Are you on the lookout for new ways to make your water heater more efficient? Maybe you’ve heard of hot water recirculation pumps, but how could they benefit you?
Hot water recirculation pumps assist your regular water heater by making it more efficient in delivering hot water. Let’s now see if one could benefit you. Then we’ll review our choices for the best hot water recirculation pumps currently on the market.
What Is a Hot Water Recirculation Pump?
A hot water recirculation pump helps to get hot water from the heater to the faucet quicker. We often waste much water running the faucet to get hot water. All that wasted water is not good for the environment or our bank accounts.
The pump will also return unused water to the heater to keep it heated and ready for you. This further reduces water wastage as we wait for our hot shower or to clean the dishes (1).
A recirculation pump will provide you with hot water in the blink of an eye. Multiple types of pumps are available on the market. There are also different sizes, functions, and features such as a timer.
Types of Recirculation Pumps
There are three main types of recirculation pumps.
Time Activated Pump
A time-activated pump can be programmed to turn off automatically when not needed . It comes with a timer which you can set to suit your lifestyle.
For people who work away from home all day, it could be very beneficial. You can program the pump to turn off at 9 am and restart at 3 pm.
- You can preset the pump: Set the timer so the pump will only work when you’re home. It’s a good idea to program it to restart an hour or so before anyone comes home. That way, you’ll have hot water waiting for you.
- Energy efficient: Since the pump won’t be working all day, you’ll save more energy.
- Hard to predict: If you need hot water outside of your settings, it can be unpredictable whether or not it will work.
Always on Pump
This type of pump is the least expensive and perhaps not the most efficient as it doesn’t turn off unless you do so manually. One of the first types of recirculation pumps produced, they are now mostly superseded by more efficient, automatic pumps.
- Reduces water waste: As the pump is always on, you won’t have to wait for hot water to arrive.
- Maintenance free: Most always-on pumps are maintenance free. Once set up, you’re good to go.
- Prone to corrosion: Since water is constantly flowing through the pump, rust and other corrosive factors are likely. Always-on pumps won’t last as long either, since they’re constantly working and can get worn out.
Temperature Activated Pump
A temperature activated pump monitors the temperature of the water within your home’s system. It maintains the heat of the water within set temperature limits. When the temperature drops below a certain point, the pump will activate to keep the water hot.
If the water heat rises above a predetermined temperature, the pump will shut off to save energy. This type of recirculation pump is very popular. It saves the most energy out of the three types available since it only turns on when needed.
- Turns on when water temperature drops: When the water temperature in the pipes drops to a certain degree, the pump turns on. It pumps the cold water back to the heater for reheating.
- Turns off automatically: To save energy, the pump will shut off if the heat of the water rises above a predetermined temperature.
- You won’t get burned: Since the pump shuts off when the temperature is high, you won’t have to worry about boiling water shooting out of the faucet.
- Hot and cold get mixed: A common complaint with this type is that homeowners suddenly have to wait for cold water to arrive. However, this problem depends on the model and manufacturer.
Things to Consider Before Buying
Before you head out to get a recirculation pump, here are a few things you might want to consider.
When buying a pump, you want one which will last. A recirculation pump will be working on high demand, with most people requiring a steady supply of hot water.
The first thing you should consider is the durability is the material the pump is made from. It has to be strong and resistant to rust and breakage (2).
Stainless steel is the best choice when it comes to material. Although it can be a little more pricey, it will be worth it.
2. Size and Flow Rate
You don’t have to go out and buy the biggest, strongest pump unless you actually need it. It’s a good idea to consider the flow rate of the pump. A good flow rate will eventually give you good water pressure.
3. Type of Water Heater
How the pump will work depends heavily on the type of water heater you have. Recirculation pumps tend to work the best with regular tank heaters since these store water and run at all times.
Keep in mind
4. Type and Features
We’ve already covered the different types of recirculation pumps available, but which one should you choose?
Having a timer on your pump can be very beneficial since it is fully manageable and will only work when needed. But this doesn’t mean you have to buy a time-activated pump. Maybe you like the idea of a temperature-activated pump more?
