How does a gas geyser work?

How many hours a day do you spend thinking about your geyser? 

If it’s doing its job, I bet you almost never think about it at all. It might not be a bad idea to give it some thought today – the cost of living is rising rapidly, and there might just be a better option for you geyser-wise.

Here’s a look at gas geysers, and how they compare to solar geysers.

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What’s the deal with gas geysers?

A better name for a gas geyser would be a gas water heater, as it better describes how this geyser works. 

The traditional geyser acts as a reservoir for your water and then heats it over time. The gas heater differs from this in that it does not store large amounts of water, but rather heat water on demand.

Gas geysers are activated when you open a hot tap and the water, still cold, runs through it. The geyser only uses gas when you are actually using hot water.

This is how it works:

The process kicks off when you open the hot tap, at which point the geyser will detect the water flow via a dynamo (electronically) or through a diaphragm (mechanically).

Once the water flow is detected, the geyser will ignite the gas. It allows a small amount of gas to flow into the combustion chamber and light it with a continuous pulsating electric spark.

Once the gas geyser knows there is ignition, gas will flow to the rest of the burners. A fan will activate to assist combustion in force-driven gas geysers.

The gas will ignite on the remaining burners and the heat that is produced will pass through the heat exchanger. Now the water will get warmed up by the combustion gases. 

When you close the hot tap the gas geyser will automatically deactivate itself.

The majority of gas geysers are installed on an outside wall, under the eaves of your roof. Depending on how exposed your gas geyser is to the elements, you might have to consider purchasing a weather cover.

Since the geyser is activated by water flow, fluctuating water pressure can present some problems. 

If there isn’t a steady stream of water flowing through the geyser could either fail to ignite, or switch off shortly after igniting.

This is generally not a problem if you have access to municipal water supply, but it can be an issue in areas where water is supplied from boreholes. 

The solution for this is installing a pressure pump to stabilise water pressure.

Benefits of having a gas geyser

Saving on costs as well as breaking free from the power grid are both high on South Africans’ priority list at this point in time.

Here’s how a gas geyser can help you towards those goals:

  • Gas geysers are more expensive to purchase than electric ones, but in the long run you will save on the cost of generating warm water.
    If you do not have one already, you will need a Certificate of Compliance to use gas, and this also comes at a fee.
  • There is no limit to the amount of water that can be heated – you have a constant supply immediately available to you.
  • A big bonus is that a gas geyser doesn’t need electricity to run. You have warm water even during long power outages.
  • Since you won’t run out of warm water, a gas geyser is a suitable option for large families.
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Gas vs solar

Solar power is the way to go in terms of conservation, as it produces no greenhouse gas emissions when energy is generated. 

Purchase and installation of a solar system is not cheap, but it will pay for itself in the long term. 

Consider the weather conditions in the area where you live before going this route. If you go for long periods without sunshine you might not have warm water. This generally isn’t a problem in South Africa.

Solar geyser systems can supply between 50 and 90% of the hot water that you need. Gas geysers can always produce hot water, as long as the gas supply is topped up.

A gas geyser is still a greener option than an electrical one, as it only produces about a third of the harmful greenhouse gases. 

The fact that they only use gas when they are being used to generate warm water adds to their energy efficiency. 

A few benefits of solar geysers include: 

  • It can help you save up to 90% of your water heating costs. It does not require a mains connection, giving you a reduced energy bill.
  • Once your solar water heating system is installed, it does not require much further maintenance.
  • As mentioned before, you will be 100% sure you are not contributing to pollution.
  • Solar systems last fairly long, with a good quality system you are looking at a lifespan of up to 20 years.

Going green as well as off-grid might mean considering solar water heating with a gas geyser as backup, if you can afford to go this route. This way you are sure you have warm water, no matter the circumstances.

Final word

Power failures in South Africa have reached a point where sometimes, people are left in the dark for days on end. Despite that, the cost of electricity keeps rising.

A gas geyser, at the very least, gives you the opportunity to soak in a hot bath when you are frustrated about yet another power failure.

The fact that it’s an environmentally-friendly option that leaves you with a smaller electricity bill is just an added bonus.

Know somebody that can benefit if you share it with them?

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