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Who Invented the Water Heater? The Hot History...

Steam arising from a Roman bath

Who Invented the Water Heater? The Super-Hot History of a Modern Luxury

Steam arising from water in a Roman Bath

We have always wanted hot water

Aren’t we lucky that someone invented the now-common appliance that gives us the hot water we desire? Who invented the water heater? Here is the super-hot history of a modern luxury.

Thousands of years ago

In ancient times, people heated water using various methods such as open fires, heated stones, and even solar heating. Ancient Romans, for instance, had bathhouses with elaborate heating systems using underground furnaces to produce steam-producing water. The Turkish bath was modeled on the Roman system. A Turkish bathhouse poured water onto hot stones to generate steam and then added a massage and a final dip in cold water to their bathing routines.

Throughout the centuries, hot water has been a luxury the world wanted. (Except for the few people who enjoy diving into an icy-cold body of water in a modern activity known as the “Polar Plunge,” most people want to bathe in HOT water!)

Fire-fueled hot water

For eons, the only way to get hot water was to haul it in from a nearby creek or melt the winter snow, depending on season, local, and climate.

While the weight of water varies based on temperature, surface gravity, and other factors, a gallon of water weighs a little over eight pounds. If you had to haul five gallons of water, you were talking about lugging more than 40 pounds of a sloshing liquid.

Not an easy job!

Then you had to heave it into a pot over an open fire and carry a scalding hot kettle to pour into a tub.

Thank goodness Benjamin Waddy Maughan invented an early water heater!

It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that someone invented an early water heater.

Benjamin Waddy Maughan was an English guy who patented a device he called the “geyser” in 1868. (Sometimes, water heaters in England are still referred to as “geysers!”)

His design involved a simple copper boiler heated with gas. Even though he is credited with being the first person to design a water heater that didn’t rely on solid fuel (like wood or coal), his device never took off because he had not designed a vent for the gas, making his water heater very dangerous.

No matter how much you want hot water, you don’t want it to come with the risk of an explosion!

The hot water turning point in 1889

In 1889, Edwin Ruud, a Norwegian mechanical engineer working for The Fuel Gas Manufacturing Company run by George Westinghouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ruud developed the first automatic storage water heater with the patents going to his employer. His design featured a tank with a thermostat to control temperature and a pressure relief valve for safety. This innovation laid the foundation for modern water heaters.

Multiple patents later, Rudd refined his original design and filed for the patent under his own name. He left The Fuel Gas Manufacturing Company and started his own company, Ruud Manufacturing which popularized the water heater….

This was NOT hard since everyone loves hot water!

20th Century

Gas-fired and electric water heaters became increasingly popular. In the 1930s, tankless water heaters were introduced, providing on-demand hot water without the need for a storage tank.

Manufacturers began making water heaters more efficient in the late 1900s. The addition of insulation and improved heating elements reduced energy consumption and lowered the cost of using a water heater.

In recent years, there has been a push towards even greater energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources for water heating. Solar water heaters, heat pump water heaters, and tankless systems have gained popularity as eco-friendly alternatives.

Many choices are a good thing!

Today, water heaters are a common household appliance, available in various types including tankless, tank-style, heat pump, and solar models. They have become an essential part of modern living, providing us with hot water for bathing and cleaning.

Lucky for us, hot water is now available on-demand with the turn of a faucet. Cleaning and bathing have never been quicker and easier than they are today because of the luxury of our modern hot water heaters.

The demand for hot water will never go away.

  • The global water heater market was valued at approximately $32 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 3% from 2022 to 2028.
  • Tankless water heaters are becoming increasingly popular due to their energy efficiency. They can save up to 30% on energy costs compared to traditional tank-style water heaters.
  • Solar water heaters, which use renewable energy from the sun, have experienced significant growth in regions with abundant sunlight, such as China and India. In 2020, China accounted for over 70% of the global solar water heater market.

Something for everyone

ServiceOne has a water heater for everyone. No matter how much hot water you need. No matter your budget. No matter the demands of your household. We can get you a water heater that will be perfect for your family.

You’ll be delighted with all the options available. ServiceOne deals with the top water heater manufacturers in the industry and has knowledgeable, skilled plumbers ready to install one for you.

Call us. Take advantage of our special, now through March 31, 2024: $100 OFF on the installation of a new water heater!

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