What you can do is buy an aftermarket timer and fit it to your pump. In this way, you can get the best of both worlds. Just make sure the pump you purchase can be fitted with a timer before buying.
5. Noise Level
Pumps can be rather loud, which can become a bother after a while. You might want to check the noise levels of the pump you’re considering before buying.
Apart from being annoying for you, if you live close to your neighbors or in apartments, it may disturb others. The good news is that most modern pumps — and all of our selections — are almost silent and vibrationless.
The Best Hot Water Recirculation Pumps of 2020
Taking all of the points above into consideration, you should be able to easily find a suitable recirculation pump for you. We’ve also searched through the top pumps to bring you the best hot water recirculation pumps on the market.
1. Grundfos Comfort Recirculation Pump
Having an all-automatic pump means once it’s been programmed you won’t have to worry about turning it on or off. This pump has a built-in timer as well as an aquastat. The aquastat controls the pump depending on the water temperatures.
With a water flow rate of 0 to 9 gallons per minute, this pump will deliver hot water effortlessly. It will also be compatible with a tankless water heater.
The pump only uses 25 watts of power, which is less than most light bulbs, to give you an idea. It also comes with a two-year warranty which can give you a little more peace of mind.
The pump itself is constructed out of stainless steel, bronze, and aluminum. It’s a very strong pump which will last you for many years to come.
The motor is super quiet, so you won’t have to worry about it bothering you or the neighbors.
- Features a timer and aquastat.
- Good water flow rate.
- Energy saving.
- Durable material.
- Might heat the cold water in a mixer tap faucet, making it run warm for a little while.
Why We Love It
Features a Timer and Aquastat
The timer and aquastat features come with the top models. They allow you to save even more energy by only working the pump when it’s actually needed.
Good Water Flow Rate
The pump has a good and strong flow rate of 9 GPM. It should be able to work with any type of heater — regular or tankless.
Not only will the timer and aquastat save you energy, but the pump itself doesn’t require a lot to energy either. All it needs is 25 watts of power, about the same as an energy saving light bulb.
Most parts of the pump are made of stainless steel. Since the pump is working with water, it’s crucial the material can withstand moisture. Stainless steel won’t rust away, so you won’t have to worry about rupture or stained water.
Keep In Mind
Might Heat the Cold Water in Mixer Taps
The pump may be working a little too well. Some customers mentioned how they have to wait a few seconds for cold water. However, this is only if you have a mixer tap faucet.
|Dimensions||10 x 10 x 10 inches|
|Material||Stainless steel, aluminum, bronze|
2. Grundfos SuperBrute Recirculation Pump
This recirculation pump has a pre-programmed timer which saves energy. It also has temperature sensors, so whenever the water temperature drops, the pump will automatically kick-in to maintain the temperature level.
The pump is strong and durable, made of bronze, stainless steel, and aluminum. One of the best things about this pump is that it prevents and eliminates any corrosive effects on your fresh water (4).
The pump is self-sufficient and doesn’t require any maintenance. It has a good flow range of 0 to 15.5 gallons per minute, which makes it good for regular and tankless heaters.
Due to the automatic nature of the pump, it’s highly efficient, so you get great energy-saving benefits. It also only needs 25 watts of power to operate.
When set, you won’t have to worry about turning it off in the morning before heading out the door. You’ll also be confident that there will be hot water when you come home.
The pump is virtually silent while in operation, only giving out minor sounds when working — nothing that will bother anyone.
- Fully automatic.
- Durable material.
- Provides clean water.
- Can work with a tankless heater.
- Cast-iron housing.
Why We Love It
The timer and temperature regulators save you energy as the pump only turns on when it’s needed. It also makes sure you always have hot water when you want it as it sends unused water back for reheating.
Stainless steel is definitely a material you should look for if you want a durable pump. The rotor and impeller are also made of strong material. These are made of hard plastic, which consists of graphite fibers.
