of covering and size room or home. Contact us today for more information and a free, no-obligation estimate!