Provides Clean Water
The pump prevents any harmful metals from leaking into your clean water. Corrosive water can do a lot of damage, not only to your health but also in your household. It can cause annoying stains on clothing and a metal taste in your drinking water.
Can Work a Tankless Heater
Recirculating pumps won’t always work on tankless heaters since they require a stronger flow of water. However, this pump can circulate 155 gallons per minute, which makes it capable of operating a tankless unit.
Keep In Mind
While cast iron is highly durable, it was a concern for a few customers. Some feared it would give their water a rusty tint. However, only a few reported such cases and they mentioned it was due to an old water heater.
|Dimensions||5.2 x 4.2 x 6.5 inches|
|Material||Cast iron, stainless steel, bronze, aluminum|
3. Watts Hot Water Recirculation Pump
Being able to easily install a new feature in your home on your own can be a freeing feeling. This pump is incredibly easy to install, and it shouldn’t take long either — even for people with minimal experience.
What makes it so easy to install is that it doesn’t require any extra piping. All you have to do is fit it to the top of your water heater. A drawback, though, is that it won’t work with a tankless water heater.
This is more than just a pump, it’s a full-on recirculating kit. It includes:
- Two adapters with rubber washers.
- Valve mounting screws.
- 10-foot electric cord.
- 2 inches by 12 inches of supply lines.
This pump also features a timer to help you further to save water and energy. The 24-hour timer will allow you to set the desired working hours to fit your needs.
The pump is very quiet, despite how strong it is. You won’t feel any vibrations through the floor as it’s working either. It also comes with a one-year warranty and is maintenance-free.
The pump is made from cast aluminum, a strong and durable material, with the bonus of being lightweight (5).
- 24-hour timer.
- Easy installation.
- Comes as a kit.
- Super quiet.
- Won’t work with a tankless heater.
Why We Love It
The 24-hour timer allows you to completely control whenever the pump should be activated. You can set it to shut off when the house is usually empty and restart before peak usage. Managing the pump effectively like this can save a lot of energy and water, and reduce your annual utility bills.
The pump only has to be mounted to the top of the water heater. You then have to install the sensor valve under the faucet farthest from the heater. The installation doesn’t require any piping, which makes it so simple.
Comes as a Kit
Everything you need to install the pump quickly comes in the kit. Many customers were impressed with how easy it was to install.
You won’t have to hand out earplugs to your neighbors just yet. This pump is near-silent when it’s activated. It also won’t produce any annoying vibrations.
Keep In Mind
Won’t Work with a Tankless Heater
Unfortunately, if you have a tankless water heater, this pump is not suitable. A few customers stated they mistakenly bought this pump thinking it would work with their tankless heater. We’re glad we can forewarn you so you don’t make the same mistake.
|Dimensions||6.2 x 6 x 5 inches|
4. Laing Autocirc Recirculation Pump
There’s always a need for hot water in a family home, even though we may not realize it.
This pump comes with a 24-hour timer. You can make sure your family will have enough hot water when it’s really needed. The pump is also fitted with a temperature sensor which automatically starts the pump whenever the temperature drops to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
The temperature sensor works the other way around as well. Whenever the temperature reaches 95 degrees Fahrenheit, the pump automatically shuts off. This system ensures you will have hot water ready whenever you need it.
There’s also an auto-closure device within the system. So, whenever the pump gets turned off by the thermostat, the device will prevent hot and cold water mixing within the pipes.
The auto-closure device will further provide you with immediate hot water, as well as immediate cold water. This reduces the amount of water wasted as there’s no waiting for the desired temperature.
What makes this pump even more appealing is its low energy consumption. It requires only 14 watts of power, which is less than a lightbulb.
The manufacturer claims the pump could save the average family (four people) up to 17,000 gallons of water annually. The pump is also maintenance-free and resistant to scale build-up.
- 24-hour timer.
- Auto-closure device.
- Resistant to scale build-up.
- Customers had a few problems when installing the pump.
Why We Love It
The 24-hour timer allows you to set the pump to work only when needed. A timer is an essential part of a good recirculating pump. While making them more environmentally friendly, they also help you save on water and power bills.
The thermostat automatically shuts the pump off whenever the temperature reaches 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It also makes it turn on when the temperature drops to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
A common problem with recirculation pumps is that hot and cold water are mixed. This pump has a closure device which keeps the hot and cold water apart. However, you may still experience lukewarm water at first when the cold tap is opened.
Resistant to Scale Build-Up
Scale build-up is very common within water heaters and pipes. This can be particularly problematic if you have hard water, which has a high mineral content.
The scale is an accumulation of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. It can be difficult to get rid of and it could potentially ruin your piping system.
Keep In Mind
Customers Had a Few Problems When Installing the Pump
Even though the installation should be straightforward, a few customers reported a common problem. The pump requires an outlet underneath a sink, which is a difficulty for some people.
|Dimensions||0.1 x 5 x 7.5 inches|
5. Taco Bronze Circulator Pump
This pump offers a highly reliable motor, which makes it one of the most popular pumps among plumbers. Unfortunately, it may not be the best-looking pump. However, it’s strong and quiet so you won’t notice it while it works.
The pump looks quite different from the previous ones we’ve viewed. It has a unique cartridge design which holds all the moving parts. The best thing about the cartridge design is that it’s completely replaceable.
So, if anything breaks or stops working properly, you can simply replace it like you would a printer’s ink cartridge. This feature makes servicing super easy.
The flow range of the pump is 0 to 10 gallons per minute. It should be able to work fine with any type of water heater. The pump has a minimum fluid temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit and a maximum of 220 degrees Fahrenheit.
A downside of this pump is that it doesn’t have a timer, thermostat or aquastat. When you turn it on it will stay on until you shut it off again.
However, it’s a reliable pump which is great for larger houses and families with high demands for hot water. And, you can easily fit a timer to it if needed.
- Strong, reliable motor.
- Great design.
- Quiet motor.
- Can be fitted with a timer.
- Runs a bit hot.
Why We Love It
Strong, Reliable Motor
The pump has a powerful motor. It’s strong enough to bring water to a large building, and it’s also a go-to pump for plumbers.
The cartridge design allows you to remove moving parts of the pump if needed. This is also less expensive than the complete pump, so it’s easy and less expensive to replace if necessary.
The quiet motor means there’s no intrusive noise or vibration when it’s in operation. Ideal if you live near others and noise can be an issue.
Can Be Fitted with Timer
If you wish to make the pump automatic, it can be fitted with a timer. The same manufacturer has designed a timer to suit this particular pump.
Keep In Mind
Runs a Bit Hot
Customers have noticed the pump runs a bit hot if it has been working for a long time. Since it doesn’t have an automatic off-switch, it runs constantly unless you manually manage it. Therefore, it tends to get hot to the touch.
|Dimensions||5 x 4 x 7 inches|
|Material||Cast iron, bronze|
|Grundfos Comfort||Best Automatic Pump||6.85 lbs||10″ x 10″ x 10″||Stainless steel, aluminum, bronze||115 V|
|Grundfos SuperBrute||Best Budget||6.7 lbs||5.2″ x 4.2″ x 6.5″||Cast iron, stainless steel, bronze, aluminum||115 V|
|Watts Hot Water||Best For Easy Installation||6.4 lbs||6.2″ x 6″ x 5″||Cast aluminum||120 V|
|Laing Autocirc||Best For Families||2.99 lbs||0.1″ x 5″ x 7.5″||N/A||115 V|
|Taco Bronze||Best Always On Pump||4.55 lba||5″ x 4″ x 7″||Cast iron, bronze||115 V|
Keep the Heat Flowing
Finding a pump with a built-in timer can be beneficial. The timer allows you to operate the pump only when it is actually needed.
As we’re getting more conscious of environmental impact, many of us are trying harder to do better. A hot water recirculation pump will contribute to this by reducing water and energy wastage.
A pleasant by-product of this is the savings on our utility bills. An efficient pump will therefore most likely pay for itself over time.
If you have further questions, please feel free to leave a comment in the section below.